OURAY ROCK CLIMBING: A CLIMBER'S PARADISE AWAITS

Ouray, Colorado, nestled amidst the majestic peaks of the San Juan Mountains, is a haven for rock climbers seeking a diverse playground of cliffs, walls, and breathtaking scenery. Whether you’re a seasoned veteran yearning for challenging routes or a complete beginner eager to experience the thrill of the climb, Ouray Rock Climbing offers a variety of areas to suit your skill level and interests.

Unveiling the Crags: Where to Climb in Ouray

ROTARY PARK - Ouray Rock Climbing

This conveniently located climbing area (seconds from the car!) boasts routes perfect for climbers of all abilities. Beginners can learn the ropes (literally!) on closely spaced bolts with easy grades, while more experienced climbers can tackle steeper and more technical challenges. Rotary Park is an ideal spot to hone your lead climbing skills or simply enjoy a relaxing day out with the family.

Prerequisites: No prior rock climbing experience needed.

Ouray Rock Climbing
Ouray Rock Climbing

THE OVERLOOK - Ouray Rock Climbing

A hidden gem overlooking the historic town of Ouray, The Overlook offers a unique climbing experience. This area features steep limestone walls characterized by crimps and pockets, putting your finger strength to the test. The easy access, beautiful scenery, and challenging routes make The Overlook a favorite among local climbers. Prerequisites: Prior rock climbing experience with knowledge of basic knots and belaying techniques is required.

Prerequisites: Participants must have prior rock climbing experience, be familiar with basic knots and belaying a leader.

POOL WALL - Ouray Rock Climbing

Offering stunning mountain views, easy access, and a multitude of single-pitch sport climbing routes, Pool Wall caters to climbers of all skill levels. Beginners can find their flow on routes as easy as 5.5, while intermediate and advanced climbers can push their limits on routes up to 5.13+. Located just minutes from downtown Ouray, Pool Wall is a convenient and scenic spot to enjoy a day of climbing.

Prerequisites: No prior rock climbing experience needed

Ouray Rock Climbing

Beyond the Rock: Essential Information for Your Ouray Climbing Adventure

Climbing Seasons

The ideal climbing season in Ouray typically runs from spring through fall, when temperatures offer comfortable conditions for outdoor climbing.

Safety First

Rock climbing is an inherently risky activity. Proper training, appropriate gear, and the use of certified guides are essential for a safe and enjoyable experience.

Gear Up

For a successful climbing adventure in Ouray, you’ll need essential equipment like a harness, helmet, belay device, carabiners, and climbing shoes. A detailed gear list is available below.

Guided Adventures: Elevate Your Climbing Experience

Consider partnering with a certified guide to take your Ouray climbing experience to the next level. Our experienced guides can offer:

  • Safety and Confidence: Learn proper climbing techniques, gain valuable insights on route selection and risk management, and climb with the peace of mind that comes with expert guidance.
  • Explore Further: Discover hidden gems and unique climbing opportunities beyond the main areas.
  • Master the Craft: Refine your skills, push your limits, and achieve your climbing goals.

PERSONAL GEAR YOU NEED TO BRING:

• Climbing harness with belay/rappel and gear loops.

• Climbing helmet.

• Belay device.

• Two locking carabiners.

• Crampons for technical climbing. (Step in, not strap on)

• Technical ice tools, with hammers. An adze on a tool creates a significant risk to you. If you don’t have a hammer, you may cover the adze with tape and foam so it can’t cut your face if it pops out.

• Ice Tool tethers. This is a long elasticized leash that prevents you from dropping an ice tool. (optional)

• Climbing boots. These must be mountaineering boots. Leather hiking boots won’t work. Good quality climbing boots can be rented from Ouray Mountain Sports. Contact them directly to reserve at (970) 325-4284.

• Hooded shell jacket. A waterproof/breathable (hard shell) jacket is desirable when climbing water ice. If you use a soft shell jacket make sure it is freshly washed and dried as the drying helps to restore the water repellent finish. If we climb in a soft shell we often carry a light waterproof/non-breathable shell such as the Alpine Houdini jacket made by Patagonia.

• Technical climbing pants. Soft or hard shell. Should fit closely around the tops of your boots.

• Gaitors. Nice if your pants are baggy and/or don’t have integrated gaitors to keep the snow out. (optional)

• Synthetic long underwear top and bottoms. Two different weights for different temperature conditions.

• Synthetic mid-weight top. Slightly heavier than the above layer. The Patagonia R1 Hoody is a popular example.

• Warm fleece or sweater top.

• Warm insulating down or synthetic parka that can be worn over all other layers.

• A warm hat which can be worn under your helmet.

• Neck gaiter. Optional, but recommended.

• Two to three pairs of good fitting, non-bulky, warm climbing gloves and mittens. Gloves/mittens usually get wet or damp when ice climbing and it is nice to have a back-up pair with you at all times. Personally we bring two pairs of gloves and one pair of mittens for a day of winter climbing. One thin pair of gloves that are protective but not very warm; these get the most use. One medium pair of gloves that are warmer, but we can still climb with. And one pair of mittens for belaying and for extra cold days. Ski gloves usually have too much material in the palms for climbing.

