The Black Canyon and Curecanti Recreation Area
Ice climbs are rated on a scale of Water Ice 1 (WI1) to Water Ice 6 (WI6), with WI6 climbs being the most difficult to ascend. Most of the ice climbs within the Black Canyon and Curecanti Recreation Area’s Blue Mesa area are rated W13 to WI5. Most of the climbs in the canyon require one to know how to rappel, lead, manage multiple pitches, as well as approach and descend climbs safely.
Gandalf’s Beard, one of the Black Canyon’s most popular routes, requires a 3.5-mile approach on skis, but rewards climbers with breathtaking winter views and solitude.
Some of the most popular routes around Montrose include:
• Gandalf’s Beard: two pitches, WI3-5, Black Canyon National Park
• Shadowfax: two pitches, WI3-4, Black Canyon National Park
• 268 (Train Route): one pitch, WI4-5, near Cimarron Visitors Center at Curecanti Recreation Area
• Curecanti Monster: five pitches, WI4-5, Curecanti Recreation Area
A free wilderness use permit, available at the park’s South Rim Visitor Center, is required for ice climbs in the Black Canyon National Park. No permit is required for ice climbs in the Blue Mesa area (Curecanti Recreation Area).
The Ouray Ice Park
The Ouray Ice Park, located 45 minutes south of Montrose, is a premier destination for climbers from around the world thanks to the ice farmers that create stunning frozen walls for recreation each year. It is the largest man-made ice park in the entire world. If the thrill of watching experts scale these challenging columns isn't enough to entice you, the views from this town - dubbed the "Switzerland of America" - will surely fill your cup.
Each year, the Ouray Ice Fest brings famous ice climbers to the area to compete and spectators can expect clinics, vendor exhibitions, competitions, evening celebrations, and more!