Ice Climbing is just what it sounds like, climbing on vertical patches of ice. Many times it includes climbing ice formations on mountain sides, but frozen waterfalls, cliffs and rock slabs are also surmountable. There are two broad categories when it comes to Ice Climbing and that is Alpine Ice and Water Ice Climbing. Alpine Ice Climbing is the mixture of ice in mountain sides and is a product of frozen mist or held over by snowfall and is usually part of a hike or mixed in with rock climbing, and typically it is less difficult in terms of technique. Water Ice Climbing refers to ascending up frozen water veins such as a waterfall and is very technical and difficult; only experienced climbers should attempt these climbs.
Summit County is home to some great ice and rock climbing areas and these areas are made accessible through ski resorts and private companies. One of the most popular sites is a low difficulty climb near Leadville called Chalk Creek. It lies close to the road, but is protected from winds and vehicular noise from Hwy 24. The climb has about 40 feet of vertical and can be top roped. You can usually judge the group of cars parked at this pullout if the spot is crowded. From Keystone, take I-70 to Copper Mt, S on 24, pass the Climax Mine/Fremont Pass 3.4 miles. You go through the switchbacks downhill and about 0.1 mile short of power lines crossing overhead.
Arapahoe Basin has a climb known as the Widowmaker. Look sharp for an ice route on the left(north) side of the road when driving west past A-Basin. You have to park a half-mile or so down the road and walk along the highway to the gully.
701 E. Anemone Trail, Dillon, CO 80435
970) 468-5687 www.wildernesssports.com.
If you are looking for equipment rentals, Wilderness Sports in Dillon has some great specials and quite a bit of equipment. They are the premier provider for ice climbing equipment as well as equipment for other activities.
Apex Mountain School
(970) 949-9111 www.apexmountainschool.com
Apex Mountain School is located in Vail, Colorado and specializes in both rock climbing and ice climbing in the resort. Apex is a highly rated climbing guide company and is known for some of the best ice climbing Vail has to offer. East Vail ice climbing is world revered and is some of the most accessible in Colorado, with an average 30 minute approach. Featuring single pitch routes up to 110 feet, from moderate to advanced, East Vail has climbing for all levels.
Participants of all ability and experience levels welcome. Apex provides all of your technical climbing gear (i.e. ice climbing boots, ice tools, crampons, harnesses, helmets, belay equipment, ropes, and other gear) for your ice climbing. Ask your guide for information on what to bring to best enjoy the activities. The prices range depending on how many people are in your party and range from $154 to $350 per person. Lunches are available for an additional fee and Apex is one of the best ice climbing companies in Colorado.
Reservations are required and they have a brochure online with more details and specifics, so give them a call if you are interested!