Calling all adventurers: Telluride’s hottest new activity is calling your name! Ice climbing is sweeping the nation as a unique way to experience the great outdoors. This full-body sport isn’t for the faint of heart, but it is ideal for thrill seekers, sports buffs, or visitors looking to try something totally new and unexpected. Whether you’re ready to hit the ground—er—ice running or you’re just curious about how it works, check out our handy guide to ice climbing in Telluride.
What is Ice Climbing?
Ice climbing is a full-body outdoor activity in which a person ascends frozen ice formations; think of it like rock climbing, but with ice! Though this activity has been around for over 100 years, it hasn’t been widely known as a sport for hobbyists—until recently. Ice climbing is quickly becoming a popular activity for mountain and cold weather destinations, and Telluride offers a perfect landscape for this new and exciting sport.
Ice Climbing Equipment
Ice climbing requires specific gear to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. Here are a few things you’ll need to complete your climb:
- Belay Device
- Ice Axes
- Climbing Pack
Of course, if you book an ice climbing excursion, your guide company will have all of the gear needed for your trip. You won’t need to purchase anything in advance, but a rental fee might apply. You can ask about the details prior to booking.
How Does Ice Climbing Work?
The first thing to know about ice climbing is the equipment. You’ll wear a helmet and boots during your climb for safety. Additionally, you’ll need ‘crampons,’ which are special shoes that are fitted around your boot. These add-ons have sharp points to penetrate and grip the ice. Your ice ax is what you’ll use to make your ascent, while your belay device keeps you strapped in for safety. If you book a guided trip, your group leader will fill you in on all of the specifics for safety prior to and during the climb.
The general flow of ice climbing can be remembered with 3 S’s: Squat, Stand, Swing. You will ‘swing’ your ice ax to reach new heights above and your crampons to ‘squat’ and then ‘stand’ make the climb up the ice. The motion comes quite naturally after a bit of practice.
Where to go Ice Climbing in Telluride
Telluride offers several scenic spots that are ideal for ice climbing. Bridal Veil Falls, Colorado’s tallest free-falling waterfall, is a top ice climbing attraction. At 365-feet, it is also one of the most challenging climbs to conquer. Other top destinations include Ames Falls, Cornet Falls, Ames Ice Hose, and various ice walls in the San Juan Mountains. Some tour companies also offer climbing in Ouray Ice Park.
Telluride Ice Climbing Guides
Ice climbing can be a risky sport, so finding an experienced and professional excursion group is crucial. We recommend the following local guides for your ice climbing adventure:
Telluride Mountain Guides
Telluride Mountain Guides offer tours from novice to advanced. Regardless of your skill level, they are sure to provide a safe and fun experience.
135 W Colorado Ave, Unit 2A | (970) 369-1153
Mountain Trip is the only AMGA Certified Guide Service in southwestern Colorado and is also permitted to guide in the Ouray Ice Park. Let them guide you on an unmatched alpine experience climbing ice!
San Juan Outdoor Adventures (Colorado)
223 East Colorado, Telluride, CO 81435| (970) 728-4101
San Juan Outdoor Adventures is Telluride’s only mountain outfitter that provides guests with a full-service experience – by taking care of your needs, we make your Telluride Adventure more pleasant and enjoyable.
Ice Climbing FAQs
Do you still have questions? Check out our FAQs for answers to our most commonly asked questions:
Who can ice climb?
Ice climbing is an open sport to anyone who can physically complete the climb. There is typically not an age limit, but call your guide company in advance to inquire about any specific requirements.
What should I wear ice climbing?
Dress warmly! You will be climbing in below freezing weather, so an insulated jacket, waterproof gloves, a hat or earmuffs, and appropriate layers are recommended. It’s important to be warm, comfortable, and mobile. You’ll want to be able to easily move around without too much difficulty during your ascent.
What should I bring ice climbing?
In addition to your warm layers, we recommend bringing the following items to your ice climbing excursion: bottled water, sunglasses, sunblock, lip balm, headlamp, first aid kit, and snacks. Your guide might have these items on hand, so check before you go to ensure you’ll have everything you need for a safe and comfortable climb.
How much does ice climbing cost?
The cost of ice climbing generally varies per company and based on the size of your group. In general, private sessions for the solo adventurer start at ~$300. The per person price drops substantially as you add guests. For example, four-person tours generally start around $150/person.