Cold returns in time for ice-climbing festival
OURAY — With the recent warm spell ended, ice park officials have been able to build upon the rock walls of Box Canyon.
“Climbers from across the globe continue to roll into the park daily to climb areas that opened on December 18th, and with the weather forecasted to dip into the teens this week and below zero by New Year’s Day, it is looking like another great season of ice climbing lays ahead,” Ice Park Director Erin Eddy said in a Tuesday press release.
Eddy said 25 percent of the park is currently open and the entire park will open by Wednesday in time for the 16th annual Ouray Ice Festival set for Jan. 6–9.
“Ice park staff members are continuing to work aggressively, grooming the ice in closed areas and rebuilding climbs that were damaged by the warm weather earlier this month,” Eddy said.
Eddy reported the climbing areas known as the Schoolroom and Kids Wall are currently open and said the park’s recently upgraded water system continues to operate each night creating new ice. Eddy said he hopes the colder temperatures and strong ice will persuade hundreds to attend January’s festival, and dispel rumors that the ice was made unsafe by the warm temperatures.
The ice climbing festival is one of the largest events in Ouray, fueling the city’s seasonal economy with much-needed revenues. Most of the climbers who compete in the annual competition are world-renowned, making Ouray one of the greatest places on Earth to ice climb.
Eddy said the unusually warm weather that hit the park earlier this month was not new to him during his 15-year involvement with the park, however he did stress that he had not seen such temperatures last for as long as they did.
The National Weather Service is forecasting frigid temperatures to continue in the days leading up to next week’s festival.