January 16-20, 2020
Carly and I headed to Ouray for a extra long weekend of ice climbing and skiing. Typically we go a little later in the winter, around President’s Day. However this year we’ve got other plans during that time so we shifted it. Our friends Micah and Hilary were also free around this time and we wanted to be able to get out with them.
Micah and I headed to the Ames Ice Hose (WI5) on Thursday. This route is in great condition right now. The ice on the first pitch is steep but hooked out since it isn’t building any more. Micah did this pitch and I queued up for P2, which is a narrow runnel of ice. This pitch is less steep than P1, but has a lot less options for your picks. Luckily it was in good shape and didn’t require any rock gear and I was able to use rethreaded screws much of way. There’s a short bump pitch to position the belayer better for the 55-60m long P3 pitch. This one is probably WI4 right now, but it is just relentlessly long and sustained. Micah put this one up as well and with minimal screws. In retrospect I wish I’d lead the whole thing. On the list for next year I guess. I tweaked my shoulder a little on the descent and had to take it easy for the rest of the vacation.
Friday Micah, Hilary, and I went to Whorehouse Hoses (WI4+). Weather came in on the drive to Eureka and it was pretty full on conditions. The massive avalanches of March 2019 in Colorado completely wiped out large stands of trees. The approach to Whorehouse is now completely devoid of any trees. Another interesting result of the slides were snow tunnels on the approach.
The approach into Whorehouse funnels into a narrow canyon. When the slides came down they deposited probably a few dozen feet of dense compact snow into the canyon. This snow was gradually eroded over the summer by the stream that forms the ice climb. The snow didn’t completely melt over the summer though. The debris remains and now the approach is most easily done by going through these snow debris tunnels. Since Micah guides this route often he made a comment that the tunnels are sagging even with the temps being below freezing. It will be interesting to see if the tunnels survive the winter or if they will collapse prior to the spring.
For the remainder of the weekend we primarily skied. Hilary showed us a nice line accessed from Red Mountain Pass. The line sticks to the trees and is a nice angle. We did a few laps on some nice snow. In the afternoon Carly and I went to the Amphitheater Trailhead where Carly did some TR laps on a hidden little climb Hilary mentioned to us. We also hiked into see another climb accessed via that trailhead and saw Micah who’d just finished guiding a couple.
Sunday Carly and I headed up Camp Bird Road and were able to get on Senator’s Gulch which neither of us had climbed before. Since my shoulder was still feeling odd, Carly lead a narrow WI3 line on the right to set up a TR. Her climbing training for the day was to mileage. She did 8 laps on the left main flow of Senator’s which varies from WI4 to WI4+. I think the extended top roping session did her a lot of good to hone her technique.
Monday we did a half day up at Red Mtn. Pass again. We built off the run that we skied with Hilary by going to the edge of treeline before looping around. It was a nice day out again with beautiful weather. It would be nice to head back out to Ouray this winter, but I’m not sure if I’ll have the chance.