The annual Paradox Ice trip to Ouray is one you don’t want to miss! There is a reason this is our longest running program and why it sells out every year – climbing at the Ouray Ice Park, instruction and guidance from world-class ice climbers, and one of the best mountain communities in Colorado make this one unforgettable weekend.
The Ouray Ice Park is like nothing you’ve seen before – the ‘farmed’ ice park is located in a spectacular natural gorge within walking distance of the City of Ouray, Colorado. It is home to more than 100 named ice and mixed climbs, most within a 15-minute walk of the Park entrance. We provide instruction for all ages, ability, mobility levels and types.
Due to COVID-19, the 2023 Ouray trip may be smaller in size, please stay tuned for more details. We are still following all local, state and federal mandates. All participants must be vaccinated or show proof of a negative Covid test within 48 hours prior to program start. If you cannot or will not comply with the COVID-19 protocols, we hope you can join us another year! Thank you for your patience and understanding.
The approach is varied, (conditions vary year to year) and includes a 1/2 mile of walking on snow and/or ice on uneven ground. At the end of the 1/2 mile section of trail, there is a short hand-line (rope handrail) section that is required to access the bottom of the gorge. Participants will have ample support in traveling over this terrain by staff, guides and volunteers but should have a base level of comfort travelling in this type of terrain. If you have limited mobility, we also offer a snowcat ride in and out of the canyon. Please note that guide dogs are not allowed in the Ice Park due to the dangers of ice fall, crampons, and limited space at the bottom of the canyon – we sincerely apologize for the inconvenience.
Winter temperatures in Colorado can vary greatly and all participants should prepare for sub zero temperatures, wind, snow and sleet by packing lots of warm clothing and layers appropriate for winter climbing. Please review our packing list carefully and let us know if you have any questions or will be unable to acquire a required piece of clothing or equipment. For your protection – boots, crampons and helmets (provided, if applicable) are required at all times once you start to descend into the gorge.
If you are a wheelchair user, we will be utilizing a robust lowering system used by Ouray Mountain Rescue from the top of the canyon. This will be facilitated by our professional guide staff. Paradox Sports strives to serve all individuals regardless of ability, and encourages individuals considering this program to review our Essential Eligibility Criteria here. If you have specific questions about this program, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NOTE: This itinerary is subject to change.
A finalized schedule will be emailed to you before the trip.
4 PM: Check in at hotel
6 PM: Welcome dinner
8 PM: Socializing in Ouray
8 AM: Breakfast in town
9 AM – 4 PM: Full day of climbing at the Ouray Ice Park, lunch in the canyon,
4 PM – 5:30 PM Free time
5:30 PM: Dinner at the Community Center
7PM – 9PM: Annual GOT STUMP celebration
8AM: Breakfast in town (Note: need to be packed out of rooms before climbing)
9 AM – 2 PM: Half day of climbing. Lunch at hotel.
2 PM: Pack up and depart Ouray
As any mountaineer will tell you, finding the right layers and gear is an ongoing and developing process, especially with new technology and personal preferences. Each person’s needs are unique, and many factors add to decisions about what you should wear (weather being a primary consideration!). If you do not have some of these items, you can indicate so on your registration, and we’ve got you covered! We expect that you will be dressed and ready to go for the meeting time to head to the climbs on the first day – so let us know of any questions during the welcome night (or prior to the trip!).
Here are some example items of what to pack:
Clothing is as important as your boots and ice axe. Being properly dressed is essential to enjoying your outdoor adventures. One key rule: try to use synthetic fabrics or wool for all layers. No cotton! Cotton keeps you cold if you sweat and it takes a long time to dry out, while wicking fabrics help you regulate your core temperature and avoid overheating or chilling. Layering will give you more versatility, depending on the weather and your activity level.
Base Layer: Top and Bottom. Light to mid-weight synthetics, snug fit and close to skin.
Socks: Wool or wool blend socks are great natural insulators, even when wet. Make sure you fit footwear with heavier socks for more warmth. Footwear that constricts your foot will constrict your blood flow and cause your feet to be cold.
