Explore the best of ice climbing in Cody, Wyoming
We offer custom guided ice climbing trips in the South Fork of the Shoshone River Valley and surrounding areas near Cody Wyoming. The Cody area is home to the one of the highest concentrations of waterfall ice climbs in the world and the quality of ice climbing in the region is second to none. The porous volcanic geology of the Absaroka Mountains produces an immense amount of spring-fed flows with difficulties ranging from WI2-WI7. The nature of ice climbing in Cody is challenging with arduous approach hikes, long pitches, technical movement, and relatively stiff grades. Many of country’s top ice climbers and alpinists including Stan Price, Alex Lowe, Mark Twight, Steve House, Aaron Mulkey and others have honed their skills ice climbing in Cody. If you’re looking to push yourself in your climbing and experience some of the most aesthetic, challenging ice climbs in the country, a custom guided ice climbing trip to Cody is hard to beat.
Why climb in Cody with us:
Our ice climbing guides are experienced professionals, talented climbers, and well-trained teachers. They are also humble, personable, and overall great humans to be around in the mountains. Our guides are adept at providing safe, supportive, and inclusive climbing experiences for people of all backgrounds and ability levels.
We are also the only local, Cody-based guiding service that operates in the South Fork and surrounding areas near Cody. All of our ice climbing guides live and climb in Cody throughout the winter, which is a major advantage because they have the most experience guiding in the area and know the climbs, conditions, and hazards of the places they guide better than anyone. Being based in Cody also helps us reduce travel costs for our guides, which makes our service more affordable than our competitors and reduces our carbon footprint.
As a guiding company, one of our main specialties is guiding custom ice climbing trips on a wide variety of terrain. As per our Shoshone National Forest-North Zone permit, we are allowed to guide day-use ice climbing in the Wapiti and Clarks Fork Ranger Districts near Cody. The area that we guide under this permit contains the greatest concentration of waterfall ice climbing in the Lower 48 and the five month long guiding season is among the longest in the country. We are also permitted to guide ice climbing on the Cody BLM District, which allows us to guide a majority of ice climbs in northern Wyoming. As such, we are able to select from the best possible objectives to guide at any given time to help mitigate risk and enhance the climbing experience. With a transient medium like ice we need to remain flexible on location in order to take advantage of the best possible conditions. Before your climb, we will provide updated information on ice conditions and your guide will coordinate with you to determine which selection of routes is best suited to your particular climbing objectives.
Below we’ve listed four of our favorite ice climbing areas in the Cody area that we guide. Please let us know if you have any area or route preferences and we’ll do our best to craft your itinerary around those, depending on conditions of course.
- South Fork of the Shoshone River Valley – The South Fork is Wyoming’s premier ice climbing destination and one of the best places to ice climb in the continental US. The central valley of the South Fork is home to over 300 pitches of waterfall ice and many more climbs can be found in the more remote parts of the drainage. South Fork ice climbs are generally challenging with 1-3 mile approaches, have multiple pitches, and range in difficulty from WI3 to WI6. Several of the most classic multipitch ice climbs in the country are located in the South Fork, including Sendero Illuminoso (WI4 4 pitches), Moratorium (WI4 2 pitches), Broken Hearts (WI5-6, 9 pitches), Mean Green (WI4-5, 7 pitches), High on Boulder, (WI4, 3 pitches), and Main Vein (WI3+, 5 pitches). You can read about some of our favorite climbs that we guide in the South Fork here. Conditions range from year to year, but generally the climbing season in the South Fork is one of the longest in the country and runs from early November to mid April.
