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Ice Climbing - Level 1

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    $494 *
    2 days
    Level 1
    Ice Climbing

    *Included: Round-trip transportation between the SJMG Office and the Ouray Ice Park, as well as the Ouray Ice Park use fees.


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Ice Climbing - Level 1

Ice Climbing - Level 1

Come into the fascinating world of climbing the frozen element! Our thorough ice curriculum will help you become a safe, efficient, and proficient ice climber on moderate to steep terrain.


  • Venture into the enthralling world of ice climbing, learning the techniques to progress up moderate to steep ice terrain.
  • Learn all the skills necessary to independently and confidently top-rope ice climb.
  • Increase your toolkit to tackle more technically demanding mountain climbs.
  • Our gradual progression of teaching and implementing ice climbing techniques ensures that participants find ice climbing a natural and rewarding activity.
  • Instruction focuses on each climber's abilities and comes from our guides who are experienced ice climbers and passionate teachers.

Ice Climbing - Level 1 is the ideal course for both first-time ice climbers and those who climb sporadically (less than once a year). The course takes place in Colorado's San Juan Mountains, considered by many to be the best venue in the world for learning and mastering ice climbing. Our two-day course teaches and refreshes participants on how to become proficient ice climbers in a short period of time. By the end of this course, you will be familiar with setting up a top-rope climbing system, be able to confidently belay a climbing partner, and be able to climb Grade 3-4 ice climbs. Our guides work with you over the two days with the goals of creating a confident proficient, and safe climber.

The course follows a natural progression where climbers begin on lower angled terrain and venture onto steeper ice as their comfort levels increase. With an intense focus on proper technique - body positioning, footwork, tool placement, and sequences - you'll debunk the idea of ice climbing being a strenuous activity and enjoy a natural means of upward movement. Further instruction focuses on ice climbing equipment and its use, belaying and rappelling for ice climbers, and safety considerations while climbing in the vertical ice environment.


The Mountain Guides at RMI have a reputation as top guides in the United States. Years of guiding and climbing around the world have built a core of professional guides.

Our guides are celebrated teachers and trainers, known for their leadership as well as their character. They possess the compassion, enthusiasm, and ability to empower others and inspire them forward. Such qualities may only be found in people at the top of their profession. Despite their vast experience, RMI Guides still remember their own first steps into the mountains and enjoy helping other climbers reach new heights.

Our exceptional focus to detail, our unparalleled level of climber attention, and our genuine excitement for these adventures make our courses truly memorable.


RMI strives to create the safest mountain experience possible. Our experienced team of guides focuses on leading a fun and successful course without compromising safety. Each course includes careful pre-trip planning, daily weather forecasts, ice condition evaluation, and diligent attention to detail. All RMI Guides are highly trained in remote medicine and rescue skills and carry comprehensive medical kits, rescue equipment, and radio communication equipment throughout the trip. Regardless of the objective or the destination, safety remains RMI's top priority.

Our ice courses are taught in the Durango, Silverton, and Ouray areas in Colorado's San Juan Mountains. This is a program organized by Rainier Mountaineering, Inc. and led exclusively by San Juan Mountain Guides, LLC (SJMG). SJMG is based in Ouray, Colorado, and is an authorized permit holder in the San Juan National Forest, Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests under priority use permit from the Forest Service, USDA.

As you prepare for your upcoming adventure, please feel free to contact our office and speak directly to one of our experienced guides regarding equipment, conditioning, the route, or any other questions you may have about our programs. We are available Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at (888) 89-CLIMB or info@rmiguides.com.

Climber Reviews

Filter By
The progression from being a total beginner rapelling into the canyon on the first day to being comfortable and confident climbing steep ice by the end of the second.
Chadwick W.

I enjoyed doing something I had never done before. I had some nervousness about it but the guides were good at putting things at ease. They made sure we were safe and explained things very well. I received lots of coaching which I appreciated. The Ouray Ice Park setting is amazing.
Victor G.

Meeting new people and maybe future climbing partners. I never felt the unsafe the entire trip. We cant wait to come back next year for the intermediate class and maybe fit in a few ski runs as well!Well done RMI and SJMG!
Larry H.

RMI is always very organized and communicates regularly leading up to a trip. The equipment needed is always covered well a head a time. San Juan provided quite a bit of equipment as part of the program, which was nice - made traveling (with less gear) easier. The guides were great, each providing their own personalized instruction.
David C.

incredibly enjoyable experience, new activity and extremely supportive guides.
Randy J.

