Thursday, January 31, 2008

Plum TV Spot - Chad Peele

Here is the URL address to a fine clip, done by the great folks at Plum TV in T-ride. This is the 2nd time we have had the pleasure of teaching one if their crew. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Ouray Ice Park

Tuesday was a beautiful break from the continued snows. We all got out and enjoyed the sun. It was a nice reminder of how incredibly pleasant Ouray Ice can be.

It has been super quiet in the park this week so far. Plenty of room and good, solid conditions. No avalanches or long approaches.

Photos are: New Funtier, S$*^house Wall (2-3), Gaxebo, and Abridgement.

Ames area

Some friends were in town, eager to climb somewhere other than Skylight and the Park.  Since the passes were closed yesterday, they headed for Ames Ice Hose.  Skiing in, they were greeted by constantly collapsing snow and lots of serious whomping as they neared the climb. Enough so, they decided a hasty retreat was a better and safer idea.  With the recent snowfall amounts and most importantly, the furious winds out of the S/SW, the area was seriously loaded.  Perhaps a few days will see things settle down.  They did report that ice conditions looked great from what they could see of the route...  On their return, they swung past Ames Falls and reported good, but slightly soggy conditions there.  

Mountain conditions report

There was not as much accumulation in the Gorge as up on the pass, although winds were quite strong. Up high Avalanche hazard remains high, and the distribution of snow makes it tough to assess accurately. With more on the way, things should remain touchy thru the weekend. Once the pass opens, people need to remain aware of the hazard. There is hazard on the engineer climbs, especially Over the Rainbow. The skylight climbs are not a "safe" area either, some can run quite large. Check the avi report, look for clues, and assess consequences deliberately.

There were a number of reports of de-lamination on Gravity's Rainbow during the last warm spell. Hopefully this recent blast of winter has re-sintered things to the rock. I'll post once I get a look myself.


Sunday, January 27, 2008

Ice Park

The snow arrived right on schedule today, we'll see if we get as much as predicted.

Climbed in the lower park today, and found great conditions. Both Scottish Buttresses are in fine M3-4+ conditions with fun delicate climbing. The Optimator and Popsicle continuing to grow and offer great steep pillar climbing right of the floor.

Yesterday, a few of us took some laps in the lead-only area. We started with Abridgement WI4/5, it really the only route seeing much activity and is a good introduction to the lead-area. There were 2 or 3 parties plugging their way up it after us. The rest of the pillars require a bit more patience and gardening to climb. We then climbed the pillar between Abridgement and Whitt's World. It was a bit delicate and cauliflowered in places, but offered fun WI 5 climbing. We then headed down and plowed up Le Pissoir. It had a nice 2 day stubble, and Mike was raining down some fine margarita makings. All-in-all a fine afternoon.

Photos: 1. Abridgement 2-4. Le Pissoir

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Ice Park Conditions

Hey all. The ice in South Park is coming back around with the cold temps and the water flowing once again. The Deep South area in particular is forming up very nicely.

Also be sure and check out the Shithouse Wall and the Gazebo Wall. The ice is as big and blue as I have ever seen it in these areas and nary a pick mark to be found.

Get out and enjoy it while the crowds are small this week.

Cheers and be safe out there.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Best ice in the Ice Park

Care to know where the best ice conditions are in the Ouray Ice Park?

Believe it or not the $#%&House and Gazebo Wall are in incredible shape with fat blue, sticker ice. The south facing terrain is often a little sun-leached and thin. Not this season. This has just been one of those years in the San Juans where south facing routes are not only holding on but thriving in these weather conditions.

Catch the $#%^House wall climbs while they are in this type of condition. It is a highly underutilized section of the Park and about a 5 minute walk from the Victorian Inn.

Respectfully submitted,

Grey Squirrel

skylight, gravity's

The Skylight climbs remain fat, and seem to be healing each night. The current debris piles are well consolidated.

The Ribbon probably has enough snow packed at the bottom to get up it. The small wintry blasts we continue to get, have kept folks away though. I'm sure some visiting ropegun will soon break a trail up the Talisman as well.

The Engineer climbs are holding in, although definitely showing the effects of the recent sunny spells. Parts of each route are either punky foam or sweet blue goo. Often right next to the other. Still fun, watch the weather.

As we get to warmer weather, be sure to check out fixed anchors before you commit to them. Pitons can loosen, blocks can fail, and threads can melt in the course of a day.

THE PARK is in fantastic shape. There are great sticky blue lines everywhere, and not so many climbers around. Everyone is looking forward to the Chicks festivities, and good conditions. It appears that the holds and draws have been removed from the comp route. So all those hoping to send, will have to wait till next year.

