Trip Report
An ice climbing safari - part one: the Ames Ice Hose, Ouray's Ribbon, and Telluride's Bridal Veil Falls - 1/2-11/12

by BMcC
Thursday February 16, 2012 5:41pm
Here's the 1st of 2 trip reports on some ice climbing in January including the Ames Ice Hose, Ouray's Ribbon, and Telluride's Bridal Veil Falls. The 2nd trip report includes some pics of ice in Cody and Hyalite.

Ed Hartouni has already posted 2 excellent trip reports on some of the fun we had in Colorado at the Ouray Ice Festival and climbing the Ames Ice Hose after the festival was over:
http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=1720762&tn=0&mr=0
and
http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=1721309&tn=0&mr=0


My contributions here include some additional pictures of the climbs on which Ed reported and of various other climbs.

I drove to the Ouray Ice Festival so I could provide ground transportation for our little gang (Frank and Loren Baker, and Ed) and do some additional climbing. Loren was staying only through mid-day on Sunday-January 8. Ed was going to stay longer and climb with me until Wednesday and Frank would climb with me until Thursday. Then would come part two of my travels wherein I would move onward to Cody, up to Canada, and down through Hyalite on my drive home.

Brought along my copies of various guidebooks: Jeff Lowe's "The Ice Experience" with its "Hardwater Guide" tick list of climbs throughout the US and Canada (1979); Cameron Burns's "Colorado Ice Climber''s Guide" (1997); Joe Josephson's "Winter Dance" on ice in Southern Montana and Northern Wyoming (2004), and Albi Sole's "Waterfall Ice" in the Canadian Rockies (1980). And closer to home, "Eastern Sierra Ice" by SP Parker.

I had wanted to climb the Ribbon just outside Ouray for several years and the Ames Ice Hose and Telluride's Bridal Veil Falls ever since reading about them in Jeff Lowe's book decades ago, but crowds and conditions kept putting me off (along with the stout reputations held by the latter 2).

On my way to Ouray, I climbed in Lee Vining with my brother Jon on January 2. Led and then did various laps on the Chouinard Falls. As others had reported in late December and early January, the Main Wall, Spiral Staircase and Bard-Harrington had relatively little ice. The climbing was fun, but unremarkable except that no one else was there - I'll spare you those pics. On the 3rd, we took advantage of the lack of Sierra snow and checked out Parker Canyon.

Parker Lake with the falls in the distance.
Parker Lake with the falls in the distance.
Credit: BMcC

Jon 3rd classing easy ice on the right flow.
Jon 3rd classing easy ice on the right flow.
Credit: BMcC

Parker Falls - right flow.
Parker Falls - right flow.
Credit: BMcC

Did a 70m pitch up the right flow and rapped off a V-thread. SP Parker was right: more interesting than Horsetail Falls, only WI2-3, and several hours to approach. OK, but I don't anticipate going back.

Left for Ouray the morning of Wednesday-January 4. There were long, long stretches of time and interstate where I could see no vehicles approaching or overtaking me.

Cruise control is a handy feature for hours like these...
Cruise control is a handy feature for hours like these...
Credit: BMcC

Before fetching Ed, Frank and Loren from the airport in Montrose late on Thursday-January 5, I had the day to check out conditions, find an interim climbing partner, and do some climbing.

Took the short drive up Camp Bird Mine Road to scope out the Ribbon. Cameron Burns wrote the following about it: WI4 600' and "Avalanche danger on it is super extreme, so do it early in the season or during a dry year." When I gave the Ribbon a serious look for the 1st time 2 years ago, there was far too much snow in the gully above it for my comfort. Last year, Frank, another partner, and I decided to postpone our climbing of the Ribbon after we watched it repeatedly avalanche spindrift(?) over a couple of climbers.

The Ribbon.
The Ribbon.
Credit: BMcC

This time conditions looked great. I was itching to climb it and figured Ed and Frank would be ready for it after a couple of clinics to warm them up.

