Ice climbing has enjoyed a surge in popularity over the last few years and at SMC we are lucky to have ideal locations to learn and practices the skills of this fun activity in our own backyard.
Ice is a scarce commodity in sunny California but the two places that stand out are June Lake and Lee Vining, on the east side of the Sierra Nevada, near Mammoth Lakes.
June Lake is the ideal location to start learning ice climbing and as often as not we end up spending both days of the course here. A brisk uphill walk leads to the ice and this can take as long as an hour depending on snow conditions. The ice at this training area is up to a rope length high and up to eighty degrees in steepness, with steeper bulges, giving a perfect location to work on the basic movement skills.
After a day at June Lake our progression continues onto the steeper ice, working on skills necessary to succeed on the steep stuff, as well as anchoring and other aspects of ice climbing.
Sierra Mountain Center offers scheduled courses all winter and can also schedule a private course that fits your schedule; simply call and ask if your dates are available. We try to offer both weekend and weekday programs and suggest that you try the weekday ones if your schedule permits, since the ice is popular and can be crowded.
This is our video description of what it is like to go Ice Climbing at June Lake with SMC.
Here are some of the instruction techniques we cover during the course.
We rent ice boots but have limited size runs so reserve them early on.
The best and only guidebook is our own SP Parker’s “Eastern Sierra Ice.” Get it from Maximus Press