“It’s looking good,” Eddy said on Tuesday, Dec. 28. “It was 15 degrees here this morning. By next week we should have the majority of the park open. Maybe even 100 percent open.”
With warm weather hindering their efforts for most of December, the Park had been forced to close for safety reasons, then reopened last weekend with just two climbing areas open, the Kids Wall and the School Room.
But, chief icemaker Mike Bryson reported on Tuesday, he and his crew “made good ice last night.” And, with even colder temperatures forecast, including possible below-zero lows this weekend, “we might run water 24 hours a day” leading up to the 16th annual Ice Festival, Jan. 6-9.
Eddy reported the competition route is already looking good. “We need to bring in a little more ice there. But it looks like it’ll be a stellar route.” The mixed rock-and-ice competition route is in the same place this year as last: on the overhanging west side of the gorge just below the Upper (Yankee Boy Road) Bridge. “It [the comp route] should be in by Friday,” Eddy said.
The longest-running ice festival in North America serves as a benefit for the Ice Park, which derives 70 percent of its operating budget from the festival. The Park charges no admission fees.
Highlights on tap for this year’s several thousand attendees, in addition to the dramatic competition on Saturday, include a special showing of Conrad Anker’s new movie, The Wildest Dream, about his search for George Mallory’s remains on Mount Everest.
The Kids Climbing College returns. As well as various dinners and auctions, all of which benefit the Park and the Ouray Volunteer Fire Department.
So, as the locals say, get your axe in gear. “Like Mike (Bryson), I’m keeping my fingers crossed,” Eddy said.