It's no lie to say that the Ouray Ice Climbing Festival is the premier event of its kind. Although scrambling up ice isn't as popular as hiking or rock climbing, it takes a lot of skill to navigate an ice waterfall. And the Ouray Ice Park comprises both natural and man-made ice formations, creating a winter playground suitable for ice climbers at all ability levels so if you know next to nothing about rope systems, tying in, belaying, leading, crampons and ice axes, now is the time to learn.
The festival starts today and runs through January 13. While the experts test their skills on the ice, others can begin learning with a range of introductory, easy and intermediate ice clinics that include classes specifically for women, indoor workshops and schoolroom climbs. Educational offerings include mixed climbing and dry-tooling classes, avalanche courses and clinics on multi-pitch techniques, fundamental footwork and yoga for ice climbers. Clinics are $40, or $30 for Ice Park members. There's also a walk-up booth where you can get outfitted with appropriate equipment and start climbing right away. If being a spectator is more your thing, visit www.ourayicefestival.com for a list of categories and international competitors.
Jan. 9-13, 2008