Ken Papaleo: X Marks the Shot: Ouray Ice Park Photos - Ouray, Colorado

Ouray Ice Park Photos - Ouray, Colorado

                                                   “X Shot” Information
                                            Camera - Canon- EOS Mark III
                                            ISO - 400
                                            Lens - Canon- 500 mm
                                            F/stop - 8
                                            Shutter - 1/500 sec

Arriving at the Ouray Ice Park at 8:30 am, I parked my jeep at the upper lot and headed to the park. Ouray Ice Park is a unique ice climbing area in Box Canyon. In 1994 a group of local climbers decide to spray water over the edge of the canyon, hoping to make ice on previously empty walls. What they created was gorgeous strong blue ice. It worked so well that in 1997 the area officially became Ouray Ice Park and started to attract world class climbers. I decided to bring my 500 mm lens on my Canon EOS Mark III on a mono pod and my 70 - 200 zoom on my Canon EOS 5D. While walking to an area called the Upper Bridge, I heard a scraping sound coming from the parking lot behind me and took a look. A climber was clearing snow off the roof of his camper, making a nice shot. I then continued to my destination and noticed the sun was just starting to hit two sections of ice. Using my 500 mm lens I was able to stack up the sun lit edges with a climber in the foreground. What I didn’t realize then was, that became my “X Shot”. The rest of the day was spent moving around the park trying to get good angles of the climbers. The biggest problem was, if you are not a climber, you can’t go into the area where they secure their ropes to the top of the ice falls. So I used my 500 mm lens most of the time, switching to my 70 - 200 zoom occasionally, just to change the perspective of things. If you go to take pictures make sure you have some long glass. The sun hit first around 8:30 am and moved around the park until it disappeared around 3 pm. Climbing continues up to dusk when the park is closed and the water spraying system is turned on for the night.

                  “X Shot” Location Information
1. Drive time from Denver to Ouray is about 6 hours.
2. Take Hwy. 550 south out of Montrose to Ouray.
3. Go all the way through town and up the hill until you       
    come to Camp Bird Road on the right. Just before
    this turn is the lower parking lot. To get to the upper
    lot, turn right on Camp Bird Rd, go up a short distance
    and the lot is on your left before the bridge.
4. Wear good boots for walking in the snow. The paths
    you can use to observe the climbers are usually snow
    covered and can be slippery in spots.

Ken Papaleo
Colorado Photography

All photographs for sale, contact e-mail address below


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Evergreen, Colorado, United States
I worked for the Rocky Mountain News for 28 years, until they went out of business. I now do freelance work, post this weekly blog, ski and play with my four grand children. I still have the love to get out and take photographs, which brings me great peace and comfort.

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