Telluride and the surrounding regions in Colorado draw visitors from around the world for the amazing ice climbing opportunities. Ice climbing has grown in popularity over the past few years and the industry has matured in the safety gear for this wintertime activity.
Ice climbing is completed on two levels of terrain: Alpine and water ice. Telluride is home to alpine ice climbing, as alpine ice is found in a mountain environment and can be less technical than water ice climbing. Many techniques and skills from rock climbing are applied to ice climbing especially rope systems. We highly recommend lessons or taking a guided excursion while ice climbing in Telluride.
Telluride is especially popular with climbers due to the San Juan Mountains and waterfalls we have. One of the most sought-after climbs in the region is Bridal Veil Falls. It’s a classic ice climb, but also difficult so it’s best for first time ice climbers to climb through a guided tour with a local guide. Bridal Veil Falls is a 365-foot free-falling waterfall and because of its level of difficulty, it was closed to climbers until the winter of 2008-2009. Climbers must sign in at the kiosk before beginning their ascent and climbers must comply with rules including: Avoiding the private property area of the Powerhouse and descents being completed via rappel.
For current ice conditions in the San Juan Mountains, visit San Juan Mountain Guides.
If you’re up for a bit of ice climbing outside of Telluride, there’s also the popular Ames Falls (30 minutes to 45 minutes away) that’s 600 feet and provides a steeper climb. Or, head to Ouray that’s home to the Ouray Ice Park and Uncompahgre Gorge. The Ouray Ice Park is a man-made ice climbing park and has more than 200 climbs in the gorge. The park is free and open to the public from mid-December to late March. Ouray is also home to the Annual Ice Festival where climbers compete, test out equipment, or just to enjoy watching the professionals scale the icy walls.