Ines Papert navigates dangling ice tools, chains and foam blocks on the final, overhanging wall of the 2013 Ouray Elite Mixed Climbing Competition on Saturday. Papert won the women’s division, finishing 9th overall, while Simon Duverney took the men’s division. [Photo] Claire Hay
The Elite Mixed Climbing Competition at the 2013 Ouray Ice Festival opened under clear but frigid skies, with a characteristically challenging route. In recent years, the route setters have favored natural terrain, only including artificial components that closely imitate natural features. This year, however, the route focused more on man-made construction than Mother Nature.
The route was, in a word, pumpy. Competitors were given 12 minutes to complete the route, which started with about 75 feet of drytooling that lead to a short ice shelf. From the ice shelf, the route climbed a vertically hanging log, then through a 30-foot overhanging wall with dangling ice tool holds, chains and two foam blocks. The top chains could only be reached by hanging onto a ball at the end of a rope, delivering one last blow to the competitors’ forearms.
The first several climbers shed their gloves as they made their way up the rock and into the sun–Ines Papert even brought her chalk bag up with her–but temperatures dropped dramatically as the competition wore on. Most climbers had little trouble making it through the drytooling and onto the ice shelf. However, transitioning from the vertical log to the overhanging wall proved to be the biggest struggle of the day. Many climbers showed visible fatigue on the log, stopping for several minutes with their legs wrapped around it to shake out their arms.
Jeff Mercier, the second climber of the day, reached the top of the route with 35 seconds to spare. Having a climber top out that early in the competition made the top chains seem attainable, but only one other climber, Simon Duverney, made it to the top by the end of the day. Duverney, who took third place in last year’s competition, bested Mercier’s time by three and a half minutes to take the win.
Ines Papert claimed the women’s title, making a comeback after her absence from the past several competitions in Ouray. Papert made it halfway up the overhanging wall before falling with less than one minute left on the clock. Emily Harrington, the 2012 women’s winner, finished third in the women’s division after struggling with the transition from the log onto the wall and falling with 90 seconds to go.
Van Der Steen, Marianne
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