Had a great time attending the Ouray Ice Fest 2012. I had originally planned on not attending, but Angie convinced me otherwise, and I was able to get a day off work (Friday). I checked online and found two clinics open that met my ability level well enough – Intermediate Ice with First Ascent Athlete Chad Peele (bio here) and Moderate Mixed from The North Face, instructor TBD. I also managed to get a very reasonably priced room at the Best Western, much to my surprise.
I very quickly packed my bag Wednesday night, not having any idea what I would be doing there aside from the two clinics. Thursday was a heavy duty day at work, and I managed to get away about 90 minutes later than I would have liked to. From previous trips, I knew the front desk closed promptly at 9:30 (having had an issue with them before at 10:05 PM), and I rolled into town at 9:15 to find they were closed, but it all worked out anyway 😉
They were having the free Icebreaker opening party at the Ouray Brewery from 9:30 to 12:00 with SWAG, so I wandered on down about 10:00 – and I guess they ran out. They did have some free appetizers and lots of beer left (ironic, since I don’t drink). I didn’t see anyone I knew well enough to say hi, though I did recognize some faces here and there. The bouncer loved my Columbia Omni-Heat hoodie, said it was “fly”. Awesome. So I went to the room to sleep.
On Friday I went up to find my clinic with Chad Peele, Intermediate Ice, supposedly on Schoolroom 4/5 at 9:00 AM. No one there. I was told by the ice park staff to go down to the First Ascent tent in the expo area at the lower bridge. Only there is no First Ascent tent this year, so I was told to go meet them at the Schoolroom. Where I was told to go to the San Juan tent if there is no sponsor tent. There I was told they’d already left for the Schoolroom, and to fill out a waver, and head back up. WHEW! Minor glitch and now I know the system after a heck of a workout.
So finally I met up with them at the bottom of the creek, hooked up with Chad, who said I looked familiar, so we discussed Rainier, Peter, and TEVA, and a few other ways of intersecting, and got our climbing on. Chad worked us on structure and pattern, two things I’d worked on with Dawn Glanc last year, with San Juan Mountain Guides. He said I was looking good and getting a good handle on it, gave me some tips, and I tried those out. Great learning session.
While down there we hooked up with some guys from Voormi, a new company with a line of outdoor clothing coming out this fall. My very good friend and fellow Liberty Ridge Survivor Anne recommended them to me on Facebook, so I yelled “any of you know Anne?” and Dustin said he did, so we chatted for a bit.
I hung out in the expo tents for a while, then went down to take a shower and put on my street clothes. I went to the charity dinner, show and auction, where the Ouray Firefighters served up spaghetti and the outdoor vendors displayed their goodies. Got to handle some awesome Grivel tools, the new BD Lynx crampon, and a few other fun things. I met with Jim Davidson, author of The Ledge: An Adventure Story of Friendship and Survival on Mount Rainier and we talked about writing for a bit. Great guy with lots of enthusiasm. Infectious.
I spent some time with Mark Allen of IMG who is also a fellow Rainier Liberty Ridge survivor, and he introduced me to his better half, who thanked me profusely for not dying with Mark on either of the two epics we’ve endured together so far. I took my Silent Auction winnings back to the room and then returned for the Mark Westman Alaska slideshow. Very awesome and beautiful photography. I’d bumped into Shingo Ohkawa a few times over the day, and we chatted a bit before the show about mixed vs. ice climbing among other things. Another great guy.
The next morning at The North Face tent I got together with our group led by pro Heidi Wirtz. We were supposed to have Emily Harrington as the instructor, but she was busy winning the comp at the moment, and would be down later.
We headed down the ramp (wish we could have rapp’ed it) to the foot of Tic Tac and the one left of it (?). Heidi gave us some tips and techniques, and set us loose on the ropes. It was tons of fun. I ran up the snow at the foot of the rock climb, rested for a few minutes, then set my tools and started pulling. I made it to about 8′ shy of the ice in the upper corner, which was where a few others had fallen – that move was tough. I fell good, then came down to rest for a minute or two.
We were climbing M7, which might not seem “moderate” until you recall that 5.10 is considered moderate in rock climbing, and back in the day 5.10 was considered the upper limit for what was climbable. Emily Harrington dropped in after her comp run, and we talked for a few minutes. Previously we had chatted at a couple gym comps when Angie used to work in charge of the women’s program for Momentum in Sandy.
I moved over around the corner to a short M4 I think they called “Little Sausage” – very fun tool placements with sloping feet. Did some good falling here too, with one cool Steinpull. We ran out of time way too soon, and I was pretty tired. I had planned on hanging around for a couple more hours, but it was getting windy, cloudy and I felt cold, so I just packed up the car and headed home.
I totally loved it and plan to return next year I hope …