Ice Climbing Ouray 2014
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02/01-04/2014

Link to just pictures.

After an epic day of skiing knee-deep powder at Keystone I met up with James, Jeff, and John (the Cyborg) in Frisco. We did the snowy drive out towards Grand Junction and up to the Colorado Monument to check out No Thoroughfare Falls. We parked at Devils Kitchen TH and hiked 1.5 miles along the creek to the falls. The scenery was awesome with new snow all over the red rock walls and towers. Around another corner and BOOM.... 150' of WI3-4, awesome! Shafer led the first pitch up to bolts on the left, James followed up and led the second pitch to bolts above. He set up an anchor and rapped down on two ropes tied together. We each took a couple laps going up different sides having a grand ole time. It felt great to get back on the ice after nearly a year and I was pleased that my neck/back did not feel tweeked at all, just weak. Didn't take long for my little bitch-stick-arms to get sore too. Back to the cars then finish the rest of the drive to Ouray. We pulled into the house in the evening and got unpacked and tapped the keg right away. Dan (Spillo) and Mike (Everclear) were already there and soon after, BK, Kevin (ET, Captain America, Sleeves), Steve (Momburgler), Bob (The Butcher) were pulling in too. The furnace was broken so a fire and the stove was our only heat for the night. Hot tubbing then dinner of salads, pasta, beer, and whiskey... followed up by many hours of poker and making fun of each other. For my first time playing poker, I ended up winning $30 while Steve played every hand and kept opening up his wallet.
Sunday morning was fueled by coffee and a breakfast casserole then we headed up to Camp Bird Road for some climbs. So awesome looking around with the tons of new snow and bright blue skies. Camp Bird Road was freakin' COLD and snowy. James and Jeff wanted to lead Slippery When Wet, but a couple just got on there so we headed to Chockstone Chimney. Under the chockstone, a short easy rope-less pitch, then roping up for James and Jeff to lead on opposite sides. The left side that James and I went up was wet and we were soaked in no time. My hands went numb and I cleaned the screws from the slush pile. At the top we all rappelled down while the warm sun started hitting the road. The plows were heading down pushing an amazing amount of snow into the canyon while throwing climbers packs into the deep snow. We watched BK, Scott, and Bob get hammered with spindrift then we started up Slippery When Wet. I needed a rope for the easy lower pitch for a little bit of confidence, then James started up the steep stuff at a solid WI4. He made it look easy and John followed just unclipping the rope so Jeff could sport lead it. I belayed Jeff then headed up behind him. Holy shit this was hard! I was struggling and felt this was one of the hardest climbs I've done. After the vertical section there's a bulge then thin ice with rock right behind it. Very odd moves and jamming every limb into holds. At the top I was totally gassed but had an ear to ear grin on. Super props to James and Jeff for leading this, total bad-assery! A long rap down for all of us followed by high-fives. Back to the house for hot tub, beer, showers, and the SuperBowl. Bob and BK cooked up delicious tenderloins that melted in our mouths, and everyone was shocked by the Broncos getting destroyed in the game.  More poker and laughing all night.
Monday morning's forecast wasn't as promising, but James, Jeff, and I headed up to Dexter Creek slabs to take a peek. Given all the recent snow, we fully intended to turn around at any moment conditions did not look good. We broke trail up the road for a couple of switchbacks then started up the steep and snowy gully. Into the trees for slightly less snow then sections of knee to thigh trail breaking. Fortunately the snow was light, fluffy, and consistent to the bottom. Near the bottom of the climb we could see sluffed-off areas and roped up. I started through deep snow plowing to the bottom of the ice then setup an anchor. Jeff lead the first ice pitch clearing the snow and bashing through the rotten ice on top of good ice. James and I followed on the ice followed by steep snow on top of ice. James lead the next pitch while Jeff and I got rained on hunks of ice and snow, completely unavoidable though. I was starting to struggle and having a hard time with numb hands and tired arms/legs. Then the snow started again, coming down heavy. Up at the next anchor Jeff took off on the last pitch making quick work of it since the weather was turning. He set up an anchor and James and I followed, me totally struggling again. More pure bad-assery by James and Jeff. We did three long raps back to the base then plunge stepped down to the road, I was stoked to have another awesome climb under my belt. Hot tub and beers back at the house while heavy snow started to fall. Ridiculous amounts Chicken Parm by Dan was consumed then more poker, drinks, and ribbin' each other. We all did "luge shots" out of the top of a cowboy hat, BK won the largest pot in ice climbing history, and I announced that I was the Momburglars step-dad. Good times were had by all.
Tuesday was just packing up and the long, snowy drive home. Another amazing trip to Ouray will awesome dudes.