One of the park’s pleasures is that it’s hardly ever crowded and the crowd is mainly Colorado-based. Most climbers come from the Denver area and from Gunnison. Lots of Western Stage College students give the walls of ice a try. I visited during the Ice Festival, which is the most busy weekend, and even then the park did not feel crowded. The ice is farmed - the water for the ice wall comes out of pipes from the town and comes down through shower heads.
Lake City’s farmed ice climbs are really easy to get to, and you won’t be waiting around in a line.
The Lake City Ice Park offers:
- Approximately 10 to 15 routes (you can place ice screws in for directional and get some more varied terrain covered from one anchor)
- Mixed grades, WI3 to 5 (in general routes seemed easier when compared to Ouray Ice Park)
- 60 to 100 feet long pitches
- Bolted anchors (It is easy to set up a top rope, and in some cases you can even use trees, which are pretty far from the edge - bring an extra rope if using the tree anchor).
- There is no charge to climb (but you are supposed to sign a free waiver)
- very friendly atmosphere
Lake City Ice Climbs, Inc. is a Colorado non-profit organization dedicated providing a one of a kind climbing experience at the Lake City Ice Park. It is a volunteer-based organization. The Lake City Ice Park is located, with permission, on public, Bureau of Land Management lands. The ice park exists due to the volunteer efforts of Lake City Ice Climbs, in cooperation with the Bureau of Land Management, the Town of Lake City, and Hinsdale County.
Some say that Ouray and its ice park are starting to feel like Boulder West, if this is your opinion, consider visiting Lake City and its low key ice park and superb backcountry climbs. The distance is not closer to Front Range cities than Ouray, and there aren’t as many climbs to choose from, but Lake City is uncrowded and more homely. I was surprised to see many dogs and kids running around.I know, 10 to 15 routes does not seem like much, but with directionals you can make it more varied, and for a weekend visit it is enough. Prior to the creation of the Lake City Ice Park, climbers would take snowmobiles to get to nearby ice climbs the San Juan Mountains offer. About 3.5 miles farther up the road is the upper park, near Hard Tack Mine, where more steep climbs can be found. In the nearby backcountry are several excellent climbs, including the Sherman, Open Casket and Closed Casket. These climbs are reminiscent of the long routes found near Cody, Wyoming. Or, if you are into extreme mixed routes, ski up the Engineer Pass Road to God's Crag for Jedi Mind Tricks (M13), on of the hardest dry tooling routes in the world (per on-line magazine). Jack Robert's Colorado Ice will get you started on the hunt for backcountry routes.
Lake City is located east of Ouray and south of Gunnison. The drive from Ouray to Lake City is long in the winter (110 miles). During the summer you can take Engineer Pass Road directly, but then there is no ice there.
To get to Lake City start in Gunnison and take Highway 50 west to Highway 149 at Blue Mesa Reservoir. Head south about 50 miles to the town.
The fun climbing in the Lake City Ice Park is just southwest of downtown along Henson Creek. Follow Bluff Street or 1st street to Engineer Pass Road, aka County Road 20.
|Town you are leaving from:||Driving Distance in miles||Driving Time|
|Denver||255 miles||5 hrs 5 min|
|Colorado Springs||221 miles||4 hrs 35 min|
|Boulder||266 miles||5 hrs 24 min|
|Gunnison||54.8 miles||1 hr 15 min|
|Durango||93 miles||3 hrs 12 min|
|Albuquerque, NM||318 miles||5 hrs 54 min|
|Salt Lake City, UT||445 miles||7 hrs 38 min|