The Adventure Adviser

Vacation tips from Outside Online's Travel Expert

Mar 11, 2002
Outside Magazine

Q: What are some good places for someone with rock climbing experience to learn ice climbing?
Scott Heimlich, Santa Monica, California

A: Time to add another accolade to the adrenaline capital of the country, Colorado, where the sheer number of frozen waterfalls in the winter makes it the best place to break in your crampons. Top-notch instruction can be found in Telluride at Ryder-Walker Alpine Adventures (888-586-8365;, where climbers of all levels can take half-day ($275) or full-day ($400) courses from December to April. Rookies start by getting to know their ice tools, front points, and harnesses and then test them out on a low-angled slab. More experienced ice climbers can go straight to the vertical ice to refine old skills and learn some new ones. When you're ready to branch out, try some of Colorado's other ice meccas: Vail, Aspen, and Ouray.

Q: Where is a great, inexpensive Central American location to scuba dive and get away from the crowds?
Eric Winter, Minneapolis, Minnesota

A: Normally, I'd worry about any location touted as a discount dive destination—makes you wonder what the shops are sacrificing (tank maintenance?) to trim a few bucks off their rates. But the entire Honduran island of Utila is a bargain, and the safety is on par with any scuba spot on the planet. What keeps the prices lower here than on the other Bay Islands is fierce competition among the ten dive shops, which certify thousands of divers each year. Since the island is only seven miles long and three miles wide, a $125, ten-dive package purchased from the Bay Islands College of Diving (011-504-425-3143;, located on Main Street in the town of Utila, gives you a chance to swim with manta rays, whale sharks, and barracudas while sampling all sides of the island: reefs on the southwest end, volcanic cliffs on the east, walls on the north, and seamounts all around.
Q: I'm interested in finding an intensive sailing class that can take me from beginner to expert. I'm willing to take the course just about anywhere.
Kristina Shevory, Austin, Texas

A: The Chesapeake Bay is a 140-mile-long classroom for mariners-in-training. This enormous, protected tidal estuary has a muddy bottom that's free from the boat-bashing rocks and coral that litter other sailing venues. First move: Sign up for a $295 weekend introductory course with the Annapolis Sailing School (800-638-9192; Follow it up with a five-day cruising course ($1,365), where you'll sleep on the boat while exploring the bay. When you're comfortable acting as skipper or crew on a 20- to 30-foot boat, you'll be ready for the school's five-day Preparation for Bareboat Charting class ($850), which trains you for the rigors of sailing solo.

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