Over the weekend of January 12-13, 2013, the promotion team and Petzl Team climbers took off to take part in multiple ice climbing events across the planet. Of note were Ice Climbing Ecrins in the Hautes-Alpes region of France, the Ouray Ice Festival and its Elite Mixed Comp in Colorado, the Ice Climbing World Cup in South Korea, and the Youth World Championships in Saas Grund, Swizterland.
Ice Climbing Ecrins, France
The 23rd edition of the Ice Climbing Ecrins festival took place from January 10th to 13th, in the Hautes-Alpes region of the French Alps. Among the 250 participants a solid group of sport climbers from Team Petzl took on the challenge, looking forward to learning the ins and outs of ice climbing and dry tooling. During the nighttime final Nina Caprez took second place, and Slovenian mixed specialist, Luka Lindic, came in third.
- Final Results Dry Tooling - Men
1. Koren DEJAN
2. Jessy PIVIER
3. Luka Lindic - Petzl Team
- Final Results Dry Tooling - Women
1. Stephanie MOREAU
2. Nina CAPREZ - Petzl Team
3. Marjorie JUAREZ
For complete results: www.ice-climbing-ecrins.com
We took advantage of the opportunity to interview Enzo Oddo, since this event was his very first ice climbing experience.
Petzl: Had you ever gone ice climbing before?
Enzo: Never! This was the very first time.
Petzl: What prompted you to come to Ice Climbing Ecrins?
Enzo: Some of Petzl Team's rock climbers were planning to make the trip, and it was the perfect opportunity for me to try the sport.
Petzl: So, what is your first impression?
Enzo: It's awesome!!! I really enjoyed climbing up ice using ice axes and crampons; frozen water is truly an amazing substance. I didn't like dry tooling as much, it's very physical, although it's amusing trying to hang on to a tiny hold with the pick of an ice axe. It's great training for mixed climbing, but not an end in itself.
Petzl: How did you adapt your skills as a rock climber to the ice?
Enzo: I was a total beginner! Though I quickly figured out how to swing an axe, reading the ice is complex, as is learning how to relax.
Petzl: you started right away by leading your first ice climb, how did it feel placing an ice screw with just one hand?
Enzo: First you need to figure out where to place the screw and pay careful attention not to drop it before it's screwed far enough into the ice. I was a bit sketched; it's not so easy to anticipate where you need to place an ice screw and then to position yourself right so as to both place the screw at hip level while keeping the other arm straight. I all too often placed a screw with my arms bent.
Petzl: Did you trust your ice axe and crampon placements?
Enzo: Definitely much more ice climbing than when dry tooling! Nevertheless, on one of the routes I did not swing hard enough, so had a week placement and right when I started to place my first ice screw my tool pulled and I fell two meters into the creek below, but completely unhurt!
Petzl: Do you have other projects?
Enzo: Marcos Costa and I plan on staying a few more days in the area to get the hang of ice climbing. Afterwards, I'd like to start climbing ice gullies in the high mountains, but that's another story.
We were also able to meet up with Marcos Costa, a Team Petzl climber who's originally from Brazil, but who currently resides in China.
Petzl: Was this the first time you've come to the Ecrins Mountains to go ice climbing?
Marcos: Yes, and this is also my first trip to Europe.
Petzl: Where do you usually go ice climbing?
Marcos: Not in my home country; there's no ice in Brazil! At the moment I live in China and I regularly travel to the Sichuan province.
Petzl: Is there a difference between the ice in France and the ice in China?
Marcos: Absolutely none, it's all just frozen water! In China access is a bit more complicated; ice climbing in the Sichuan province is a seven hour drive from the city, in a very isolated region. There is a wide range of ice climbs, from one-pitch tubes to 800 meter-high gullies.
Petzl: Are there many ice climbers in China?
Marcos: Not really. During my first trip to China I only met two or three other ice climbers. Today, there are few more but it's still a very small community. They for the most part only climb ice; dry tooling routes are non-existent. I tried dry tooling today and it's much more physical than I thought. The moves are appealing, and it's a great way to stay in shape during the winter.
Petzl: Do the Chinese have any ice climbing events?
Marcos: Last January I went to an event but it just wasn't the same, with no gear to test, no workshops and just climbers. It would be great to see events like this one start to develop in China.
Petzl: How long will you stay in the Alps?
Marcos: I've planned to stay for just over a month to ice climb.
Ouray Ice Festival, Colorado, USA
At the very same time in Colorado (USA), the Ouray Ice Festival took place, with Gordon McArthur, Jeff Mercier, Marianne Vandersteen, Emily Harrington, Simon Duvernay and Caroline George in attendance. The unique aspect of the event is the canyon where a man-made irrigation system provides for copious amounts of ice. The Elite Mixed Climbing Comp takes place every year during the festival, with the routes first starting up natural rock and ice, and then topping out on a man-made structure. Simon Duvernay won the comp, with Jeff Mercier taking second place and Gordon finishing fifth. In the women's category, Marianne Vandersteen finished second, with Emily Harrington right behind in third.
A few questions for Marianne Vandersteen:
Petzl: Why did you choose to come to Ouray?
Marianne: I came to the USA in October to participate in Steve House's Alpine Mentor Program. That's when I heard about the Ouray Ice Festival, but wasn't sure that I would be able to make it. In the end chossing between spending 10 days climbing in Colorado or a week traveling for only two days of climbing at the Ice Climbing World Cup in South Korea was easy. I chose Ouray of course!
Petzl: Congratulations on finishing second. Did you show up in great shape?
Marianne: Just prior to the competition I could feel that I was in much better shape than last year, effortlessly onsighting M10 and M11 routes. The high point for Ines Papert and I ended up being the same exact hold, so time determined who placed first. She climbed quicker than I did, so won the competition. During my stay I onsighted all the competition routes from years past, and was also able to climb the classic ice route, “Highway to Hell.” For me, climbing is more than just a passion and has been a full-time commitment for the last year and a half. My side job is as a work-at-height trainer for Petzl's Benelux distributor. This allows a lot of flexibility in my schedule and I'm grateful for that.
News and slideshow at www.petzl.com
Video of Simon Duvernay in the finals, by Rock and Ice
Youth World Championships
At the Youth World Ice Climbing Championships in Saas Grund, Switzerland, Octave Garbolino, from the French Alpine Club's National Junior Ice Climbing Team, took second place.
For the full news (in French) head to www.ffcam.fr
Ice Climbing World Cup in South Korea
Dennis Van Hoek ended up being the only Western Europe to attend the event, finishing 14th. On January 18th and 19th, the second stage of the Ice Climbing World Cup will take place in Saas Fee, Switzlerand, where a mass of Team Petzl athletes will compete, including Gordon Mac Arthur, Marianne Vandersteen, Dennis Van Hoek, Octave Garbolino, Andy Turner...
Results and live streaming video at www.theuiaa.org
Products used for ice climbing