Monday, March 16, 2015

Doing a lap in the Schoolroom at Ouray

Went to the Ouray Ice Park on the way through between CO and UT (work - ARGH!) and had a few hours to kill, so I scoped out the conditions (poor spring conditions, snowing, Red Pass closed). I was thinking of doing a few laps in the Gullies (my favorite) but it was really falling apart. With a belayer it would be fine, sure, but when you're solo it's better safe than sorry so I looked up the second bridge into the Schoolroom. There was no one down in the Gullies/Fingers area, but a few were in the Lead and Schoolroom area, and some obviously had gone up to the South Park area.

Oh, there were only a few cars in the lots. I mean few like 4. That empty.

So I changed into my climbing clothing for the warm and drizzly conditions. I was nervous about the road conditions, so I wanted to only go for an hour, tops. I headed up to the schoolroom and wandered around a bit at the top. There was one other team down there, on the North end so I went to the South end and set up a toprope, much like the Petzl specs called for.

I added in a third point with a Screamer, maybe overkill? But better safe and all that. I set up my rappel device and tied the ends of the rope to the rear loop on my harness. I wasn't sure if the rope was long enough (70M with about 5M cut off in an "accident" with a newbie) and I couldn't see over the edge as to what was under me.

I rapped down, over some exposed rocks and stair-stepped WI3-4 with some candlesticking. Sure enough I came to the end of the rope about 5M off the deck, and hanging over the river I stuck a few points, set up my MiniTraxion and Shunt backup, Ascended enough to take weight off my Reverso and unclipped it, then untied from the end of the rope. I knotted the two strands together and dropped them, hoping the weight of the knot would be enough to feed the rope as I climbed.

Oh, and this was all on vertical ice.

I climbed then, trying hard to avoid some of the exposed rock. I'm not up for solo on mixed climbing yet. Sure enough, it wouldn't feed, so about every 5' or so I had to crank up some rope through both the MiniTraxion and the Shunt. Oh, well. Good practice. I had some fun spicy moments mantling over some slightly overhanging sections with tricky feet, but overall a great time.

It started raining as I topped out, so it was time to get moving. I broke down everything and packed up. I was going to stop for a late lunch, but the road was icing up and I needed to get out of town. I couldn't afford to risk missing an appointment for business. About halfway between Ridgeway and Montrose the roads improved greatly.

I had to lay everything out to dry that night.

It was a ton of fun and I wished I could spend more time on it this season. I might be able to get something in on Lincoln while it's still in, but Summit County has been in the 40's for a week now, and Keystone Lake has closed for the season. The resorts can't be far behind. We'll see...