Slippery When Wet is another popular ice climb in the Skylight area on Camp Bird Road, just outside Ouray, Colorado. Camp Bird Road is second only to the Ouray Ice Park in the abundance of ice climbs. The climbs are easily accessible, and most do not require more than 10 to 15 min approach time.
Camp Bird Road
Parking at Senator Gulch
Turn off U.S. 550 (= major road going in the north-south direction in the western Colorado, connecting Grand Junction with Durango) at the south end of Ouray west onto well signed Imogene Pass/Camp Bird Road (#361). Drive on this well kept, and snow plowed road for 4 miles to the Senator Gulch area. The road is steep and exposed, 4 WD vehicles would be a better choice.
Please see Camp Bird Road SP site for a more detailed information.
Map of the Camp Bird Road
Near the road
The climb starts right on the Camp Bird Road. It is located between Slip Slidin' Away and AC/DC. The photo depicts the start from the road.
The route is usually climbed in 2 pitches (we climbed that in 3 because I wanted to record a video on my phone. Did I mention that I forgot my camera that day. I was so traumatized!).
1st pitch is rated as WI4/5, but felt much easier. The first few steps above the road were only WI2, but then got steeper. The climb has seen some heavy traffic, and there were steps made in the ice. My partner Michael Covington was upset about it - he claimed that it threw him off balance to follow in someone's footsteps. There are 2 bolts at the end of this pitch. The total length is about 30 meters.
We broke the 1st pitch into 2 since I wanted to do some recording. So, we stopped and make an anchor just below the steep section of the icefall (about 20 m).
2nd pitch is on thin ice, and there was some mixed climbing as well. It goes up through a narrow chimney. It is much shorter. You finish by the tree with plenty of webbing around.
Descent: Rappel the route. You need 2 ropes to rappel all the way down to the road, or you can do 2 rappels with 1 60 meter rope.
A few images from the climb
French technique on approach
1st pitch - start of the steeper ice
2nd pitch - could be combined
Slippery When Wet - thin
Slippery When Wet - fatter ice
I recorded a short clip of Michael Covington leading the first pitch on Slippery When Wet. Yes, I was recording on my camera phone and belaying at the same time. Luckily, the leader felt comfortable with me doing so...
Please excuse the poor quality of the video. I forgot my camera that day, so all photos and recordings were done with my iPhone.
Boots and crampons
It is easy! Ice climbing gear
Warm and crampon compatible boots with hard soles, crampons, ice tools, leashes, ice screws, webbing, rope, and warm clothing.
You can rent ice climbing gear at Ouray Mountain Sports, which is the best place in town to get your gear and information. Both the owner Bill and his assistant Trish are ice climbers and very knowledgeable about local climbs. Bill can fix anything broken (if it is fixable), and their store is well supplied.
Who comes up with these names?
Buck in Michael Covington's backyard
I don't know why is the climb called Slippery When Wet. It could be named after Bon Jovi's album carrying the same name. I just got this idea after realizing that the neighboring climb Slip Slidin' Away is also a name of Simon's & Garfunkel's song. And the climb above this one is called AC/DC!
So, who comes up with these names? perhaps some music loving ice climber :)