January 29-30, 2022

February 18-19, 2022


$ 630.00 p.p.

This 2-day workshop is designed for ice climbers with some previous experience who wish to hone their skills in a winter environment. Steve House, Vince Anderson and their team of professionals will help you target and train specific areas for individual improvement when climbing on ice. The class takes place in Ouray, Colorado where we will take advantage of the area’s many famous ice routes.

Day 1 will focus on assessment of your skills and identifying and prioritizing areas for improvement. We will model proper techniques and demonstrate unique drills to address your individual needs.

Day 2 will start with us sharing skills related to the non-movement aspects of winter climbing and the afternoon will be spent on further technique development.

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:

By car from Denver to Ouray

This course involves three consecutive days of ice and mixed climbing and instruction. Due to the slower-pace of instruction these days will be less fatiguing than three full climbing-days, nevertheless, you’ll want to have good upper-body strength and muscular endurance.

We recommend that in the six weeks preceding the course you incorporate the following circuit workout into your routine two to three times per week. Do one set of each of the following four exercises, moving in quick succession (maximum of 30 seconds) between exercises.

If on your first try you can’t complete the circuit with 30 seconds of rest, extend the rest to one minute. If that is too difficult, reduce the number of repetitions of each exercise, but maintain don’t rest more than one minute, aiming for 30 seconds or less, of rest between exercises in the circuit.

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.

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

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

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Booking & Information

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

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