Ice Climbing in Boulder, Colorado

Ice climbing in Boulder, CO

For some reason I couldn’t get the ice axe to stick. Each time I hurled the axe towards the ice, it bounced off and left me with heaps of frustration.

I was struggling to climb even a few feet up the ice, and I kept thinking how much harder this was than when we went ice climbing in Iceland.

Ice Climbing in Boulder, Colorado

Ice climbing in Iceland was much different from ice climbing in Boulder–we were scaling a flat sheet of ice on a glacier, and the ice was softer and much easier to hook into. This time, however, we were climbing a frozen waterfall in the mountains outside of Boulder, Colorado. Even though the ice was rock solid, the waterfall and snow were starting to melt from above causing a fairly steady stream of water flowing over the ice.

Ice Climbing in Boulder, Colorado

Ice Climbing in Boulder, Colorado

Eventually, my axe stuck and I slowly started to make my way up the wall. I didn’t make it to the top like Micah did on his first try, but I did make it about two-thirds of the way up. When my arms felt like they were going to fall off, I decided to give myself a break and head back down.

Ice Climbing in Boulder, Colorado

Although we were looking for more of an ice climbing tour, we ended up booking a four-hour ice climbing lesson with The Bob Culp Climbing School instead. Micah and I were the only two registered for the lesson, and Mr. Bob Culp himself took us out to show us the ropes. We made our way to the mountains just outside of Boulder where we parked by hurling his SUV into a pile of snow on the side of the road. The waterfall was a short hike from our parking spot–we crossed a stream and crawled over boulders and fallen trees to get there. I would have never guessed that there was a climbable waterfall hidden just off the side of the road!

Ice Climbing in Boulder, Colorado

Ice Climbing in Boulder, Colorado

Ice Climbing in Boulder, Colorado

When we arrived at the frozen waterfall, Bob explained the basic fundamentals and got the ropes set up and ready to go while we suited up in our crampons and harnesses. We then learned how to properly tie up and also some of the cues and terminology to use when climbing.

Ice Climbing in Boulder, Colorado

Ice Climbing in Boulder, Colorado

Ice Climbing in Boulder, Colorado

It was then time to get climbing. As I already mentioned, ice climbing in Iceland was way easier. The technicality of this climb was much more intense. You had to actually find spots and pockets in the ice for proper placement of both your feet and axes. Because the ice was harder and more rugged, you couldn’t just swing and stick your axe in anywhere.

Ice Climbing in Boulder, Colorado

Ice Climbing in Boulder, Colorado

After only a few climbs each, we were both exhausted due to the altitude, and we were freezing because of our non-waterproof gloves. With a long drive through the snowy mountains ahead of us, we decided to call it a day. Unfortunately, we didn’t take advantage of the full four hours that we were given, but we both did really enjoy the climbing that we did get to do.

Ice Climbing in Boulder, Colorado

Ice Climbing in Boulder, Colorado

Ice Climbing in Boulder, Colorado

We were happy that we got to have our lesson with Bob–he is a pioneer in the sport and has been climbing since the sixties. He told us many interesting stories about his early years of climbing. When he first started climbing in college, he didn’t know anyone else that was into the sport, so he would just go find routes and climb on his own. It wasn’t until one day when he saw some anchors on a climb that he realized there might be others out there doing the same thing. Eventually he hooked up with the very small community of climbers in Colorado and since then the community has grown exponentially.

Ice Climbing in Boulder, Colorado

Bob opened his climbing school in 1969 and it has a perfect safety record and AMGA certified guides. They offer both rock and ice climbing lessons in the Boulder area, as well as special group programs and longer trips to other locations. If you are looking for an introduction to climbing or for guidance in developing your skills, The Bob Culp School of Climbing is a great option to look into!

 

We went on this adventure while working on our video project with Best Western–the full video will be posted later this summer! 

30 Comments
  • Angela
    Twitter:
    Posted at 17:50h, 24 April Reply

    Great post. Looks like so much fun. I have always wanted to ice climb in Colorado. I find it interesting that the glacier ice was easier to climb. Water ice is usually easier to stick your tools into because it is aerated. Either way, still a great experience (and awesome photos).
    Angela recently posted…Snorkeling Maui’s Molokini Crater and Turtle TownMy Profile

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 00:40h, 27 April Reply

      Thanks, Angela! Yeah, I was surprised that it was easier too. I think it might have been more so that in Iceland it maybe felt easier because we didn’t really have to look for placement and could just pick in anywhere. This time around we had to be a lot more strategic, so we definitely had to use more brain power, haha!
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…Ice climbing in Boulder, COMy Profile

  • Dave
    Twitter:
    Posted at 08:24h, 25 April Reply

    Looks like you had a helluva challenge, but I don’t think anyone ever said ice climbing is easy. Your pics made me miss home. Were you climbing in Eldorado Springs Canyon?
    Dave recently posted…DIY Photo Tour of San FranciscoMy Profile

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 00:36h, 27 April Reply

      It was definitely challenging! I think it was Eldorado Springs Canyon–that sounds right. I can see why you would miss it there–it’s such a gorgeous area!
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…Ice climbing in Boulder, COMy Profile

  • Tanj from A Travelogue
    Posted at 09:16h, 25 April Reply

    Sounds fun and awesome! I am not the adventurous type BUT the pictures makes me want to at least TRY! Lol!