Opportunity for development and focused feedback on skills.
Erik S.

Carlos B.

I am truly pumped about putting my new skills to use and I feel this class has unlocked a whole new level of fun in the mountains for me.
Michael H.

Just getting away and getting out on the ice was great. Everyone was very nice and it was overall a very cool experience.
Tom M.

just the overall experience
Jason S.

The Ice Park is such an amazing public resource right in town. I really wish I lived closer to take greater advantage of it.
Michael D.

Elias set a nice tone and everything fell into place. I appreciated and enjoyed the organization, expertise, and the positive attitude of all involved.
Chris C.

The adventure of ice climbing. Really learned a lot in a couple of days!
Tamara B.

Location and opportunity in Ouray to do so much.
Michael S.

I really liked the experience of tackling something new for me with such an competent crew: Elias and Andreas.
Scott W.

  • Upcoming Climbs

    • Please call our offices at 1-888-892-5462 to inquire about availability.
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  • Price
    2 days
    Level 1
    Ice Climbing

    *Included: Round-trip transportation between the SJMG Office and the Ouray Ice Park, as well as the Ouray Ice Park use fees.

Table of Contents
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7:30 a.m. Meet at the San Juan Mountain Guides Headquarters (725 Main Street, Ouray, CO)

We introduce the team and guides for the program, discuss clothing and equipment, then distribute and fit gear. A short walk brings us to our training site. We begin with a discussion about safe climbing practices in an ice environment and Leave No Trace ethics.

We continue by learning and building top rope anchors, reviewing knots, and evaluating the safety hazards when top-roping ice. Once our ropes are set, we transition into movement skills. We focus on each component of ice climbing technique: the stance of balance, foot placement and footwork, center of gravity positioning, and swinging of the tools. We will also learn proper belaying techniques. Once we master how our body moves up the ice, the latter part of the day will be spent putting it all together and top-roping moderate grades of ice to develop technique. 

Our day climbing usually concludes at 3 p.m. Please make your own arrangements to stay in the area this evening.


7:30 a.m. Meet at the San Juan Mountain Guides Headquarters (725 Main Street, Ouray, CO)

We begin the morning with more top-rope climbs, gradually gaining confidence and increasing the difficulty of the climbing as individuals become more proficient on the terrain. We break up the day by introducing ice anchors such as ice screws and V-threads, as well as learning and practicing safe rappelling. 

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Travel Consultant

RMI has partnered with Erin Rountree to provide comprehensive travel support. We have been working with Erin for many years. As an independent agent of the Travel Society, she has booked countless miles for adventure travelers across the globe and is extremely knowledgeable about the travel needs of our programs. Please call (208) 788-2870 or send an email to etravel@cox.net.

Travel Insurance

We strongly encourage everyone to purchase travel insurance, which can cover trip cancellation, interruption, delay, baggage loss or delay, medical expenses, medical evacuation, and more. Travel insurance offers the best possible protection in the event of a sudden, unexpected illness or injury prior to or while traveling. You can purchase travel insurance at any time prior to the trip departure. Should you need to cancel from a program, Trip Insurance will refund you for any non-refundable cancellations fees when canceling for a covered reason.

There are several things to note when purchasing trip insurance.

  • Cancellation Insurance is included in the standard Trip Insurance policy if you are injured, or have a medical or family emergency prior to or while traveling. Should you need to cancel your program, Trip Insurance will refund you for any non-refundable cancellations fees when canceling for a covered reason. Most travel insurance companies provide an option to include coverage that allows you to “Cancel for Any Reason,” but the initial policy must be purchased within 15 days of placing your deposit for the program.
  • To cover your trip with RMI Expeditions, you may need to include options such as an “Adventure or Sports” upgrade. Not all travel insurance will cover mountaineering, climbing, skiing, or trekking adventures. Some will not cover due to gear used (crampons, ice axe), others will not cover above a certain elevation and/or region of the world. Check your policy carefully to make sure your activity is covered.
  • Purchasing Travel insurance is also dependent on your state of residence. If one company doesn’t offer coverage for you because you live in Washington, another company might.


