Ouray Ice Climbing (2nd Time)

After going to the Ouray Ice Festival last year we knew without a doubt that we wanted to go back again in 2017.

The festival is really awesome because you get to watch some of the best climbers in a world ice climb and you also have the opportunity to take classes (at a discounted price) to try and learn.

It had been a whole year since we had tried ice climbing so we were definitely pretty uncertain and unskilled when we started off again.

It was ironic because our class was in the exact same section as where we were at last year, so it was pretty much the same route we were tackling again.

One of our other favorite things about the festival is the “library card” system for demoing gear. Basically you pay $5 and this gets you a gear demo card. With this card you can try out and temporarily use any gear available. (they would just charge your credit card on file if you were to not return it).

Last year we didn’t know to get there super early so we had a really hard time getting all of the gear we needed, and so it was stressful. This year we got there really early to be prepared. We were able to get the boots, ice tools, and crampons we needed without a problem.

Since we had extra time and there was still gear left we also demoed climbing packs, puffy jackets, and climbing gloves. The puffy jackets were my favorite. You tend to get very warm when you climb and even sweaty, but then you end up being very cold when you just stand around waiting your turn or belaying other people. But with the puffy jacket we were nice and warm!

It wasn’t the sunniest day, but thanks to the neon green jacket it is still pretty easy to spot Jeb on the ice! It was sort of weird weather this year in Ouray. During the day it didn’t snow a ton, but then later in the day and each night it snowed a lot. Three separate storms hit over the weekend with probably almost 8 inches Saturday night.

Getting higher up the wall! Jeb did much better climbing this year and made it to the top every single time he climbed.

Each year we say if the weather is good enough we are going to try to drive up the pass and go cross country skiing at the nordic center in Ironton. And each year the weather is very snowy and since that road is one of the most terrifying roads in the state, we don’t end up cross country skiing. Fortunately there are plenty of other things to do in Ouray and we always end up having a great time!

This year the snow and roads were so bad we decided to not even drive the 8 miles to our favorite hot spring in Ridgeway. Thankfully though our awesome hotel has a hot tub outside and so we went to it twice! The hot tub was much needed for sore muscles after ice climbing! Since we aren’t used to climbing we both end up pretty sore and tired afterwards.

Almost to the top! This is a pretty awesome picture of Jeb (in my opinion)!

This year we decided to take 2 half day morning beginning classes. So we took one Saturday morning and the other Sunday morning. That way we had some time to recover in between classes!

You can barely see Jeb, but he is in this picture all the way at the top!

Finally my turn to climb! I always get anxious because I hate having people watching me when I do things like climbing or skiing. With skiing it is debatable as to whether or not anyone else is even watching you, but with ice climbing when the rest of the class is waiting their turn, they are definitely watching!

I was glad to see that despite the year off from having tried this, I was still better at it than I was last year. The biggest challenges were just forcing myself to stay calm and relaxed and to take my time as I went.

The first day our focus was more just on trying it out and getting as high as we could. The second day we thought much more about our techniques and movements and having the proper form to make our climbing more efficient and less tiring.

It definitely takes some trust and getting used to the fact that your crampons will kick into the ice and hold you in place.

I also somehow always end up kicking the wall with my knees… kicking ice with your knees does not feel good!

Also thank goodness for gaiters because I kicked one time too close to my other leg and I ripped a hole in my gaiters, but at least it wasn’t my pants!

The second day I wiped out on the treacherous walk that you have to do just to get to the ice walls. There was a little bridge over the stream and the snow I stepped on from the bridge gave out, and me and the snow went into the shallow creek. It wasn’t deep but it was EXTREMELY cold. my leg and one glove was soaked for the rest of the class. I also bruised my knee and thigh pretty good…

Making my way up higher….

I MADE IT TO THE TOP!

Last year I didn’t get to the top on the 2 times I tried climbing. I was so excited to get up there this time! I felt very accomplished 🙂

Coming back down. You sorta have to lean back and walk backwards down the wall. It is a little bit of a ticky motion – but since I love to rappel, I find it pretty fun!

Almost back down. The second time I climbed Jeb was belaying for me so our guide actually took a bunch of these pictures of me.

So happy to have made a lot of improvement!

Jeb and I with our huge puffy coats. We felt like such brand snobs because we were excited to be wearing/demoing: Patagonia, Arcteryx, Grivel, Asolo, Petzl, Osprey, and Hyperlite.

This is taken from the top on the walkway above the ice climbing wall. This picture is looking back down on the exact route that we had both ice climbed to the top of!

Ice climbing selfie! You can definitely tell we were having a good time!

In case you forgot 😉 Ouray is a special place to us because it is where we got engaged. So of course we went back to the exact spot where Jeb asked me to marry him.

This is taken right where I was standing when Jeb proposed. This box canyon is always so beautiful!

Another great trip to Ouray! Our 5th so far, and probably many more to come!

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