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 00:33h, 27 April Reply

      Lol! It was a blast–it’s definitely a great activity to try at least once! And thankfully, even though it’s difficult, it’s easy to stay safe with the harnesses and everything!
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…Ice climbing in Boulder, COMy Profile

  • Vanessa
    Twitter:
    Posted at 09:18h, 25 April Reply

    You guys are tough! This looks like an incredible experience -albeit a challenging one. You were wise to finish up early – fatigue and cold are nothing to mess with.

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 00:31h, 27 April Reply

      It was definitely challenging, but we had a lot of fun! Totally agree with you–fatigue and cold can be so bad!
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…Ice climbing in Boulder, COMy Profile

  • Carol Colborn
    Twitter:
    Posted at 10:31h, 25 April Reply

    The pictures are great but definitely not for me!

  • Andrea
    Twitter:
    Posted at 12:41h, 25 April Reply

    Perfect safety record and I’m there! This is an activity that would set my heart racing and my adrenaline pounding. Can’t wait to see the video this summer!
    Andrea recently posted…Guide to Toronto’s BeachesMy Profile

  • Brianna
    Twitter:
    Posted at 21:22h, 25 April Reply

    What a cool (pardon the pun) experience! I’d definitely want to try my hand at this.
    Brianna recently posted…5 things to do on a weekend trip to BostonMy Profile

  • Dave from Daves Travel Pages
    Posted at 08:38h, 26 April Reply

    Looks like a great day trip!
    Dave from Daves Travel Pages recently posted…My Big Fat Greek Road TripMy Profile

  • Delia
    Twitter:
    Posted at 13:02h, 26 April Reply

    This looks AMAZING! I am so jealous! Although, I would have been in the same boat as you, tired after a few goes. Climbing like that must be really taxing on the body, even though it’s a ton of fun.
    Delia recently posted…Dune BashingMy Profile

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 00:26h, 27 April Reply

      It was so great, but yeah, it was definitely exhausting! We just need more stamina for next time! Hope you get to try it sometime!
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…Ice climbing in Boulder, COMy Profile

  • Peter Parkorr
    Twitter:
    Posted at 14:09h, 26 April Reply

    Hey this looks great! I’m a big fan of climbing and I’ve heard a lot of good things about Boulder for all kinds of outdoorsy goodness.
    Peter Parkorr recently posted…A Little Something From Italy That Will Make Your Mouth WaterMy Profile

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 00:24h, 27 April Reply

      Yeah, Boulder is great for all kind of outdoor adventures! It’s such a gorgeous area too–we would love to go back again, especially in the summer next time!
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…Ice climbing in Boulder, COMy Profile

  • Gemma Two Scots Abroad
    Twitter:
    Posted at 20:48h, 26 April Reply

    Well done! This looks unreal. I did ice climbing indoors in Scotland before we left for our travels and felt like I was in Game of Thrones!
    Gemma Two Scots Abroad recently posted…Photo of the Fortnight #3My Profile

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 00:22h, 27 April Reply

      Thanks! I’ve never heard of indoor ice climbing–that’s really intriguing–I would love to try it! I can definitely see where you felt like you were in Game of Thrones, haha!!
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…Ice climbing in Boulder, COMy Profile

  • Alli
    Twitter:
    Posted at 22:22h, 26 April Reply

    Beautiful shots! What a gorgeous snowy and sunny day for an adventure like this. I did trekking on Franz Josef Glacier but not ice climbing! I’d love to give it a go 😉

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 00:21h, 27 April Reply

      Thanks! It really was a gorgeous day–we really lucked out! Franz Josef Glacier sounds like it would be a great spot–we will have to visit one day!
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…Ice climbing in Boulder, COMy Profile

  • IconicPlace
    Posted at 08:42h, 27 April Reply

    Wow, great pictures and amazing weather. Well done, these pictures really make me wanna try it. )))

  • Toni
    Twitter:
    Posted at 05:52h, 08 May Reply

    That looks difficult but so much fun! I find it hard to imagine it being cold enough to freeze a waterfall – amazing.
    Toni recently posted…Jamies Italian in BrisbaneMy Profile

  • McKenzie
    Posted at 09:27h, 30 March Reply

    WOW! This looks really really neat but also pretty difficult. Thank you for sharing this experience!

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