(Last Updated On: January 7, 2009)
Last week I had the opportunity to take an ice climbing course at the famed ice park in Ouray, Colorado. I took a 2-day basic introductory course with San Juan Mountain Guides. Our instructor was Kevin Koprek and our class was small with only 3 other people in the course: Ali, Sebastian, and Cheye.
All of us had belayed people before, so we were able to mostly skip that part and move quickly on to ice climbing technique. I had taken an ice climbing lesson years ago in Alaska and I quickly learned that the technique has changed! Our guide Kevin demonstrated the technique really well for us.
The Ouray Ice Park consists of many areas. It’s located in a small box canyon, and goes a mile back into the canyon. Needless to say, it’s huge! All the same the park can get crowded at times, especially during a holiday week such as this. How is the ice formed? They drip water from pipes that extend back through the canyon. They run the water every night, so the ice is “fresh” every day. This photo shows a picture of one area of the ice park.
Overall, the course was a great experience and I’d recommend the San Juan Mountain Guides to anyone who wants to learn to ice climb. The ice park in Ouray is one of the best places to learn because the anchors are solid, so the experience can be very safe. Also, the ice park is very large and therefore offers a wide variety of routes for all abilities. Climbing on ice made me more confident in my crampons and ice axes, which was my goal for the course- to improve my overall mountaineering skills. But, in doing that, it made be realize how much I like climbing ice. So, I don’t think this will be my last time climbing ice this winter 🙂