It’s that time of year – ice season in the San Juans has arrived. A few of us have been climbing in the high country, and getting a sense for the early season ice conditions in Ouray and Silverton. Generally speaking, it has been a dry fall – which shows when you look at some of the classic climbs of the area. By my guess, most of the routes in the area are about a week to ten days behind where things are normally during this time of year.
That’s not to say that they aren’t climbable. With the exception of the Direct North Face (lower pitches are in thin condition) most of the other routes in the area are in – including Campground Couloir, Snowblind, Cataract Creek, and even Sundance looked feasible. The aptly named Sundance might be great this weekend as it is forecast to be cold and overcast during the next three days.
Similar to S. Mineral, the majority of the climbs in Eureka Canyon are in. Stairway to Heaven is in thin, though what looks to be climbable conditions. Gully 2 is getting climbed, as is Whorehouse Ice Hose. The best looking climb in Eureka right now is Highway to Hell (also known as Hwy 666). It looks fat and in excellent condition. Now is the time to climb that route as later in the season it can present more challenges on the approach (higher avy danger). Tempered by Fire is also in. Hoser’s Highway is not in and needs time to form the pillar on the main pitch. Goldrush is also not really in, though it has been climbed in these conditions before.
A few of our guides will be out guiding and climbing this weekend and next week, so we’ll post some updates at least once or twice a week now that ice season is underway. Come and get it.