Life is an adventure. Ice Climbing at the Ouray Ice Park is the perfect example. What? You've never strapped crampons to the bottom of your feet, tangled a harness around your torso, strapped a helmet to your melon and descended 200 feet into an ice covered rocky gorge? Maybe it was more than 200 feet. I didn't bother to take measurements as we descended the ice covered rocks through the gorge. What I did notice was the absolute beauty that unfolded around us. It was kind of hard to ignore.
We made our way down one at a time through ice, rock and aspen trees. A rope hooked to our harness just in case our crampons weren't enough to prevent the casual slip that could easily result in a broken bone or twelve. A rope with rope handles provided plenty of support as we made our way down. A few trees were nice enough to lend their branches for handles and their roots for a nice steady foothold or two. The gorge slowly reveals its beauty with each cautious step down its icy side. Once we made it to the bottom, a simple plank of wood makes for the perfect bridge over the icy water below. A fall into this river is not going to kill you but it would most likely ruin your day being that the water temps are close to freezing. Mimicking circus performing trapeze artists, we all manage to walk the plank without a single incident.
The other side of the plank gives us our first look at the ice covered wall which from the bottom of the gorge looks pretty damn intimidating, but none of the climbers bat an eye lash at the large chunk of ice before them.
You might be wondering how I managed to arrive at this location. I love to take pictures! When Chicks With Picks invited me to come along on one of their awesome outings, I couldn't refuse! Who would? Chicks With Picks empowers women through mountain sport. Ice climbing is one of their specialties. Dawn, the guide for the day would be leading four ladies on the climb and I must say these ladies scaled that icy wall like it was nothing. It was an incredible site to behold as each one of them rose to the challenge and conquered the icy behemoth.
One swing of an ice ax and a swift kick with a crampon covered boot gave them enough leverage to scale the side of the gorge. Teamwork at its finest as one lady became the Belay (A friction enhancing device which prevents the climber from falling.) while the other lady ascended the glorious ice.
Wow, what an incredible feat of human strength and endurance, and I was lucky enough to come along for the ride and do what I really enjoy, take pictures!
Camera used: Nikon D810
Lenses Used: Nikon 20mm F1.8, Nikon 70-200mm F4