Report from December 29th, 2020
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Lake City is a small town in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. In the winter, the town is known for ice climbing, its local ski hill, and backcountry access. Lake City is in Hinsdale County with a population of 387 people. In the summertime, Lake City is a popular destination for peak bagging, 4×4 vehicles, rock climbing, scenic drives, and more.
Lake City Ice Park is just outside of the historic downtown and is made with piped-in water. The park is maintained by the city, free to the public, and has a season from December to March. The main park has 10-15 routes, bolted anchors, and mixed grades from WI3-WI5. Pitches are 60-100 feet and may require extensions – so be prepared with multiple ropes!
This season, a new section of ice park has been added about a quarter-mile down the road from the main park. The new section nearly doubles the park in size, routes, and difficulty. The park now has a total of 20-30 routes with a significant amount of more difficult routes added. Both sections of the park have small parking areas and outhouses.
To access the ice, you will have to cross a small frozen river and follow a small access trail up to the top of the park. The access trail is marked with orange surveyors flagging on the lookers right and side of the park. The new section of the park does not have bolted anchors, but there are plenty of trees to use as anchors. If you have a 70-meter rope, you will not need to extend your anchor over the edge. Although, I would still recommend a second rope to extend your anchor from the trees.
At the new park, you will find hoses with running water at the top. You can redirect them, turn them down, but do not turn them off. Going through the water is quick, but be sure to be wearing a water-resistant layer. If you are not quick, you can get soaked.
If you are experienced and the ice park isn’t quite enough, there are several natural ice climbs in the area. Sherman Falls WI2-WI4 four-pitch climb south of Lake City. Clear Creek Falls is a single pitch WI3-WI4 waterfall also south of Lake City, about halfway to Creede on Highway 149. Be sure to check out Mountain Project for more beta on these climbs.