Return to a World of Blue: Ouray, CO

The world around me got really quiet as I looked up at the wall above me. The route in the winding gullies was obvious, the steps carved from months of stomping and filling back in. But no rope dangled above me, the leading end tied instead to my harness, the weight of screws, screamers, and draws sitting on my hips. The guides to my left called encouragement to their clients as I took a deep breath and approached the ice. The plan in my head was clear, the effort to get to each ledge drawn into the pattern. “Climbing.”

“Climb on.”

The words I heard in my head were Steve Larson’s, spoken only on the ground between routes two years ago, while he trusted me to figure out the puzzle for myself up on the ice. Use your legs, find the small steps, move fluidly instead of bashing your feet, crashing for purchase. Be efficient with your tools: look where you want to sink it, then PUT it there. One swing, maybe two. You’ll feel it when it’s right. I stood strongly, balanced, working the screw in around my waist level, clipped the screamer. “On belay” came the call from below.

A deep breath, a look up. No hurries here. Be solid, be safe. Smile. Laugh. Focus. Keep moving up.

Damitol, it’s hard to clip the rope with gloves on; to untangle the alpine draw; to place a screw with my left hand.

At the top, the anchor already built, I clipped the rope through the opposing lockers. “OK, Sean, take.”

At the bottom, big smiles and a hug. Pull the rope, do it all over again.

Two days of hanging on steeps, single/no tool drills, hooking and gliding.

And on the third day, she lead the route.


Three  days in a world of blue, memories of a life-changing trip two years ago, spending time with friends new and old. And, just like everyone else, I can’t wait to go back. Even the drive home held so much meaning for me: basins and ranges, the biggest sky, wondering what is off at the end of the thin black ribbon that reaches to the horizon.

Full speed ahead.

Photo by Sheila Romane


One Response to “Return to a World of Blue: Ouray, CO”

  1. Looks cold, have fun 😉

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