Ouray Ice Climbing Seminar Trip Report
by Cale Hoopes
Imagine an expedition with excellent climbing and access to a hot springs on the trip. No, I'm not talking about going to Ecuador and lounging in the Papallatca spa at the end of the trip. That trip only has one day of hot springs. What about FIVE DAYS? The Ouray Veterans program gives you a great chance to up your climbing skills and you have the opportunity to sit in a hot springs EVERY DAY! For those of you who haven't been to Ouray, just try it. For those who have and are ready for the Veterans program, you need to join us next year. Why? Because it's the PERFECT adventure vacation.
How can you not enjoy yourself on a trip like this? Our typical day: get up in the morning... have a cinnamon roll at the Artisan Bakery or a breakfast at Backstreet Bistro... head to the park with truly enjoyable guides with a great sense of humor... climb all day, and end it by coming back to Mouse's Chocolates for a strong coffee... spend an hour in the hot springs... join everyone for a beer and dinner at any of the great restaurants in town (Buen Tiempo, Ouray Brewery, O'Brien's Pub, Bon Ton)... finish up the night with a visit to Mouse's for an Ice Climber candy or Turtle sundae. Talk about AWESOME. The climbing is fantastic, but so is the surrounding experience. I'm always a little worried on climbing trips that I'll come back tired and not having relaxed. However, every day in Ouray on the Veteran's program was very relaxing in additon to challenging.
So, what about the climbing? Our week was awesome! The veterans program really lets the climbers focus on how they want to push themselves. There were four of us: Catherine, Marc, Stacey and I along with guides Justin Merle and John Race. By the end of the week, we were a full team. We started out climbing Water Ice 2-5 in the park then quickly picked a backcountry goal outside the park. It was awesome to do my first multi-pitch route (Dexter Slabs) which was south of Ouray 2 miles towards Ridgway. Then we did some leads and mock leading inside the park and finished on the last day near the Skylite area about 4 miles outside the park on Camp Bird Road. Some of the great out of park routes we chose included the Senators, Chockstone's Chimney, Slip Sliding Away and the Ribbon (yes! It was in this year!) Talk about a great five days of climbing!
Be warned though, you'll have to fight me for a spot next year if you want to join for the Veterans program... I'll be there for sure!