Global warming? Where? Thanks to unseasonably cold temperatures, the Ouray Ice Park, one of the premiere ice climbing locations in the world, will be opening tomorrow, a full week ahead of schedule. The park’s website credits a new water system, a dedicated team of ice makers, and two solid weeks of cold temps for allowing them to open earlier than ever.
Located in the Uncompahgre Gorge, near Ouray, Colorado, the Ice Park is a unique and popular destination for ice climbers from around the globe. When it opened in 1995, it was the first site exclusively dedicated to ice climbing anywhere in the world, and it has remained a top destination for the sport ever since. The park is maintained by a group of volunteers who work the climbing routes and ensure that the massive walls of ice are safe for others. This year, that crew has a new water system that provides more water pressure, which means harder and more stable ice. The results, according to park officials, is the best climbing conditions in Ouray ever.
Each year the park plays host to the Ouray Ice Festival as well, which includes major climbing competitions and clinics, live music, parties, and seminars put on by top climbers and mountaineers. The Ice Fest serves as a major fundraiser for the park and helps to provide resources to keep the place open for climbing each winter. As a result of this great event, the park remains fee free for adventurous climbers looking to to get a winter workout. The 15th annual Ouray Ice Festival will take place from January 7-10, 2010.