Ouray Ice Festival

January 7th 2015 - Written by: Kelsy

The Largest Ice Festival In North America: Ouray Ice Festival Celebrates 20 Years


If you’ve never attended the largest ice climbing festival in North America, we can certainly give you a few reasons to come out for the 20th Annual Ouray Ice Fest. This celebration of ice climbing takes place in our beloved backyard of Southwest Colorado, January 8th-11th. Osprey Packs has been attending the Ouray Ice Festival for almost a decade and each year the festival manages to outshine the previous year with exceptional clinics from professional athletes, gear demos from over 20 sponsors, and, most importantly, awe-inspiring ice climbing competitions featuring top competitors from all over the world.

Ouray Festival Clinic

The park itself is an attraction worth seeing — for months preceding the festival, the Ouray Ice Park “Ice Farmers” have been cultivating immaculate, deep blue pillars of ice. The pillars stand a few hundred feet tall, towering above festival-goers in the small box canyon outside of Ouray. The stent of the ice-formed “hallways” provides over 200 ice climbing routes and makes a perfect playground for every ice climbing enthusiast, from skilled professional athletes to aspiring first-timers.

Need another reason to head to Ouray? How about demos from some of the top outdoor industry companies in the sport? Each day of the festival includes the opportunity to demo the latest and greatest from gear and apparel companies like Outdoor Research, Petzl, La Sportiva and of course, Osprey Packs! If you find gear that you like, you can test it out in one of the many clinics offered by San Juan Mountain Guides. All of the clinics offered during the Ouray Ice Festival are taught by world-class ice climbers and athletes, including Conrad Anker, Will Gadd, Kyle Dempster, and Osprey’s very own Ben Clark and Marcus Garcia!

After an exhilarating day of watching the competitions, testing gear and perfecting your ice techniques in the park, you’ll want to check out the additional events happening after-hours in the town of Ouray. There will be a celebratory kick-off on Thursday, a fashion show on Friday and “Prom Night” put on by Petzl on Saturday! Here’s a complete list of events.

 Osprey Packs will be located in the Gear Expo area just above the park and we will have several great on-site activities that you won’t want to miss:

Demo our packs: Whether you own an Osprey pack or in the market for a climbing pack, come try out our updated Mutant or Variant packs. Both of these provide unique features that can complete your ice climbing experience, whether it’s in the backcountry or at the park! 15_OurayIceFest_Demo_403x403

Win a pack! Take our 3 minute Event Survey and you will be entered to win an Osprey Packs Limited Edition Trip 20, ideal for multi-pitches, day-hikes and everything in between. We will select a winner each day of the festival at approximately 3 PM.

Fit Specialist on Site: Our staff are the cream of the crop when it comes to finding and fitting the perfect pack for you. Feel free to stop by and ask questions, geek out on our gear, or receive  advice on what is best for your upcoming travels, treks & endeavors.

20% off all Osprey Packs at Ouray Mountain Sports: It’s a “Win-Win” if you’ve found the right pack for you: after trying on and testing out a demo pack you’ll receive a 20% off the at local Osprey Packs retailer Ouray Mountain Sports, located conveniently in town.

Clinic With Osprey Athlete Marcus Garcia: San Juan Mountain Guides is a premiere guide company in Southwest Colorado and a longtime partner of Osprey Packs. SJMG works with top-tier athletes from all over the world to bring you the highest quality clinics and experiences. Maximize your experience at the Ouray Ice Festival by signing up for one of SJMG’s clinics, taking place Friday, Saturday and half of Sunday. Most of the clinics are full or filling up rapidly, but check out the remaining clinic, “Introduction to Ice Climbing” with Osprey Athlete and local CO legend, Marcus Garcia.


Don’t delay — get your axe in gear and get to the

20th Anniversary of the Ouray Ice Festival! 

January 9th 2014 - Written by: Kelsy

Get your Axe into Gear, the Ouray Ice Festival is Here!


What better way to kick off 2014 than with a few jitters, chattering teeth, and a full serving of adrenaline as you carefully choose where to swing your axe next??

That’s what will be happening in the little town of Ouray, Colorado, as people from all over the country travel to Ouray to participate in one of the largest ice festivals in the nation. This will be our 10th year attending and there are MANY reasons we keep coming back!

