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Current Alberta (vs. Ouray) ice climbing conditions?

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Current Alberta (vs. Ouray) ice climbing conditions?

Postby Diggler » Sun Dec 26, 2010 7:22 am

Greetings fellow climbers,

a friend & I have been procrastinating planning a weeklong ice climbing trip that I've wanted to do for awhile now. My thing is I want to do it in January. His thing is he can either do it the week of Jan. 3rd, or in March (less desirable for me). Basically what I'm saying is I'm trying to figure things out for the week of Jan. 3rd.

Unseasonably high temp's in Ouray (where we'd wanted to do this thing to begin with) have meant that numerous sections of the ice park are currently closed. As this area is normally freezing-assed cold this time of year, this totally surprised us. While temp's seem to be dropping back to more normalish, chilly expectations, as the time to make a decision is rapidly approaching, I want to see what conditions are like for other places too.

What I'm curious about: I'd wanted to go to Ouray due to simplicity: climbing right out of town, close car-to-crag approaches, numerous climbing options (top-rope, lead, easy -> hard, single thru multi-pitch, relatively low objective dangers (don't have to worry too much about avalanches on/before/after climbs, etc.)). What are things like in the various Alberta ice crags compared to this (I admit that I'm ignorant about climbing in these areas, & just would appreciate others' informed opinions vs. Ouray, which I am somewhat familiar with)? I want to get the most bang for my buck, as I'm pretty swamped at work, I've got limited free-time, & want to make the most of a week of ice climbing.

TRs from WI3 to whatever would be great. Leads from WI3 to WI4 (5 if we're feeling great) also good. Short approaches w/ low objective hazards optimal. Conditions at/below freezing (good ice that won't fall down on us) good (duh). Multi-pitch options? Excellent but not completely necessary. Cheap accomodations & easy airport options- would make things easier, but not necessarily completely necessary either.

Muchas gracias for your input- greatly appreciated! -D
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Re: Current Alberta (vs. Ouray) ice climbing conditions?

Postby Dow Williams » Sun Dec 26, 2010 4:00 pm

I advise you stick with the park for what you are use to and desire. It will more than likely be back in good shape by the dates you are interested in (one week is a huge difference this time of year for that park). The Canadian Rockies routes are multi pitch and require much more of an approach by foot and automobile. If ava conditions were tentative, which is very plausible for this time of year, one could easily be forced to spend most of ones time in the Ghost which is very remote and requires a true 4x4 vehicle and experience handling one as well. Most approaches require a certain level of fitness and speed to thoroughly enjoy. Hard to get a latte served up in the Ghost as well. Even if you tried to hit all the single pitch and top rope climbing available up and down the Bow Valley, you would be doing a lot of driving and not near as much climbing.
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Re: Current Alberta (vs. Ouray) ice climbing conditions?

Postby rhyang » Sun Dec 26, 2010 7:35 pm

Dirk, looks like the weather in Ouray is forecast to be significantly colder over the next week. Knowing your love of early morning starts :) I would suggest the Ice Park too.
Taaaake !
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Re: Current Alberta (vs. Ouray) ice climbing conditions?

Postby Diggler » Wed Dec 29, 2010 8:17 am

Thanks for the advice, Dow & Rob- appreciated. Looks like temp's are dropping in the San Juans though, so I just booked a flight to go check out the ice fest in Ouray. I'll keep the recommendations in mind for next time, though. Dow- I'll toast a latte to you from Ouray (or maybe a mocha- those are really good, too). Rob, I'll think of you when I set my alarm for an *extra early* alpine start to climb at the park. Happy New Year & a safe season on the ice to you both! -D
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