After a bit of nervousness with respect to how the trajectory of this early ice season was going to play out, I’m happy to report that cold weather is back in a big way in Ouray and the San Juans. Consequently, our ice conditions have improved dramatically in the last 2 weeks with most of the major area climbs coming into condition – or very near to it. Temperatures in the next 10 days also look favorable for additional ice creation and they are even spraying water at the Ouray Ice Park earlier than I can remember.
We’ve received plenty of early season snow this year (last weekend was a bit of a game changer for the skiers) and so the melt/freeze cycle is in full effect now. A few of us climbed Stairway to Heaven in Silverton’s Eureka Canyon yesterday and we found generally good climbing conditions for this time of year. I also observed that Goldrush appears to be in condition this year. I did not look at the complete 1st pitch of Whorehouse Ice Hose and my sense is that one may take another week to fully form up. With more cold weather in the forecast (consistent single digit temps in Silverton next 10 days) all major climbs will see additional growth/accumulation, lending to even better climbing conditions.
In South Mineral Creek – the road is still open but this coming weekend’s storm will tell the tale on how much longer it stays that way. Direct North Face, Snowblind, and Campground Couloir are in fun and climbable condition. Right now the forecast is trending towards this weekend’s storm to be less productive in terms of snow totals than originally forecast but we will have to wait and see how that plays out. If the road stays open then now is a great time to go tick off those climbs.
On the other side of the ridge, the Ames Ice Hose looks to be all the way in – with ice hitting the first pitch already. This is a good sign for conditions on that route for the rest of the year, so look for that one to get fatter as the next few weeks progress.
In the Camp Bird Mine area the Ribbon and Bird Brain Boulevard have good ice formation and are looking climbable. As with S. Mineral, have to wait and see how this weekend’s storm plays out as avalanche danger on the Ribbon specifically can shut that route down until things settle out. In the Skylight area, all the climbs have good ice formation (Skylight probably best) but all are a bit thin yet as expected. The Talisman has gained a lot of ground in the last few weeks and will probably see some traffic here soon…….
We’ll be out climbing a bunch in the next 10 days so we will continue to update conditions regularly.