As ice climbing has soared in popularity over the past few years, there are more clinics, guided outings, and ice festivals than ever before—which makes now the perfect time to learn. If you’re new to the sport and looking for a place to top-rope some ice or even try your first lead, check out one of these five spots for easy access and beginner-friendly flows.
Ouray - Colo.
Nestled in the midst of southwestern Colorado’s San Juan Mountains, Ouray (pronounced YUR-ay) is known for its cold temperatures, soaring cliffs, and plentiful ice. Even better news for beginners: The Ouray Ice Park, a winding canyon lined with top rope-accessible ice flows, is walking distance from town. Go any time of year for free entry (donation recommended), or visit during the iconic annual Ouray Ice Fest for inexpensive gear rentals and world-class climbing clinics.
More Info: ourayicepark.com
Hyalite Canyon - Mont.
Bozeman, Montana, is famous among outdoor adventurers of all persuasions, but it’s particularly legendary among ice climbers. About 20 minutes from town, you’ll find Hyalite Canyon, a seemingly endless playground threaded with over 100 distinct ice flows. If you have good winter tires and a little uphill snow savvy, you’ll find most areas easily accessible. Head to the Genesis wall for a high concentration of beginner-friendly climbs, some of which offer top-rope access. Brand-new to ice? Schedule your trip around the annual Bozeman Ice Fest to take advantage of clinics, gear rentals, and fun events.
More Info: bozemanicefest.com