Ice Climbing 101
Our two-day introductory ice course is perfect for the first time ice climber and/or mountaineer looking to expand their skills.
**COVID-19 Policy Update** Sierra Mountain Guides GUESTS! You must provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination prior to the start of your program, OR provide a current negative COVID test result taken within 48 hours of the start of your program.
Our two-day introductory ice course is perfect for the first time ice climber and/or mountaineer looking to expand their skills. Only $405 for 2 full days of instruction. If you want to beat the crowds and get an even better price at $360, check out our midweek dates!
This course has a minimum of 3 to run at the prices and dates listed with a maximum guiding ratio of 4:1 and max group size of 8 climbers. We are happy to arrange this course or similar for you on a custom private basis.
photo: Ken Etzel
The perfect introduction to the ephemeral world of frozen waterfall ice climbing.
Frozen waterfall ice climbing is like nothing else you can do in winter… or in life. It is completely counter-intuitive for our species to climb waterfalls in winter, but that might be what makes it such an addictive activity. With modern equipment, the learning curve is steep, like the ice, and you will be amazed at how quickly you will find yourself scaling the ice efficiently and with heat enjoyment. Our introductory 2-day Ice 101 course is the perfect introduction to the ephemeral world of frozen waterfall ice climbing, at a great price. Our venues are Horsetail Falls in June Lake and Lee Vining Canyon. We have the best gear in the area with rental boots and top of the line technical ice crampons and tools from CAMP/Cassin, all included in the price of the course!
- December 11-12
- December 18-19
- December 29-30 (Weekdays)
- January 6-7 (Weekdays)
- January 15-16
- January 20-21 (Weekdays)
- January 22-23
- February 3-4 (Weekdays)
- February 5-6
- February 12-13
- February 17-18 (Weekdays)
- February 19-20
- February 21-22 (Weekdays)
- February 24-25 (Weekdays)
- March 10-11 (Weekdays)
- March 12-13
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|TRIP ITINERARY: Ice Climbing 101*|
|DAY 1||We generally meet after an early breakfast in the warm comforts of our June Mountain office and Backcountry Ski Center. Get geared up for the day with our state of the art technical ice climbing equipment. We have the best rental ice equipment in California and rental costs are included in the price! We will drive from there either to Horsetail Falls or Lee Vining Canyon. Location varies with conditions and the group. On Day 1 we review climbing safety systems, knots, rope handling, belaying, systems check, and communication. Our AMGA trained and certified guides teach the basics of footwork with crampons, from French technique to frontpointing. Next is the art of tool swing and placement. Pretty soon you are off and climbing ice. We give you customized coaching and challenge you with exercises to help target your most needed areas of improvement. By the end of the day you will have a lot to smile about and reflect upon. Get some rest for Day 2!|
|DAY 2||The next day we go to a new location (conditions permitting) and quickly get on some steeper ice, which pushes you to apply the techniques learned on Day 1. Learn to relax muscles that need to relax and continue working on climbing efficiency with expert, personal coaching from our guides. Learn to ascend with fewer tool placements and crampon kicks. Learn the tricks for removing tools more easily. Learn to get rests on the go. Try 1 tool exercises that demand balance and footwork over strength. At some point in the day we will engage you with clinic on ice screw placement, removal, and racking so you will be prepared with the skills to try being the second climber on a multi-pitch ice climb in the future. This will set you up for seconding any ice climb the Sierra has to offer, in any season, and is a great primer for popular, accessible ice climbing venues like Ouray's Ice Park and Canada's roadside winter ice climbs.|
|* Please be prepared for Plan B: Sierra Mountain weather does not care that you have scheduled an ice climbing weekend. It is always good to have a "plan B" when making deals with mountains. We highly recommend trip insurance that covers the possibility of road closures from Sierra storms affecting access to ice climbing. We do not cancel courses for inclement weather or other conditions that may limit or prevent ice climbing. Such conditions are extremely rare in our experience, but mountain weather and conditions can vary with little warning from way too warm to way too stormy in a matter of hours or days. Although we wish it was otherwise, we cannot control nature. Trip insurance may or may not cover circumstances where roads are still open but the risks of accessing ice climbing are still too great. Check this with any potential insurance provider. As for all of our guided mountain programs, we do not guarantee any itinerary exactly as suggested and we will not generally be able to cancel, reschedule, or refund your course fees beyond the terms of our deposit and cancellation policy. Without trip insurance, Plan B is that you will be entitled to these scheduled dates with our top-notch guides, who can offer you an alternative plan that may include: rock climbing (with climbing shoes and all other gear provided), "dry-tooling" skills training on rock with ice gear, other technical climbing skills training, technical rescue training, avalanche awareness training, or other guided mountain activities that may be of interest to the group as conditions allow. If major winter storms prevent ice climbing, and you are willing to add the costs of rentals, we may be able to arrange backcountry skiing or snowboarding with a guide, as the conditions could be excellent. Thank you for your understanding about these uncertainties, and welcome to the wonderful world of alpinism. This might just be the most important and useful lesson of your climbing course!|