Cheers and Cold Thoughts, CC

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Experts Seminar

The Experts Seminar is in full swing for 2008, Bob & Sandy are busy hangin it out there. This session has been packed. During the first two days we did a ton of work on steep ice technique & lots of leading in the park. Today took us to Gravity's Rainbow. Still in great condition and a true San Juan classic. We looked at topics such as strategies for climbing as a party of 3, multi-pitch anchor management, and rappel transitions.

It seems like Gravity's will be around for a while. The top of the first pitch of Kennedy's Gully looks to be melting out a bit but I think one might be able to connect Blue Condition and the upper part of Kennedy's for a great outing. The pillars near Over the Rainbow seem to be doing OK as well. Better get on them soon though!

Two more days for the Experts. Thur. will focus on companion rescue. One of those things you never want to use but feel good being familiar with.

Happy Trails!

Red Mtn. Pass Skiing Conditions

For those of you who will be making a few turns in between ice climbs, here is an update on backcountry skiing conditions on Red Mtn. Pass.

It has been a good winter for skiing in the San Juans and with another storm on its way tomorrow, all indications suggest the quality turns will continue.

The high winds of last week, which have blown from the north, west, and south, have adversely affected the snow above treeline.  These winds have built stiff labs on lee aspects and have scoured windward areas.   In addition to increasing avalanche danger, this has created poor conditions for skiing in many areas.  

Currently the best snow quality is found below treeline in areas protected from the wind.  In particular, savvy skiers will seek out shady, north facing aspects where near faceted snow has been producing excellent powder like conditions.  However, due to the strength of recent southerly winds, even ski runs below treeline may have new windslabs to watch out for.  

To view an updated avalanche forecast and snowpack discussion, please visit the Colorado Avalanche Information Center website at


Monday, January 21, 2008


Climbed Whorehouse Hoses on Saturday. First pitch was solid all the way to the anchors. Second pitch is now a 45 degree snow staircase. The 3rd pitch right hand variation is in excellent shape a a ten foot piece of ice as clear as a windshield. You can watch the water running underneath as you climb over it and thick enough to do so with confidence. Absolutely beautiful!

Blue Condition

Thanks Again to Alain Denis for some great photos! These are of Margo Talbot on Blue Condition on Sunday the 20th.

I was up there today, and it is in great shape.

Cheers, CC

Fantastic Pillars!

Climbed a couple of beautiful pillars yesterday one basin SE of Gravity's Rainbow. I have seen ice form up in this basin in the past, but it has been years since these pillars have been in this type of condition. Definitely worth a visit.

The left-most pillar was a little wet in places and offered very engaging WI5 climbing including an excellent traversing roof-like exit.

The right-most pillar is a free-standing pencil of around 20 metres. Spectacular. Dead vertical ice requiring a cool head and bold climbing.

They won't last long given their southern exposure. Get them while you can.

Grey Squirrel

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Mountain Trip Telluride Ice Report

Hi guys,

I’ve enjoyed your blog, so I thought I'd chime in with a report from Telluride.

Ames is in and looks like you could climb ice at the bottom, although the rock start to the right is a sure thing. There’s ice in the chimney and the last pitch is fat.

Cracked Canyon is in, but the 1st pitch is STOUT. There is another nice line uphill that is in.

Bridalveil is fat, Ingrahm is in on the right side. Silver Bullets did not form.

Royer Gulch is fat, Coronet is probably fat, but I haven't been up to the base.

Silver Pick doesn't seem to be in, but there might be enough ice to send the Bone and the Elephant.

Ciao all,


A Day in the Park.

Spent an excellent day (1/19) in the the park with Bill. We started the morning in New Funtier which is growing nicely. A few weeks ago this area was pretty meager. The farmers have done well recovering from the difficult start to the season.

After a few routes we moved to South Park, very busy! We managed to get in several great lines throughout this area. I think Bill was particularly fond of the technique development drills we worked on.

A huge thanks to the ice farmers for working so hard to rebuild after the huge Ice Fest weekend.

General Ouray Conditions

I had a request for an overview of the major areas. Here goes!

Telluride: No reports, but I think the ice hose is still difficult, Bridalveil is fine I'm sure.

Silverton: Whorehouse is in good shape, still lots of snow on Stairway. It will take awhile before that is good to go. The OB wall is still housing many fine routes awaiting climbs, as are the buttresses on the north side of the valley heading into Eureka. I would imagine the gullies are pretty filled in and dangerous.


Dexter Creek Slabs: In good shape, no track up there as of now.

Cascade Falls: Has held together well. It was climbed yesterday, and was funky as usual. With interesting leaf climbing thru the middle section.

Camp Bird Road: Skylight climbs are FAT. Ribbon has some ice on it up high, and lots of snow the whole way. It could be climbed, but the spindrift and avalanches have not subsided much. BBB looks pretty dry. The Talisman looks about the same as it has, no reports of anyone climbing it yet.

