MichaelgSeamans's Blog

Illiterate ramblings from a photographer.

Two Climbers, Two Feet and Two Mountains: The Beginning

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Chad Jukes belays his climbing partner, Chad Butrick during a day in the Ouray Ice Park on Feb. 17, 2010.

Welcome back to another installment of borderline illiterate word-smithing by a photographer. In this week’s blog, I have included HTML links to provide background information where I thought might be helpful. And since this is a photo blog, I will try to be lighter on the words and heavier on the images. So, check out the gallery at the bottom of the page.

I’m excited to get everyone up to speed on the progress of the two Chads’ pursuit to be the first disabled climbers to climb, unassisted Shaken Not Stirred and Ham and Eggs on the Moose’s Tooth and the North Coulior on Mini Moonflower in the Alaska Range. Now, with about 20 days of shooting downloaded to the hard drive; it’s time to start sharing!

On Feb 8, 2010, Chad Jukes and Chad Butrick met to climb together for the first time in the Ouray Ice Park. The Ice Park is the perfect training ground for ice climbers. It boasts nearly 200 routes, all a hop, skip and jump from the parking lot. This  provides easy access for climbers to practice skills and techniques at all difficulty levels. Ouray’s location also makes the tiny town a hub for climbers to access back country ice climbing routes in the San Juan Mountains. One day a climber can top rope on steep hard ice in the Ice Park and the next day that same climber could be climbing long routes in the back country of the San Juans. All this within eye sight of the nearest watering hole. It truly is a climber’s paradise.

Chad Butrick practices his climbing technique in the Ouray Ice Park on Feb.11, 2010.

Chad Jukes, 25, is an experienced rock climber. He began ice climbing two years ago during a trip to the Gimps on Ice Festival in Ouray. Since then he’s been hooked. His first multi-pitch ice route was the well known Bridal Veil Falls in Telluride that Jukes climbed with Erik Weihnmayer in 2008.

Chad Butrick, 33, has a mountaineering background with experience in rock climbing. He has climbed 47 of the 53 fourteen thousand foot peaks in Colorado over 150 times. There is a breadth of climbing experience between the two climbers. The goal for the two Chads’  is to get on, and stay on, the same page.

Chad Jukes leads the first pitch of Horsetail Falls on Red Mountain Pass on Feb. 18, 2010. The first pitch is the crux pitch at a difficulty of WI-4.

Chad Butrick plunges his ice tool in to the snow as he tops out the fourth and final pitch of Horsetail Falls on Red Mountain Pass south of Ouray, Colo., on Feb. 18, 2010.

Juke’s and Butrick’s first couple of days consisted mostly of rope soloing and top roping on mellow terrain in the Ice Park. As the first week melted away into the second, the climbers ratcheted up the workouts going every day, from sun up, to sun down.

The Ice Park is great for  many reasons. A climber can climb many laps in the Park, honing skills through repetition such as efficiently swinging ice tools and fine tuning foot work with prosthetic limbs. And because of the Park’s easy accessibility, routes can be broken up in to multiple pitches to practice the technical aspects of climbing  like building belay stations and lead swings. The very skills needed to tackle any back country climbing route in the mountains.

The pinnacle of the training culminated on a back country climb on Red Mountain Pass named Horsetail Falls. Horsetail Falls is a moderate WI-4(Water Ice) ice route, four pitches in length and approximately 500 feet long. A pitch is approximately one rope length (rope length is 60 meters or approximately 200 feet). Not every pitch is a full rope length, however.

Mark Miller, a senior guide for San Juan Mountain Guides and one of the founders of the non profit organization, Amped Outdoors, describes success on these Alaska routes in terms of speed and efficiency. Make efficient lead changes and belay changes, reduce time where you can because an extra five or ten minutes at every pitch on Mini Moonflower, which is 14 in case you were wondering, really adds up. Speed and efficiency will make the difference in whether or not you reach the top. Motivation for the Chads’ to work hard and stay focused. And of course team building sessions at O’Brien’s Pub and the Ourayle House Brewery over malted beverages never hurts either.

Stay tuned for Gimps on Ice March 12-14, 2010,  from the Ouray Ice Park.

All images are copyright by Michael G. Seamans. Any other use is prohibited without written permission.

Written by michael G. Seamans

March 7, 2010 at 8:46 am

6 Responses

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  1. The photos just keeping better and better. I’m really getting a glimpse of the Chads’ determination as they prepare for the trip. I don’t want to be on that ice though Mike, but you’re putting me there in this report.

    Rich Abrahamson

    March 7, 2010 at 9:43 am

  2. Great blog and great photos Mike!! Lookin forward to meeting up in Ouray this week!

    The Chads

    March 7, 2010 at 10:26 am

  3. […] to follow the epic journey Two Climbers, Two Feet and Two Mountains. The story of two disabled climbers’ pursuit to climb three technical routes in the Ruth […]

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