March 21st, 2012
Julie is training to climb Nun and Kun in Kashmir this summer. Julie came up to Durango and climbed with me in January during an Intro to Mountaineering course. She just returned last week for some more. We started out with two days of ice climbing. Day one in Cascade Canyon going over the basics, and day two in Ouray at the Skylight area and a little in the Ice Park. We then headed up to Snowdon to learn some crevasse rescue, how to ascend a fixed line, team rope travel, make a summit bid, and do some winter camping. On the fifth day we made a summit bid, but turned around part way up because of the avalanche conditions. We hiked back to camp, packed up, and were back in Durango by noon so we switched out gear and went rock climbing at X-Rock for a few hours. The last day we headed back to Cascade Cayon for some more ice climbing, before Julie started the drive back to Flagstaff.
Great climbing with you Julie!
March 11th, 2012
Erin came down from Boulder to learn some skills and gain some experience in the world of winter mountaineering. Since it was only her we tweeked the itinerary to fit her needs. We started out with a half day of ice climbing in Cascade Canyon. Then drove up the pass and hiked into our Engineer camp in the afternoon. The next day was a skills day in which we went over avalanche rescue, snow anchors, self arresting, techniques for walking with crampons, etc. On day three we got up early and climbed Engineer Mountain! We had perfect weather the whole time which makes it hard not to have a good time! Good climbing with you Erin, I hope to climb with you again in the future!
March 11th, 2012
I picked up Chris at the airport in Cody on Wednesday night. On Thursday morning we were climbing ice in South Fork, which is a mecca for ice climbing. Chris and I climbed great multipitch ice for three days. Below are some photos from the trip. I look forward to doing it again next year Chris!
January 28th, 2012
Alex, Michael, and Scott all flew out for 4 days of ice climbing in Ouray, Colorado.
On day 1 we went to the Ice Park. We refreshed some rusty skills and learned some new ones while climbing some great pitches of ice! At the end of the day we did a short multi-pitch to get warmed up for some multi-pitch backcountry ice the following days.
On day two we climbed Dexter Slabs just North of Ouray. It was a low visability day but we got it done and had a great time doing it!
Day three found us climbing at the Skylight Area where we climbed a few ice routes and then got on a mixed route to let the guys see what dry tooling was all about. I’m pretty sure everyone slept great that night. Well, everyone except Alex who was kept up by his new born daughter Zoey.
On day four Alex opted out of climbing because of sleep deprivation. So Scott, Michael and I headed back to the Skylight Area to to climb a route called Choppo’s Chimney, then headed back to the Ice Park for a few more pitches to finish off the arms.
Great trip guys! I hope to climb with you all again!
January 6th, 2012
Chris has been talking about how great his younger brother would be at climbing for months. This last weekend Chris flew out with his brother Eric for some ice climbing in Ouray. Both brothers did great! Eric was floating up steep ice like he had been doing it for years, and Chris was leading and mock leading in the ice park despite a tweeked wrist. Chris will be out for some more ice shortly and there are rumors of Eric coming out for some rock climbing in the future!
Thanks for the great New Years weekend guys!
January 2nd, 2012
The ice in the backcountry of Southwest Colorado is Fat! Below are some photos from the last week.
February 22nd, 2011
Dave and I got together this week to go climbing on some new terrain. We spent Monday morning in the ‘Grad School’ area of the Ice park. Neither of us had climbed in this area before and it was a nice change from the other areas we work in frequently. The routes here vary from great intro lower angle ice, broken into steps, all the way thru 100 foot continuous WI 4-. We finished the day off the best way possible, with a couple pints and good food at the Ouray Brewery.
Horsetail Falls from the Bear Creek Bridge. 4 pitches
Tuesday we climbed Horsetail Falls just a coupe miles South of Ouray. The approach, downhill, takes about 15 mins. Pitch 1 in the crux, we climbed the center at around WI 4+ for 140 feet.
Dave, only 25 minutes from the coffee shop, standing under the steep pitch 1.
Dave topping out pitch 1 and arriving in the welcoming sun.
Pitches 2 and 3 are much lower angle but still keep your attention at multiple small, brittle bulges. These are super fun and the views are amazing.
Looking across towards the unformed Bear Creek Falls.
The last pitch is back to steeper ice, but still a moderate WI 3-.
Dave under pitch 4.
Overall this is a super fun climb and only takes half a day. Horsetail is very popular and a great route to check off your Ouray tick-list. Give us a call today and lets get on this area classic together.
February 22nd, 2011
For the second year in a row Roger, Michael and Brian got together in Ouray to fine tune their ice climbing skills with Gary and myself. Day 1 was spent in the Schoolroom of the ice park to dust off any cobwebs the guys had. We climbed a variety of routes from WI 3 to WI 4 and practiced placing and removing ice screws and building v threads. After a quick lunch, we did a 2 pitch climb to exit the schoolroom. The main purpose of the multipitch climb was to teach the three of them how we do transitions at the belay between pitches. After this training exercise, Michael, Brian and Roger took turns lowering in and climbing out on the famous ‘Pick of the Vic.’
