Since I've lived in Farmington, I frequently hear the names of small Colorado mountain towns thrown around -- Telluride, Ouray, Silverton -- and before I had seen pictures of them, or really knew anything about them, I already knew they had to be great places because of what people were doing there. They were always mentioned in the context of fun activities: skiing in Telluride, hiking in Silverton, climbing in Ouray.
We decided to start our 2014 Outdoors Bucket List with a bang -- we hope ice climbing got your attention! Honestly, when I got to Ouray, I started to get a little nervous about making this a bucket list item. The ice climbers climbing out of the box canyon as you walk across the bridge look pretty extreme. But my doubt subsided as soon as I started talking to people. The Baxters, a couple that had traveled to the Ice Park from north of Salt Lake City, said that they usually hiked for miles into the woods to get to one waterfall, that they would climb over and over. This made me realize how special the ice park really is. If you still feel like its not for you, even walking along the canyon edge watching climbers repel over the edge and climb back out is an experience in itself. Check it out the next time you're in Ouray.
The drive to Ouray through Molas and Red Mountain Passes in the snow was by far scarier than any ice climbing I did that weekend. Some routes at the ice park have pre-placed anchors, but for the most part, climbers build anchors off of trees at the edge of the canyon.
The history of how the ice park came to be is really interesting, as is the maintenance that goes into it. Ouray Ice Park's website is complete with all this info, videos and all.