Colorado, with its rugged mountains and freezing winters, transforms into an ice climber’s paradise each year. Offering a variety of climbs ranging from beginner-friendly to expert-level, the state is a magnet for those seeking the thrill of scaling frozen waterfalls and icy crags. This guide highlights Colorado’s most thrilling ice climbing spots, perfect for adventurers looking to challenge themselves this winter.
Ouray Ice Park, Ouray
The Ice Climbing Mecca
- Features: Over 200 man-made ice and mixed climbs, ranging from beginner to advanced levels.
- Unique Aspect: The park has a controlled environment, ideal for those new to ice climbing or looking to improve their skills.
East Vail Falls, Vail
A Challenging Natural Playground
- Difficulty: Offers a variety of multi-pitch routes with a range of difficulties.
- Scenery: Set in a picturesque alpine environment, providing a classic Colorado ice climbing experience.
Lake City Ice Park, Lake City
A Hidden Gem
- Atmosphere: Less crowded than other popular spots, offering a more secluded climbing experience.
- Routes: Features a mix of natural and farmed ice across multiple routes.
Lincoln Falls, Mosquito Range
High Altitude Adventure
- Location: Near Hoosier Pass, offering a variety of ice and mixed routes.
- Challenge: The high altitude and cold temperatures make for consistently good ice conditions.
Bridal Veil Falls, Telluride
The Tallest Free-falling Falls in Colorado
- Height: A 365-foot tall waterfall offering one of the most iconic and challenging ice climbs in North America.
- Expertise: Recommended for experienced climbers due to its difficulty and scale.
Hidden Falls, Glenwood Springs
A Scenic and Accessible Spot
- Accessibility: Easily accessible, making it ideal for a quick day trip.
- Variety: Offers several routes with different levels of difficulty in a beautiful canyon setting.
The Fang, Vail
An Iconic Pillar
- Notability: A famous ice pillar that offers a spectacular and challenging climb.
- Condition Dependent: The Fang forms differently each year, adding to the excitement and unpredictability.
Ames Ice Hose, Telluride
A Test of Skill and Endurance
- Prestige: Considered one of the classic ice climbs in North America.
- Features: Involves a mix of ice and rock climbing, demanding a high level of skill and experience.
Skylight Area, South Fork of the Rio Grande
A Variety of Options
- Diversity: Offers multiple climbing routes ranging in difficulty, set in a stunning valley.
- Appeal: Popular with climbers who enjoy both ice and mixed routes.
Silverton Area Ice
For the Adventure Seeker
- Wilderness Experience: Located in the San Juan Mountains, known for its remote and challenging climbs.
- Range: Offers a wide range of climbing options, from easier climbs to demanding multi-pitch routes.
Colorado’s ice climbing spots offer some of the most thrilling and diverse climbing experiences in the United States. Whether you’re a seasoned ice climber or just starting, these destinations provide a fantastic opportunity to challenge yourself against the stunning backdrop of Colorado’s winter landscape. Always prioritize safety, check local conditions, and consider hiring a guide if you’re unfamiliar with the area. Get ready to experience the exhilarating world of ice climbing in Colorado this winter!