Exploring a World of Blue: Ouray, CO 1/31-2/6

Originally posted on the WPSMB on 2-8-10

“If this was an all guy’s trip, NO ONE would be distracted by the jewelry store.”

Actually, you could insert your manly phrase of choice after the earlier part of the sentence. It’s the price I pay by going out to play with the boys. But when Steve told me I climbed like a frat boy (forgetting to use my legs and dragging myself up by my arms), I finally started to get it. I started looking for features, weighting my feet, less hacking and scratching and more purposeful placement. I still occasionally got the satisfying “chunk” of the pick sinking into a solid hold, but I looked to glide instead of grunt. I realized I was climbing, not hauling.

A week in Ouray, nestled in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. Ice dripping into stately columns and fragile chandeliers. The tinkle of broken glass as we rapped in under the bridges. Clouds of breath as the air shifted in the gorge, hands wrapped around wet ropes at a chilly belay. Stepping under a rocky overhang to look up into blue daggers glistening in fleeting sunlight.

Trudging for three hours through thigh-deep powder to gain the foot of a 115’ waterfall outside of town and away from the park. The pop of a reaching swing shattering into a dinner platter and showering down, or the pop of a crampon slipping off Steve’s boot while 40ft up on lead (yes, that was indeed a good screw placement!). My first short lead on a WI2 in Chappo’s Chimney, fumbling with screws and frozen fingers through thick gloves while figuring out the anchor. Playing around on toprope with a single tool the first day, only to use the technique on the last day when I popped off the top of the route while pulling a screw. All the while, smiles all around, eyes wide with amazement at the cliffs, the gullies, the untouched snow undulating across rocks and meadows.

Heavy packs laden with hot chocolate, flasks of whiskey, sandwiches, and chips. Never mind the warm clothes. Dinners of homemade chili or chicken soup and fresh bread from the bakery delivered to the hotel. Soaking in the hot spring tubs with a bottle of wine and looking up to the snowy amphitheater crowning the canyon. Laughing hysterically with Steve and Rob around the living room table in front of the fireplace.

At one point, I looked at Steve and said how I didn’t want to go home, how I didn’t want to go back to reality. He simply looked at me and said, “This IS reality.”

I had forgotten, recently, that he was right.

Thanks, guys, for making this the trip of a lifetime.

The week started with my first ski descent of a peak on good ol’ Mt. Baldy. I started the trip with my dear friend Joan, but inevitably ran into a few more of my good friends (Alan, we really MUST stop meeting like this!). I hooted and hollered the whole way down the bowl. Pics arehere.

The indefatigable Steve Larson:

The steadfast and focused Rob Yang:

Ummm… Steve… we have sammiches…

The sun came out and lit up what was to become my first lead:

Work begets smiles:

The rest of the pics are in their daily sets here.

From the luckiest girl in the world: Climb Hard, Be Safe.



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