Frozen cliffs a welcome sight in Ouray

Ouray Ice Park workers Eitan Green, Mike Bryson and Pierce Adams work to fix a water pipe along the edge of the Ouray Ice Park Wednesday afternoon. The park opens Dec. 19.



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Ouray Ice Park workers Eitan Green, Mike Bryson and Pierce Adams work to fix a water pipe along the edge of the Ouray Ice Park Wednesday afternoon. The park opens Dec. 19.

Ouray Ice Park workers Eitan Green, Mike Bryson and Pierce Adams work to fix a water pipe along the edge of the Ouray Ice Park Wednesday afternoon. The park opens Dec. 19.



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Ouray Ice Park workers Eitan Green, Mike Bryson and Pierce Adams work to fix a water pipe along the edge of the Ouray Ice Park Wednesday afternoon. The park opens Dec. 19.

Spectators watch competition during the 2009 Ouray Ice Festival last January. The upcoming festival is scheduled for Jan. 7-10, 2010.



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Spectators watch competition during the 2009 Ouray Ice Festival last January. The upcoming festival is scheduled for Jan. 7-10, 2010.

More than 150 shower heads are spraying cliffs of ice into existence in Ouray.

“They’re like the shower head you’d have in your shower,” said Erin Eddy, executive director of the Ouray Ice Park, which is tentatively set to open Dec. 19.

In preparation for the upcoming ice climbing season, those shower heads are running 12 hours a day, each dripping or spraying about a gallon of water a minute into a milelong gorge on the south end of Ouray.

That adds up to 9,000 gallons an hour, more than 100,000 gallons a day. Sometimes it’s less depending on water pressure and how much of the park’s pipe system is in operation, Eddy said.

There are three guys out there making ice, he said. Eitan Green, Mike Bryson and Pierce Adams are adjusting shower head angles and water flow to help create unique ice cliffs.

This time of year, they usually are using a full-circle type of shower head and as the season progresses, they move to a fan pattern that “shoots the water up and over the developing ice,” Eddy said.

This winter has been good for ice making so far, he said.

Typically, snow starts falling and accumulating in November, so temperatures are warmer. But this winter has been clearer and, as a result, “we have more ice than we have had in several years,” Eddy said.

The 15th annual Ouray Ice Festival and Climbing Competition is Jan. 7–10 and includes plenty of clinics and events for kids and adults.

Learn more about the festival and other ice climbing programs at the park at ourayicepark.com and ourayicefestival.com.

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