Colorado is off again to another very dry and slow start to the winter season. However, that doesn’t mean that there is nothing to do out in the mountains. In fact, with the sunny and mild days right now, things would be downright perfect for outdoor enthusiasts if we weren’t all impatiently awaiting the arrival of Ullr and winter to sustain us through the cold and dark season for the next few months.
If one looks beyond the general lack of the fluffy white stuff in Colorado, they find that in fact it is prime time for downright anything outdoor enthusiast oriented. The mountain biking at local Hartman Rocks is still good and dry; sunny days are bringing comfortable rock-climbing conditions in local Taylor Canyon for a few hours mid-day; there is groomed skiing under bright blue skies to be had at local Crested Butte Mountain Resort; some adventurous and fit locals have been finding “pretty darn good” powder turns up high deep in the Crested Butte back-country; the ice skating on Long Lake is “all-time”, and of course the ice climbing in IN !
Colorado is home to great ice climbing. After all it is home to the world-famous Ouray Ice Park. Crested Butte, however, has never been known as an ice climbing haven, as the usual early season storms, copious back-country snowfall, and surrounding terrain make for one of the best back-country ski touring venues on the planet….not so with ice climbing. However, the rare cold, dry starts to winter around here, do in fact bring about some rare and ephemeral early-season alpine ice climbs that are scattered throughout the surroundings mountains.
And although not world-class or destination worthy, they are none-the-less, high quality climbs in a gorgeous mountain/wilderness setting with little to no one else around. So while, everyone else is on-line with various social media networks posting their grumblings about a lackluster start to the winter season here in Colorado, we’ve been out enjoying some pretty darn good ice climbing conditions in our backyard, and are equally as excited by the actual good quality of the ice we have, coupled with the enjoyment we get in experiencing a rare and fleeting thing in the Crested Butte back-country…ice climbing season.
And when winter finally arrives for good, which it always does and will for sure do, we’ll head back to our favorite and dependable climbing venues a bit farther from home in Lake City, CO and the Ouray Ice Park, but until then you will find us just out the backdoor.
And by the way…..believe it or not, despite what it may seem, the back-country skiing and riding is actually pretty good right now; if you know where to go and have an extra lung to bring along to help get there. It’s just not the world-class, right out the backdoor type conditions we are used to…..that has been given temporary status to the area’s ice climbing.
— Jayson Simons-Jones (Owner/Guide) Crested Butte Mountain Guides
Photo Credits: Jayson Simons-Jones, Evan Ross
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