- North Fork of the Shoshone River Valley – The North Fork is an incredibly scenic volcanic valley near the east entrance to Yellowstone National Park that contains a variety of high quality ice climbs. The scenery of the North Fork is spectacular with volcanic hoodoos, natural arches, and glaciated peaks of the North Absaroka Range towering in the distance. The North Fork contains several single pitch cragging areas that are more easily accessed than the South Fork in addition to a number of long moderate ice and mixed climbs with an alpine feel. Area classics include Ricochet (WI5, 55m), Finger on the Trigger (WI5+, 60m), and the Stank (WI4 5.6, 6 pitches). The climbing season in the North Fork generally runs from January to early April.
- Carter Mountain – Carter Mountain is one of the region’s best early season ice climbing venues with some of the earliest ice to form in the country. With north facing aspects at high elevation, ice on Carter Mountain normally starts to set up in October and is accessible until early December. Carter Mountain has a great variety of ice climbs ranging from multipitch moderates, steep pillars, trad mixed climbs, and a long rambling alpine route that brings you to the top of the mountain. Area classics include Curtains (WI3 3 pitches), the Wig (WI5 35m), Aaron’s Gift (M6), and Reality Strikes (WI3 M3 6 pitches). The climbing season on Carter Mountain typically runs from mid to late October until late December when the road is closed for the season.
- Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone River Valley – The upper Clarks Fork Valley near Pilot Peak is an excellent single pitch ice and mixed climbing venue readily accessible from the road in the early season. The limestone bands above Pilot and Index Creeks contain dozens of quality waterfall ice and bolted mixed climbs ranging from WI3-WI5 and M5-M10. Area classics include Corner Pocket (WI3 35m), the Sword of Damocles (WI5 60m), Superfly (M8), and Rocket Man (M9). The climbing season typically runs from November to March but a snowmobile or ski tour is required for access starting in early December.
- 1 Day Itinerary
Our 1 day custom ice climbing itinerary is a great option if you only have a single day to climb but you want to make the most of it! Your guide will work with you to select an exciting objective (typically an area classic) that is in good condition, appropriate for your skill and fitness levels, and features fun, high quality climbing. Our primary objective with this trip is providing a safe and highly rewarding ice climbing experience that you will remember for many years to come!
- 2 Day Itinerary
Our 2 day custom ice climbing itinerary is a full-value experience for those looking for an action-packed two days of guiding in one of the best ice climbing venues in the country. Your guide will coordinate with you to choose two exciting objectives that align with your climbing goals and are well-suited to your skill level. Generally people like to choose one moderate objective for day 1 to work on technique and streamline their systems followed by a more challenging objective on day 2 to push themselves on a harder climb.
- 3-4 Day Itinerary
This is our most popular custom ice climbing itinerary by far! Our 3-4 day itinerary is an excellent option if you’re looking to really progress in your climbing and explore a variety of climbs in the Cody area. Your guide will work with you to select objectives for each day that align with your climbing goals and appropriate for your skill level. We suggest climbing in multiple areas around Cody over the course of your trip in order to experience the incredible variety of terrain the region has to offer. We also highly recommend scheduling at least one rest day after two days of climbing in order to recharge for the rest of your trip.
- 5 Day or More Itinerary
Many climbers choose to work with us over a longer duration in order to make substantial gains in their climbing, knowledge of systems, decision-making, and explore the further reaches of ice climbing in the Cody region. This longer itinerary allows for a mentor-type relationship with your guide who will work with you extensively to develop in all aspects of your ice climbing progression. The amount of progress we see with climbers who choose this option is impressive and we highly recommend it if you want to really take your ice climbing to the next level. We highly recommend taking several rest days over the course of this trip in order to recover and avoid excessive fatigue. Availability for these longer trips is limited so please inquire early in the season to reserve your guide!
Our custom ice climbing trips to Cody are available from early November to early April. If you want to climb in a particular area, these are typically the best times to climb in the following ice climbing venues near Cody:
- South Fork Valley – November through early April
- North Fork Valley – December through early April
- Carter Mountain – November through early December
- Clarks Fork – November through early April
Transportation: Cody has an airport serviced by United Airlines. You can also fly into neighboring Billings, Montana (where flights are often cheaper) and rent a car to drive to Cody.
