Ice climbing is a thrilling winter sport that involves scaling vertical ice formations using specialized tools like crampons and ice axes. Certain states in the U.S. offer prime conditions for ice climbing thanks to ample natural ice features. If you’re looking to embark on an icy adventure this winter, consider heading to one of these top destinations.
Colorado – Adventure Awaits in the Rockies
Colorado is home to some of the most iconic ice climbing routes in the Lower 48. Numerous ice walls and frozen waterfalls can be found dotting the state’s Rocky Mountain landscape. Beginners can get their ice legs at entry-level venues like Clear Creek Canyon near Golden. Meanwhile, the Ouray Ice Park features over 200 climbable ice flows. For a true alpine ice climbing experience, head to Rocky Mountain National Park, where frozen gems like Hidden Falls and Calypso Cascades await. Just be sure to research route ratings and conditions ahead of time.
New Hampshire – Traditional Ice in the Northeast
New England is a mecca for traditional ice climbing thanks to its rolling mountains and frequent freeze/thaw cycles. New Hampshire serves up some of the best alpine ice climbing in the east. Beginner climbers should head to Frankenstein Cliffs where they can hone skills on the area’s top-roped lines. When you’re ready for multi-pitch ascents, test your mettle on the frozen cable routes of Mount Washington. For beautiful scenic ice, opt for routes like Shoestring Gully in Crawford Notch State Park. Just be prepared for cold conditions.
Utah – Desert Ice in Zion National Park
Believe it or not, southern Utah offers up ample ice climbing thanks to its elevation and desert climate. Zion National Park contains several renowned desert ice climbing routes. Many are located off the park’s West Rim Trail. Check out popular venues like Iron Messiah, Prodigal Sun, and Moonlight Buttress. These south-facing routes stay frozen well into the winter thanks to their high elevation and lack of direct sun exposure. Just be prepared to hike or backpack your heavy gear to the climb. The approach is all part of the adventure!
Alaska – Glaciers and Alpine Ice
Some of the most incredible ice climbing in the U.S. can be found among the glaciers and alpine faces of Alaska. Regions like Girdwood, Juneau, and Valdez offer both beginner-friendly venues as well as more remote, advanced routes. Test your skills on the icy walls of Byron Glacier’s Ice Box. Or head to Valdez for stellar lines like Bridal Veil Falls and Vertical Limit. Just be prepared for true alpine conditions complete with bitter temperatures and sudden weather changes. Guided ascents are highly recommended for novice climbers.
Wyoming – Frozen Waterfalls in the Tetons
Wyoming’s Teton range provides stellar ice climbing on countless frozen cascades and waterfalls. Head to Grand Teton National Park where beginners can hone skills on moderate routes like Shoestring Falls and Snowdrift Falls. Meanwhile, advanced climbers can test their mettle on multi-pitch ice walls like The BT Express, which towers over 300 feet tall. The National Park offers incredible variety, from single pitch climbs to full day expeditions. Lock in epic views of theTetons as you make your way up ice flows like V-Pitch and Rogue Bull. Just be prepared for very cold temperatures at that high of an elevation. Proper layering and avalanche safety knowledge are key.
Montana – Alpine Ice Outside of Bozeman
Bozeman, Montana is an ideal basecamp for accessing incredible alpine ice climbing venues. Head to the frozen waterfalls of Hyalite Canyon just south of town for moderate routes perfect for intermediates. Popular beginner spots include Polar Circus, Genesis, and Sorted Routes. When you’re ready for more of a challenge, head into the Bridger Mountains for advanced ice climbing on routes like Scarface. This classic ice climb ascends a narrow chute through multiple vertical pitches. For true blue ice, climb the gullies of the Main Fork area in the Bridger Range. Just be wary of potential avalanche danger when climbing alpine ice, and consider hiring a guide to evaluate conditions. The Bozeman ice climbing scene promises adventure for all abilities.
Ice climbing is an incredible way to experience the power and beauty of nature in winter. With proper preparation and safety precautions, the sport promises exhilarating adventure. So strap on your crampons this season and get ready to conquer ice! These prime ice climbing states offer thrills for climbers of all abilities.