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US Ice Destination Recommendations


Original Post
Michael C · · New Jersey · Joined Jun 2011 · Points: 340

My wife and I are looking to take a 3-day trip somewhere in the US to go ice climbing. We've both been climbing ice for three years now, but I have much more experience than she does. Either way, we'll be hiring a guide. Most of our climbing has been in the Catskills.

Looking to go somewhere with good lodging nearby (nice hotel, spa, drinks, dinner) with ice climbing, and guide services, not too far away.

Was thinking Utah, Colorado, or maybe even Montana...but, why not New Hampshire? And we plan on going mid-Feb 2014,

Please, recommendations and tips on where to go, when to go, where to stay, and who to hire as a guide.

THANKS!!!

Bill Kirby · · Baltimore Maryland · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 480

The Mt Washington Ice Fest is January 31st to February 2nd in North Conway NH. You could spend three days climbing in the clinics not have to pay for private guide. I went last year and had a great time. The guides and the people in the clinics were super fun to spend the day climbing with. You might find some partners there as well.

If you wanna go west Montana or Alberta would be my choice. I've never hired a guide in Hyalite but call Josh Lavigne if you head to Banff AB. I've hired Josh more days than I can remember.

Cor · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 1,460

Ouray, CO

.nice town and eats
.good lodging in a beautiful spot. (the lil Switzerland of America)
.ice (lots and all levels)
.guides
.largest? Ice fest
.walk to ice or drive for more backcountry ice

Michael C · · New Jersey · Joined Jun 2011 · Points: 340

Ouray looks really cool. It's my first choice. Hyalite is definitely a second choice that I'm going to look into. Have more of an interest in going out west, but am still considering NH.

Would definitely want to skip the ice festivals. We both like it as quiet, and uncrowded as possible...but realize we're also looking at the most popular ice climbing destinations. That said, we're trying to plan a mid-week trip.

Cor · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 1,460

Let me know if you need anymore info on the area, Michael..

Sunny-D · · SLC, Utah · Joined Aug 2006 · Points: 700

Utah has some great ice and you can climb all by yourself a lot of days if you stay away from a couple of crowded areas on week ends. Great lodging and skiing on your rest day.
Dallen

Dobson · · Butte, MT · Joined Oct 2011 · Points: 215

Another thought for consideration:

You don't need to go to a place like Hyalite or Ouray with a lifetime of climbing packed into a small area. You're only going to be climbing for three days. All you need are three days of moderate classics, and less concentrated areas will be less busy.

Here's an idea for a less busy vacation just to get you thinking about options: Stay at Chico Hot Springs in Montana and hire a local guide from Bozeman or Livingston. Go to Pine Creek to climb a few of Montana's most classic WI3s. After that, head to Yellowstone and Cooke City for incredible ice climbing way off the beaten path.

The Rockies have tons of options like that. A few scattered climbs of high quality in random valleys. It's easy to get far away from crowds out here.

Michael C · · New Jersey · Joined Jun 2011 · Points: 340
Cor wrote:Let me know if you need anymore info on the area, Michael..
Yes, that would be great. Going to pass it along to the wife to look at too.
Michael C · · New Jersey · Joined Jun 2011 · Points: 340
Sunny-D wrote:Utah has some great ice and you can climb all by yourself a lot of days if you stay away from a couple of crowded areas on week ends. Great lodging and skiing on your rest day. Dallen
I'm DYING to go to Utah. I know there's a ton of skiing, but my wife isn't much of a skier so we sort of forgot all about that state.

Know of any places near resort towns? A big part of this trip, besides the climbing, is relaxing in luxury...or something close to it.
climbing coastie · · Wasilla, AK · Joined Feb 2011 · Points: 90

I'll throw Anchorage, AK out there for you to think about. You'll have the ice to yourselves mid week. Plenty of ice to climb within 30 minute drive. If you want luxury, Alyaska resort in Girdwood is the place. Anchorage has some nicer places also.

Just a thought.

jmeizis · · Colorado Springs, CO · Joined Jul 2008 · Points: 225

New Hampshire has great ice and good guides. The Mt. Washington area has good early season iceIf you're looking for the cheapest and most time climbing you should head to the Adirondacks. Lots of great ice, not super crowded (at least when I lived there).

Colorado also has great ice in fairly concentrated locations (Vail, Ouray area) as well as backcountry ice in places like RMNP.

I think the ice in the northeast is more consistent in coming in but Colorado is having a pretty good ice season so that's not really a concern this year.

Can't speak too much about the other areas.

doligo · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2008 · Points: 269

Ouray or Canmore. I can only speak of Ouray since I live here (and since you said US). Hot springs and spas for your wifey. Outside of the Ice Fest and winter holidays (MLK, Prez day) and some weekends, it's pretty quiet here. Even in the Ice Park I can get to climb on a line of my choice without waiting on weekdays. The coolest thing about ice climbing in Ouray, it's warm! and sunny! You can't say that about New England, WY or MT.