It will all kick off on Thursday night, January 9th, with presentations and delicious beers brewed in the heart of the San Juan Mountains. (more…)

January 8th 2013 - Written by: Kelsy

Have An Ice Day: Let the Ouray Ice Festival Begin


It’s that time of year again — the biggest ice festival in North American is nearly here! This weekend, The Ouray Ice Festival will be back for three days of ice climbing, chatter, gear, equipment and competitions among world-class climbers. Held every January since 1996, the Ouray Ice Fest brings enthusiasts from around the world to Ouray, Colorado, with the end result being that the fest itself has become the primary fundraiser for the Ouray Ice Park.

This year’s event will be held this weekend, from January 10th through the 13th. And what’s more, we’ll be there to contribute to the festivities with a full display of all of our newest 2013 packs; free demos of Osprey Packs all day throughout the weekend, as well as free onsite professional pack fittings and daily pack giveaways. All you have to do is come by the Osprey Ice Fest booth to take a two minute event survey and you’ll be entered to win a Variant or Mutant climbing pack of your own. Adding to all of the goodness of the Ouray Ice Fest, swing by on Saturday between 2 and 3 p.m. to meet Osprey Athlete and pro climber Majka Burhardt!

For more information about the Ouray Ice Fest, you can check out the Ouray blog, and check out the 2013 competitor list here. We’ll see you there!

January 3rd 2012 - Written by: Kelsy

The Ouray Ice Festival Kicks Off January 5

The Ouray Ice Park is the world’s first ice climbing park and we’re lucky enough to have it right in our backyard. The Ouray Ice Festival kicks off this Thursday, a celebration of all things climbing and a competition attracting climbers from across globe.

Home to dozens of 80-to-200-foot waterfalls along a one-mile stretch of the Uncompahgre Gorge, climbing routes scatter the length of the park. Just looking at the series of frozen waterfalls is spectacular, and watching climbers make their way up the vertical ice sheets is an experience — not to mention getting on the ice yourself.

We’re excited as always to support this great event. If you’re planning on traveling to Ouray, here’s what we have in store for you…

  • Full selection of free pack demos.
  • Free professional onsite pack sizing and fittings.
  • Full display of all that is new for 2012.
  • Great giveaways and daily pack giveaways from the Ice Park booth.
  • Intro to Ice Clinics with osprey athlete Ben Clark.
  • Killer deals on Osprey Packs throughout the festival and beyond from local Osprey Retailer Ouray Mountain Sports.

Hope to see you there!


January 11th 2010 - Written by: Kelsy

Majka’s clinic: an ice climbing first

Saturday was a first…ice climbing in Ouray’s Ice Park during the world’s most famous ice climbing festival! I slinked away from the Osprey demo tent to see just what this ice climbing thing was all about.  Osprey athlete Majka Burhardt hosted a climbing clinic and I was lucky enough to squeeze in.

Putting on our harness, crampons, helmet and grabbing our ice axes, we headed up along the ravine edge to our destination, the Schoolhouse area. My eyes widened a bit as I surveyed the metal ladder. Hmmm. Exposure anyone? Ignoring a slight adrenaline surge, I turned around and gingerly made my way down the steps, my crampon points occasionally getting stuck between the inch-thick bars until I met the near-vertical snowy path, where a rope lay on the snow.

“Turn around Kerry!” Majka called to me, “It’s easier to pick your way facing downhill.”

Oh. And indeed it was, as I regained composure coming down.

We followed the path, passing under belayers’ ropes and gathered around. Majka methodically went through all we needed to know before getting on the ice. Harness safely in place. Check. Laces tightened up. Check.  “Loose boots are no good ice climbing. You’re pivoting your foot and you want your feet snug in the boots, so make sure you cinch down the laces, especially around your ankles,” Majka explained. Next, she described the differences of tools–the shapes of the handles, what a leash will or won’t do for you and the types of crampons we all had and what they were good for.

Wasting no time, she showed us the motion and plane that the ice axes should be wielded, how far we should reach and where our arms and legs should be positioned to get leverage on the ice. The first two guinea pigs where up (okay, actually…there were only two of us who hadn’t tried ice climbing). As they made their way up the ice she instructed them and gave them pointers, both when they were climbing up and rapping down. A few more went. I happily snapped shots, occasionally chirping in with “Ice!!” as chunks came careening down.

“Alright, you’re up Kerry,” Majka surprised me.

No panseying-around here!

Despite my lack of excitement for heights paired with my cautiousness with two strained wrist muscles, this was just the ass kick I needed. Off I went. I didn’t have time to get worked up, although I did tell my belayer to take up a little more slack, that I preferred to know the rope was a bit more taut. My feet and my arms worked simultaneously in rhythm as I ascended the ice, Majka correcting me from the ground. I could feel the difference–the ease of proper technique versus relying on an awkward hold or foot placement.

