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3 Top Places for Ice Climbing in Colorado

Switch out your rock climbing shoes for ice climbing boots this #winter and explore the best ice climbing in Colorado


Photo: Matt Inden / Miles

The amazing mountain town of #Ouray is considered by many to be the ice-climbing capital of the world. A man-made venue, Ouray Ice Park sits in the deep, shady and cold Uncompahgre Gorge and is within walking distance of downtown Ouray. With hundreds of named ice and mixed climbs, most within a 15-minute walk of the park entrance, 11 distinct climbing areas and three miles of vertical terrain, Ouray Ice Park is THE place for ice climbing. And best of all, it’s free.

There are numerous other climbs in the area including many that are just off Camp Bird Road outside Ouray including Chockstone Chimney, Slip Slidin’ Away and Birdbrain Boulevard. There are even more near Eureka, including the charmingly-named Whorehouse Hoses and the much nicer sounding Stairway to Heaven.


Read more about winter in Ouray here


Lake City

Photo: Lake City

Less well known than Ouray Ice Park is Lake City Ice Park. A beautiful and historic mining town, #LakeCity is perhaps better known for its association with cannibal Alferd Packer. But climbing fans know that in winter Lake City becomes one of the best places in Colorado to get their ice climbing fix. Climbing started in Lake City about a decade ago, but since then more and more climbs have been created in the park which is just one block south of town. Currently there are around 15 established routes.

And like Ouray Ice Park, there is no charge to climb at Lake City Ice Park.


Read more about winter in Lake City here


Glenwood Springs and Rifle

Photo: Aspen Expeditions via Yelp

Somewhat off the beaten path, but also quite literally off Interstate 70, the tiny town of Rifle and nearby #GlenwoodSprings offer a few good ice-climbing routes that are well known and liked by local climbers.

#Rifle Mountain Park, formed thanks to a 1910 Special Act passed by Congress that granted a number of municipalities the chance to claim land to make them into parks, has over 250 bolted rock-climbing routes. There are a few ice climbs that form every winter (when exactly depends on the weather as Rifle is at a lower elevation than other good climbing areas) including Final Curtain, Soul On Ice and Tree Slab which is very close to the parking lot.

Beautiful Glenwood Canyon may only have half a dozen or so routes for ice climbing, but what it lacks in number it makes up for in quality. Most of the routes are either up Glenwood Falls or Hidden Falls. Then there is Deep Throat which made it into Mark Kroese’s book “Fifty Favorite Climbs: The Ultimate North American Tick List.”


Read about hot springs in Glenwood Springs and around the state here


For obvious reasons, it is not recommended that absolute beginners take on a climb without guidance. There are lots of companies that offer guided climbs at Ouray Ice Park, Lake City Ice Park and in and around Rifle.

Beginners looking for instruction or climbers looking for a guide can visit the website of the American Alpine Institute. They offer introductory to multi-day programs. No matter where you get your instruction, make sure your guide is certified.

Aspen Expeditions, the American Alpine Institute, Irwin Mountain Guides and Kling Mountain Guides also offer all kinds of classes and programs.


The 24th Annual 2019 Ouray Ice Festival will be held Jan. 24-27, 2019

The one-day Lake City Ice Climbing Festival will be held Feb. 9, 2019.


Read the whole winter issue of West of 105 for FREE here


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