Ice Climbing 101 with Reid Kalmus: Where to Start

 In Wilderness Sports News

At Wilderness Sports, we’re all about trying new sports (and adding to our gear collections as we do). Lately we’ve been venturing into the world of ice climbing and it has been a blast! We’ve asked one of our favorite local climbers to give us some insight into his favorite ice climbing destinations – here’s what Reid Kalmus has to say:

There is no better place to learn how to climb ice than the Ouray Ice Park, the amount of healable top-ropeable ice is second to none. You need mileage, mileage, mileage before you think about leading ice and Ouray Ice Park is the best place on earth.You can start building an anchor before your latte’ is cool enough to sip. The most important thing to remember is Mouses Chocolates ” Scrap Cookies”, 3 per person is a good number, one for breakfast, one while climbing and one for after!
The next best place is Lake City, My good buddy Bruce is the Mayor – he bought me a beer at “The Packer” the first 20 minutes I’d ever been there! What a great town. If their Ice Park was as amazing as the people there, Lake City would be my favorite. I guess 2nd best Ice Park on earth isn’t too shabby either. Go find Craig “Maddog” Blakemore, he’ll probably be around the Ice Park, and he’ll show you what’s good. They’re putting in amazing work in Lake City, and its an hour closer than Ouray from Summit County and typically not as busy.
We couldn’t agree more on the topic of Lake City. PLUS there are over 100 miles of groomed trails on Slumgullion Pass, making it a great multi-sport destination!
Next on the list would be Vail. Anything outside of the Amphitheater proper is fairly moderate or has moderate options. While this is an entirely different environment than either of the Ice Parks, it can still be a safe place to learn. Avalanche danger, temperature fluctuations and being further from emergency service are a few things to consider in any backcountry ice climbing environment.
Having a solid mentor or guide is the most important thing. Anyone can hang a top rope in the Ice Park or elsewhere and hack away at ice. Having someone who can pick apart your form and bad habits, show you how to climb correctly and efficiently, understand your ability, and can push you in a safe manner will lead to the fastest and safest progression in the sport.
For more info, come by the shop forresources on where to climb! Stay tuned for more on the basics of ice climbing with Reid!
If that has you thinking about getting into ice climbing, come check out our recently refreshed climbing section! We’ve got some great gear to get you started! PLUS we are so excited about it that we made some new stickers just for you – only $2 at the shop! Come see us!
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