So different from rock climbing. But I liked it. And I’ll be trying it again! Time to get back to the tent to help Sam show the Osprey love…

The author ascending her first pitch (ok, ok. It was a nice try!).

The author ascending her first pitch...

January 10th 2010 - Written by: Kelsy

Favorite Images from the 15th annual Ouray Ice Festival

January 8th 2010 - Written by: Kelsy

Osprey Kicks Axe at the 15th Annual Ouray Ice Festival!

Climbing the frozen falls

Climbing the frozen falls

Ready to demo packs and spread the love

Ready to demo packs and spread the love

The lucky Mutant winner gets the news

The lucky Mutant winner gets the news

If you are not in Ouray now for the 15th Annual Ice Festival you need to get your axe in gear and get here soon to join Osprey Packs for North America’s premier ice climbing event which only runs through Sunday, January 10!

Today’s Osprey celebration festivities included a day at the beautiful Ouray Ice Park where we provided free pack demos, sizings , fittings and a display of all the best new technical packs 2010 has to offer this galaxy-or any other.

From the Ice Park it was on to the Ouray Community Center where the tribe gathered for food, drink and a great gear silent auction which featured several choice Osprey Packs and raised considerable funds for the Ice Park. Osprey Prophet of Passion, Timmy O’Neill joined in the festivities drawing a single name-in a style all his own-from the many attendees who threw down some hard earned cash in support of the Colorado Environmental Coalition (CEC), who have been Colorado’s voice for the environment since 1965.

Not ones to not fill the day, Osprey also sponsored Majka Burhardt’s Namibia Speaking Tour presentation at the Main Street Theater. If you missed it you have another chance to catch it Tuesday, January 12th, 6:30PM, at the Dolores Community Center, 400 Riverside Avenue in Dolores, Colorado. Highly recommended.

How can we top all of this on Saturday!? Not really sure we can but we will certainly try and make it worth your while to pay a visit to Osprey and the Ouray Ice Festival. The 2010 Ouray Ice Park Competition starts at 9AM and features some of the top climber’s in the world challenging themselves mentally and physically on a route designed to do just that. We will be in the Ice Park all day providing free pack demos, great giveaways, and another chance to win a pack if you donate some cash to benefit the not for profit efforts of the CEC. Osprey Athlete Majka Burhardt will lead a 12:30PM Easy Ice WI 3+ clinic that is not to be missed.

Saturday evening wraps with the Guy Lacelle Super Hero Party (costumes encouraged!) with music and your Master of Ceremonies, Osprey Prophet of Passion, Timmy O’Neill-who rumor has it will be coming as himself!

In celebration of the Ice Festival, all Osprey Packs are on sale at Ouray Mountain Sports for incredible savings that will not come around again until 2011, so don’t just sit there reading this, get your axe in gear and join us now!

January 1st 2009 - Written by: Kelsy

Ice: Not Just for Whiskey Anymore…

Osprey Packs is a proud sponsor of the 2009 Ouray Ice Festival! Head to Ouray Jan. 8-12, we’ll have packs to demo and maybe a stash of single malt…Jura blog … Wait, it’s not in English, but if you have a drink of Jura you will be able to read it.. Check out how ice climbs are graded..

images-12Here’s a pic of Osprey’s Sam Mix competing at the ice fest… Just kidding!

January 1st 2009 - Written by: Kelsy

Thin is In?

img_1188In the case of some San Juan ice climbing, that’s the truth…. Here’s a pic of Whorehouse Hose, above Silverton. (Thank you to San Juan Mountain Guides blog) Usually shaded, this route had a couple of parties on it 12-30, and the link below to San Juan Mountain Guides blog has more on its conditions. The Ames Ice Hose is in and has been climbed many times, as of 12-30, according to Damon Johnson’s blog. He reports that the first pitch is fatter than usual… Here’s a pic of Bridalveil on 12-30… Stairway to Heaven, up the county road from Silverton toward Animas Forks, has a lot of snow on it. (This pic is from Damon’s blog)
Southwest Colorado was hammered with a Christmas storm, and it’s warming up quite a bit. Our guess is that things will phatten up by the time the Ouray Ice Fest rolls into town on Jan. 8-12. The Osprey Variant 37 would be the pack to bring to the Ice Park…. img_0010147_328_lg


Whether your pack was purchased in 1974 or yesterday, Osprey will repair any damage or defect for any reason free of charge.