Junior ice climbs during the Ouray Ice Festival in Colorado

Junior ice climbs during the Ouray Ice Festival in Colorado

Jacqueline Barr

Andrew Stewart climbs in the Ouray Ice Park  over  break


Junior Andrew Stewart ice climbs up a 100-foot wall of ice in the Ouray Ice Park, CO.
Junior Andrew Stewart ice-climbed in 20 degree weather over winter break in Ouray, CO.

Visiting family and friends in Colorado Springs, Stewart drove five hours to reach Ouray Colorado and the ice festival.

The Ouray Ice festival is held once a year from January 9-11 and orchestrates events and competitions. However, the time period of the year when people are able to come and climb is commonly referenced as part of the ice festival. 

Though the structure was manmade, Stewart was not able to simply start climbing on his first try.

"[The instructor] wanted [my dad and I] to get the right process of how to [climb] with our feet," Stewart said. "[When ice climbing] you want to have the sole of your foot below your toes which is different from when you normally climb."

The climbing walls are artificially made by releasing water from pipes that surround the canyon. At night, the water falls down and creates climbable ice in an outdoor environment.

"[The instructor] first had us climb an easy wall with no picks and just our crampons, which is really hard." Stewart said.  A crampon is a spike shaped tool that attaches to footwear and is used for gripping the ice during glacial climbing.

"We went across this bridge, and he dropped a rope over the top and then we went all the way down and then there was a 100 foot tall wall of ice we had to climb."

Stewart had some previous experience from climbing at the pinnacles, climbing walls, and at boy scout camp but he still had some apprehensions.

"When I first saw [the wall], it was pretty intimidating, but once I got on the ice I realized, it’s not that bad," Stewart said.

Stewart became interested in climbing at a young age.

"I remember going to  a birthday party when I was little and it was at a climbing wall and I really liked it and then when I say the [advertisement] in the magazine I thought this [sounds] pretty cool."

"It was an awesome experience," Stewart said.  "It’s something that I look forward to doing more of in the future."