I suppose some people might consider the Ouray Ice Park the Disneyland of ice climbing because the approach is not one scattered with the ghosts of climbers past, but I love the Ice Park. My friends and I only get to climb ice once or twice a year so we like to fit in as much climbing and vacation into one giant but time-off-from-work friendly package.
Outside of the madness of trying to climb during Ice Fest, the park is generally not overly crowded and the people you run across there are friendly. The routes vary in difficulty from schoolroomesque beginners level difficulty in the Schoolroom section to more difficult seasoned climber difficulty in the mixed or lead only sections.
My first visit to Ice Fest and the park was in 2001 and back then, it was much easier to enjoy being a climber and also watching the real climbers compete. The last Ice Fest I attended, the crowds had grown (hooray for your success), but because of that, it was harder to find a place to run a rope for our group of four. That said, if you are near the Park during Ice Fest, it is worth a visit to watch and share some climbing lifestyle!
The park is free but there are some rules and if you are unexperienced as a climber or moving on ice you should consider hiring a guide. The cliffs are indeed cliffs and a fall is indeed a fall. Be smart, be safe and have fun!
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