Saturday, February 2, 2008

Two new Ouray FAs

The perfect storm of cold and cloudy weather has opened up some terrain in the San Juans that I have not seen form in my 13 years climbing in the range.

On Wednesday, Jan 30, I brought in the out-of-town heavies from Anchorage and we put up Southern Comfort - a 4 pitch route that snakes it's way up through the red rock bands on the south side of the Amphitheater. This south facing aspect is normally completely bereft of ice most winters. The climbing was steep and stepped with thin and awkward mantles as you pulled the tops of the curtains. WI 5+.

While climbing Southern Comfort, we noticed a less visible line just to the left (west). My Anchorage friends had a flight to catch so I enlisted by faithful adventure-climbing partner Kevin.
Yesterday, Feb. 1, we climbed 3 new pitches (pitch 1 is shared with Southern Comfort) of fantastic ice in just about the most aesthetic terrain I have climbed in the San Juans. Beautiful views of Ouray, the surrounding valley, and the Amphitheater. Outstanding ambiance.

Kevin drew the plum pitch which he dispatched in fine form. A super-sweet pillar with very engaging climbing involving stemming to the neighboring rock and then rounding the corner to two more steep curtains.

We dubbed this new route Jambalaya as it is just a hair more spicy than it's neighbor to the east. Difficult top-outs involving somewhat spooky unconsolidated snow-sticks. Steep but short pillars and curtains. Also, WI 5+.

Neither of these routes will last long. As soon as the "normal" Ouray winter sun returns they will get radiated into oblivion. Get them while you can and you won't be disappointed.

The rappels are set on Southern Comfort (mostly trees). If you climb Jambalaya, hop over one gulley to the east and pick up the rappels down Southern Comfort.

Respectfully submitted,
Grey Squirrel