Mid Layer: add mild insulation to help retain heat that your body creates, and are worn between the base layer and insulation if needed. Power-Stretch and micro-fleece such as Polartec are ideal materials for this layer.
Insulating Layer: Examples of insulating jackets includes a thin down sweater or vest, synthetic jacket, heavy fleece, or softshell.
Waterproof and Breathable Shell: Outerwear (jacket and pants) that is waterproof with increased breathability will be more adaptable and can help transfer moisture away from your body to keep you dry and protected from the elements. Jacket MUST have an integrated hood. Flimsy “stow-away” nylon hoods are not adequate. Full side zip pants are helpful.
Down or Primaloft Jacket: This layer is put on when you stop for a break. A big, warm, “puffy” jacket (hood recommended) worn over all layers to keep you warm between climbs.
Gloves or Mittens: Pack at least two pairs. One pair of thinner gloves is used for climbing when your hands are not cold and need to be dexterous. One pair of mittens or warm ski gloves are worn when your hands are cold and don’t need to be dexterous. It’s hard to have too many extra gloves when ice climbing! We will also have hand warmers available.
Warm Hat: This hat should cover your ears and can be made of fleece or wool, without a pom pom or bulk. Remember to fit the hat so you can wear it under a helmet.
Balaclava or “Buff”: When the temperatures drop and the wind picks up, the skin on your face becomes very vulnerable to frost nip, and even worse, frostbite. Wearing a thin layer over your neck, chin and cheeks adds protection and warmth to your clothing system.
Personal Hydration System: Wide-mouth water bottles are recommended for winter. Please avoid hydration systems (hoses) or disposable bottles, as they tend to freeze easily.
Eyewear: Protect your eyes from the sun and flying ice.
Backpack: large enough to hold all your gear without strapping extra gear to the side. It’s nice to have a pack that carries ice axes easily and that has a hip belt to help support the weight.
Gaiters: Gaiters cover the top of the boot to keep out rain, snow, and ice, and make you less likely to trip on loose pant legs and damage them while walking and climbing in your crampons.
Climbing Helmet: required!
Harness: Any rock climbing harness works for ice climbing.
Any adaptive equipmentor systems you use for climbing. For example, crampon feet! We will also have some prosthetics available for you to use.
Ice Climbing Boots: Warm and either plastic, synthetic or leather, with toe and heel bales for crampon attachment. Paradox Sports will provide these if you indicate on your registration that you needed them.
Crampons:Front point style, step-in crampons, ideal for technical ice climbing.
Ice Tools:If you have them, bring them! If you don’t, don’t worry! We will provide them.
Personal hygiene products, toiletries
Sunscreen, sunglasses, lip balm and hat for sun protection
Camera – light, point and shoot or phone recommended
Travel Mug for hot beverages
Camp chair for at crag or at camp
Toe Warmers for in your boots if you are prone to cold feet
Swimsuit – sometimes there are options for hot tub or hot springs post ice climbing
Snacks and Food: All meals are provided, and we will have some snacks and bars available. However, you may want to consider bringing some snacks of your own, especially if you have dietary constraints.
We encourage participants to have basic outdoor experience and at minimum an introductory understanding of either rock or ice climbing. Each year we welcome first-time ice climbers into our community, right alongside some of the best in the world. There will be routes available for a wide variety of skill levels, and coaches to help you succeed – whatever your goal may be. On this trip in particular, you should be comfortable in cold weather, and have a baseline fitness level in order to participate.
We encourage climbers to bring their own personal gear if possible, including a harness and a helmet (and ice boots and crampons if you have them!). Some climbing equipment and personal gear can be borrowed as needed – please include these requests in your registration. You can see a full packing list for trips at the button above, and we are happy to answer any questions about gear that you might have!
Many thanks to CAMP USA and Ouray Mountain Sports for supplying Paradox Sports with ice climbing gear so that we can outfit you all with top-notch equipment!
All participants and climbing assistants are responsible for their transportation to and from the event as well as during the weekend.
