Monday By Mateo: The Ouray Ice Park

Not all things manmade are automatically bad. Take the Ouray Ice Park aka the Uncompaghre River Gorge above Ouray, Colorado. Taking advantage of Ouray’s high elevation (7,800 feet) and steep, Alps-like surrounding peaks that keep the valley in invernal shadow, the locals have turned this box canyon into an ice-climber’s paradise, with over 200 frozen waterfall and mixed climbs—all “farmed” using hoses and pipes running off a water pipe above. As legend has it, it all began with the San Juans climber James Burwick aka “Bobo,” who back in the early 1980s peered into the gorge upstream of the Camp Bird Road only to see an 80-foot frozen waterfall where the pipe had sprung a leak. Light bulb! 
We all love our natural playgrounds, but in some cases people can do just as good. Frozen water is just frozen water, after all. Does it really matter how it gets there, as long as we get to climb it?

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