Ouray Ice Festival Recap: Day 2

You didn’t think yesterday was it, did you?! Of course not. You know better than that! 🙂

Sunday morning came bright and early, but this time, it was a bit painful. We had all crashed around 9:30 the night before because we were so exhausted, but I still didn’t want to wake up at 6am. I quickly realized that I had some nice and sore muscles, particularly my triceps. Youch! However, as we headed up the hill towards the ice park, I got to see some of the most amazing views of the entire trip. Some 3-4″ of snow had fallen during the snowstorm the night before, but the morning had brought beautiful blue skies. The contrast of colors was literally breathtaking.

Thew view from the base of the ice park
Downtown Ouray from the ice park

Isn’t the town cute? A local told me only 800 people live there year round, so it’s definitely small. I thought Steamboat was small when I lived there with 8000 people…..800 is like one big family!

Anyway, we hurried over to our tent to meet our instructor for the day. We had signed up for a half day Intermediate Climbing clinic, and we were curious to see what the difference in courses would entail. Apparently, a lot!

Getting into the canyon this time was actually kind of nerve wracking! Just like on Saturday, we had to crampon and helmet up for safety. However, the first half of the descent involved a rickety metal ladder. Try climbing down metal steps with a bunch of spikes on your feet. NOT EASY! After the stair case, there was a rope tied to the side of the mountain that we had to hold while we hobbled down the steep embankment. It was definitely sketchy, but I have to say, kind of fun!

After we arrived at our climbing site, we took a look at the routes our instructor had set up. HOLY HELL. The learning curve between Saturday and Sunday was insane. The routes were exponentially more difficult and so incredibly steep. I will admit: when I first looked at them, I was very intimidated if not a bit scared. For me, that is  huge because I never get scared about trying new or scary things. Obviously, I like adventure and I like challenge….but these suckers looked hard!

The route on the left was the harder of the two, but the route on the right still kicked our asses! Brad was able to get up to the top of the right one, but he was the only one! As for the one on the left…. none of us were able to top it out.

Me, attempting the right route

In addition, the canyon was freezing on Sunday!! I was the last to climb, so by the time I finally got on the ice, my hands and toes were numb. I had hand warmers in, but I could barely feel the heat. Of course, they got worse when I was climbing since all the blood drained from my hands. However, after I got pumped out and hopped down from the route, I dropped my hands down and it was like they were on fire! All the blood came rushing back into my fingers with a vengeance and it was so painful that I swear, I almost cried. I can’t even imagine how patients who are verging on frostbite feel!!

Do I look at least a little cool?!

In the end, I absolutely loved the ice climbing festival! Was ice climbing hard? Hell yes! It was very intimidating and challenging but of course, I think that was what I enjoyed about it. If something is easy, then I get bored quickly. I don’t think this would ever be the case with ice climbing. 

However, I am guessing my ice climbing will be limited to the festival every January and maybe one or two other occasions. Why? Ease of access and gear! Let’s face it: we were all learning and none of us are good enough to head out on the ice and set up the ropes. Because of that, it would be pretty darn hard  to go ice climbing without the help of an instructor, and I am not going to pay for a guide every weekend when I feel like going!

What is the one sport that you would most like to try in the world?

What holds you back from trying new things, new activities?

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