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!
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.
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…
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!
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..
Here’s a pic of Osprey’s Sam Mix competing at the ice fest… Just kidding!
In 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….