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Ouray Ice Climbing with Mountain Madness

Learning the Ropes of Ouray Ice Climbing

On the home front, Ouray Ice Climb­ing has picked up some speed as sev­er­al of the Moun­tain Mad­ness guides are down in Col­orado for the ice climb­ing sea­son. MM Guides Matt Barela and Marc Rip­perg­er took to the ice this last week­end with new­by Kei­th H. and set him up with a good set of skills and tech­niques and turned him into an offi­cial ice climber! 

MM Guide Matt Barela writes:

Here, fel­low Mad­ness guide Marc Rip­perg­er and I sit in Ouray, Col­orado enjoy­ing win­ter that has final­ly arrived. It is Feb­ru­ary 4th and we are meet­ing Kei­th H, a long-time and great client of Moun­tain Mad­ness. It is Kei­th’s first time to Ouray and his first stab at the more tech­ni­cal side to climbing. 

Guide Marc Rip­perg­er spent the first day with Kei­th in Ouray Ice Park giv­ing him the run down on the basics to send­ing ice in style. I had anoth­er client that day, but Marc and I teamed up and head­ed to what is known as the Scot­tish Gul­lies area of the ice park. As our luck would have it, we had 3 oth­er guides in our area that day, which made for a great ses­sion of rope swap­ping to get in as many lines as possible.

Kei­th showed up that morn­ing with a great atti­tude to push him­self and give ice climb­ing a go. Marc start­ed him off with the basics of a strong stance and a swing, what we call the tri­an­gle.” They also cov­ered things such as dif­fer­ent types of tools and how to shape one’s swing for that par­tic­u­lar tool. It was also Kei­th’s first time in the out­door world belay­ing. So, the prop­er belay tech­nique was cov­ered, as well as how to give a nice and slow low­er, which is nice on ice. At the end of the day, Kei­th had crushed it and was offi­cial­ly an ice climber!

Matt Barela photo

Day 2, it was my turn to take Kei­th out and show him around the ice park. We chose to go to an area known as the school roome. The school room is a great place to push things on Day 2, since the climbs get tall (over 100 feet) and are up to WI4. Kei­th and I arrived around 8:30 a.m. and were suprised to find very few peo­ple in the park that morn­ing. So we took to the ice and put togeth­er all the tools Marc had giv­en him the day before. He once again showed how he was a great ath­lete as he did great and fired up the steep and tall ice.

It was great work­ing with Kei­th; he is very good at pick­ing things up. He coach­es triath­letes and cyclists so he knows how to lis­ten and apply what he learns. At the end of Day 2, Kei­th had come away from Ouray with a good foun­da­tion for being a sol­id well-round­ed climber. He is now ready to tack­le back­coun­try ice climbs or get after it in the big tech­ni­cal alpine world.

I want to say thanks to Kei­th for a great time and I hope to see more peo­ple make it out to Ouray to hone their ice climb­ing skills. I just love the win­ter down here in Ouray and see no bet­ter place to learn to ice climb. If you have dreams of big tech­ni­cal alpine lines, I encour­age you to head out here to Ouray to learn the art of ice climb­ing. Now get out there and have a great adventure!”

~ MM Guide Matthew Barela

Matt Barela photo