Archive for January, 2014

Ice Climbing – Ouray Ice Park, CO (Day 2)

Friday, January 31st, 2014

Ready For a Challenge
Erin, Becca, Hannah, and Shannon ready for ice climbing!

Becca At the Top of WI2 in New Funtier
Becca Topping Out at a Climb in New Funtier

Erin...Or...The Wizard of New Funtier
Erin stays warm belaying by using “The Wizard technique” aka draping a sleeping bag around oneself. I’m really happy I brought my Cat’s Meow Bag, it came in handy!

Silly Girls Ice Climbing New Funtier
Ice Climbing at New Funtier

For the first day at Ouray Ice Park, we are treated to a blizzard. We drive to the trailhead in wintry conditions. The entire day turns into one huge adventure!

When we get to the entrance of the main area, we strap on our crampons. A few of the girls have troubles getting theirs secured on their boots, so we need to make some adjustments later on in the day. I’m happy we are able to figure it out eventually…climbing with loose crampons is nearly impossible!

Walking into the school room area, all of the easy, bolted top ropes are already taken which means we are forced to go to another area. Since it is my first time there AND we are walking around in a blizzard, I’m completely disoriented. I’m nervous about finding a place we can climb safely. As we trudge through at least a foot of fresh powder, my excitement diminishes. In the flat lighting of the blizzard, it is difficult to judge distances, which complicates things greatly. (more…)

Ice Climbing – Ouray Ice Park, CO (Day 1)

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

Ouray Bound - Girls Going Ice Climbing
Becca, Erin, Hannah, Shannon, and Clare

To celebrate my recent graduation from the CMC Ice Climbing Class, I decided to help organize a girls climbing trip to Ouray. Erin had already been twice this season and, quite frankly, wouldn’t shut up about it. “OMG, Ouray is awesome…we should totally go there!”. With a pitch like that, who could resist!

Before I know it, we have a total roster of 5, super stoked chicks: Erin is the most experienced ice climber of the bunch and our energetic sparkplug. Hannah is a world traveler, accomplished peak bagger, and somehow manages to make you smile no matter what’s going on. Becca is game for just about any adventure, is an excellent dancer, and exudes a quiet, reassuring confidence. Last but not least is Shannon; strong, quick-learning, and agile on the ice! We each brought something to the table, so we made an excellent team.

We all pile into Hannah’s car on Thursday and make our way to Ouray. Thankfully, we have a cargo carrier for the climbing gear! And, even better, Becca has secured us lodging at a friend’s rental. It’s a totally decked out 3 Bed 3 Bath, about a mile from town!

It takes 9.5 hours and we have to use the rumble strip to ensure we are actually driving on the road. In white out conditions, we pass a couple dozen cars who have spun out of control. This doesn’t deter us from our goal. It is a team effort; two girls watching each side of the road, one girl peering into the white out searching for obstacles, one girl checking the maps for mileage updates, and Hannah – our brave pilot maneuvering the vehicle.

We get to the house at 12:30am and unload the car. Wake-up call is set for 7:30am. I manage to get about 5 hours of sleep and am excited for my first day at Ouray!

Cross Country Skiing – Snow Mountain Ranch, YMCA of the Rockies

Saturday, January 25th, 2014

Climbergirl Skiing Snow Mountain Ranch
On Saturday, Dennis and I drove up to Winter Park for an awesome bluebird day!

We went to Rise and Shine bakery to start the day out right with a hearty breakfast. We were pleasantly surprised to see the place has expanded and, even better, we were seated at a warm table in the back. It used to be really cramped and cold no matter where you got seated! The food was as good as ever and we left there with smiles and full bellies.

Dennis at Winter Park
It’s time to Ride/Ski! I dropped Dennis off at the Winter Park ski resort and then head over to Snow Mountain Ranch.


Mountaineering – Atlantic Peak (13,941 ft)

Sunday, January 19th, 2014

Climbergirl and Nerdysheep on West Ridge of Atlantic
Rather than loafing around all day, watching the Bronco’s play the Patriots, Erin and I decided to go climb a mountain.

I stole Dennis’ Bronco shirt as a token of our support. My plan was to wear it on the summit!

Erin Enjoying Exposure on Atlantic West Ridge
In order to get there, we would need to climb 2900 feet of gain with a total trip distance of 5.4 miles, negotiating snow drifts, potential avalanche spots, and cornices.

The question is; would we conquer the mountain without succumbing to Old Man Winter?

Mayflower Gulch Basin
Pacific Peak Bathed in Early Morning Sun and the long, mellow angled ridge of Atlantic, in the foreground. Mt. Fletcher is off to the right, connected to Atlantic by a foreboding snaggle-toothed ridge!

I had my eyes set on the west ridge of Atlantic ever since reading about it in Mr. Cooper’s Colorado Snow Climbs book. Having been into the Mayflower Gulch on a prior attempt of Mt. Fletcher, I was familiar with the area; one of convenience and beauty!


Ice Climbing – Jewel Lake, RMNP

Sunday, January 12th, 2014

At the Top of My First Ice Climb
Ice Climbing Above Jewel Lake, RMNP
(Thanks to Josh B. for the great picture!)

Last year, I had so much fun climbing the Skywalker Couloir on Arapaho Peak, it made me want to do more snow climbs this winter/spring. In order to feel more confident on my crampons and improve on the steep sections, I thought I’d take an ice climbing class.

I admit, it may be a bit overkill, but if I’m climbing a steep couloir and encounter a band of ice, I will know how to climb it! Being prepared, and understanding the concepts of steep ice, will give me the knowledge to better handle the risks. At least I will know what I don’t know!

Here I Go - My First Ice Climb

Thanks to Kent Crites, of the Boulder CMC, for teaching ice climbing and to the assistant instructors Melissa, Doug, and James for volunteering and helping us newbies!

Mills Lake in Glacier Gorge, Rocky Mountain National Park
Doug O. took this fantastic panorama of Mills Lake!