Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Hanging in Ouray

Stuart Paul on lead on Pic o' the Vic WI4 -- Ouray Ice Park
(click image to enlarge)

I spent 21 days this winter hanging from icicles in Ouray, Colorado. Ouray is, one of my favorite places in Colorado, an amazing little town, population about 800, that sits in a box canyon at the northern gateway to the San Juan mountains. At the edge of town is the Umcompagre Gorge and the Ouray Ice Park, a mile of farmed ice with about 160 routes, some up to 130 feet deep. I had decided to apply myself and focus on ice climbing this winter and there is no better place to just do laps and build your skill level than this world class ice park.
My first stay in Ouray was 11 days beginning on New Years eve. I completed almost 50 climbs -- as many as in the entire season last year. I spent the first half of the trip repeating climbs I had done last year and the second half venturing into new territory. I climbed most everything between the schoolroom and the five fingers. Spent several days climbing mixed routes up to M7.

Dizzy with a Vision M7 -- Ouray Ice Park
(click image to enlarge)

Charged up every WI5 I could find. Did leads at WI4. Spent one day climbing at Skylight area with Tom Maceyka. Was awesome to hang and climb with CMC, Phoenix Multisport, buds from Boulder, Steamboat, Golden and Denver and various travelers. Got invited to the family night potluck on Wednesday and got to meet many local persons and climbers.
My second trip was 10 days beginning February 6th. I had a little shopping meltdown in the days before the trip. I bought the Petzl Nomic Ice Tools for 30% off at Bent Gate in Golden. These are probably the best all around tool for ice and mixed climbing. I also picked up a set of the Edelweiss Oxygen 8.2mm half ropes. You can always get a good deal on Edelweiss ropes at Bent Gate because they sell a lot of them. All my ropes are Edelweiss at this point. I decided that this trip would be all about lead climbing and that my goal would be to do as many leads as I could. I led everything in the schoolroom and all the long routes above the upper bridge. I climbed in a snowstorm one day with Mark Allen and we took turns doing some big leads around the upper bridge including Abridgement and Pic of the Vic. I got on the mixed routes in the Scottish Gullies including Super Dave and Dizzy with a Vision (attempt). Later in the week I led the Skylight via an inside ice chimney with wanderers Cory and Ella in tow.

Stuart Paul looking down the ice chimney -- Skylight WI5, Camp Bird Road
(click image to enlarge)

Rudy on the first rappel -- Bridalveil Falls WI5+, Telluride, CO
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I climbed the left side of Bridalveil Falls with Rudy McIntire (seperate post to come), and the next day, 5 pitches of Stairway to Heaven with Rudy, Kevin and Danielle in two side by side rope teams. We started at 11am and were rapping in the dark. On the way out the Brokering family at the Eureka Lodge below the climb invited us in to warm up and fed us dinner and wine. Cool place!!
My time in Ouray and the San Juans yeided over 100 pitches, half on lead, many long WI4 leads and some shorter 5s, mixed to M7, experience and self-sufficiency in the alpine. And I went leashless with the Nomics -- never going back.
Thanks to all my partners and local Ouray friends, especially Mark, Cory, Ella, Rudy and Kevin. You dooods are the best!!
Props to Mark at Riverside Cabins -- the cheapest coziest place to stay with your dog for no extra charge.
Complete list of climbs on Mountain Project.

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