• Thin synthetic or wool liner gloves. (optional)

• Wool socks to wear in climbing boots. A second thin pair of liner socks is optional for those who tend to get cold feet.

• Sunglasses.

• Sunscreen.

• A 30-40 liter backpack to carry extra clothes, water and food for the day.

• Small headlamp.

• A small personal first aid kit containing bandages and a blister kit.

• Water bottle and/or thermos: You should have one to two quart/liter capacity.

• Lunch/snack food. When climbing in the Ice Park, it is possible to go into town for lunch.

• Camera!

• Bathing suit for hot springs.

IMPORTANT:

Let us know what you DO NOT have. We may have it.

EQUIPMENT WE PROVIDE:

Ropes, protection, slings and other team technical equipment.

PERSONAL GEAR YOU NEED TO BRING:

• Climbing harness with belay/rappel and gear loops.

• Climbing helmet.

• Belay device.

• Two locking carabiners.

• Crampons for technical climbing. (Step in, not strap on)

• Technical ice tools, with hammers. An adze on a tool creates a significant risk to you. If you don’t have a hammer, you may cover the adze with tape and foam so it can’t cut your face if it pops out.

• Ice Tool tethers. This is a long elasticized leash that prevents you from dropping an ice tool. (optional)

• Climbing boots. These must be mountaineering boots. Leather hiking boots won’t work. Good quality climbing boots can be rented from Ouray Mountain Sports. Contact them directly to reserve at (970) 325-4284.

• Hooded shell jacket. A waterproof/breathable (hard shell) jacket is desirable when climbing water ice. If you use a soft shell jacket make sure it is freshly washed and dried as the drying helps to restore the water repellent finish. If we climb in a soft shell we often carry a light waterproof/non-breathable shell such as the Alpine Houdini jacket made by Patagonia.

• Technical climbing pants. Soft or hard shell. Should fit closely around the tops of your boots.

• Gaitors. Nice if your pants are baggy and/or don’t have integrated gaitors to keep the snow out. (optional)

• Synthetic long underwear top and bottoms. Two different weights for different temperature conditions.

• Synthetic mid-weight top. Slightly heavier than the above layer. The Patagonia R1 Hoody is a popular example.

• Warm fleece or sweater top.

• Warm insulating down or synthetic parka that can be worn over all other layers.

• A warm hat which can be worn under your helmet.

• Neck gaiter. Optional, but recommended.

• Two to three pairs of good fitting, non-bulky, warm climbing gloves and mittens. Gloves/mittens usually get wet or damp when ice climbing and it is nice to have a back-up pair with you at all times. Personally we bring two pairs of gloves and one pair of mittens for a day of winter climbing. One thin pair of gloves that are protective but not very warm; these get the most use. One medium pair of gloves that are warmer, but we can still climb with. And one pair of mittens for belaying and for extra cold days. Ski gloves usually have too much material in the palms for climbing.

• Thin synthetic or wool liner gloves. (optional)

• Wool socks to wear in climbing boots. A second thin pair of liner socks is optional for those who tend to get cold feet.

• Sunglasses.

• Sunscreen.

• A 30-40 liter backpack to carry extra clothes, water and food for the day.

• Small headlamp.

• A small personal first aid kit containing bandages and a blister kit.

• Water bottle and/or thermos: You should have one to two quart/liter capacity.

• Lunch/snack food. When climbing in the Ice Park, it is possible to go into town for lunch.

• Camera!

• Bathing suit for hot springs.

IMPORTANT:

Let us know what you DO NOT have. We may have it.

EQUIPMENT WE PROVIDE:

Ropes, protection, slings and other team technical equipment.

The Ice Clinic Workout:

Pull-ups, 5-15 reps, 30 seconds rest. Then:

Strict sit-ups. 10-15 reps, 30 seconds rest. Then:

Isometric Ice-Tool Hangs. 15-20 second one-armed hang off each tool. It helps to wear the gloves you’ll wear climbing. If you can’t do this one-armed, then do it with both arms, but shift more weight to one side at a time for the required time for each side. 30 seconds rest. Then:

Push ups, 10-15 reps, 30 seconds rest. Then:

Repeat circuit three times with a 3 minute rest between laps of the circuit for one workout. Do this workout twice in the first week.

Repeat circuit four times with a 3 minute rest between circuits for one workout. Do it twice a week the second and third week. In week 3 reduce rest between circuits to 2 minutes

Repeat five times the fourth and fifth week. In week four take 2 minutes rest/circuit. In week five take a 1 minute break between laps of the circuit

The sixth week do the workout only once. Do four laps of the circuit with two minutes rest between laps to allow for recovery and super-compensation.

Why pull-ups and push-ups? Because these simple exercise works all the main muscles-groups involved in swinging, and holding onto, an ice tool. If you can’t do five pull-ups, you may want to contact us about a customized strength training plan.

IInterested in a more structured approach to training?

• Read Steve House’s and Scott Johnston’s Book: Training for the New Alpinism

• Check Out Uphill Athlete’s training and coaching options

Ready to Scale New Heights? Let's Climb!

Ouray beckons with its diverse climbing areas, stunning scenery, and endless climbing possibilities. Contact us today to discuss your climbing goals and plan your unforgettable Ouray rock climbing adventure.