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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
It's nice climbing with partners who find reasons to smile!
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.
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.
Climbing is restricted to Bridal Veil Falls and 15' to either side. The ice to the left (which looked quite good) is off limits.
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!