Ice climbing can be a fickle sport. A lot of climbs take the right mix of moisture and cold temperatures to reliably form. When it works out, it can be incredibly fun.
One of my favorite local climbs is Avocado Gully, a climb I’ve done dozens and dozens of times. Unlike the reliable conditions in Rifle Mountain Park, Avocado is a climb that is more demanding for the right mix of proper conditions to come into good shape.
Many locals discuss what it is that makes Avocado happen and this year I’ve had the opportunity to climb Avocado three weeks in a row and experience firsthand. Hence, here’s a look at what’s happened in the past three weeks with weather, snowfall and the condition of the climb. At the bottom you can see a look at the month’s temperatures and snowfall.
On January 7 we were just warming up after a long spell of cold temperatures during the holiday season. Consequently, Avocado started to get climbed around the start of the new year. On the 7th, it was in fairly typical thin shape and somewhat heady with “airy” ice and far from being fat and fully formed. I had people predicting that the warm temperatures, close to 50 degrees for a high in Glenwood, would leave Avocado a stream within days.
Instead of a stream, Avocado was in even better shape the following week. Pictured below on January 14th, the climb was dripping wet but the ice didn’t have the “airy” feel from the week prior. You can see more ice on the upper left which actually turned out to be very thin and not very useable.
Next week, the 21st, Avocado was in the best shape it’s been in all year. The day was cold so the climb wasn’t wet at all. The warm temperatures from the weekend before seemed to only help it grow and the ice was solid and well formed.
In conclusion, it’s interesting to see how snowfall and temperatures can affect a climb. In the case of Avocado, it’s been the view of many locals that it needs snowfall with relatively warm temperatures to create adequate snowmelt to create good ice growth. This year, we are lacking on the snowfall but our warm temperatures have at least been good to generate some growth out of the little bit of snowfall we’ve had. That was certainly evident on the 21st when you could literally see where the ice had formed out of the snow.
As usual, have fun and be safe out there! And, let us know if we can help, 970-319-0656.