Harbor Insurance Harbor Travel Insurance covers the following critical benefits:


  • Evacuation to the nearest appropriate hospital once hospitalized.
  • Trip cancellation/interruption, primary medical expense coverage, sporting goods, baggage loss, emergency dental, AD&D, and more.
  • Completely integrated one-stop program with a single contact for emergency services to travel assistance and insurance claims
  • 24/7 access to paramedics, nurses, and military veterans.

Harbor Travel Insurance is powered by Redpoint Resolutions, a medical and travel security risk company. Their team is comprised of special operations veterans, paramedics, Stanford Medicine affiliated physicians, former intelligence officers, insurance actuaries, and global security experts with dozens of years of experience in theaters around the world. The Redpoint network covers the globe, making them uniquely equipped to provide elite rescue travel insurance – in every sense of the word.

Getting There

Meet your guides at the San Juan Mountain Guides Headquarters (725 Main Street, Ouray, CO).

Ouray is located in the Southwest portion of Colorado, approximately 70 miles north of Durango, 50 miles from Telluride, 40 miles from Montrose, and 345 miles from Denver. The closest airport is Montrose or Grand Junction (100 miles to the north). Driving times from Denver, Salt Lake City, or Albuquerque are all around seven hours.

You can rent a vehicle for the drive from the airport, share a ride, or find a local shuttle service.

Ride Share: If you are interested in sharing a ride, please go to our Message Board, then to "Carpool and Ride from Airport" and post your information.

Ouray Area Accommodations

Box Canyon Lodge: www.boxcanyonouray.com

Comfort Inn: www.ouraycomfortinn.com

Chalet Inn: www.ouraychaletinn.com

Victorian Inn: www.victorianinnouray.com

Weather and Route Conditions

Ouray has a very dry climate with mild winters and 300+ days of sunshine per year. Average winter temperatures are usually slightly above freezing. For updated Ouray weather forecasts, click here. For conditions, click here. For the Ouray webcam, click here.


Our guides work hard to ensure your well-being and success on the mountain. If you have a positive experience, gratuities are an excellent way to show your appreciation. Amounts are at your discretion and should be based on your level of enjoyment. Tips for excellent service normally average 10 – 15% of the cost of the program. If you would rather not bring the guide gratuity with you on the trip, you can send a check or call the RMI office to pay with a credit card upon your return.


Ouray is a small Victorian town known for its natural hot springs, gorgeous alpine location, and ice. Ouray is located only 47 miles from Telluride, which offers world-class lift-serviced skiing. Ouray also offers cross-country skiing, great restaurants, and shopping.

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This trip is open to all individuals in excellent physical condition. There are no technical climbing prerequisites to join this program.

  • Get In The Best Shape Of Your Life
    And Then Go
    Climb A Mountain

    Create A Fitness And Training Program

    Go To Fitness Resources

Physical Fitness Training

Mountaineering requires a high degree of physical stamina and mental toughness. Even for the healthiest and fittest individuals, climbing mountains qualifies as an extremely challenging endeavor.

  • Start immediately. Start a rigorous fitness and training program now with the goal of arriving in top physical condition and confident in your skills.
  • Be intentional. Focus on gaining the necessary strength, stamina, and skills to meet the physical and technical demands of the climb.
  • Be sport-specific. The best fitness and training program mimics the physical and technical demands of your climbing objective. The closer you get to your program date, the more your training should resemble the climbing.

For the Ice Climbing - Level 1 program you are preparing for:

  • Ice Climbing techniques requiring core strength and flexibility
  • Forearm, shoulder, and calf strength
  • Balance

Nothing ensures a personally successful adventure like your level of fitness and training. Bottom line: Plan on being in the best shape of your life and ready for a very challenging adventure!

Please refer to our Resources for Mountaineering Fitness and Training for detailed fitness and training information.

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What You’ll Need

A list of required personal equipment accompanies every RMI program, and the thought process behind each item is much greater than simply “preparing for the worst and hoping for the best.” The list for your program takes into account factors such as seasonality, route conditions, weather, elevation, and more. As such, this list is framed within the broadest of contexts and is dynamic by its very nature. Therefore, certain variables (additions and/or subtractions) are inherent within such an all-encompassing list. We make every effort to recommend only top of the line clothing and technical gear, and it is never our intention for you to buy or rent unnecessary gear.

The Guide Pick is an example of the listed item, giving you an idea of the material and specifications of the item. This exact item does not need to be purchased or used; however, any item you choose must have similar characteristics and performance abilities to the Guide Pick.

