The Sun Rises on Another Season at the Ouray Ice Park
The beautiful autumn leaves are tumbling to the ground and the first snows of winter have blanketed the landscape around Ouray, Colorado. We know what that means… OURAY ICE CLIMBING SEASON IS JUST AROUND THE CORNER! If Mother Nature cooperates, the Ouray Ice season begins on December 14, 2013. I would like to offer a hearty Colorado welcome to our winter visitors.
If you love winter and all of it’s activities, this will be the year to spend some time in Ouray. As Manager of the Ice Park, I spend countless hours studying weather models, forecasts, and predictions for the season so we can plan our operations accordingly. Every model at my disposal suggests perfect conditions for the winter sports enthusiast. We have enjoyed a tremendously wet fall. This translates to a very healthy water supply for the ice making operations at the Ouray Park. The world renown backcountry climbs in our region have more water than I have seen in years. Park visitors can expect several new routes this year. We are opening up some terrain that has never seen routes before too. I think they will offer excellent beginner/ intermediate climbing. Exact details will remain top secret until we begin releasing photos as the season draws near.
With significant support from the American Alpine Club & the Access Fund, Park guests venturing to the south end will enjoy new toilet facilities. These babies will be the flagships of the San Juans. One will be located in South Park above the slab routes and the other will take up residence at the top of New Funtier. The Ouray Ice Park is grateful for strong partnerships with these incredible organizations. Consider joining each today!
The Ouray Ice Park Kid’s Wall is getting a second pitch! OIPI has been working closely with the County and City to improve drainage at the base of the Kid’s Wall. Historically, our water has run onto County Road 361 (the Upper Bridge) causing serious issues for vehicular traffic. We were able to excavate most of the grassy slope at the base, adding about 20 feet of additional climbing to these routes. No more death slog for the little ones trying to get to the ice climbing. I suspect the only issue remaining for the kidos will be fending off the adults who wish to enjoy this excellent terrain.
Lastly, in an effort to gain a better understanding of Park use. OIPI has worked closely with the City of Ouray and San Juan Mountain Guides (OIP Concessionaire) to create a group use registration procedure. Our goal with the procedure is to gain a better understanding of who is using the Park and for what reasons. We absolutely DO NOT wish for this process to be limiting or cumbersome for our valued guests. We have also beefed up our Ice Farming staff. In addition to creating more high quality ice to climb these lads will be present in the Park connecting with the community. When you visit with one our crew please offer them a ride on your rope, bend their ear, share your likes and concerns regarding the Park experience. They are there for you. The Farmers will also be able to connect with most registered groups to ensure they are enjoying a positive outing.
As the sun rises on another season at the Ouray Ice Park, please remember it is FREE to use but not to operate. The Park is 100% donor supported. The local business community in Ouray is incredibly generous every year to ensure you have a great place to recreate. Please consider doing your part; patronize the local businesses that support the Park and remember to become an Individual Ice Park Member each year. I look forward to seeing every one of you in Ouray this winter. Please stop by the Ice Park hut near the Upper Bridge, I’m serving locally roasted coffee from the Exotic Earth.
Manager, Ouray Ice Park
Guest Blogger: Kevin Koprek lives and works in Ouray and serves as the Number One Ambassador for the Ouray Ice Park. A former guide with San Juan Mountain Guides, he is a gifted climber and teacher as well as a great manager.
Photo: Courtesy of Head Ice Farmer Dan Chehayl for the Ouray Ice Park
The Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs is the closest hotel to the Ouray Ice Park and our Natural Hot Springs (only available to our guests) warm icy cold climbers and relax tired muscles. We offer 20% off of lodging to our guests that purchase Ice Park Memberships all winter long.