On the Road Again :: Ouray Ice Climbing Festival 2012

Photos from members of my ice climbing entourage
As soon as I piled into the truck with my climbing gear and four other people, I knew I was in the right spot. We were headed to Ouray, Colorado for my second trip to the annual Ouray Ice Festival, about 6.5 hours away from Salt Lake City. Although the climbing had changed from rock to ice and my trip partners had multiplied from one to ten, being back on the road felt exactly like going home to The Most Epic Trip. I felt an inward sigh of relief as we hit highway speeds in a truck filled with gear.  I was on the road again. 

One of my favorite climbs this weekend
This weekend was refreshing both physically and mentally. Imagine going from living in the clean air for six months to a smog-filled basin filled with traffic, noise, and dangerous air-borne particulates trying to lodge themselves in your lungs. Because of this inversion-caused pollution and lack of snow, I hadn't been venturing much into the outdoors. It's been a rough transition. Therefore, the opportunity to escape into the mountains for four days and exert my pent-up energy on sheets of frozen water was as welcome as being fed a homemade meal after months of fast food. I felt gratitude for the amazing world we live in, for the body I have that can move among the elements of rock, ice and snow, and for the people milling about the festival- reminding me that I was not alone in my love for tackling the challenges of those elements.

I was greeted warmly by some familiar faces from last year- some even by name which surprised me. The ice climbing world has a level of acceptance that surpasses the clubs and organizations to which I've belonged. It's probably because there are few people "crazy" enough to want to stick themselves on something as unstable as frozen water. When these people find each other, the "whys" of ice climbing is a given, lending itself to a great foundation for conversation and camaraderie. I was given hugs, passing high-fives and shouts of hellos as I walked by. Talk about making a girl feel good! 

Our moms are all glad we're off the ice...
Aside from the competitions, raffles,  rubbing shoulders with athletes and leaders in the industry, there was the ice. It was simultaneously the backdrop and the highlight of the weekend. Flicking my tools into the clear blue surface of the ice, I felt a shock of exhilaration speed from my heart throughout my body. My crampons bit into the smooth frozen water and I moved up, flicking my pick into a placement overhead. I was climbing again. And not only was I climbing, but I was climbing with icicles dangling overhead, snow falling lightly onto my face and sporadic calls of congratulations for well-placed moves coming from below. 

It's dangerous, yes. It might be crazy (sorry, Mom). But when you are faced with a mass of ice and the tools to tackle it- when you are in that moment where people believe in you and you believe in yourself- there's nothing like taking on that challenge and achieving it. There's nothing better than standing on top of that frozen waterfall, looking down over chandelier ice and knowing you are the reason you made it up there.


For more photos, click here


3 comments:

  1. Sounds amazing, so glad you had such a great time! Count me in next year! :)

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  2. I really want you guys to come! You would have loved it this year, Whitney. It's an amazing time.

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  3. Oh man... I'm so bummed I didn't go! Looks like you all had an awesome time :) I had a great time with my family, but part of me would've rather been on the ice, lol. I'm definitely in on the next trip!!!

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