Ice Climbing in Ouray, Colorado

I just returned from a fantastic week of ice climbing in Ouray. Some people would argue that Ouray is a mecca for the ice experience. The typically quick approaches and reliable conditions each season make the place a destination for the sport. One of the coolest things that I have ever seen is the Ouray Ice Park. Here, and old irrigation water pipe has been modified with modern plumbing to have water drip out at night into a canyon to “farm” ice climbs. Its simply spectacular!

Above is a picture of Kevin leading a steep man-made ice climb in the park. Many of the flows are created with the use of shower heads that are plumbed into the irrigation pipe.

Climbers typically begin by rappelling into the gorge and then climbing back out. This is a novel way to climb, as most climbs are approached by hiking up to them. It makes things fun and easy because there are so many different choices for climbs, and the access is quick. Did I mention that the park is a 10 minute walk from town? Now that is convenient.

Jane and Dan came for a couple of days, and we were able to pick up where we left off last year swinging the tools!

Our day began by rappelling into the gorge, in an area called the “New Funteer”. Above is a picture of Jane rapping in to our climbing area.

We were able to find some great climbs in this area and worked various techniques such as pick placements, footwork, and also using the natural handholds in the ice for upward progression. Below Dan, works on climbing up an over a small overhang in the ice.

On our second day, we did a few cool climbs in the “Scottish Gullies” area. Some of the climbs were in gullies and other were out on the faces which made for a lot of variety.

Below is picture of Pat O., topping out on one of the difficult mixed climbing test pieces called “Mighty Aphrodite”.

All in all, Ouray is hard to beat for ice climbing. The access, qualities of the climbs, the weather and hot springs make for a great trip to the San Juan Mountains in southwestern Colorado. Its really quite a place!


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