The Ouray Ice Park is a world unto itself. Deep in the Uncompahgre Gorge, the experienced and the novice explore a world of ice and adrenaline. Watching athletes as they scale the ice is breathtaking, the quiet in the canyon only broken as climbers call to one another as they traverse the canyon…
Every year, from mid December through the middle of March, we watch our enthusiastic guests as they journey to and from the park. Leaving early in the morning when the ice is at its best, and returning in the afternoon, ready to soothe tired muscles in our natural mineral hot springs.
Fascinated with the attraction, and the stories shared by so many of you, I decided I must find out what the appeal is, so one morning, I decided to let the experts take me out and teach me this incredible sport.
We started off rappelling down into the gorge with only our wits and the strength of the rope you’re hanging off of. Kicking out wards down the side of this majestic canyon wall covered with a blanket of ice. A satisfying feeling, for something I had only seen from a distance. At the bottom of the gorge, look up and around, a river running next to me. This is a new perspective that can only be viewed by rope you came down on. No stairs, trails or ladder would be able to get you to this beautiful location. Staring up at the massive ice sculpture against the cliff side, I exhale and go for it. Thrusting the ice picks and feet into small grooves. Adrenalin heightens as I break off brittle shards, the ice cracks out ward like a spider web, squeaking as your body weight shifts. Meditating with a clear mind in the silence of it all. Climbing higher and higher until suddenly, I’m out of the shade of the canyon, with heat of sun on my back. Prisms of light glisten within the ice, and the anticipation builds with only ten or fifteen feet to the top. Close to the top the ice starts break away with every kick or swing, adrenaline strengthens my resolve to finish the climb. Finally I reach the top, feeling accomplished. Yet within minutes of reaching my goal, I am ready to do it all over again.
If you have little or no experience with ice or rock climbing, the San Juan Mountain Guides have it all for you. From proper clothing. Helmet, Pants, gloves, jacket, ice climbing boots. And all the outstanding climbing equipment for your next adventure in the Rockies. San Juan Mountain guides have some of the best instructors in the state for year round activities. Ice climbing is great way experience Ouray Colorado at its finest. To make sure your experience is well documented San Juan Mountain guides are happy to snap a few pictures you or set you and your friend’s up with great photo angles roping you off the cliff. Something you would see a national geographic photographer doing.
People from all over the world travel to Ouray for the thrill of ice climbing. After a full day climbing, there’s nothing better than soaking in one our natural Hot Spring tubs here at The Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs, relaxing those sore muscles for another day of climbing, let us help you to plan your adventure. From arranging a day with the best instructors, to up to the minute information on the conditions of the ice, we are here to make your stay a memory you will cherish always.