Monday, February 05, 2007

Weekend In Ouray

Driving up Little Cottonwood every morning and seeing the groups out on our local ice climb, The Great White Icicle got me excited about taking that six hour drive with my wife, Molly, to the ice climbing mecca of Ouray. Molly in the park

Molly is an avid boulderer and sport climber but has never been ice climbing so she signed up for the two day beginners course with San Juan Mountain Guides. SJMG is based out of the Victorian Inn in the heart of Ouray and operated by head guide Clint Cook is one of the few American UIAGM/IFMGA certified guides.

On Saturday Molly’s group, which was a 2:1 ratio class led by guide Kevin Koprek spent the day learning the basics of ice gear, the proper technique for crampon and tool placement as well as the all important ‘triangle position’. The class then climbed in the South Park area of the incredible Ouray Ice Park. Clint rapping off Stairway To Heaven

I was fortunate enough to get paired up with Clint and, after a few warm up laps and pointers in the park, headed out in the backcountry for several routes including the Skylight and Slippery When Wet.

On Sunday, Molly’s group moved to steeper climbs in the New Funtier section of the Ouray Ice Park while Clint and I got an early start for the drive to Silverton and the classic Stairway to Heaven. After having heard and read about Stairway for years, it truly lived up to its reputation of a fun and exciting climb.

Stairway To Heaven

If you’re looking for a great introduction to ice climbing or just ticking some of the areas classics, look no further than a trip to Ouray with Clint and his crew at SJMG. The high degree of knowledge and professionalism on behalf of the entire SJMG team was impressive. We had such a great time that we’re already setting up our next trip!



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