-By Dawn Glanc
I am a year round resident of Ouray, Colorado. I feel very lucky to live and work in such a beautiful place. Throughout the year I see the tourists come and go as the seasons change. The summer and winter tourism traffic drives the economy of this otherwise sleepy old mining town. With out this influx of visitors, Ouray would be a ghost town.
The types of visitors that travel to Ouray come from all walks of life. Summer tourism is typically more motor-driven activities. The winter traffic is revolves around human driven activity. The two populations could not be more opposite. I personally enjoy the energy that the winter guests bring. The vibe is so unique in its own burly way, and the ice festival crowd is no exception.
[The magical town of Ouray, Colorado. Photo by Dawn Glanc]
The Ouray Ice Park is a city owned park that is free to the public. There is an operating budget for the park that needs to be raised each year, and the ice festival is the event that generates a good portion of the revenue. The ice festival is a basically a big party held each year to promote the park as much as possible. This party and the Ice Park really matters to the city of Ouray and to the outdoor industry as a whole, so everyone goes all out to make the event great.
Right now in town you can feel the pre-party buzz. The festival in some way effects everyone, so it feels as if the entire town is preparing for the big event. Local storefronts are hanging decorations and “Welcome Ice Climbers” signs. Vendors are shipping boxes full of demo gear. Athletes are beginning to trickle in from all over the globe. Restaurants and breweries are bracing for the starving climbers. The excitement in the air rivals that of Christmas Eve.
For me I am excited to see the town flood with more than 1,000 climbers. It is so great to feel the excitement and passion that we all share for ice climbing. The collective psyche radiates through the streets. I am always so overwhelmed to see so many people who love ice climbing. It is this magical transformation of our quiet little town that I look forward to each year. This is going to be another great festival I am sure.
Learn more about the Ouray Ice Festival and Ice Park here.