RMI Guides concur on the potential necessity of every item. Thus every item on the list is required at gear check. However, guides may also have suggestions derived from their experience, some of which will vary from a given list. The guides’ recommendation whether to bring along or leave behind certain item(s) comes during the gear check when the team first meets. Occasionally this recommendation comes at the expense of having previously purchased an item. If a guide presents the option of leaving behind certain item(s) on the list of required equipment, it is for a good reason. Their recommendation may be related to the weather, route conditions, freezing level, perceived strength of the party, or desired pack weight.

Ultimately, there will never be a consensus for a “perfect” equipment list for an ascent. It does not exist because of the multitude of variables faced by climbers throughout the climb. Please follow this equipment list carefully so that you will arrive for the gear check with all the required items. Keep in mind the list is not black and white, fine-tuning will occur once you meet with your guide. Have a great climb!

Equipment List

    • RMI provides, in affiliation with San Juan Mountain Guides (SJMG), the following personal equipment: harness, helmet, ice tools, crampons, ice boots, and belay/rappel device.  If you already own these items please feel free to bring them with you to the course.

    • Each glove layer is worn separately as conditions change during the climb.

    • We recommend a minimum of five upper body layers, all of which can be used in conjunction with each other. Two of these should be insulating layers, one light and one medium, that fit well together. Today there are many different layering systems to choose from, including fleece, soft-shell, down and synthetic options.

    • We recommend a system of four layers, all of which can be used in conjunction with each other. Products which combine several layers into one garment, such as traditional ski pants, don’t work well as they don’t offer the versatility of a layering system.


      RMI provides, in affiliation with San Juan Mountain Guides (SJMG), ice climbing boots.  Crampon compatible, insulated leather boots are the footwear of choice for ice climbing. Plastic boots can work as well.  If you already own this item please feel free to bring them with you to the course.


      See the Food tab for suggestions and quantities.


      One-liter water bottles with wide mouths made of co-polyester (BPA-free plastic).


      Include toilet paper, hand sanitizer, toothbrush and toothpaste, and wet wipes. Bring a quantity appropriate to the duration of your trip.


      We recommend small tubes of SPF 30 or higher, which can be carried in pockets for easy access and to prevent freezing.


      Many smartphones have excellent cameras. Action cameras, small point-and-shoots, and compact dSLRs are lightweight and work well at altitude.


      Our guides carry comprehensive medical kits, so keep yours small and light. We recommend a selection of adhesive bandages, antibiotic ointment, Moleskin and blister care, medical tape and/or duct tape, basic pain reliever, and personal medications.


      We recommend bringing a selection of comfortable clothing to wear while traveling as well as pre- and post-trip.

    • Purchase travel insurance.

    • Purchase airplane tickets.

    • Arrange lodging in Ouray.

    • Arrange transportation to Ouray.

    • Be in the best shape of your life!

Provided Equipment

RMI provides, in affiliation with San Juan Mountain Guides (SJMG), the following personal equipment: harness, helmet, ice tools, crampons, ice climbing boots, and belay/rappel device. If you already own these items please feel free to bring them with you to the course.

Every guide on your program will carry rescue equipment and a first aid kit. Guides have cell phones for emergency contact.

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On the Ice Climbing - Level 1 program you will need 2 mountain lunches.


Mountain lunches are eaten during short breaks throughout the day. We continually snack to keep our energy levels up while we climb - lunch begins just after breakfast and ends just before dinner! Avoid packing any items that require preparation or hot water.

The importance of having foods that are genuinely enjoyed cannot be overstated. Eating properly is the key to maintaining strength while in the mountains. In order to combat the loss of appetite at altitude we aim to have a variety of foods that stimulate the whole palate, from sweet to sour to salty.

Recommended mountain lunch items: dry salami, smoked salmon, jerky (turkey, beef, fish), small cans of tuna fish, individually wrapped cheeses such as Laughing Cow or Baby Bell, crackers, bagels, candy bars, hard candies (Jolly Ranchers, toffees, Life Savers), gummy bears, sour candies (Sweet Tarts), cookies, dried fruit, nuts, energy bars, GORP mixes, and drink mixes (Gatorade/Kool-Aid).


Breakfast and dinner options are available in town at a variety of restaurants.

