Evgeny Kryvosheytsev in a series of acrobatic moves on the “diving board” at the 2008 Ouray Ice Festival final, January 12. His ice tools unexpectedly popped from the upper hold moments after. Note the clock: Kryvosheytsev reached the “diving board” in under eight minutes, the quickest time by far; he placed third. [Photo] Erik Lambert
Some of the world’s best ice climbers descended on Ouray, Colorado for the 13th annual Ouray Ice Festival this weekend, January 9-13, 2008. Nearly fifty open competitors endeavored to climb an “ice curtain traverse” in the preliminary round, January 9-10, vying for a spot in the final round, January 12. Five women and twelve men advanced. Ines Papert won the women’s title, and Jeff Mercier eked out the overall win upon completing an impressive 4-foot drytool dyno.
Mercier, who has taken 12th place at the Ice World Cup, placed third in the qualifier behind strongwoman Papert and last year’s Ouray Ice Festival dominator, Evgeny Kryvosheytsev of Ukraine. (Read the January 14, 2007 NewsWire for last year’s report.)
This year’s finals route involved five distinct sections of climbing in a single, long pitch. An easy ice slab led competitors to the first challenge: a 60-foot section of overhanging rock; drytooling up solid flakes and traversing on horizontal seams. Those who made it to the third section, a crescent-shaped ice chunk, quickly entered the final man-made sections. These involved balancing across two “tuna rolls,” wooden cylinders hanging from chains, and powering through the “diving board,” a plywood plank with increasingly sparse climbing holds, overhanging by 42 degrees. It only allowed passage to Mercier.
It took Mercier 19:02 of climbing to reach the top–yanking on his tools to make the all-points-off move–barely within the twenty-minute time limit.
Papert nearly bested Mercier, as she reached the last move with more than six minutes to spare. Over and over she attempted to stretch to the top from a figure-four. Exhausted after a number of close attempts, Papert’s final burst of energy wasn’t quite enough to hook the top.
She described the route as varied, powerful and sustained: “That’s why I liked the climb,” she said. “There were nice hooks [in the rock section] and nice climbing [throughout], but maybe the last move was too long!”
Three other climbers–Krivosheitsev, Boris Bihler and Carlos Garcia Bello–made it halfway up the diving board, just shy of the final move. After reaching that point in an unprecedented eight minutes, Krivosheitsev’s tools unexpectedly popped off a hold. Bihler fell at the same spot with four minutes remaining; Garcia Bello climbed solid throughout, but ran out of time.
Jeff Lowe, renowned alpinist and progenitor of the Ouray Ice Park, said that the competition was enjoyable to watch, especially because the routesetters were able to “create a route that separates out the best climbers.”
Perhaps the greatest acclamation was not for the top-finishers but for Will Mayo then Rich Marshall, who each dropped a tool while climbing the “tuna rolls.” Unwilling to relent they each continued to climb with a single tool, encouraged by the crowd. When the announcer asked Marshall if he was trying to outdo Mayo, Marshall responded: “It looked like [the route] would be easier to climb with one tool. It’s a strategy I developed last night.”
“[The Ouray Ice Festival] is always a great time,” said Papert, who took a break from competition last year to spend more time with her son. “I will come back next year and the year after that. The spirit of community is fantastic–nothing in Europe compares.”
Jeff Mercier cruising the mixed section en route to a first place finish. [Photo] Erik Lambert
Ines Papert clipping the last bolt before the “diving board.” Papert placed second overall, narrowly missing first when a long reach stymied her on the final move. [Photo] Erik Lambert
2008 Combined Results
1) Jeff Mercier (France): TOP OUT
2) Ines Papert (f-Germany): 37 zones
3) Evgeny Kryvosheytsev (Ukraine): 36
4) Boris Bihler (France): 35
5) Carlos Garcia Bello (Spain): 35
6) Rich Marshall (Canada):33
7) Audrey Gariepy (f-Canada): 28
8) Will Mayo (US): 27.5
9) Manuel Cordova (Spain): 27
10) Michael Shelton (US): 18.1
11) Matthieu Audibert (Canada): 18
12) Rob Cordery-Cotter (US): 18
13) Tanja Grmovsek (f-Slovenia): 18
14) Guy Lacelle (Canada): 17
15) Maxime Turgeon (Canada): 12
16) Dawn Glanc (f-US): 12
17) Kristie Arend (f-US): 11