“So far it has been a banner year as far as making ice goes,” said head ice maker Mike Bryson this week. A cold start to the season and a lack of snowfall are the perfect conditions for creating a good base of ice. “Relatively speaking, it is going to be a year of much more ice than usual.”
Ice Park crews are currently working on upgrading the water delivery system from a four-inch to a six-inch pipe and they are utilizing the former BIOTA water line. This will allow the park to be run on two separate water systems rather than one. Moreover, this year crews will be making ice seven instead of five days a week, as in the past. Bryson said that once the upgraded water delivery system is finished, the ice park may prove to have the best ice climbing conditions yet.
“The new system will enable us to run water with more pressure, which basically means more ice,” Bryson said. “The park will be in the best shape it has ever been in due to the fact we will be able to create more ice.”
Bryson said the park will be opening this weekend but warned that early-season conditions will exist with some thin ice in some areas. He added that some areas of the park may not open this weekend depending on conditions. Crews will make that determination on Friday.
Looking ahead, the 15th annual Ouray Ice Festival and Climbing Competition will be held Jan. 7-10. Great slideshows by Andres Marin, Caroline George, Steve House, Majka Burhardt, Timmy Oneill, and Dave Nettle are planned. There will also be a premier screening of the movie The North Face – a film that re-creates the first ascent attempt on the Eiger.
This year’s Ice Festival will host over 70-plus interactive climbing clinics, including 12 extended-length climbing seminars of six hours each. Nightly slideshows will feature outstanding world-class mountaineers and climbers. Make sure to attend the Petzl/Arcteryx Superhero Party on Saturday, Jan. 9, following a live auction at the Ouray Community Center. The party is always full of surprises and interesting costume, to say the least. All the great evening auctions, parties, fundraisers and meals make the Ouray Ice Festival the premier climber gathering in the world.
Season memberships to the Ouray Ice Park cost $40. Membership fees help keep the Ice Park a free climbing facility and pay for park improvements; those with membership cards receive a 20 percent discount at most member lodges in Ouray as well as a 10-20 percent discount at Ouray’s restaurants and participating retail stores.
For more information about the Ouray Ice Park call 970/325-4288 or visit www.ourayicepark.com.