Ouray is located 6 hrs driving from Denver, CO. Paradox Sports can help connect you with rideshare options from an airport en route or from the Denver/Boulder area with other participants or volunteers joining, depending on ride availability. During registration you will have the option to request carpool, and include where you will be coming from.
Other than Denver International Airport, other close airports to Ouray include Grand Junction and Montrose.
Due to the nature of this program, climbing assistants should have previous experience on a Paradox Sports trip, attended a Paradox Sports volunteer training, Adaptive Climbing Initiative course, and/or be an experienced climber. We encourage all assistants to have experience in the outdoors, be comfortable assisting others through variable terrain, and have at least an introductory understanding of ice climbing and the associated equipment. Paradox Sports reserves the right to assign assistants to appropriate roles based on the assessment of experience, skills, comfort and overall ability.
Climbing Assistants register through the link above, and select “Climbing Assistant Registration”. The cost for assisting with the same as the cost for adaptive climbers. As a non-profit, we need to cover our cost to operate and this includes both participants and assistants pitching in to cover trips costs. Often the lines between “participant” and “assistant” are indistinguishable as we enjoy a weekend of climbing as a community. Registration fees for everyone cover food, lodging, equipment, professional guides, extra programming, insurance, and other overhead for planning the trip. It takes a lot to make these programs succeed – we thank you for your contribution both physically and financially.
If you are an AMGA certified guide and want to volunteer guide time on any of our programs, please contact our Program Manager Sam Sala at email@example.com.
• Professional guides and instruction with a ratio of 2:1
• Lodging: Shared rooms at the Ouray Chalet Inn. We match people with roommates based on requests during the registration process and any other information that we have. If you are coming to the program with someone and are requesting to share a room, please include this in your registration.
• Meals: Friday dinner; Saturday breakfast, lunch and dinner; Sunday breakfast and lunch
• Gear: Technical ice climbing equipment provided by Camp USA and Ouray Mountain Sports (please indicate your gear needs in your registration)
• Entry to the annual Got Stump fundraiser – one of the best Paradox Sports events of the year!
What’s Not Included:
• Transportation: All participants and volunteers are responsible for getting to and from the event, as well as transportation during the weekend.
• Guardian / Partner registrations: Each registration is for one individual only. If your friends, significant other, guardian or personal aid would like to join, we ask that they register as a volunteer for the trip and help cover the costs of lodging, meals, logistics, guides, etc. and that they are eager and willing to be an active part of the community for the weekend!
• Alcohol is not included, and not permitted while on Paradox Sports programs.
Unfortunately, due to the nature of our programs, Paradox Sports has a no pets policy. If you have a service animal that you plan to bring with you on a program, please be sure to let us know in advance and familiarize yourself with this Service Animal Agreement. We will require a signed copy of this agreement from anyone bringing a service dog with them on the trip. If you bring any animals on a program that are not service animals, you may be asked to leave without reimbursement.
*Note: Please be advised that the Ouray Ice Park does not allow any dogs (service animals included) into the park due to the nature of the park and the dangers that it poses for animals (extreme cold, falling ice, crampons, exposed creeks, etc.). If you bring your service animal with you, it will have to stay at the hotel while we are climbing. If your service animal causes any damage to the room or is asked to leave the premise by hotel staff, you are responsible for any charges that may incur.
We have a cancellation policy to ensure the maximum number of climbers can attend and spots do not go unused.
If you cancel:
• 2 weeks or more before the event, you will receive a full refund of your registration fees unless costs were incurred by Paradox Sports; in that case, we may retain 10% of your registration fee.
• Less than 2 weeks before the event and we cannot fill your spot, you will be charged 50% of the registration fee.
• Without notice (no-show) your registration fee is non-refundable and we will retain the full fee.
• For cancellations due to emergency situations and special cases, please contact us to discuss options. We will work with you for the best solution.
*If you are asked to leave any Paradox Sports event by staff due to inappropriate behavior, you will not be refunded any fees in association with the trip or event, no matter the duration that you were in attendance.
Our infamous Got Stump fundraiser is Saturday night in Ouray! This award is given each year to an adaptive climber in the Paradox Sports community who is going above and beyond to prove what is possible and encourages others to push their limits as well.