Ice Climbing – Ouray Ice Park, CO (Day 3)

Ice Climbing Chicks at Ouray
Becca, Shannon, Erin, Hannah, and Clare after a great day of slicing ice at Ouray.

Clare at Ouray Ice Park
Climbergirl at Ouray Ice Park (Thanks to Jay for taking this rad picture!)

On Friday, when we got to Ouray Ice Park, all the routes with bolted anchors were taken.

So, in order to secure a couple bolted anchor climbs, we arrived before sun-up. At 6:30am, the place was totally pitch black. We hiked to the School Room crag, by headlamp. We were the first party, so we had our choice of routes. Oh goody!

Ouray Ice Park - Report Card Anchor 9 Ouray Ice Park - School Room Anchor 10
We picked route #9 (Report Card WI3) and route #10 (Teacher’s Pet WI3).

Ouray Ice Park - School Room
Looking back at the School Room, from near the walk down.

After securing the two routes, we left at 8:15am to get breakfast, then come back to climb. We returned at 10am and by this time, the whole area was covered in ropes.

There was a guiding service with about 5 routes roped up. However, not every rope was occupied…there seemed to be around 1 rope dangling at any given point in time. They never offered us a ride on their ropes, as it’s probably against their policy for insurance reasons. Oddly enough though, they asked us if their clients could climb on ours!

After obligatory introductions and friendly banter, the guides admonished us for breaking park rules and leaving the ropes. They said they were about 10 minutes from just dropping our ropes. Lucky us we got back in time!

Even so, I didn’t feel guilty about what we had done. We only had 2 climbs occupied, out of the umpteen at the wall and once we got back after breakfast, we never had a rope free.

It was oddly territorial behavior by the guides, it’s not like they own the wall. If they are concerned about securing climbs, then they should wake up at 5am! I mean, heck, it’s not like somebody was paying me…Their clumsy and out of shape clientele seemed to be doing just fine flailing around on the ropes they had hanging…more than one time we saw ice tools being dropped and crampons coming loose. It was comical really!

In any event, we each climbed each of the two routes and then we left at around 3pm. Destination: hot springs! We were five very cold girls excited for the soothing heat of the springs. I was just happy to be away from the stress and chaos of the school room. With exception of shirtless dude (there’s always at least one!), it almost identical to the feeling of an indoor climbing gym.

Clare, Becca, and Shannon at Ouray Ice Park
Clare, Becca, and Shannon definitely ready for hot springs!

Climbergirl at Ouray Ice Park
What a pretty winter day…so happy day 2 was not blizzard conditions!

Goofy Ice Climbing Girls
Girls Just Wanna Climb Ice!

I’m glad our day two was not in blizzard conditions, but it was still very cold. The crowds were not at all enjoyable and in many cases dangerous. The only thing the Ice Park has going for it is that it’s FREE, the approaches are mostly short, and town is close by.

Climbing with the girls on day 2 was way better, because we all had the system down. We were a machine and it was nice being able to relax in between climbs (whereas the day before, with the blizzard, things were a bit nerve wracking). I found it challenging to clean the route and going first was definitely exciting! Once the routes were cleared of snow, they were so much more enjoyable.

The hot springs were awesome. We paid the fee and then soaked for an hour. Erin jumped in the snow and jumped back into the hot water. I bet it felt great, but I didn’t join in…the hot water was too soothing and I didn’t want to ever get out!

Dinner that night was homemade white chili with tortillas, salad, and a fabulous red wine which Becca and Erin picked up from town. After dinner, we hung out, did some dancing, and discussed plans for the Sunday drive back. I was psyched to finally have a nice relaxing evening and get to bed before midnight!

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