While I was checking out the Ribbon, Paul (climber from Salt Lake City by way of Czechoslovakia and Germany), also without a partner, drove up. We dashed back down the road to the upper bridge area to top rope the Pick of the Vic and other routes.

The Pick of the Vic area.
The Pick of the Vic area.
Credit: BMcC

It was a mellow way in which to stretch out from hours of driving the day before.

After only about 4 to 6 laps each, a farmer (one of those hard working guys who manage the growth of park ice by turning on the water late each afternoon and off again in the mornings for months) stopped by to warn us that he was going to turn on the sprinklers around 4pm. The early end to our top roping session gave me plenty of time to drive (~10 minutes) up the main road out of town to check out conditions on Bear Creek Falls and Horsetail Falls which I had in mind as local options for Ed, Frank, and me if crowds or changed avi conditions kept us off the Ribbon, the Ice Hose, and Bridal Veil.
Horsetail Falls (WI4-5 500').
Horsetail Falls (WI4-5 500').
Credit: BMcC

Horsetail Falls looked great with little snow on the upper pitches and the approach. Frank and I did some wallowing and burrowing to get up it last year...

Bear Creek Falls (WI4-5 160').
Bear Creek Falls (WI4-5 160').
Credit: BMcC

Bear Creek Falls had lots of water flowing under it and looked badly fractured in a couple of place. Two years ago, Frank and I climbed Horsetail with several other friends and then climbed Bear Creek Falls back up to the road and my parked vehicle (the route finishes under the bridge that spans the falls). Makes me glad we climbed it when we did. Wasn't an appealing option last year and was even less so this year.

After scoping routes, it was back to Ouray Mountain Sports to retrieve 10 ice screws I had dropped off for sharpening. The screws were sharper than new and well worth the $6/screw that Bill (the shop owner) charged. Excellent shop with all of the latest state-of-the-art ice toys and, on display, a museum-like collection of older ice tools.

Still time left over to check into the Box Springs Lodge and Hot Springs Hotel and catch a long soak and dinner before heading off to the airport.

Dan in a mixed clinic taught by Aaron Mulkey.
Dan in a mixed clinic taught by Aaron Mulkey.
Credit: BMcC

Ed nearby in his Friday morning clinic.
Ed nearby in his Friday morning clinic.
Credit: BMcC

The late Jack Roberts casually hanging out in his very excellent, adva...
The late Jack Roberts casually hanging out in his very excellent, advanced ice clinic in the Flamenco-Jesus Right area Friday afternoon.
Credit: BMcC

Volunteered at the "Kids' Climbing College" belaying and teaching beginner kids and adults on Saturday and Sunday while Frank, Loren, and Ed took additional clinics.

It snowed some on Saturday and on Sunday morning, so we changed the order in which we planned to climb routes outside the park on Monday and Tuesday. To let the snow on the Ribbon settle (and let other climbers clear it of snow), Frank, Ed, and I headed over to the little community of Ames a few miles past the turnoff to Telluride to climb the Ames Ice Hose. Ed's already posted his excellent video of it in his TR on the Ice Hose. So I'll just post a few more pics.

The Ames Ice Hose in January 2011 (it was similar this year, but w...
The Ames Ice Hose in January 2011 (it was similar this year, but we were there too early in the morning to take a pic from this vantage point).
Credit: BMcC

Ed under the crux on 1st pitch of the Ames Ice Hose. (pic courtesy...
Ed under the crux on 1st pitch of the Ames Ice Hose. (pic courtesy of Frank Baker)
Credit: BMcC

While the ice looked like it had seen some traffic and was pretty hacked and even stair-stepped in places, it was also fairly to very thin in spots (screw-dulling thin as it turned out), a tad awkward, and really, really fun.

The Ames Ice Hose - just above the crux on the 2nd pitch. Scarpa Frene...
The Ames Ice Hose - just above the crux on the 2nd pitch. Scarpa Freney XT GTX boots and BD Stinger crampons (pic courtesy of Frank Baker) - 2/14/12

No real mixed climbing for us - standing on an edge (the ledge under my right crampon in this pic was quite welcome) or flagging a foot for balance was about as mixed as it got.

