Cascade Canyon offers easily accessible ice climbing in a beautiful setting surrounded by frozen waterfalls and a crystal blue/green pool. A popular destination for rock climbing in the summer, Cascade Canyon transforms into a frozen winter wonderland, offering a great place to learn how to ice climb or hone your skills.
Even if you’ve never climbed before, ice climbing is a fun activity the whole family can enjoy together. Unlike downhill skiing, which can take years to master, anyone in decent physical fitness can ice climb with a little instruction. Hire Kling Mountain Guides for your next family or group outing, or head into The Rock Lounge Climbing Gym for information on the local climbing scene. Backcountry Experience in Durango rents all the gear you need to test your mettle ice climbing in Cascade Canyon, including mountaineering boots, ice axes and crampons.
Getting there: Head 27 miles north of Durango, just a few miles past Purgatory Ski Resort, where Hwy 550 makes a sharp hairpin turn over Cascade Creek. Turn right onto Old Lime Creek Road immediately following the sharp curve. The road is maintained during the winter months but AWD is recommend in deep snow. Follow the road for a few minutes and park at a small pullout on the right. There will be an obvious climber’s trail from the parking area heading down into the canyon. Less than halfway down to the creek, take a sharp right and hike along the limestone cliff walls until you reach the pool and frozen waterfalls.
Even if ice climbing doesn’t appeal to you, Cascade Canyon is an excellent place for a winter hike or snowshoe. Chances are you’ll run into some friendly local ice climbers, while taking in the scenic landscape this unique area provides.
Photos from Marcus Garcia and James Gravin