Mountain Project Logo

First time going to Ouray Ice festival, and first year Ice climbing, dos, dont's recommendations etc.


Original Post
Hannah Spendlove · · Reno, NV · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 15

Hey guys I am an avid climber looking to take a stab at ice climbing. It seems that to do this the Ouray Ice Festival is the place to be. I don't really have any expectations and am looking for general info, recommendations on what clinics to take, and also looking for buddies to hang out with while I am there, as  I currently will be traveling alone unless I can find a partner in crime. Please help :) 

ViperScale . · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 240


Aaron T · · Grand Junction, CO · Joined Nov 2014 · Points: 5

Do you have your own gear? Most of the clinics are full, but it looks like there are a couple Intro to Ice slots still up for grabs. There is a walk up area to try climbing, but I haven't done it personally.

The Ice Festival generally isn't a good time to get a lot of climbing in, as there are a lot of climbers there and multiple routes are designated for clinics. It's more about the events and experience in my opinion. That said, I've gone the past 3 years and have always found something to climb. I'll be there Saturday and Sunday, feel free to message me if you end up making the trip. 

Hannah Spendlove · · Reno, NV · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 15
Aaron T wrote:

Do you have your own gear? Most of the clinics are full, but it looks like there are a couple Intro to Ice slots still up for grabs. There is a walk up area to try climbing, but I haven't done it personally.

The Ice Festival generally isn't a good time to get a lot of climbing in, as there are a lot of climbers there and multiple routes are designated for clinics. It's more about the events and experience in my opinion. That said, I've gone the past 3 years and have always found something to climb. I'll be there Saturday and Sunday, feel free to message me if you end up making the trip. 

Hey Aaron through the forums and some OT at work I wrangled up most my own gear I don't have screws but I do have crampons, axes, gloves, boots, layers for days, a  helmet. I also have all sorts of belay devices and gear from my trad rack!  

Aaron T · · Grand Junction, CO · Joined Nov 2014 · Points: 5
Hannah Spendlove wrote:

Hey Aaron through the forums and some OT at work I wrangled up most my own gear I don't have screws but I do have crampons, axes, gloves, boots, layers for days, a  helmet. I also have all sorts of belay devices and gear from my trad rack!  

Awesome, relying on rentals or demos could be iffy. No need for screws to get started, almost everything there is top rope.

Aaron T · · Grand Junction, CO · Joined Nov 2014 · Points: 5

A note for anyone considering going to the Ice Festival, don't wear a puffy coat around the base area or cover it with something durable. It's crowded, and lots of sharp tools wandering around. Seen a couple nice jackets get ripped.

ElGringo · · denver · Joined Jan 2008 · Points: 20
Highlander · · Ouray, CO · Joined Apr 2008 · Points: 255

Ice Fest is a great venue for beginners if you can sign up for as many clinics as you can. They are cheap and you will actually get to climb during ice fest. Many clinics will have no shows where people don't show up (hungover) and you can get in on those spots. Try to choose clinics that are taught by guides, not athletes for obvious reasons unless you just want to hangout with a certain athlete. 

jg fox · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2015 · Points: 5
ElGringo wrote:

Ice fest primer...

Do.... 

Expect the tiny little town of Ouray to be a stinky, synthetic clad shit show, people literally wear their harnesses complete with gear into the bars.

Expect to wait a while for restaurants, apparently every single climber needs food at exactly the same moment.

Get hammered and talk about ice climbing, because no one really does any real ice climbing at the fest. 

Give the ice farmers hugs and whiskey, they bust ass for everyone to play safely. 

Call Ouray mountain shop and reserve boots/ crampons and tools (assuming they still do that/ haven't already rented them out)

Convince a nice local to show you some moderate ice in the "backcountry" (guides are all way too busy that weekend)

Book your spot now, driving from Montrose gets old very quickly.

Dont...

Expect to climb every single moment, its literally swarming with everyone trying to just get in on something.

Plan on waking up without a hangover, questioning your life and lifestyle choices

Worry about your reputation/ style/ ego whatever. We've seen folks from all over the world vomit in the streets, walk out of the bar with questionable europeans, build atrociously poor anchors etc...

Bring a drone, giant puffy, jetboil, walkie talkies, chalk bag or helmet mounted go pro to the park. Bring bacon.

Forget to not take ice climbing serious at all, everyone else is doing that. 

Treat the locals like a shitty all inclusive resort, everyone here pays bills and has to sustain that in order to provide events like this. 


Lastly, have fun! Its a great way to connect with people from all over. I hope you get to climb at least a little if you make it down, like i said, ice fest is generally a shitshow of hangovers and shivering in the bottom of the Uncompaghre listening (as a group) to someone talk about climbing. But its a hell of a party!!




Yeah a lot of people that go to Ouray don't know how to make a redundant top rope anchor.

Tell us more about those "questionable Europeans"

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Post a Reply to "First time going to Ouray Ice festival, and fir…"
in the General Climbing

Log In to Reply