The Ouray Ice Festival is something I look forward to every year; it’s the perfect way to finish up the gluttonous holiday season. Ouray, Colorado is a small mountain town in southwest Colorado that comes alive during this festival. People come from far and wide, traveling to watch, climb and test the latest gear in the Ice Park.
I first came to Ouray three years ago to work in the SCARPA tent, helping people get the
right fit for their demo boots. Without exception, people come back to the tent at the end of the day, cold and cut from the ice, but always grinning. It’s a contagious feeling and reminds me why I love climbing.
I have experienced the festival on different levels – as a competitor, a visiting climber and working for the industry – and every year, I’m never disappointed. 2014 was no different. This year, I even got to climb with Ueli Steck. I was absolutely star-struck at first, as he is a climber that changed the sport I love. But after climbing for a bit, his humble nature calmed my nerves; he even preferred to talk about my climbing ambitions and offered tons of advice for my upcoming Yosemite trip.
One of the most interesting events at the festival was the Elite Mixed Climbing Comp. This year, the competition was fast and furious and included a manmade wall and logs hanging from the wall with feet. To tackle this obstacle, the athletes had to perform a series of technical figure fours and figure nines to get around it. You could hear the “oohs and aahs” throughout the day, as people watched rockstar runs and epic falls.
But nothing beats heading out with your crew for food and drinks after a long day of working and climbing. I’m still cold from being outside all weekend, but I’m already excited for next year’s Ice Festival.