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

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.

Ouray Ice Climbing Map
Erin guides us to the New Funtier wall and we take a gander at the map. It is nearly impossible to tell where we are on the map as there is not nearly enough detail.

The routes are listed in order, but in the blizzard (and from above) you can’t tell what the climbs are below you. In order to know, one really needs to have been there before and recognize *by the pattern of trees* at the top of the cliff band which route is below. Neither Erin, nor I, have any clue as to where to throw the ropes. It’s anybody’s guess!

Shannon Being Lowered Into New Funtier
Lowering Shannon into New Funtier

Shannon and Hannah at New Funtier
Shannon and Hannah at the base of New Funtier

It took us about an hour to get both ropes set up and we rappel down with two 60 meters tied together, just in case one is not long enough. Later, we discover for New Funtier, one rope is sufficient. We also find out that there is no easy walk down to New Funtier. We lowered Shannon and Hannah down to the base of the wall and finally, about 2 hours after our arrival, we got to climb!

Erin Ready to Climb at New Funtier
Erin ready to clear a route of snow at New Funtier

Erin and I climbed the routes first, clearing the route of snow and chipping out some holds. Each of the climbs we picked were fun, once they were cleaned up!

Becca Adjusting A Crampon
Becca after we fixed her crampons.

Selfie at New Funtier
Finally, I get to climb…after 2 hours of finding routes and setting up ropes!

Hannah Ice Climbing WI3 at New Funtier
Hannah climbing at New Funtier

Shannon Belaying at New Funtier
Shannon belaying in a blizzard!

New Funtier in Blizzard Conditions
New Funtier in a blizzard, blanketed in snow.

Becca Testing Her Belay in New Funtier
Becca being playful. I love the goofball antics.

Becca Ice Climbing WI2 at New Funtier
Becca topping out at New Funtier

Erin Giving a Top Belay at New Funtier WI2
Erin giving Becca a belay from the top.

It was now approaching 4pm (when the Ouray Ice Park turns on the water), so it was time to leave. We were all ready to get out of the blizzard and go get dinner!

Shannon and Hannah at New Funtier
Shannon coiling a rope and Hannah all smiles!

All in all, it was a frustrating first day at Ouray. Not at all worth the 9.5 hour drive. With the weather, setting up the ropes, and the little amount of actual climbing that I was able to do, it was not the greatest of days.

On the positive side, I did have fun ice climbing with the girls. At the end of the day, we all had our limbs attached, nobody was seriously injured, and it was an adventure. In hindsight, it was fun. The best part was having pitcher Margs with the girls at dinner, catching up with Sylwia and Jay, and topping the night off at Mr. Grumpypants where I was delighted to see Gretchen and Andy!

We got back to the house around 10:30pm. I got to bed at midnight, with a wake up time of 5:15am. Another 5 hour night! For sure, this trip was no vacation!

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