As one of the most remote places in the lower United States the Lake City area in the San Juans has some of the most amazing ice and alpine climbs in Colorado. From the ice park located right on the edge of Lake City to the backcountry ice routes like The Sherman route, which climbs around a thousand feet of ice, there is something for all abilities and desires. Without the name recognition of other ice climbing parks you won't have to fight crowds to get on the ice and with it's proximity to town you can climb a few hours, get a warm meal and then head back out on the ice. With the easily accessed ice of the park this makes the ideal location to learn to ice climb or work on advanced skills and technique before heading up with your guide to check out one of the big backcountry ice or alpine climbs.
We offer guided ice climbing trips and ice climbing classes when the park opens, usually in December. Backcountry ice can come into condition as early as November and may stick around well into April. Beyond that alpine snow and ice routes can persist until the end of June. All backcountry ice and alpine climbs are a Full or an Extreme Days worth of climbing, some of them require multiple days.
"Sarah and I had an awesome time. We were both impressed by and appreciated the fact that you actually taught us some of the finer points of climbing, rather than just setting a rope and saying "there you go." -Mike, Wisconsin
firstname.lastname@example.org | 6435 Garlock Way, Colorado Springs, CO 80918 | 719-209-6649
Lake City Ice Park Climbing Trips
*Please note, all rates are per person, e.g. 3people for a regular day would be $199/person or $597. **With the exception of the ice park, all backcountry ice and alpine climbs are billed as Long Days.
For any questions, send us an e-mail at info@coclimbing or call 719-209-6649
Guided ice and alpine climbs in the most remote area of the United States
This is not a comprehensive list of all the climbs we guide in the Lake City area but some suggestions of what's available. Because of the remoteness of the area there is still plenty of first ascent potential
Beginner Climbs-Climbs most physically fit people with little or no experience are capable of completing with our guidance. This is for climbers who want to learn all the basics.
Saddle Couloir of Sundog or Sunshine Peaks-A great introduction to basic snow climbing with a couloir that slowly increases in steepness from 30 degrees near the bottom to 45 degrees at the the top. From there climbers can turn right and scramble to the summit of Sunshine Peak (14,001') or turn left and hike to the summit of Sundog (13,432'). Depending on conditions and the time of year this is generally a three day climb. In the early spring it can make a great ski descent as well.
Winding Couloir of Sundog Peak-Another great introduction to snow climbing with angles mostly in the 35-45 degree range. There are a couple of steep rollovers around 50 degrees. This couloir goes straight to the summit in 3000' and can be a tough ascent usually done in three days, another great spring ski descent.
Zig Zag Couloir of Handies Peak-This makes for a great introduction to expeditionary climbing as quite a bit of the difficulty is getting to the base of the climb. Once there though this climbs a winding couloir to the summit of Handies Peak (14,058'). Because of the distance involved this is a minimum three day climb.
Intermediate Climbs-Climbs that require mastery of basic skills one might learn on a beginner climb. Physical fitness as well as technical skills such as the ability to ice climb, belay, and tie ones self in are essential.
16 Mile Couloir of Sundog Peak (WI3 M4, IV)-This 3000' route has a little bit of everything. Generally there's a bit of a snow slog to get here and once there it requires a little more powder slogging to the base of three ice steps, each longer than the last, with some more snow slogging in between. From there it's a little more snow slogging to a bit of rock or mixed climbing depending on the season. After that it's the snow conditions are generally better when you're above tree line and you take the snow field all the way to the summit.
American Peaks North Couloirs-American Peak(13,806') is a bit of a haul to get to but the gems usually require the most work. There are a number of snow couloirs all in the 40-55 degree range. Four of the most popular are aptly named: Victory, Patriot, Independence, and Traitor. In the late spring when the road is open all the way these make great single day objectives. Before the road opens these make a great link up with Handies Peak (14,058') or as part of a multi day ski-mountaineering tour.
Advanced Climbs-These climbs require a good deal of past experience and ability. Climbers should have a good understanding of multipitch climbing on rock and ice, and basic camping skills.
The Sherman Route (WI4, IV)-Located outside the Sherman townsite this can be done as either a full day of ice climbing or a multi-day alpine climb that may take two days to reach the summit of Half Peak (13,674'). The first half of the climb is the most technical with 4 pitches of ice, the hardest being WI4. From there a mix of snow and ice of around 50 degrees continue to the summit plateau before some scrambling to the summit.
Half Cocked (WI3 M5, IV)-Just down the road from the Sherman townsite this is another climb that can either be a good full day of ice climbing or a multi-day alpine climb. This starts up some progressively harder ice before ending at the start of some lower angled snow. This continues to a headwall where some more ice or mixed climbing may be encountered. Then some mixed snow and ice before increasingly steeper snow lands at the normal bivvy site for this climb, a wide ledge in the middle of the face. From there it's a bit more than 1000' of snow and scrambling to the summit of Half Peak (13,674').
Open Casket (WI5, IV)-This is just across the valley from Half Cocked and can be difficult to find in good conditions. This and the mixed counterpart, Closed Casket, start with a couple pitches of easier ice separated by low angle snow. This leads to the money pitches at the end of the drainage. On the left is the steep Open Casket that climbs sometimes brittle ice. Meanwhile on the right is Closed Casket which is an easier mixed climb coming in at M4. This can be guided as a long day climb for most climbers capable of doing the pitches in good style. There is even the option of tagging a quick summit if one were inclined to follow the ridge from the top of the ice to the summit of the two 13ers on either side.
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