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Ouray Ice Fest - Good Times on Ice

Chelsea Rude sinking tools at the 2017 Ouray Ice Fest

Veteran ice climbers and Ouray attendees share on the fest, ice tips, and favorite post climbing eats...

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Every January for over 20 years, veteran and aspiring ice climbers alike flock to the Ouray Ice Festival in Colorado, for a weekend of competition, demo-ing the latest gear, picking up tips at clinics, and celebrating a weekend spent climbing with food, drink and catching up with old friends. Over the last two plus decades, Ouray has become a much-anticipated event centered around the community of climbers that show up again year after year. Here’s what a few of the familiar faces from Ouray had to say when asked what keeps them coming back:

La Sportiva climbing athlete Anna Pfaff warming up at the 2017 Ouray Ice Fest

 Athlete Anna Pfaff (left) warming up at the 2017 Ouray Ice Fest. Photo: Savannah Cummins 

Jim Shimberg

Jim Shimberg founded his guiding company, Rhino Guides, in 1985, has been on guiding expeditions around the world, and is still guiding climbers today.  

•The best part about Ouray Ice Fest?

"The best part of the Ouray ice festival is… the free beer! Well actually, it’s all about the PEOPLE who I see again or the (new) folks I meet -  the students, the teachers, the support crew, the vendors- and hopefully enjoying the Colorado sun, and the amazing uplifting energy of the event!"

•How long have you been attending?

"I have been at Ouray since 2007 or 2008, I think it’s been ten years more or less... I first went to Ouray before they started farming ice however, must have been the late 90s..."

•Your biggest “rookie” moment in all the years you have been ice climbing?

"My biggest 'rookie moment' at Ouray was misreading the schedule and not showing up for my Ouray fest clinic, duh. Thanks Anna Pfaff, for covering for me, owe you many times over! I have had too many 'rookie' moments over the years to recall them all, most involving lack of spare gloves and warm clothes at home in the frigid Northeast."

•Best piece of advice you can give climbers new to ice?

"Learn the sport, learn the gear, buy warm gloves, don’t rush into leading, enjoy the process and of course, always think about where you’re putting your feet! Keep smiling!"

•Favorite post (ice)climbing meal?

"ZA and ZA- pizZA and cerveZA! See question 1."

 Ice climbers of all skill levels can find routes to try at Ouray

The Ouray Ice Fest welcomes climbers of all ability and experience levels. Photo: Savannah Cummins 

Karsten Delap

Karsten Delap is the founder, and head of the Alpine Program, at Fox Mountain Guides, and is a La Sportiva ambassador. 

•The best part about Ouray Ice Fest?

"The best part of the OIF is the people. It is great to climb during the day and hang out at all the festivities at night. Without all the great people, it wouldn’t be the same!"

•How long have you been attending?

"I have been going to the fest for 7 years."

•Your biggest “rookie” moment in all the years you have been ice climbing?

"My biggest rookie moment: Maybe 11 years ago (when you could still drive to the top of Camp Bird Rd.) a friend and I drove my Subaru up there. We thought it was cool how close you could drive to the climbs. It snowed about a foot while we were up there, and when we started back I lost control and my car went off the road toward the gully. One wheel was hanging over the embankment and we had to ski out to call for help. Thank goodness for the best tow truck driver in North America- he saved my car and all my possessions! So now if the road ever opens again, I’ll just walk!"

•Best piece of advice you can give climbers new to ice?

"Ice climbing is not rock climbing! Go to clinics, get proper instruction; this will help with safety and tips on how to dress and stay warm out there which means more fun."

•Favorite post (ice)climbing meal?

"Espresso… is that a food?" 

Related: Climbing Tips - Placing Ice Screws

 Seasoned climbing guide Karsten Delap climbing at the 2017 Ouray Ice Fest

Alpine Guide and climber Karsten Delap showing how it's done. Photo: Jeff Rueppel

Anna Pfaff

La Sportiva athlete Anna Pfaff is a professional alpinist. When she's not climbing big mountains, she works as a trauma nurse.  

•The best part about Ouray Ice Fest?

"My favorite part of the Ouray Ice festival is the energy and positive vibes everyone brings to the event. It is awesome to see old friends, make new ones and meet people from all over the world. It is such a special occasion that is open to everyone from novice to elite climbers as well as enthusiasts who want to experience the great outdoors in an amazing place!" 
 
 •How long have you been attending?

"I think this is my 4th year, maybe 5th, attending the Ouray Ice Festival." 

•Your biggest “rookie” moment in all the years you have been ice climbing?

"My biggest rookie move, honestly I think I’ve done it all! Dropped a tool, stuck metal in my mouth, cut my face open, dropped a glove."

•Best piece of advice you can give climbers new to ice?

"Advice for new ice climbers: have fun and just enjoy being out there climbing a frozen waterfall! How fun is that! Also top rope a bunch, more than you think, before starting to lead. Find a good mentor or hire a guide to teach you how to be safe."

•Favorite post (ice) climbing meal?

"My favorite post ice climbing meal is salad. Seriously. It sounds weird, but that's just what I like to eat!"

Anna Pfaff drytooling at the 2017 Ouray Ice Fest

Athlete Anna Pfaff drytooling at the 2017 Ouray Ice Fest. Photo: Savannah Cummins

Dale Remsberg

DALE REMSBERG is an internationally licensed Mountain Guide (IFMGA), Technical Director of the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) and all-around accomplished climber.  

•The best part about Ouray Ice Fest?

"The gathering of the tribe and mixing beginners with experts to further everyone’s knowledge and safety is my favorite part of ice fest. A close second is the Dance Party!"

•How long have you been attending?

"I have made every ice fest since 2002 making this my 17th year in a row! Holy shit I’m getting old."

•Your biggest “rookie” moment in all the years you have been ice climbing?

"Well for me, I would have to stay sticking my lips on a frozen wet ice screw to try to blow the ice out and them sticking right to it- that was bad. A must-learn lesson for all new ice climbers."

•Best piece of advice you can give climbers new to ice?

"The leader must never fall so hire a guide for your first time, or make sure your mentor is experienced and a good teacher! And the leader MUST never fall!"

•Favorite post (ice) climbing meal?

"After a big cold day, I really like a big fat hamburger and fries! I earned it right? Of course, it must be organic grass fed beef…"

Related: A Mountain Guide's 4 Go-To Boots

Preview Photo: © Jeff Rueppel

1/11/2018 1:23 PM

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Posted in Climbing By Team Sportiva

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