February, 01


My first trip to climb ice

in the Ouray Ice Park



    Over President's Day weekend, Lisa and I headed down to Southwest Colorado to do some ice climbing. Our destination was the small town of Ouray, where an ice park has been established in the Uncompahgre Gorge. Basically the Park consists of a set of hoses that run along the rim of the gorge  for one mile and spray water over the edges at night. This forms columns and sheets of ice that range between 80 and 150 feet tall. The water comes from an old reservoir that used to be the town's only source of water.

    The ice park has become a premiere destination for ice climbers around the country. There is no where else in the lower 48 where you can find more quality, vertical ice to climb. Lisa and I went down with some other friends and we all rented a condo for the weekend. It was great fun for everyone. We found a hot tub to raid the first night, we visited the Orvus Hot Springs the second night, and we ice climbed for three days straight. I have posted some of the pictures from the weekend below. This is one place that will require another visit!

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Lisa hanging out at the top of the Gorge.


Lisa and me at the top of the Gorge. You can see the belay chains in the background.


The next few pictures are a series of shots of me on the first climb of the weekend. I am about to get onto the ice curtain above.


I stood here for a few minutes looking for a good placement for my tools while my arms got pumped.


Then I realized that I was not leaning back and hanging straight armed which conserves energy. :)


Eventually, I worked my way up the rest of the climb.


This was on the second day. This is me on my first Grade 3 ice lead.


Another shot of me higher up this climb. Lisa and I both led this pitch for our first leads of this difficulty.


Here is a shot of Lisa on her first Grade 3 lead. AND HER SECOND LEAD EVER! :) Right on Lisa!


Lisa placing an ice screw higher in the climb.


Lisa rappelling after her lead. We were both happy and excited.


On the second day, we also top roped a 120 foot curtain of ice that was vertical to overhanging. I was dripping sweat by the time I finished this pitch. Here, Lisa is topping out.


Lisa, pointing out where the climb goes... up! 


Beginning the pitch...


Nearing the top of the pitch...


Another route with an ice bulge that required some balance to surmount.



Climbing up to the bulge...


Established below the bulge.


Past the bulge and climbing the beautiful, vertical ice above.


Lisa approaching the top of the column.


A direct shot of the upper part of the climb.


Lisa tops out.


And she is, as always, happy! :)

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