Ouray Ice Festival: The Redhead Reports, Day 2

Gorgeously frustrating day – my summation of day 2 at the 2010 Ouray Ice Festival. The day began with 2 hours of Nordic skiing with Lisa and Orla. Funny – Orla broke her ankle in November of 2008 (coincidentally, in Lisa’s driveway in Ouray…). She’s an Ironman triathlete, attorney by trade and a delightful mix of sass and snark. She’s also usurped my position in the Hardware Olympics. Her 11 screws and one plate clearly oust my 8 screws and one plate. Damn, damn, damn. Again, I digress.

Lisa drove us up to Ironton where we hit the Ironton Nordic Trailhead. 2 loops, 6 “hills,” some ass-plants and a boatload of sunshine later, we’d had a great morning of cross-country action at 8000 feet. I had to head back for my 12:30pm clinic at the Ouray Ice Festival. I hit the B&B (I’m staying at the Secret Garden – a client and the comfiest beds in town!), grabbed my ice gear, put on my ice boots for the first time since the Ankle Incident of ’09, and set out to walk to the Ice Park.

Only a 15 minute walk, I admittedly wanted the cardio and hill climb. I could have taken the shuttle, but where’s the fun in that? I got up to the sponsor tents and found that my clinic (Advanced Ice for Women) was to be taught by Angela Hawse…freakin’ W00T! Angela was one of my first guides at Chicks With Picks when I started ice climbing and just a killer teacher. Patient, talented and it’s just obvious she’s one of those people who are truly living their dream. I have yet to catch up with my friend Margot Talbot (also one of my first guides at Chicks). Margo used to guide Mt. Vinson and do Zodiac tours of Antarctica and is an incredible ice climbing instructor. Hopefully I’ll see her today!

Anywhoo – I’d told Angela about the Ankle Incident just to give her a heads-up. Our group set out into the gorge. The approaches to many of the climbing areas at the Ouray Ice Park have burly approaches. Not like Death Incarnate or anything, but steep and tedious. Two things of which my ankle is not a fan, apparently. My hardware started banging up against the sides of the boot. Serious suckage. Flat terrain down below proved a reward. Yaaaay – bottom!

Clinics, from a logistics standpoint at the Ice Fest, are tough. You’re working with people in a wide range of capabilities and for 6 people, they give you two ropes. Which means when it’s below freezing in the gorge, there’s a lot of cold standing around. It was to be my demise yesterday. I got in 2/3 of a pitch and decided to come down, knowing that working the top section would take me a bit and I didn’t want to be a rope hog. Climbing = warm. Belaying/waiting = cold. I got stuck on an epic belay for another gal in my clinic (it happens), and my feet froze out. Diagnosed with Raynaud’s Phenomenon back in 2006, my digits get cold and fast. I never got in another climbing time and had to hike out to warm up. Bummer, but the ice will be there when I come back and staying warm is paramount. The ankle was pissed from the approach banging and swelling in my boot. Time to call it a day.

The comp was going on up above – this is the part of the Ice Fest where incredibly talented athletes climb a hard-as-shit route with a pucker factor of 11 for the glory of the win. Friends (The Fields, not of cookie-making fame) were rooting for Caroline George who unfortunately had a peel-off fluke low on the course. I’d taken a mixed climbing clinic awhile back from Josh Wharton (who moved through mixed routes like they’re a symphony and he’s a concert pianist), and was hoping he’d pull out another win or be given a serious run for his money. I’d heard that evening from Piper that he’d won. Applause, Josh! Not that you have any idea who I am, but bravo anywhoo and know that some of those delicate footwork techniques vastly improved my footwork on steep ice. You can view the entire comp results here.

It's what's for dinner...

After the day, I was zapped. Skiing, hiking, approaches, climbing…my body was one huge middle finger. Everyone I knew was bagging the overpriced lasagna dinner event that evening and Piper and I had decided to cook. None of the group meals here are dairy or gluten-free, so as of this year, I’d be skipping them anyway. Fine and dandy – we made meat, garlic, sauce and brown rice penne (listed in order of importance) with salad. It was fat kid/cake = nomnom.

The big event of the evening was the Guy Lacelle Tribute Superhero Party at the Opera House, preceded by a movie event. My friends and I opted for the movie with the party on “tentative” status. The parties here are legendary, run late and filled with drunken debauchery – not so much the scene for many in my group.  The flick du jour? A screening of a German film called The North Face (Norwand), a slightly fictionalized account of the German Reich’s push for glory on the treacherous Eiger. The film, while brilliant (and humbling when you compare mountaineering techniques from the 30s to present day), left me wanted to sell all of my gear on eBay and slit my wrists. Death is a kissing cousin for those who pursue high altitude mountaineering and all four of the climbers featured in the film met with heinous and painful demises. THANKS FOR THE DOWNER! The majority of us felt completely unfestive, bagged the party and retired for the evening.

Back at the B&B, I did hot/cold therapy on my ankle and decided I would go Nordic skiing again today. I’ve given my morning clinic spot to Piper, knowing that my Steep Ice clinic is undoubtedly in the same location I was in yesterday and with the same approach. Today, I’ll check out the vendor booths, catch up with more friends and get my cardio on up in Ironton.

Thanks for checking in with The Redhead. Spongebob Square Ankle and I are looking forward to another day of adventure, while it won’t be on the ice.



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