Ice, ice, baby: Chill at the Ouray Ice Festival, January 5-8

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If "Go ice climbing" is on your New Year's resolution list, this is your week: The Ouray Ice Park is 100 percent open, and the seventeenth annual Ouray Ice Festival starts on Thursday. Ouray is a serious six-hour drive from Denver -- but if you're serious about learning, this is the place. There are Intro to Ice and Novice Ice clinics beginning on Friday and running through Sunday, with some clinics specifically geared to women, as well as intermediate and advanced clinics for experienced climbers.

Ouray Spills and Thrills 2011 from Rock & Ice on Vimeo.

The festival officially breaks ice, so to speak, at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, January 5, with a presentation by Dawn Glanc and Andres Marin at Ouray's Main Street Theater, 630 Main Street, followed by a kickoff party at the Ouray Brewery, 607 Main Street.

Via OurayIcePark.com:

For the past sixteen years, the Ouray Ice Festival has been the world's premier ice-climbing event. This annual gathering is attended by ice climbers from around the world, as well as industry sponsors, inspiring speakers, and the world's top exhibition climbers. Festival events are held in and around the Ouray Ice Park, located in the Uncompahgre Gorge in Ouray, Colorado, as well as various other venues around town.

On Friday, pick up a gear card and check out the Outdoor Gear Expo for free demos, then sign up for the interactive clinics starting at 9 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. There's free walk-up climbing from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., courtesy of La Sportiva, and demonstrations on the ice by the lower bridge starting at 11 a.m.

To see how the pros do it, don't miss the Elite Mixed Climbing Competition at 9 a.m. Saturday. There are also Kids Climbing College clinics on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and a full complement of weekend events, including the Reel Rock Film Tour screening at 9 p.m. Saturday at Main Street Theater.

For more information, visit www.OurayIcePark.com

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