The next day we drove up to 10,000 feet where Gary and Michael climbed the ‘Ribbon’ across the valley and Brian, Roger and myself climbed ‘Slip Slidin’ Away,’ the right side of ‘Chock up Another One’ and ‘Skylight.’ It was snowing hard throughout the day but neither Roger nor Brian’s excitement and motivation diminished. We climbed all day and returned to warmth in town around 5pm.
Brian topping out the final thin, virgin pillar atop the right variation to 'Slip Slidin' Away.' Roger is below with positive encouragement.
Roger topping out 'Slip Slidin' Away.'
Roger about to finish the long 150 foot right side of "Chock up Another One.'
Brian on the opening mixed crux on the right side of 'Chock up Another One'
Our last day was cut short by early flights, yet we still climbed 4 pitches on the large ice flow in ‘Senator Gulch.’ This 100 foot frozen water fall is a hidden gem of the Skylight Area. With lots of fresh snow and a blue sky, it was a great way to finish the weekend. Great work guys and see you next year!
Michael on the steep center flow of 'Senator Gulch.'
February 21st, 2011
Srdja and I spent the last four days climbing everything in sight around Ouray, CO.
Day 1:We started out in the New Frontier where Srdja quickly remembered ice climbing technique, made some v-threads, mock led some routes and was leading WI3 before the day was done. Srdja climbed 10 pitches.
- Srdja making V-threads.
Day 2:The next morning we got up early and headed up past the ice park to the Skylight Area. Where Srdja followed me up the climb ‘Skylight’ and then swapped leads with me on ‘Slip Slidin’ Away’. We spent the afternoon running laps at the park, climbing whatever was open. Srdja climbed 7 pitches.
- Racking up at the base of ‘Skylight’.
- Exiting the chimney on ‘Skylight’.
- Rappeling ‘Skylight’ in the snow.
- Srdja leading ‘Slip Slidin’ Away’.
Day 3:Again we got up early and headed back up to the Skylight area where we climbed the awesome ‘Slippery When Wet’. Next we spend some time going over rescue techniques, lowering, raising, releasing a auto-blocking belay device and much more. To finish of the day we climbed Senator Gulch a few times. Srdja climbed 5 pitches.
- Rope work.
Day 4:We finished off the trip with a sending spree in The Schoolroom and Pick o’ The Vic area. Srdja climbed 8 pitches.
That’s 30 pitches of ice is 4 days! Nice work Srdja!
I’m looking forward to climbing with you in the future!
January 31st, 2011
Allen, Doug and Steve happy on the summit of Engineer.
Family and friends came together from all over the country to participate in one of SWAG’s winter mountaineering courses over the last weekend of January. We spent the first day at Cascade Canyon ice climbing, rappelling, and building ice anchors. Day 2 was spent hiking into our base camp on Engineer Mountain at 11,500 ft and setting up camp. We dug an excellent cook tent as well as eating area. We then taught some new knots and in the end everyone was able to tie every knot known to man. Allen even brought Quint from Jaws to the table while remembering the bowline. Temperatures throughout the day were an amazing 40 degrees F and a minimal 12 degree F low that night. Very comfortable for us all.
Full packs and big smiles. Ready to hike to our base camp on Engineer.
Lisa and Todd above our dining room.
On day 3 we hiked 20 minutes from camp to above tree line on Engineer’s eastern plateau and went over many new skills. First Ben taught avalanche awareness and beacon searches. Doug and Lisa made exceptional time finding two buried beacons, while everyone else dug them out immediately. Good work everyone! Next I taught travel technique and ice axe use. This led to everyone taking turns throwing themselves down a steep icy slope perfecting their ice axe arrests. Snow anchors were next on the itinerayr and the conditions were so varied we were able to place everything from in-line redundant deadmen to vertically oriented pickets. Last ly, we dug a snow pit in order to analyze the snow-pack. Steve demonstrated perfect wrist, elbow and shoulder techniques while performing his snow stability test. Ben and I capped the long day with warm drinks and chili and burritos.
On day 4 the wether held out just long enough for us to climb Engineer. Route conditions were perfect and the teams made great time pushing to the almost 13,000 foot summit. I know it was a day to remember for everyone. To wrap it up, Everyone learned a lot and did an excellent job applying their new skills throughout the four days. We hope to see everyone in the future!
Lisa rappelling into Cascade Canyon
Doug demonstrating great technique
Ben talking about circular probing to pinpoint a buried subject
Allen going for the headfirst ice axe arrest. Well done!
Doug and Steve on the NE ridge of Engineer