Ouray Ice Climbing!

Ouray Ice

Ouray Ice

A few Januarys ago, my friend Drew called me for tips on planning his cross-country drive from Michigan to California. I gave him a few ideas and then said, “How about you pick me up in Pennsylvania and I’ll copilot?” A week later, we were rolling West on a very cold, very beautiful winter road trip through Colorado, Utah, Nevada and California.

In Colorado, driving the scenic route north up highway 550 between Durango and Silverton, we passed through the tiny mountain town of Ouray, where we were greeted by a crazy traffic jam and a banner across the road announcing the 16th annual Ouray Ice Climbing Festival. Never one to pass up a flash of road trip serendipity, we shelved our driving plans for the day and joined the spectators at the edge of the ice park.

Spectators

Ice Park Spectators

Within a few minutes, Drew ran into his friend Tom, who he knew from grad school in Michigan. Tom happened to be visiting his brother in Telluride that weekend and they had driven around the mountains to Ouray for the festival. A couple of years later, Drew and I ran into Tom unexpectedly once again at another world-famous climbing spot in the New River Gorge in West Virginia. Small world!

More Cow Bell!

More Cow Bell!

Highliner above the Ouray Ice Park

Highliner above the Ouray Ice Park

Chillaxing on the Highline

Chillaxing on the Highline

View from the bridge

View from the bridge

The Ouray Ice Park is a manmade ice climbing venue in a spectacular natural gorge just south of downtown Ouray. Boasting more than 200 named ice and mixed climbs in 14 distinct climbing areas, each winter the Ouray hosts the Ice Festival in part to raise money for operating the ice park, which is free and open to the public. For more information on the Ice Park check out their website at www.ourayicepark.com.

Big Ice 1

Big Ice 1

Big Ice 2

Big Ice 2

Thin Ice

Thin Ice

The Belay Shelf

The Belay Shelf

Ice Chute

Ice Chute

Getting Horizontal

Getting Horizontal

The 19th annual Ouray Ice Festival was held this past weekend. For my latest adventures in Ouray, check out my previous post Crossing Karmic Paths on the Road To Paonia.

About theblondecoyote

Mary Caperton Morton is a freelance science and travel writer with degrees in biology and geology and a master’s in science writing. A regular contributor to EARTH magazine, where her favorite beat is the Travels in Geology column, she has also written for the anthologies Best Women's Travel Writing 2010 and Best Travel Writing 2011. Mary is currently traveling the backroads from New Mexico to Alaska, writing and living out of a tiny Teardrop camper. When she’s not at the computer she can usually be found outside -- hiking, climbing mountains and taking photographs. Visit her website at www.marycapertonmorton.com.
This entry was posted in Hiking!, Photography, Road tripping!, Vagabonding 101 and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Ouray Ice Climbing!

  1. Shelby Young says:

    Hello,
    My dad sent me your link because I too love to roadtrip, love dogs, love Santa Fe and own a teardrop! Do you have suggestions on bringing a dog on a roadtrip from Colorado to Yosemite? I have the summer off so time is not an issue. I’m more concerned about where to camp if you have dogs, places I should visit, driving route, etc. Thanks and love your blog!
    Shelby

  2. Superb shots and a bit frightening to see the crossing of the gorge :)

  3. 23andunfunny says:

    Amazing photos! I was in Ouray this past summer and it is such a special place :) Super jealous you were able to go and see the ice climbing!!

  4. ritaroberts says:

    It needs some nerve to tackle this adventure. Thanks for sharing you great photo’s Mary.

  5. James Boyd says:

    I see where you traval in the winter in the mountains. We are going to be headed to Newport Oregon from St.Louis Mo . We will be going the end of February pulling our traval trailer. Google show routes going north any ideas or web sites that may help. We both read you site and enjoy it a lot thanks Jim and Deb Boyd

  6. beachman says:

    COLD AND SCARY…….

  7. dianaed2013 says:

    Can’t image how people pluck up courage to do this. A great photo

  8. rodmann says:

    Ouray was famous for another reason, the Camp Bird Mine. There are 2 books about the heiress of that fortune, Evalyn Walsh McLean, who bought the Hope Diamond. Here is one –

    http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/73368.Father_Struck_It_Rich

  9. Kristin says:

    hi Mary! is that “highliner” man walking on a tightrope? is he wearing safety gear in case he falls? Looks extremely scary to me!!! Yikes!!!

  10. Yikes!!! Some of those shots gave me the willies!!! Great article and pics!

  11. i luvv ur journey… i hope one day i same with u

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