Accommodations: We recommend staying at either a hotel or bread and breakfast in Cody rather than winter camping on your trip. Temperatures are quite frigid at night and it’s really nice to warm up and dry all of your gear after a long day of ice climbing.
Meeting location: You will meet your guide at Rawhide Coffee Co. in downtown Cody to start your trip.
Daily schedule: Depending on the objective and conditions, we typically meet between 6-7am, drive to the climbing location, and finish climbing by 4-5pm, arriving back in Cody between 5-7pm.
Equipment: Many climbers choose to bring all of their own gear, but we can provide all technical ice climbing equipment including CAMP ice tools and crampons, helmets, harnesses, ice screws, etc. We do highly recommend bringing your own mountaineering boots if you own them because the approaches in Cody require extensive hiking off-trail and it’s preferable to hike in boots that are broken in to your feet.
Our talented team of ice climbing guides includes some of the most prolific ice climbers in the region who are at the forefront of ice climbing development in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Most importantly our guides are skilled teachers who are patient, kind, and helpful to people from all walks of life as they learn new skills. Their top priority is making you feel safe and supported as you take on a new challenge. Feel free to request a particular guide for your course.
Dane Steadman is a skilled multi-disciplinary guide with significant accomplishments including the first guided ascents of Pilot Peak and Stinkingwater Peak, guided ascents of Cloud Peak, Gannet Peak, Granite Peak (MT), guided ice climbs in the Cody area up to WI6 in difficulty, and aguided rock climbs across the state of Wyoming up to 5.12 in difficulty. Dane is also a very driven and talented climber whose main focus is exploratory alpine climbing both in Wyoming and in the greater ranges. Notable climbs of his include the first ascent of Technicolor Super Dream on Mt. Huntington in Alaska, the first ascent of the North Face of Pik Alpinist in Kyrgyzstan, the second ascent of Titanic on Torre Egger in Patagonia, and several first ascents of hard ice and mixed climbs in the South Fork of the Shoshone River Valley up to WI6+ and M10 in difficulty. What’s more, Dane is incredibly personable, patient, professional, and really fun to be around in the mountains.
Zach Lentsch is an avid climber, guide, and owner of Wyoming Mountain Guides. A Bighorn Basin native, Zach has been exploring wild parts of northern Wyoming for as long as he can remember. In addition to running the business and designing Wyoming Mountain Guides’ suite of climbing programs operating across the state, Zach works extensively in the field and guides a wide range of trips ranging from introductory programs to advanced rock, ice, and alpine trips on challenging terrain. Zach is also a passionate developer of new climbing routes with over 100 first ascents across Wyoming, including the longest ice climb in the state (Ultralight Beam WI3+ 1000m) in the Wind River Mountains, the longest sandstone rock climb in the state (The Fall of Satan 5.10 C3 250m) in the Bighorn Mountains, and a high concentration of rock, ice, and mixed climbs in the Cody area up to 5.12, WI6, and M9 in difficulty. Zach is an experienced teacher and works hard to integrate as much technical and environmental education into the climbing experience as possible while also prioritizing safety and having a great time together.
Booking and payment:
You can view each of our guide’s availability on the calendar above. To book your trip directly via our website, you need to first select a guide, choose from available dates, and select which trip option best suits your objectives in terms of route size and difficulty. Then to finalize your booking we require a 25% deposit, which is non-refundable. The remainder is to be paid two weeks before the trip and is non-refundable if you cancel within two weeks of the program. If you do cancel last minute on your own accord and want to transfer your credit to another course or trip, we do charge an additional 30% rescheduling fee. However in case of bad weather or a medical emergency we will waive the rescheduling fee.
Interested in a custom ice climbing trip to Cody with us? You can either book directly online or send us an email including your name, email address, phone number, climbing experience, in addition to a description of what, where, and when you’d like to climb.