The Ouray Ice Park opens for the 2012 season on December 17th.
For close to 30 years, Ouray has been one of the best kept secrets for ideal ice climbing conditions. In 1992, when Eric Jacobsen, who had purchased some property in a bankruptcy auction made arrangements with Ouray County to lease the land for recreational purposes. The amount of the lease? $1.00 per year, with an insurance umbrella which would allow the public free use of this area.
In the fall of 1994, Bill Whitt, Gary Wild and Mike O'Donnell, using garden hoses and other household items, created the first farmed climbs in the Uncompahgre Gorge.
The next couple of years, Ice climbing enthusiasts began to flow into the sleepy winter town to try out the park. By 1997, Ouray Ice Park Inc was created to better organize the number of volunteers and materials needed to develop the Ouray Ice Park into the world famous climbing venue it is today.
With climbs ranging from extreme for the most seasoned climber, to the Kids Wall, a specially developed 40 foot high, 140 foot wide slab of ice specifically designed for training children ages 8 to 88 it is hard to believe that all of this was made possible by the generosity of so many volunteers!
With training classes provided by some of the top climbers of our generation, the San Juan Mountain Guides have outdone themselves yet again.
This year, SJMG is once again offering an interactive Ice Climbing class for children ages 8-17. The 2012 Kids Climbing College is a free class hosted by San Juan Mountain Guides, and sponsored by the Ouray Ice Park, and all of the necessary equipment is provided. All your young ones need to bring are warm clothes, (ski clothes are great) gloves, a hat, and a grownup to sign paperwork! Each 2 to 3 hour class is on a first come, first serve basis, and is a fantastic opportunity for young people to be introduced to this fabulous sport!
Parking is available at the park, in designated areas, or just walk up to the park from the Box Canyon Lodge and Hot Springs! The walk back is a great way to revisit all you have learned as you prepare to relax in the mineral hot spring tubs, a perfect way to finish a great day!