Ed above the steep chimney pitch.
Ed above the steep chimney pitch.
Credit: BMcC

The Ames Ice Hose - Frank on the 3rd pitch which was wonderfully steep...
The Ames Ice Hose - Frank on the 3rd pitch which was wonderfully steep and went on and on and on.
Credit: BMcC

It's nice climbing with partners who find reasons to smile!

Heading down.
Heading down.
Credit: BMcC

Our 1st day climbing outside the ice park went quite well, so we celebrated by soaking in the hot springs back in Ouray, getting dinner in town, and getting ready for the Ribbon on Tuesday.

The Ribbon (WI4 600') - we had 1st dibs.
The Ribbon (WI4 600') - we had 1st dibs.
Credit: BMcC

The Ribbon - 1st lead was thin in spots.     (pic courtesy of Fran...
The Ribbon - 1st lead was thin in spots. (pic courtesy of Frank Baker)
Credit: BMcC

The Ribbon - fatter ice up higher. Lots of almost steep ice, too.    &...
The Ribbon - fatter ice up higher. Lots of almost steep ice, too. (pic courtesy of Frank Baker)

Credit: BMcC

Steepish. The belays going up were all screws; the rappel anchors were...
Steepish. The belays going up were all screws; the rappel anchors were all bolts.
Credit: BMcC

Ed was taking a shuttle to the airport the next day (Wednesday-January 11) and flying home. Frank and I were getting up early for the hour plus drive to Telluride for Bridal Veil Falls - his last climb this trip before he headed home.

Bridal Veil Falls (WI5 400')
Bridal Veil Falls (WI5 400')
Credit: BMcC

Climbing is restricted to Bridal Veil Falls and 15' to either side. The ice to the left (which looked quite good) is off limits.

Frank on the 1st pitch. Easy ramp capped by some short bulges.
Frank on the 1st pitch. Easy ramp capped by some short bulges.
Credit: BMcC

Bridal Veil Falls - looking back from a little ways up the 2nd pitch t...
Bridal Veil Falls - looking back from a little ways up the 2nd pitch to Frank belaying me - I had him come out of hiding and lean out from under the protective, overhanging ice for this pic.

Credit: BMcC

Bridal Veil Falls - More of the 2nd pitch looming above with most of t...
Bridal Veil Falls - More of the 2nd pitch looming above with most of the pitch still to climb.
Credit: BMcC

From above the steep stuff on the 2nd pitch. The angle was beginning t...
From above the steep stuff on the 2nd pitch. The angle was beginning to back off.
Credit: BMcC

A barely visible Frank well onto the lower angle upper bit of the 2nd ...
A barely visible Frank well onto the lower angle upper bit of the 2nd pitch.
Credit: BMcC

Last pitch starts steep for 30' or so and then eases off.
Last pitch starts steep for 30' or so and then eases off.
Credit: BMcC

Bridal Veil - 2nd rap. Down the and icicles and then hanging free, twi...
Bridal Veil - 2nd rap. Down the and icicles and then hanging free, twisting in space. Scarpa Freney XT GTX boots and BD Stinger crampons - 2/16/12


Credit: BMcC

For Frank and me, it was back to Ouray for hot springs, a celebratory dinner, and packing. I dropped Frank at the airport in Montrose in the morning (Thursday-January12) and began part two of my January ice climbing safari heading to Cody, Wyoming, and beyond.

Thanks Ed and Frank for the belays, video(!), pics, and your camaraderie!












  Trip Report Views: 3,133
BMcC
About the Author
BMcC is a trad climber from Livermore.

