For good reason, you'll see more ice climbers in Ouray than any other place in the world. There are more accessible ice routes here than anywhere else I can imagine. The locals have created an artificial climbing ice world by tapping into a penstock and dripping the water over the cliffs of the Uncompaghre Gorge. There are literraly hundreds of possible lines here, and an infinite number of variations.
The Uncompaghre Gorge is to ice climbing as Rifle is to rock climbing. A crucible where you can test your technique, tools, huevos and patience. That's right, the place is so popular you'll want to have a thermos of coffee handy for the waits. For those wanting adventure, head up the Camp Bird Road to the routes up there. You'll find classics like the Skylight, Birdbrain Blvd and the Ribbon.
For a great apres-dinner activity (You did eat at the Buen Tiempo, didn't you?) hike up the road to the "real" Box Canyon. It's an Indiana Jones-esque labrynth of granite slots, thundering waterfalls and suspension bridges that is wonderfully weird and spooky at night. For best effect, don't bring your headlamps, don't tell anyone where you're going and be sure to under-dress and wear smooth soled shoes.
Best of Ouray: Ice
Best Breakfast: Sunroom at the Vic, but you've gotta be staying there.
Best Breakfast if you're not staying at the Vic: The Groundskeeper
Best Hotel: The Vic (Duh!) but the Riverside is a very close second and the Weisbaden has those cool vapor caves.
Best Dinner: The Buen Tiempo
Best Bar: The Silver Eagle
Best Guide Service: San Juan Mountain Guides.
Best Shop: Ouray Mountain Sports
From Montrose, take US Hwy 550 about 40 miles south to Ouray. Easy.
It's snowimg in Ouray big time and getting colder by the minute. The climbs are coming!
I should mention that the Ice Park has been updated with _40,000 worth of new plumbing. This will mean 12 new routes this year in the highly anticipated "South Park" region. (Malcolm - no poaching before opening date!).
The new water system will allow ice to be made at night and the line drained during the day. No need for wet suits this year. We are exploring awesome new areas that will allow the Park to double in size. Right . . ."double". How about 2 pitch overhanging wicked stuff?
This just in from Jeff Lowe: The ice park in Ouray is forming up nice but not there yet. Scheduled to open on Dec 15. Drips coming down all over the Camp Bird Road but nothing really solid yet. As of 3:00pm on Nov 29 it was dumping so the ice will be forming.
This was posted on the Ouray ICe Festival Site on 11/11: ...we've had 2' of snow in the last several days which has made for great skiing. The park may open early this year with our new water system and most climbs in the park already have ice on them. In Eureka "Whorehouse Hoses" are in, "Stairway to Heaven" is in, 1st and 2nd Gullies are in. In South Mineral, North Face Direct is in and some of the other climbs are forming. The Ribbon has about 6 inches of ice on it, Bird Brain Boulevard has very little. The ?Skylight climbs should be in soon and the "Talisman" is looking huge for this early in the year. Erin Eddy
This was posted on the Ouray Ice Park'sw website on 11/27. In the backcountry all the climbs in Eureka are in. Whorehouse Hoses and Stairway to Heaven are in good condition. In South Mineral, all climbs are in. None of the climbs on HWY 550 South of Ouray are in. (Gravity's, Horsetail, Kennedy's). The Skylight climbs are all in but the ice is thin. The Ribbon and Bird Brain saw their first traffic last week. The ice park is in good condition but it looks like another week or two before we open it.
Nov 30 - Dec 1. Ouray & Skylight areasthe ICE PARK is still CLOSED but looking good and growing.The SKYLIGHT area is about 50%. Skylight and Choppo's are in. the tops are quite thin and mixed, with running water and disconnected ice. Chockstone and other III's are in. Good thin ice on the bolted route. The RIBBON is getting traffic. bottom is narrow & thin, fatter as you go up.Bird Brain is very thin or all rock. Red Mountain Pass near the Avi-shed area has some awesome new ice for the taking. up there near the tunnel there are some 2-4 pitch options that are fatter than usual and begging for your picks. Horsetail is narrow but there. Bear Creek is all water. all south side climbs (Gravity) are non existant. roads were all clear and dry.show your AAC card at the Riverside Inn for a 20% discount.
At the Skylight last weekend: Slip Slidin Away, Choppo's (thin at top), and Skylight are all in good. The Ribbon was apparently good with the first pitch thin. I reckon Bird Brain is still thin and scary. Lots of cool routes are forming across from the snowshed on Red Mtn. Pass!
