I got to cross ice climbing in Colorado off my bucketlist this weekend!!! Ouray Ice Park was sick. A bunch of people in my group were taking pictures but I wont be able to post them till later this week. I did get some pics on my phone though.
Ouray is a little tiny mining town that lives for ice climbing. Its about 6 hours away from Salt Lake, its probably the coolest little town next to Lake Placid. The night sky was so clear it looked fake. Looking at the stars was like looking at the daytime sky with little black specks, I saw 3 shooting stars! So cool. So heres how it went:
Left SLC, carpooled with a classmate (yes, this was for a class and I got 2 credits for it!) we got talking about Paragliding and Snow Kiting (where a kite pull you on skis) which are apparently very popular things in SLC. You bet ill get into them! We get to Ouray and check in with our instructors. We stayed in cabins in groups of 4.
We wake up at 6am and get to the ice park to set up some routes. It was about 17 degrees out, clear skies, perfect day to climb! We learned the basics, how to repel (climb down from the top), climbing techniques, tying into the rope, making anchors (tying the ropes into trees at the top of the cliff) and different knots and technical stuff like that. We climbed on some different routs for about 6 hours, most of the routes we climbed were around 70 feet high and the ratings were WI3-4 for those who know the rating system or feel like looking it up. After climbing we went into "town" and found this awesome little coffee and chocolate shop called Mouse Chocolates. They had the most amazing hot cocoa. Or maybe it was just amazing after spending all day climbing frozen waterfalls.
Setting up the anchors at the top.
Wake up at 6 again, a little warmer at 23 or so. Still clear blue skies and perfect weather! We climbed in more difficult areas, Schoolhouse and South Park. (these are different areas in the ice park). My favorite was Schoolhouse, the cliffs were really tall I got about 2 climbs in there. The second time I fell and got some nasty bruises on my knees, yay for being tied into a rope and having a belayer to save your life! I was trying to compare it to rock climbing but its really different. Having crampons and ice axes youd think would make it easier but the axes and crampons sometimes slip or the ice gives out under them, which is what happened when I fell. In rock climbing you have grips on rocks but here the tools are the only things you have to hold you there! We hiked to south park, but all the routs were taken by other climbers so we had a test on making anchors and self and pre equalized systems (how the ropes are tied in at the top) and other fun rope related stuff. I passed :).
Wohoo! Fun in the happening.
Later, we decided it would be a good Idea to take off our 6 layers of clothes, get into our swim suits and do some polar bear. JUST KIDDING!! We soaked in the hot spring they have in Ouray! 106 degrees. It was sooooo nice. I could see more shooting stars sitting in the spring which was cool. The worst part was running in our suits in 10 degree weather from the cabins to the water. There was a separate cold pool of water next to the hot spring, and we had a competition to see who could get out and swim from the end of the cold pool back to the hot spring. It turned into a competition to see who could get out of the hot spring and get to the pool without freezing in place! haha. I win. Well I got thrown in but thats a different story. (PS the town runs on geothermal energy) Then we stopped by for some more Mouses cocoa and did "presentations" aka had conversations with the instructors about how cool ice climbing is and where would be good places to go hiking. What a kickass class.
Ive thought up the perfect career path for myself. With my meteorology major, I could get a Parks, Recreation and tourism minor and become a mountain guide or work in avalanche control, and also be an ice climbing/rock climbing instructor! If I do the more advanced ice/rock climbing classes, I could shadow the instructors by Jr year and become an instructor my senior year! What a cool job.
Also, Ive added something to my bucketlist. The instructors were telling me that through the outdoor rec programme here they're getting a group together later this summer to climb Mt Rainier in Washington. Its a CRAZY good deal, only 350 bux which includes transportation, food, a hiking pass, and we will be guided by the same instructors who do the climbing classes. Normally, just a guide is 3,000 bux. Its an intense mountain and a big deal to summit. Im definitely goin for it.
Cant wait for my backpacking class in April!!
Brrrrrr. I got sunburned by the end of the day.