Comments
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Comment on this Trip Report
dirt claud

Social climber
san diego,ca
  Feb 16, 2012 - 05:51pm PT
Awesome TR, thanks, really great picks, that last shot is killer. Looks like you guys had a great time.
slobmonster

Trad climber
OAK (nee NH)
  Feb 16, 2012 - 06:01pm PT
Love those routes, and they look in GREAT condition. Thanks for the writeup!
Mr_T

Trad climber
Northern California
  Feb 16, 2012 - 06:14pm PT
Awesome shots of Bridal Veil!
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
  Feb 16, 2012 - 06:40pm PT
Great photos! Love the TR!
Stewart Johnson

climber
lake forest
  Feb 16, 2012 - 07:55pm PT
nice!
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
  Feb 16, 2012 - 09:21pm PT
hey there say, BMcC... thanks for sharing...

can't comment on the pics, yet... but i will surely
come back and see them, :) *dial up...

but i still seeing your report...
:)

nice job...
:)
tuolumne_tradster

Trad climber
Leading Edge of North American Plate
  Feb 16, 2012 - 10:56pm PT
Awesome TR Bill. Man that 2nd pitch on Bridal Veil looks steep.
Kalimon

Social climber
Ridgway, CO
  Feb 16, 2012 - 11:01pm PT
Nice shots . . . the area classics for sure!
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
  Feb 16, 2012 - 11:13pm PT
Great write up. Definately need to get to SWCO.
Ed Hartouni

Trad climber
Livermore, CA
  Feb 17, 2012 - 12:15am PT
a really great time!
thanks for organizing all this, it was wonderful to get out ice climbing after so many years away
rhyang

climber
SJC
  Feb 17, 2012 - 01:31am PT
Nice shots Bill ! I like Ouray Mtn Sports for screw sharpening too.
FBaker

Trad climber
Concord, Ca
  Feb 17, 2012 - 01:55am PT
Bill, What a great trip. Ames Ice Hose, The Ribbon, and Bridal Veil Falls!! Thanks for making it all happen.
SteveW

Trad climber
The state of confusion
  Feb 17, 2012 - 12:03pm PT

Great report!!!!
Thanks for sharing, and I hope you'll post up some
of your Cody trip!
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Feb 17, 2012 - 12:50pm PT
WOW!
That is an awesome ice marathon, thanks!
BMcC

Trad climber
Livermore
Author's Reply  Feb 17, 2012 - 01:16pm PT
Thanks everyone! It was such great fun getting out with friends and we really scored with mostly good conditions.

Here's the link to part two of my little road trip. Enjoy!
http://www.supertopo.com/tripreport/tripreport.php?articleid=11348
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
  Feb 17, 2012 - 01:20pm PT
What a great way to start my ST morning! Thank you very much for the fine trip report, and the excellent climbing and photography that made it possible.

John
BMcC

Trad climber
Livermore
Author's Reply  Feb 17, 2012 - 05:35pm PT
Some Bridal Veil history and route info from Jeff Lowe's so very excellent book from 1979 "The Ice Experience" (find yourself a copy if you are interested in the history of ice climbing; it has good info on technique, too):

cover photo: Mike Lowe
cover photo: Mike Lowe
Credit: BMcC
from Jeff Lowe's "Ice Experience"
from Jeff Lowe's "Ice Experience"
Credit: BMcC
from Jeff Lowe's "Ice Experience"
from Jeff Lowe's "Ice Experience"
Credit: BMcC
from Jeff Lowe's "Ice Experience"
from Jeff Lowe's "Ice Experience"
Credit: BMcC
from Jeff Lowe's "Ice Experience"
from Jeff Lowe's "Ice Experience"
Credit: BMcC


from Jeff Lowe's "Ice Experience"
from Jeff Lowe's "Ice Experience"
Credit: BMcC
photo of Bridal Veil Falls by Greg Lowe in Jeff Lowe's "Ice Experience...
photo of Bridal Veil Falls by Greg Lowe in Jeff Lowe's "Ice Experience"
Credit: BMcC
from Jeff Lowe's "Ice Experience"
from Jeff Lowe's "Ice Experience"
Credit: BMcC
Bridal Veil photo by Mike Lowe in Jeff Lowe's "Ice Experience"
Bridal Veil photo by Mike Lowe in Jeff Lowe's "Ice Experience"
Credit: BMcC

