Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Photo Essay: Climbing in the Ouray Ice Park

This weekend, I ran a one-on-one ice climbing instruction course with Zheng Yang, an aspiring alpine climber and one smart cookie (he was in the military as an explosives expert and is now a mathematics major at Columbia).

It was a great weekend for the ice here in the park, and it was great to have some one-on-one time to really hone in on Zheng Yang's ice technique. Here's some photos from the weekend. (Note that they are thumbnails. Click on the pictures for the expanded files). Enjoy!

The auspicious entrance ice sculpture to the ice park. Quite fitting, really.

Getting some practice on the steep WI 4's in the South Park. 
Notice the good triangle form and stable leg position

Working steep technique. This stuff gets hard! It's almost like a little chimney with a roof on top. 
Techy, pumpy, and really great climbing!

Warming up on a mellow flow. If you look closely, you'll find there is something a bit... strange about this particular climbing session (for the answer, see next photo and caption).

Look ma, no axes! Nope, this isn't Photoshopped - this is a great way to work on your balance, 
footwork and using the available holds to your advantage. And it sure doesn't make you pumped!

A beautiful steep gully climb. To the left, there is a rope hanging on Le Saucisson, a great intro to steep mixed climbng (M6). Next to it is Chinese Water Torture. At M9, it is a testpiece at its grade and a project for many Ouray locals. Clipping bolts is the name of the mixed game in the Ouray Ice Park.

After the first powder dump of the month. The storm hit the area with up to 24" of light powder. 
Oh yeah, the skiing in the Ouray area is awesome, too!

The memorial to Karen McNeill and Sue Nott, two beloved climbers who passed while climbing in Alaska. 
The memorial graces the entry to the Ice Park's upper bridge area.

The plaque to the memorial.

Seconding some snow-covered ice. When there is a lot of snow on top of the ice, it takes extra effort to excavate the good sticks. While tedious at times, it is an excellent mountain skill (or, in many cases, a front country skill, too). Steeper lines usually do not collect as much snow as moderate lines like this, because the angle of the ice sheds snow better.

Diggin' the ice! Nothin but smiles on the last day of the course. Notice the good form!

Beautiful Ouray, Colorado.

Thanks for looking. It was a great weekend of climbing in the prime season of ice climbing in Ouray. Stay tuned to the blog for more updates on the ice season, as well as various climbing techniques to hone your ice climbing game. Climb on!

--Mike Pond, Instructor and Guide

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