Ice in the park was beautiful during the Ice Festival (Jan 17-20) but the hordes were ungodly. Some very questionable pro, anchors, tecnique being employed. Actually saw one belayer get knocked-out cold in the scoolroom by falling ice. Spooky! As of Feb1 ice in South Park was very plastic but got so warm that it was extremely wet and there was a little icefall in the north end that made me choose to move on. The afternoon of Feb 2 brought snow, cold and bitchin ice back to the park. The lower gorge was awesome!
Snake Couloir on Sneffels has plenty of snow. Its a bit soft below the dogleg and near the edges of the couloir, but good and hard after the turn. Extra pro is likely not necessary, but at this time, crampons and axe would be recommended (there are stretches where its too hard to kick decent steps). The route is probably not ski-able however due to suncupping, runnels, imbedded rocks, etc.
Some a-hole took a #1 Camalot from a pre-set anchor in Uncompahgre Gorge near the lower bridge. The anchor consisted of two RPs , #1 cam and a green cordelette. Only the cam was taken. I rappelled into the gorge on a fixed line and led out toward my anchor, only to find it sabotaged. What the f #*.
Ice is starting to form down here, thoug not in the park or any of the normal, winter climbing areas. It is coming in way up high above 12,000 ft. There is ice on the N. face of Kismet and on Sneffels. Also, there are reports of some very interesting stuff coming in on the N. side of Pigeon and Index, south of Silverton. You can check www.skywardmountaineering.com for updated climbing conditions for the San Juans.
We've got a few people coming in from Pittsburgh from 12/26 to 1/2/04. Can anyone make any recomendations about some longer alpine stuff outside the park? We're gonna be there all week, and I know that the crowds will be bad...
Didn't make the Ice Fest due to my claustrophobia flaring up. Heard from a non-climber that a woman had fallen 150' during the festivities. Is there any truth to the claim? Sounds horrific, I'm hoping it's not factual.
The accident Saturday was quite unpleasant. She fell probably about 85 to 100 ft. into the lower gorge between Tic Tac and Dizzy with a Vision. Thanks to everyone who dropped what they were doing and rushed to help. No official word yet on how exactly she fell, but it looks as if her rappel rope became unattached from the anchor. Photos of the anchor setup were taken. Pretty sad. One of the nastier climbing accidents that some involved with the rescue had seen. The condition of the woman involved is still quite serious as of Sunday. No updates as of yesterday afternoon. Hopefully this quiets the rumor mill. I'm sure more info will be available soon.
Climbed in Ouray Ice Park on Mar. 12-13. Conditions were excellent, with a few minor annoyances. The ice was in hero conditions....a little wet, but it's springtime....no? We stumbled into "International Womens' Weekend" so...well... a little high on the estrogen levels. Ice in the sun is degenerating quickly, but nighttime low temps are refurbishing routes nicely. Head out early in the morn. Schoolroom is bomber, and the mixed route just downstream of the Schoolroom Pillar was deluxe. The river is the major obstacle, and presumably will be until the park closes. If you're heading to the park this weekend you can probably get in one more good weekend in warm temps. Salud!
I lost my camera (small canon SD 550 in a black case) in the Southpark area as you come down off the hill ( by a small tree across from the first wall, below where the sun hit) if you are going that way and find it please let me know and there will be a reward! THANKS
By Lee Jenkins From: Buena Vista, Colorado Feb 15, 2009
Kick the VIC.
With new mgmt, it has turned into a dump. Complaints of no housekeeping, no/or bad health hot tub, smoking in non-smoking rooms, loud noises all night, and the breakfast is lacking coffee and many other complaints!
Please bogart this establishment in favour of others, like the Ouray Chalet etc.
Ditto on Lee's comment on the Vic. We've stayed in one of the condos there for XMas - New Years for 6 or so years now plus one or two other weekends and this was the LAST YEAR. VERY POOR customer service and the new owners/managers are VERY "casual" about dealing with any complaint - even something as serious as NO working smoke alarms in the condo; I found it in a cabinet and had to buy a battery and install it myself! No drapes in one of the bedrooms ("oh well, that window doesn't really face any occupied rooms anyway"). I had to pay someone to come in and try to get my laptop working with their antiquated WiFi set up ("oh, you're on vacation, you don't need WiFi"), and the list goes on. I hadn't said anything before because I thought maybe I was just being picky - but I see that ain't the case. Writing this from the Comfort Inn right now in fact! Nix the Vic!
I feel like I should defend the Victorian. Having stayed there many times in recent years, I can't think of one complaint. Price is good, access to The Park is the best in town, the outdoor hot tub is great, and the owners are wonderful. Ouray is awesome!
Just stayed @ the Vic and had a excellent stay. New owner as of Nov. '08? I think, it was great. Super comfy bed and great breakfast as in the past when Gary and company were there. No complaints here. Remote in room was not programed and Jan (the owner) brought a new one right away. Give 'em another shot. They won't disappoint.