If you guys have a week off, there is a direct flight from Newark to Montrose, but it's only on Saturdays. We are an hour from Telluride and 45 to an hour to the desert if you want to check out other things in the area (3 hours from Moab). PM me if you have any questions re: where to stay, eat etc.

Cor · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 1,460

I had thought about Vail for you too.. But if you are coming the whole way from the East…
Go to Ouray. Doligo nailed it… All sorts of awesomeness, in a unique setting.

If you need a guide, look up SanJuanMountainGuides. Tell'em you want Jim Turner to take you out for some fun.. He is a good friend of mine, and is a solid climber.

Also check out the vapor caves if you are doing some hot spring tours.

C

Patrick Carey · · Keene, NY · Joined Feb 2011 · Points: 0

My advice is stay on the East Coast - either the Dacks or New Hampshire with my nod being to the Dacks. Here's my reasoning, air travel is expensive and it's a hassle - all just part of it if you're going for an extended trip, but three days is way too short to be worthwhile. I've been to Ouray and will definitely go back, but not for less than a week.

Being driving distance is a huge benefit for maximizing the time you have and keeping travel headaches out of the mix. Leave after work so the first day you wake up where you want to be - this makes a big difference on short trips.

Mid-week, the Dacks are absolutely empty and you'll have your pick of the place. If it's important to you to be in a big town, Lake Placid (or North Conway if you choose NH) has lots of that kind of stuff. If not, there's lots of nicer places to stay, especially in the Keene/Keene Valley area.

There's more high quality ice in the Dacks than most other places and a lot of it is very accessible. With a short trip, I assume you're going to want to maximize days and I don't think there's anywhere (besides the Ouray Ice Park) that has more reliable and concentrated climbing with such short approaches - a good number of the classic moderate routes are less than than a hundred yards off the road.

Feel free to drop be a line if you want some specific info on where to go/stay and local guides.

Have fun wherever you go. Climbing anywhere is fantastic.

The Blueprint Part Dank · · FEMA Region VIII · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 460
Patrick Carey wrote:. Here's my reasoning, air travel is expensive and it's a hassle - all just part of it if you're going for an extended trip, but three days is way too short to be worthwhile. I've been to Ouray and will definitely go back, but not for less than a week.
Agreed, Ouray is awesome, but you're talking a full day of travel to and from. Though as far as guides go, San Juan Mountain Guides in Ouray is one of the best in the country.
Michael C · · New Jersey · Joined Jun 2011 · Points: 340

This is going to be a one last hoorah sort of trip, as my wife is demanding I get her pregnant with baby #2 in the coming months. So, I'd like to head out west (for the first time) since doing North East trips will pretty much be the regular in the coming years. Sadly, I've yet to climb in the Daks or NH. And I'm thinking we might add a couple extra days.

@ Doligo, thanks for the info about Telluride and Moab. I haven't even looked at where Ouray is on the map yet. And I live 30 minutes from Newark, so that direct flight is perfect for me.

@ Cor, I'll check out that guide. Thanks!

Patrick Carey · · Keene, NY · Joined Feb 2011 · Points: 0

I forgot about that whole last-hoorah / apocalypse scenario. If you want that kind of trip, go to Ouray, but make it as long a trip as you can.

Bill Kirby · · Baltimore Maryland · Joined Jul 2012 · Points: 480

The drive to Ouary is beautiful and long. It was scary as shit too when we did it! What.. I'm from Baltimore.

I just wanted to be sure you're aware of how much a private guide for two will set you back. The cost is between $300-$500/day depending on location. Patrick Carey is for real about the Dacks. The guide services are much cheaper too. Look up Ian Osteyee if you head to the Adirondacks.

As far as heading west... If this is your only big trip for awhile go north. Spend that airfare and car rental money on more days out climbing.

Now if you want luxury... I spent a week in the Fairmont Lake Louise and hired Andrew Wexler. It was relaxing to walk out the backdoor and hike to the Lake Louise Falls (WI5) one of the days. When the day was over we ate a fantastic lunch back at the hotel. The suite was spacious and the staff perfect. My wife loved the shops and salons. You also are a bit closer to Icefields Pkwy and Field BC than if you stay in Banff.

Chris Clarke · · La Paz, BO · Joined Apr 2009 · Points: 130

I wouldn't try to do a three day trip out west if you are including traveling time in your three days. Maybe five days with two travel days and three climbing days. Midweek, you might get a room at Rock and River in the Adirondacks and can roll out your door with a guide to plenty of ice climbing. It's not like your going to climb out the ice in the Adirondacks in a few years if that becomes your regular spot. Way cheaper too.

Woodchuck ATC · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 3,110

Flatlands of Frankfort, IL. We got a 35ft concrete farm silo frozen up each winter, with a warming tent. It's our 'destination' after work and on weekends. Visitors welcome!

Michael C · · New Jersey · Joined Jun 2011 · Points: 340
Woodchuck ATC wrote:Flatlands of Frankfort, IL. We got a 35ft concrete farm silo frozen up each winter, with a warming tent. It's our 'destination' after work and on weekends. Visitors welcome!
Oh, I've seen that thing before. Pretty awesome. I would totally come visit!
Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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