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Mixing things up

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An Adventure Pro staffer working out the kinks on a dry tool route in the Ouray Ice Park, one of the few routes in the park not made of 100 percent ice. Photo- Bee Alaine Mathis

The Ouray Ice Park is a natural canyon that has been made into a public ice climbing arena. It could be one of the coolest things in the world, according to many climbers. Free to anyone who chooses to drop in.

People come for all over the world to step up to the ice – or rock- to get the best of man made and manicured water ice conditions. About 200 climbing routes exist in the park, maintained by a crew of ice farmers- staff who work all hours of the day and often night to keep the ice in tip top shape. Using overflow water from a nearby municipal reservoir, the farmers have mastered an art by constructing an outdoor extreme plumbing system that carries some 250,000 gallons of water to the canyon each night to be sprayed delicately – and at the right temperatures – resulting in the best ice around.

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