February 14-17, 2019
Ouray is another one of those special places that I could never spend enough time in. It’s a charming little town tucked in between the snowcapped peaks of the Rockies. The town is home to hundreds of miles of trails, hot springs with remarkable views and of course, the main thing we came for, the Ouray Ice Park.
For our anniversary weekend this year, I planned our first trip to Ouray. We flew into Denver late on Thursday evening where our friends Cory and Jaylynn picked us up. From the airport, we headed straight to Ouray through the night. We were driving through a blizzard that slowed travel down and ended up arriving just before the crack of dawn. Stoked to get out, we decided to take a quick nap and then head into the park before it got crowded. A few hours later, we grabbed a quick breakfast in the hotel lobby and we were gone.
My eyes lit up when we arrived. It was a climbers playground. I’d never been ice climbing before and it was the perfect place to learn. So much to top rope! If you don’t know what top roping is, it’s a style of climbing in which the climber is securely attached to a rope which then passes up, through an anchor system at the top of the climb, and down to a belayer at the foot of the climb. (Looks like this for reference.)
We set up a rope and I rapped down to the base of the climb, eager to see how it felt in crampons. It was pretty cool! We climbed in the school room area for most the day and then headed back into town for food and finally real sleep. We planned on getting out to Scottish Gullies the next day and meeting up with one of my coworkers, Casey and his girlfriend, Uta.
The next morning we stopped into Mouse’s Chocolate and Coffee shop for fuel and cookies and were right back into the park. Our second day of climbing was already a step up from day one. It’s pretty easy to feel comfortable climbing moderate ice once you figure out the technique. The climbing in Scottish Gullies was fun. We met up with Casey and Uta there, climbed some pillars and watched as they hopped on some more challenging mixed routes. I set goals for next winter and took in all the tips I could. We climbed until the park closed and then headed to the hot springs.
There’s not much better than soaking in hot springs after a blustery day out ice climbing. It was just heavenly. The four of us sat there for while planning our next trip as a group and reminisced on the climbing.
We went to dinner later that evening at a nice little Italian restaurant in town called Bon Ton where we found the strangest dessert menu we’ve ever seen. We had some real good laughs and still have so many questions...
The next morning we headed out early to get to the airport. We made sure to stop for lunch at Two Brothers Deli in Idaho Springs for what was promised by Cory and Jaylynn to be the best sandwiches — it held up to its praise! A few hours later we were on our way back I Washington with a bunch of great memories in a place we’ll be returning to again soon.