Horsetail Falls: Some ice on it, although mainly a snow wallow. Haven't seen any tracks all year.

Bear Creek: These climbs are still there, but do not look as good as they did a week or so ago.

Engineer Pass Climbs: All in good shape. Mixed emotions, Blue Condition, Kennedy's, Gravity's, Gravitational Pull, Gravity's Test, and Over the Rainbow are all excellent routes for the grades.

Ouray Ice Park: The park is looking good. The south end is regrowing quickly, and everything else is in excellent conditions. There are lots of stiff pillars in the lead area now, a couple new bolted sport routes near Tic-Tac, and the best environment for learning to ice climb in the world.

Mixed Emotions

Alain sent me these photos from their climb of Mixed Emotions yesterday. Looks spicy! Here are Alain's comments.

"great route - 3 x 35 meter pitches!! thin conditions.
Pro is soso - 2 x 70meter ropes would be Ideal, we rapped of the tree on last pitch, to top of first in cave ( 60 meter rope just makes it!!!) we had one 70 and one 60m and made it
no anchor was found on top.
We rapped off a miners pin at the cave to the ground. (left a yellow cord and binner)
Rack - KB's - Stubbies / Screws - wires - Cams (.2 to #2 camelots)
1st pitch is a little dicy
2nd pitch even dicier
3rd pitch thin ice ( not as easy as it looks!!) sketchy topout"

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Ouray Ice Park

Climbed today at South Park with the Hirsch family.  

We had a wonderful time and ice conditions were great.  Many routes have healed up well after a lot of climbers during the Ice Festival.  Today was a busy day in the Park, but there are lots of climbs with great ice.   

Kellan, the 16yr old rock/ice star was tearing it up his second day ever on ice.  He set the bar high for his dad Art, mom Patty and lil' bro Zach to follow.  We climbed till our arms were pumped silly, then more without tools, getting creative with hands on rock and ice!  

Temps started out cold in the morning, but it was a beautiful San Juan day - with smiles all around.

Mixed Emotions

Just got down from the pass. Looks like Jay, Calixte, and Alain just keep cranking it out! Jay was almost done with Mixed Emotions when I drove past. Way to go! Those 3 are pretty inspiring. Hopefully this cold weather sticks around, so some of us mortals can try to follow their lead. The other engineer climbs look to be in good shape as well.

A party also climbed Whorehouse today, and reported good conditions. Lots of snow though, not sure if anyone has ventured to Stairway.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Gravity's Test First Ascent

I just had a nice chat with Jay Smith, he gave me the low-down on the pillars up past Gravity's. He FA'd the left years back, and named it Gravitational Pull. It is FUN.

Apparently, the right just recently fell to visiting Canadians Calixte LeBlanc and Alain Denis. They named it Gravity's Test (WI6+). Few will forget their 2-wheel tour thru Ouray this winter. Cheers to you two!

I can say from experience both are full value.

Photos: 1-4 Courtesy of Alain Denis. Check out their trip at
Around the World on 2 Wheels
The last two are myself on the 17th, taken by the ever-patient Kevin Koprek.

Jan 17 conditions

Things have been cold the last week, and many climbs are big and fat. 

There are big piles of debris at the bottom of most Skylight climbs, but the climbing is superb on all the routes. I did skylight, slippery, and the dumpster with guests today, and they were stoked on conditions. 

Yesterday I went up and had a go with the right Over the Rainbow pillar. The Canadian Hells Angels had done it I know, and maybe another party. They called it Grade 6. I got really pumped, but the climbing is excellent. Despite the initial look of it, the left pillar is significantly easier. The far right ramp route is in fine shape as well for the grade 3 leader. Be wary of changing snow conditions if you head up there next week. 

Kennedy's and Blue Conditions look good still, and Abraxas looked doable if a bit sporty. Apparently Mixed Emotions has remained a bit wet, and has not yet been climbed.

All for now, I will try to get Rainbow photos up soon.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

January Ice Conditions

Sorry for the delay in posting, the ice fest is always crazy. Here is the quick low-down.

Skylight climb are great. Engineer climbs are hanging in, anyone climb Mixed Emotions yet? Over the Rainbow pillars have been getting attention. I have seen folks on the right one, but not the proud left pillar. Bear creek routes look good for the motivated, Horsetail would be a wallow.

No word on anyone climbing in silverton, although I would imagine the outward bound wall is still looking good. Avi conditions have been funky, although things are looking better.

Skied on the pass this morning, great snow. Went to the park afterwards. Things are healing fast after the fest. Some parts of the park are still hardly touched, ie Brass Tacks and most of the lead area.