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Ice Climbing: Lee Vining and Ouray

I'm lazy but better late than never:
On December 21, I went up to Lee Vining with a couple of friends (Alex and Harvey) to go ice climbing. Originally our plan was to hike up the mountaineers route to these  falls between Lower and Upper Boyscout Lake. Forecast called for single digit temps overnight with wind chill so we decided upon Lee Vining instead. We arrived at the power station parking lot around 1400 and walked the steep little trail to the falls. The main falls were thin but further up the canyon Chouinard falls had some ice formed. Alex led the route up to a set of bolts.
This was my first time climbing/belaying on vertical ice. I quickly realized how "dynamic" this medium was when a small cooler-sized chunk of ice broke off and slammed into the ground next to me. Shocked Alex made quick work of the climb and was soon calling to be lowered off. My 60m rope wasn't enough to get him back down so we ended up tying in a second rope. I was next, and top-roped the climb just as it was getting dark. My technique was pretty poor and I was amazed at how different it felt compared to rock climbing. It felt sorta weird hanging from ice on 6 little metal spikes Smile Harvey was up after me and had the privilege of climbing in the dark.

It got cold and we headed back into town to look for a place to stay. Murphy's Motel in Lee Vining offers great accommodations and a discount for ice climbers. The next day we decided to try to find some ice around June Lake. Fail. The top rope setup for the suspicious-looking ice climbing was way too high up and I didn't have enough rope to rap down... plus I took a wrong turn above the climb and ended up waaaay further than I planned. The weather got bad again and that was it.

Round 2: Ouray, Colorado

Alex and I decided that more ice-climbing was necessary so we headed back out on the 27th through the 30th to Ouray, Colorado. The climbing was unreal. I didn't really know much about the town or the epic ice falls they have there. The town pipes water from above a narrow box canyon and sprays it all along the edge of about a 1/4 mile stretch of the canyon. The resulting ice falls are insanely beautiful and even more fun to climb. The best part is that the entire park is completely free to all.

PhotobucketView from the park entrance.

We stayed at the Antler Motel. Many of the hotels in Ouray offer a 20% discount to ice climbers that have a membership to the Ouray Ice Park fund. I'd definitely recommend the Antler Motel. The room was only 55 bucks a night and it was clean and comfortable, not to mention warm... even with the heat turn off. Wink

Photobucket Topping out.

Photobucket Alex

Photobucket Petzl Quarks

Photobucket Alex climbed the pillar in the middle on our last day. For scale, that's about 100ft of vertical ice!

Photobucket Taken from a great viewing platform on the opposite side.

Photobucket Words of wisdom.

On the opposite side of town there are public hot springs ($10). It was great after a full day of climbing.

Needless to say, we'll be returning soon.

WOW!!  That is some seriously impressive climbing.  Really great pictures too!!

Nice! Did you drive or fly to CO? How long did it take if you drove?
Dave G

Awesome, Zach--it doesn't get much better than Ouray.
Nice Christmas present to yourself! Wink

hvydrt- we drove out Sunday morning. Left here around 10am and arrived there at 1:30 the next morning... which I guess is actually 1230 our time. took about 14.5 hours.

Dave- if only we had something like that around here... it'd probably be ridiculously crowded AND expensive

Zach... we do, sometimes. Tahquitz Rock gets some bad ass ice every so often.

Wish I coulda gone with you guys. Next time!

Ice climbing

Zach, nice work all the way around. Great shots of some fun stuff.

You making me want to learn new stuff, it looks difficult - just the kind of thing to make a "Hiking Addict" want to add to his "Addiction"  Very Happy

Thanks for sharing that report and pictures.

Nice shtuff.  It's looking good for round three.
kevin trieu

Cool!  I love these places for ice.

I've got aome friends that retired to Ouray and own a tourist shop there.
I keep saying I need to go out and visit them.
Not that I'd do any ice climbing, though.

very nice!

Very cool!! I wanna ice climb!  Smile
norma r

way cool Zach!   Very Happy   awesome ice 'em! Exclamation   i gotta feeling if i try i might get hooked.  if i could just live out of my car i could afford everything... Forum Index -> Sierra Nevadas
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