Ice Climbing in Ouray, Colorado: South Park, New Funtier, The Alcove

After a fabulous day skiing at 12,500 feet at Telluride (see link for that adventure), it was time to swing some tools. Day 2 of our Colorado trip saw us at the ice climbing mecca, Ouray, Colorado. Ouray is a small mining town located a few minutes from a long canyon that is turned every winter into a man-made ice climbing park. There is a long pipe that runs the length of the top of the canyon wall, and every weeknight new water is shot down over the climbs to “tend” the ice. Mother nature definitely doesn’t give us this many frills. The climbs are long, some require as a long as a 70 meter rope, and the trees are often set far back from the edge, so bring a ton of webbing…and then pack some more.

Ouray Ice Park. Photo by Genevieve Hathaway.

The Ouray Ice Park may be one of the very few places (if not the only) where having 10 ice climbers is a huge bonus. We were able to place ropes for 5 routes, giving us the ability to climb a lot of interesting and challenging ice. On our first day at the Ouray Ice Park we climbed in the area known as the South Park. We climbed a wide variety of WI4s.

South Park. Ouray Ice Park. Photo by Genevieve Hathaway.

South Park. Ouray Ice Park. Photo by Genevieve Hathaway.

South Park. Ouray Ice Park. Photo by Genevieve Hathaway.

South Park. Ouray Ice Park. Photo by Genevieve Hathaway.

South Park. Ouray Ice Park. Photo by Genevieve Hathaway.

South Park. Ouray Ice Park. Photo by Genevieve Hathaway.

South Park. Ouray Ice Park. Photo by Genevieve Hathaway.

Me moving onto the detached pillar. South Park. Ouray Ice Park. Photo by Genevieve Hathaway.

Lots of ropes and routes in South Park. Ouray Ice Park. Photo by Genevieve Hathaway.

The ice spots that shoot water to form the climbs. Ouray Ice Park. Photo by Genevieve Hathaway.

One our second day at Ouray, we first climbed a number of WI4 climbs at New Funtier and then traveled to the north side to climb in The Alcove.  The following photos are from New Funtier.  New Funtier is more narrow than South Park, but there are still lots of interesting climbs here, including some nice mixed routes.

New Funtier. Ouray Ice Park. Photo by Genevieve Hathaway.

New Funtier. Ouray Ice Park. Photo by Genevieve Hathaway.

New Funtier. Ouray Ice Park. Photo by Genevieve Hathaway.

New Funtier. Ouray Ice Park. Photo by Genevieve Hathaway.

New Funtier. Ouray Ice Park. Photo by Genevieve Hathaway.

New Funtier. Ouray Ice Park. Photo by Genevieve Hathaway.

New Funtier. Ouray Ice Park. Photo by Genevieve Hathaway.

After playing around at the New Funtier in the morning, we moved to the northern part of the Ouray Ice Park to climb some stellar WI4 and WI5 ice at The Alcove.

A climber (not part of our group) climber a wicked mixed route in The Alcove. Ouray Ice Park. Photo by Genevieve Hathaway.

Our kick-ass WI5 route we climbed in The Alcove. Ouray Ice Park. Photo by Genevieve Hathaway.

Me climbing the WI5 route. The Alcove. Ouray Ice Park. Photo by Genevieve Hathaway.

The Alcove. Ouray Ice Park. Photo by Genevieve Hathaway.

Me climbing a WI 4 route with a little mixed climbing at the very top. The Alcove. Ouray Ice Park. Photo by Genevieve Hathaway.

Getting my mixed climb on. The Alcove. Ouray Ice Park. Photo by Genevieve Hathaway.

Ouray Ice Park is a definite must visit for any ice climbing enthusiasts.  It has such a wide-variety of ice to climb and mixed routes that both beginners and experienced ice and mixed climbers can find ice to challenge them.  What also makes Ouray unique is the ability to top-rope very difficult waterfall ice climbs.

And for all you lead climbers, there are “leading only” areas to climb in the park, and also numerous multi-pitch ice climbs in the area surrounding Ouray.  What better way to relax after a long day of ice climbing than with a pint of the Mr. Grumpy Pants Brewery’s amazing beer.  (You’ll find the owner and the atmosphere of the pub anything but grumpy.)  The small pub is owned, run and beer brewed by one character of a man, James Hutchinson; this is a must visit pub for any beer lover.

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~ by Genevieve Hathaway on March 16, 2010.

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