Ok most cyclists would not consider ice climbing good cross training but I think it’s the perfect winter activity. Yes skate skiing and riding the trainer help re-build your endurance and target the same muscles but all training and no fun equals burnout for me. When I ice climb I am in a completely different mind set and find muscles I never knew I had. I am not a great or even good ice climber but it feels good to push myself and get into a zone where I don’t think about anything but getting up the climb. When cycling it’s easy for my mind to wander on the issues of the day (unless it is something technical) but with ice climbing you are 100% focused.
It all started for me in 1997. For our first Valentines Day Randy and I drove to North Conway NH from Maryland and hired a guide to take us on our first ice climb. It was -60(I am not kidding) with the wind chill but we had a blast. The next year we moved to Boulder and found ourselves getting up before dawn on the weekends to climb Lincoln Falls, Vail, and Rocky Mountain National Park. Twice a year we would drive to Ouray to conquer the Ouray Ice Park. In 2006 we had an opportunity to leave the Boulder area and because of our trips ice climbing, we chose Ouray County to relocate. Now we are only 10 minutes to the park and many backcountry climbs.
This week is the annual Ouray Ice Fest. It’s an opportunity to sample the park and take a number of clinics for nearly nothing. It is also a great party with auctions, comps, slide shows and the famous Petzl party. If you can make it out one year I highly recommend the experience.
If you can’t make the fest but want to try climbing in Ouray check out these very experienced guide services. I know most of the guides and you can’t go wrong with any of them.
San Juan Mountain Guides – Offers private and group instruction in the park and around the world. If you want a great female guide ask for Danika.
Skyward Mountaineering – If you want to step up your ice climbing or get deep into the backcountry Vince is a good choice. A world class climber with tons of local knowledge.
The best thing about the ice park is it’s completely free and open to everyone. As a board member of the ice park I must put in a plug to please support us by buying a membership. The park runs on these memberships and they will also get you great deals around town.
If you are in town this week I would love to meet in person!