January 30-31, 2021


$ 650.00 p.p.

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Fundamentals for Alpine Climbing is for newer climbers looking to become competent rope-team members in alpine and mountaineering situations.

Upon registration you will receive a short video introduction to equipment and clothing for alpine climbing.

Day 1: We spend the first day in the Ouray Ice Park going over all the basics including: How to pack, key climbing-knots, fundamental crampon techniques, and belaying a climber safely. Of course, we will do some climbing and provide you with focused, actionable feedback on how to best develop your technique. This day‘s climbing instruction will concentrate on footing: being secure and efficient on your crampons.

After a short break and dinner we will share an educational and entertaining presentation of one of your guides’ recent alpine climbing adventures.

Day 2: Today, we delve further into the fundamentals of alpine climbing, starting with the specifics and the secrets of effectively using your ice axes. Over lunch we’ll show you how to read the ice, as one of the most important skills in climbing is how to mentally map your ascent before you climb. The final afternoon is split between practicing safe rappelling and rappel-station management with a final graduation climb-and-descent utilizing and cementing all your new-found knowledge.

This list may be adjusted by your guide based on the venue and time of season.

Download and Print Gear List

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

Ropes, protection, slings and other team technical equipment.


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We meet at the Artisan Bakery at 7:00am on the first day of the course:

For many people descending is the most difficult part of alpine climbing. The descent, when you’re tired muscles are wanting a breat, this is when most accidents happen.

Here is a simple two-exercise circuit that requires no-gear to help ensure you have adequate strength through to the end of the day.

1.) Isometric Wall Squat. This exercise is easy to do; you only need a wall. Squat, with your back against a wall, and your knees bent to 90-degrees. Hold this position for 10-12 seconds. If this is easy, hold some weight in your arms (Don’t allow the weight to rest on your legs, but rather hug it to your chest.)
2.) Plank Pose. Hold yourself, with a tight, rigid core, in the top of the push-up position with hand’s shoulder width on the floor for 10-12 seconds. If this is easy for you, do slow, controlled push-ups, torso arrow-straight, your elbows tracking straight back along your sides. Do this for 10-12 seconds. Good form—not allowing your core to sag—are more important than the number of repetitions you do.

Rest for 30 seconds between exercises. Repeat this circuit 3-5 times, twice a week with two full days rest in between workouts.

Interested in a more structured approach to training?
• Read our book: Training for the New Alpinism
• Check out our training and coaching options


Participant prerequisites

No prior climbing experience is necessary. Participants should be in good physical health, and capable of moderate to heavy physical exertion for several hours on two consecutive days.

Booking & Information

Do you have questions? Please don't hesitate to give us a call. If we are not immediately answering, we are outside climbing, skiing or exploring the wilderness. Leave us a message and we will call you back the same day.

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