Ice Climbing in Ouray
January 6th-9th, 2003
My friend Mark from college had invited me for a week of ice climbing in Ouray, Colorado. It sounded like fun and Mark is a great guy so I drove over from Bishop to meet him and his friends.
Ouray is like a giant ski area for ice climbers. They keep an entire side of a canyon iced up by running a pipe along the top of the cliff and dripping water out. You can top-rope almost everything there, which makes it a great place to learn. The first day I was pulling down on mixed climbs and WI4. I learned a lot of technique very quickly. I also learned about the “barf and tinglies”. That is what ice climbers call the intensely painful feeling you get after your hands go completely numb and you are beginning to get feeling in them again. I also learned that 80 dollars is a reasonable amount to spend on a pair of mittens.
Further down the canyon, the angle eases up a bit and there are plenty of easy routes. Mark and Michael showed me how to place screws and lead. It is much more slow and frustrating than trad gear, but not really hard. I suppose it just takes experience to get quick at it.
We were camping out which kept the costs down. But the free camping was about 1,000 feet higher than the town and it is mighty cold at 9,000 feet in January. Also cooking after it got dark was an exercise in endurance. Still the whole trip was fun and I am sure I will try ice climbing again after I get myself some better mittens.