Ouray Ice Climbing, 4th Annual Trip

Ouray Ice Park with my two sons, 23 and 15 years old.
Ouray Ice Park with my two sons, 23 and 15 years old.

Over the New Year holiday we headed to Ouray, Colorado for our 4th annual ice climbing trip. This year my two sons, Niels and Lars, came along, and we met my good friend Kai and his son Jared, and Jared’s friend Joey. With six people we could set up three ropes and have lots of route options.

We drove down on Wednesday the 31st. We stopped in Montrose on the way down and had a surprisingly good meal at a Nepalese restaurant. We went to bed early as we were anticipating lots of people. Kai, Jared, and Joey had to wait until the mountain shop opened at 9:00 am, so they could rent a pair of boots for Joey, so we planned to head up and they would meet us in the gorge. We planned to be in either the New Funtier or South Park areas. We got up there at about 8:30 and everything in New Funtier was already taken, and surprisingly South Park was not yet open for the season. We talked to a park employee and he told us there was a line open in the Scottish Gullies area so we headed down there and found a line. It was really cold, only 1 degree when we got up, and about 6 degrees when we arrived in the gorge. But we stayed warm with big belay parkas and hot chocolate in our thermoses.

Gearing up.
Gearing up.
A couple lines in the Scottish Gullies area.
A couple lines in the Scottish Gullies area.
Niels and Lars.
Niels and Lars.
Niels, on the left, climbing a nice line.
Niels, on the left, climbing a nice line.

Kai and them never found us so we were on our own for the day. Fortunately we met two other nice parties on either side of us, so we swapped routes and climbed on each others ropes. The climbing was pretty moderate, which was fine for us as this was our first ice climbing of the season. Because this area was newly opened there was lots of chandelier ice that was coming down all over the place. At one point early in the day a big hunk of ice came crashing down. When that happens we typically put out heads down and watch out. This time a chunk of ice about the size of a basketball hit me right in the shin, and it hurt pretty bad. After a few minutes, and I could breathe again, it felt okay and I was able to climb the rest of the day.

This is what happens when a big chunk of ice cracks you in the shin.
This is what happens when a big chunk of ice cracks you in the shin.
And when little pieces of ice hit you in the face.
And when little pieces of ice hit you in the face.
Niels getting ready to climb.
Niels getting ready to climb.
Lots of layers to stay warm on a very cold day.
Lots of layers to stay warm on a very cold day.
Lars, happy to be ice climbing.
Lars, happy to be ice climbing.

 

We had big greasy hamburgers and fries at Maggie’s Kitchen that night. Our motel had a nice hot tub that we took frequent advantage of. It felt great to soak in the hot water after climbing for hours, especially being out under the stars at night.

The next day we got up at 6:00 am and were on the ice by 7:15 or so. We set up three ropes in the New Funtier area. With three lines we had all kinds of options and spent several hours climbing multiple different lines. Niels and Lars climbed really well, doing some pretty steep and hard climbs.

Kai, Joey, and Jared.
Kai, Joey, and Jared.
Jared climbing a steep line.
Jared climbing a steep line.
In a beautiful setting, the Uncompahgre Gorge.
In a beautiful setting, the Uncompahgre Gorge.
The climb went up between two ice mushrooms.
The climb went up between two ice mushrooms.
Almost up.
Almost up.
Past the crux.
Surmounting the crux.
Lars on belay duty.
Lars on belay duty.
Niels climbing a steppy line.
Niels climbing a steppy line.
And a bit higher up.
And a bit higher up.
Joey on the hardest line of the day. This is the same climb in the previous photos with Jared.
Joey on the hardest line of the day. This is the same climb in the previous photos with Jared.
Niels topping out.
Niels topping out.
Lars hiking through the narrow gorge.
Lars hiking through the narrow gorge.
Lars climbing out of the gorge on fixed ropes.
Lars climbing out of the gorge on fixed ropes.
Kai, Jared, and Joey.
Kai, Jared, and Joey.
One last swig of hot chocolate at the end of the day.
One last swig of hot chocolate at the end of the day.

By noon we were pretty beat, so we called it a day. More soaking in the hot tub was followed by an excellent dinner of fusion tacos at Tacos del Gnar in nearby Ridgeway. The pork belly taco was fantastic. We then hit Mouse’s Chocolate shop in Ouray for dessert. We had a leisurely evening, then headed home early Sunday morning. It was another great trip, even more so because I was able to spend the time with my sons. There was lots of joking and laughing in the evenings in our motel room.

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