Chatter about the world’s top ice climbing spots will always circle back to Ouray, a sleepy town in southwestern Colorado where more than 20 years ago, a few visionary climbers started teasing streams of water down the walls of a steep, shadowy gorge.
Since then Ouray Ice Park has blossomed into an ice climber’s dream-come-true, where ice farmers carefully tend hoses and showerheads to cultivate a mile-long network of magical ice.
Ice climbing is a delicate art of ascending frozen flows using ice tools and crampons. It’s slow and methodical, requiring careful pick and foot placement on ice formations that range from dangling fangs to chandeliers of fused icicles and lumpy mushrooms.
Learn how to give it a try in my Adventure 101: Ice Climbing in Ouray article on National Geographic Travel.