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Payment in full is due at time of reservation.*

*Payments $2,500 or less may be made via MasterCard, Visa, e-check, check, or wire transfer. Payments over $2,500 must be made via e-check, check, or wire transfer.


$50 of your program fee is non-refundable. Written notification is required for all cancellations.

Once RMI receives written notification of cancellation, the following apply:

  • If you cancel 60 or more days before the start of your program, the program fee will be refunded less $50 per person.
  • If you cancel less than 60 days before the start of your program, no refunds will be issued.

Unfortunately, due to the time-sensitive nature of our business, and the difficulty in re-booking a trip close to departure, we cannot make exceptions to this policy.

Cancellation Insurance

We strongly suggest that everyone purchase travel insurance. Please see our Travel Page for details.

Change of Date

Date changes are subject to availability and apply only to the current climbing season. Date changes may be requested at anytime up to 30 days prior to your departure date for a $25 fee per person. There are no date changes allowed less than 30 days before departure.

Risk Management

Managing risk is RMI's number one priority. Our guides manage significant hazards inherent in mountaineering such as avalanches, ice fall, rock fall, inclement weather, and high winds, but they cannot eliminate them.

Please clearly understand that mountaineering is inherently a hazardous sport. You are choosing to engage in an activity in which participants have been injured and killed. While those accidents are indeed infrequent, they may occur at any time and be out of our control. We ask that participants acknowledge the risk and hazards of mountaineering, and make their own choices about whether or not to engage in this activity.

Climber Responsibilities

Mountaineering is both an individual challenge and a team endeavor. Some of the responsibility for the team is carried by the individual climbers. For this reason, we ask that each participant:

  • is physically and mentally fit, properly attired and equipped, and continues to self assess throughout the program to ensure as safe a climb as possible. If a climber's own physical fitness limits his or her ability to safely continue upward, that can have a negative impact on the summit experience or opportunity of other climb participants.
  • honestly and accurately describe themselves, in terms of fitness, health and skills, and their equipment to their guides, and that they adhere to the advice of their professional mountain guide.

If the Participant decides to leave a trip at any time after the start of the trip and prior to its conclusion, he or she will not be entitled to a refund.

RMI reserves the right to dismiss the Participant from a trip or to send the Participant to a lower altitude at any time if RMI determines, in its sole discretion, that the Participant is not physically, technically, or psychologically prepared for or capable of participating in the program.

Age-Appropriate Guidelines & Restrictions

In the interest of the safety and well-being of all participants, RMI adheres to the following age-appropriate guidelines:

  • Ages 15 & under: No participants age 15 & under
  • Ages 16 & 17: Accompanied by parent or legal guardian
  • Ages 18 & above: No restrictions 

An individual’s birthday must precede the departure date of the program. For example: a 15 year old who turns 16 on July 1 may participate on a program beginning July 2.

Under-aged participants on Private Climb or Group Climb programs are assessed on an individual basis.

Both the parent or legal guardian and the Participant must sign all forms. A minor climber must be accompanied by their parent/legal guardian throughout the entirety of the program. If either climber must descend at any time during the program, both climbers must descend together. 

General Policies

RMI's program schedule and itineraries are subject to change or adjustment based on a number of factors. These include, but are not limited to, route conditions, weather, terrain, or other environmental factors, currency fluctuations, changes in outfitting costs, government instability, and many other factors. RMI has complete discretion to change plans to accommodate any of these or other factors, including but not limited to increases in program fees, changes to program schedule or itinerary, and changes to guides or staff, as necessary for the proper and safe conduct of the program.

We reserve the right to cancel any program due to inadequate signups, weather or route conditions, or other environmental factors, government instability, unpredictable social, political or military conditions in countries that we travel. In such a case, you will receive a full refund of program fees paid to RMI, less any non-refundable payments that have been paid to our outfitters prior to the cancellation of the trip. When a trip is cancelled, RMI cannot be responsible for any additional expenses incurred in preparing for the program (i.e., airline tickets, equipment purchase or rental, hotel reservations).

The Participant understands and agrees that RMI assumes no responsibility or liability in connection with any travel and hospitality service provided to the Participant by others in connection with the trip, including but not limited to the services provided by airlines, hotels, and motor vehicle operators, and that RMI is not responsible for any act, error, omission, or any injury, loss, accident, delay, irregularity, or danger by a supplier of travel or hospitality services to the Participant in connection with the RMI program.

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