This year, my dear friend Karen Williams flew out from California to go to Ouray with us. She arrived on Wednesday while we were attending Phoebe’s learning fair, so her friend Zazou picked her up from the airport and drove her to our house. She survived a night on our futon, and in the morning she was cheerful about watching terrible cartoons with the children. I got up early and went for a run before packing up the car for the trip. Dave had a work phone meeting, so he went to the coffee shop, and we all piled into Cherry Blaze to go and meet him. Alas, when I pressed the starter button, the engine wouldn’t turn over. Dave came back and disassembled the battery while we watched some more terrible cartoons. He went out to the auto parts store, bought a new battery, and installed it. Then we all piled back into the car and went to get some burritos for breakfast. It was snowing like the dickens when we headed out, which meant it was going to be a long drive. Hero Dave drove the whole way, often in blowing snow, and it only took us 7.5 hours, including stops.
We unloaded the car at Alpenglow Condo #6 and went out for dinner—Karen stayed behind because she hadn’t been feeling well throughout the car ride. Poor thing! The Gribbles enjoyed a delicious dinner at the Ouray Brewery. I had something called the loaded bowl: quinoa tossed with sauteed spinach and mushrooms and topped with sweet potato crisps, house-made romesco sauce, fresh avacado, and a fried egg. Yum! We all went to bed pretty early that night, worn out from the drive.
In the morning on Friday, Dave and I went out reasonably early to find a climb. We got a cup of coffee at Mouse’s and walked up the hill. After checking out a few things at the tents, we hiked up to South Park and were actually able to find a spot a few showerheads from the downclimb. One of the things I love best about the climbing in Ouray is the walk from town up to the climbs. It’s so strenuous and familiar, thudding through the snow in my heavy plastic books. I’ve seen the same scenery so many times, and it’s so beautiful every time. I know where all the little hills are, and the new outhouse, and the ladder over the pipe. Our climb was fairly easy, which was a nice reintroduction to waterfall ice. Dave and I each climbed twice, and then we packed up; we had promised to be back at the condo for lunch.
Karen and I went to the grocery store to get some lunch food and supplies for breakfast, lunch, and dinner the next day. We made some sandwiches and had a few chips and vegetables.
That afternoon, we went down to the hot springs pool for a couple of hours. They did quite a bit of work on it during the past year; it was wonderful before, but now it’s just amazing. After the hot springs, we had dinner at the Outlaw; I look forward to it all year, but Phoebe always complains that it’s creepy in there. I managed to enjoy my 6-oz. filet despite her disapproval. (The kids ate spaghetti.) We went back to the room for a little while before Karen, Phoebe, and I went to hear a DJ and then a roundtable being given by four women climbers and mountaineers to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the climbing school Chicks with Picks.
The next morning, Dave and I left about half an hour earlier to try to get an even better climb than the day before. We took the bus that runs during the festival and hiked straight up to South Park. We were indeed early enough, and we got a terrific climb; there was a good place to stand to belay, and we could attempt a couple of different routes on the same rope. Being earlier, it was a bit colder, but when a couple of guys asked if they could hop on our rope, of course we said sure. I assumed they’d be very good climbers and sprint up, but they took their time while I froze. I was starting to feel somewhat miserable when, lo and behold! The sun came out. My temperature and my mood both warmed right up, and we had a great morning of climbing.
We got back to the condo at noon and had some lunch with Karen and the kids. Then we all bundled up and took the school bus up to the lower bridge. We watched some of the climbing competition, checked out the gear tents, and moseyed up to the upper bridge, but Phoebe decided she wasn’t up for climbing with the Kids Climbing School this year. It was a great day to be out, and we saw some incredible climbing in the competition!
Back at the condo, we made spaghetti for dinner and Karen and I took the kids to the hot springs pool while Dave went to hear Marcus Garcia and Nick Bullock give presentations. We spent one more night in town and headed home in the morning. The drive was easy, and we got Karen back to Zazou’s house in Boulder just as it was getting dark. Another amazing Ouray Ice Festival in the books!
Phoebe promised to put together a presentation for her class, so I helped with the slide show while she wrote an account of the trip, which follows.