Enjoy!
Dirka

Trad climber
Hustle City
  Feb 20, 2012 - 10:09pm PT
SMILES!
50

climber
Stumptown
  Feb 21, 2012 - 12:12am PT
Enjoyable read and awesome shots. Thanks for sharing.
Silver

Gym climber
  Feb 21, 2012 - 01:31am PT
Nicely done thanks for the TR.

wbw

Trad climber
'cross the great divide
  Feb 23, 2012 - 04:40pm PT
That's a really sweet TR. You've included some of Colorado's best, and that's only on the first leg of your trip. Well done!
AKTrad

Mountain climber
AK
  Feb 26, 2012 - 01:00am PT
Great photos of a few of my favorite climbs!! Excellent.
Jilli

Trad climber
Livermore, California/ Aotearoa/ Planet Earth
  Aug 28, 2013 - 12:11am PT
Hey Bill!
Very nice... enjoyed reading all of that, especially pics... purdy. :) Where's your trip report from 2011 when you pretty much did the same link up road trip, right? Ouray, Silverton, Cody? Remember we saw you in Silverton? Well i have some cool pics of you guys climbing Stairway I can send (not sure if I ever did??)... lemme know - JILL
BMcC

Trad climber
Livermore
Author's Reply  Aug 31, 2013 - 03:24am PT
Hi Jill - you did send me copies of your pics of Frank and me on the Stairway to Heaven near Silverton. You got some nice shots - thank you!

I did not write up a Supertopo trip report for my January 2011 ice tripping, but did post a bunch of my pics on my flickr site:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/bill-mcc/sets/72157625850692401/

Included are pics of Ouray Ice Park ice, the Ribbon, Horsetail Falls, the Stairway to Heaven, the Ames Ice Hose and Ames Falls, and, in Joe's Valley, the Highway to Heaven (AKA Deadbolt).

Had loads of fun. Enjoy!
--- Bill
Bldrjac

Ice climber
Boulder
  Aug 31, 2013 - 01:00pm PT
A nice surprise to scroll through this today and run into a random picture of Jack. Feeling kinda blue today, missing him, and it made me feel better to see him. I know he lives on in other people's minds as well, which is a big comfort! Thanks.
Pam Roberts
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
  Aug 31, 2013 - 01:18pm PT
Thanks for the share!

Some tasty frozen fun to go with my coffee this morning.

Very inspiring and I can't recall ever seeing the cone so big on the bottom of Bridalveil.

More on the early history of Bridalveil Falls here.

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=1323528&msg=1500057#msg1500057
BMcC

Trad climber
Livermore
Author's Reply  Aug 31, 2013 - 05:58pm PT
Hi Pam -
I feel fortunate to have met Jack and think about him and, by extension, you (though you and I have never met) when I think about ice climbing. He was so incredibly accomplished and such a fine person. I am truly sorry for your loss.
Bill
BMcC

Trad climber
Livermore
Author's Reply  Aug 31, 2013 - 06:26pm PT
Steve G - thanks for the link to your earlier Bridal Veil and Jeff Lowe thread. Lots of good history and inspiring stuff there. Amazing what people did back in the day with the tools and gear that were available at the time.
Bill
zBrown

Ice climber
Bruj˛ de la Playa
  Aug 31, 2013 - 06:38pm PT
Thanks for your report(z). Good to know that the Ice Age has not ended.

Bldrjac

Ice climber
Boulder
  Aug 31, 2013 - 07:02pm PT
Thanks Bill!
I'll probably go to Ouray again this year. Went to Bozeman and Ouray ice festivals to honor Jack, and then on the year "anniversary" his partner Jon Miller and I climbed the first pitch of Bridalveil to the ledge he died on, and had a moment. Bunch of other friends hiked up with us, and we continued on at the Floridora afterwards. Pretty much planning on making it a tradition.....
Thanks for your kind words.
Pam
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