Weeks before it’s cold enough for ice, the volunteers and staff of the Ouray Ice Park are hard at work. Debris is removed, paths are laid out, and the process of saturating the walls of the gorge begins. This creates a strong foundation for the ice once it begins to form. The process of transforming the canyon into a wonderland of ice has been perfected over the years, drawing enthusiasts from all around the world.
With an original opening set for Christmas Day this year, it was quite exciting to hear that conditions improved, allowing for a Saturday opening on December 23. As if the ice itself were calling, first one, then several climbers joyfully made the trek past the Box Canyon Lodge, eager to ascend the blue ice cascading down the canyon walls.
Winter has been pretty mild so far this year, but we had a wonderful little storm last week, and temperatures have remained low, keeping a blanket of snow on the ground. Ice farmers immediately began the chore of snow removal, and clearing away any ‘eggshell’ features created by a weak layer of snow between ice layers.
Moving into January, conditions in the park seem to only be improving, as more and more areas in the park open.
Whether you are a seasoned climber, or interested in trying the sport for the first time, the Ouray Ice Park, with over 150 manmade ice and mixed climbs, 11 distinct climbing areas, and three miles of vertical terrain is ideal for the adventure of a lifetime!