X Games Ice Climbing
Ice Climbing
'97 Ouray Ice Festival
Cruising the Zodiac
Chamonix: To Climb
or Not to Climb

Twight's New Route
Oregon's Smith Rock

1999 Ouray Ice Festival: Ouray, Colorado

click to zoom
The 1999 Arctic Wolf Ouray Ice Festival was a rendezvous for ice climbers and enthusiasts from around the world, including beginners trying out new techniques, pros fresh from the Winter X Games, and over 40 vendors displaying and demoing the latest gear.

In Saturday's second annual ice exhibition both men and women competed on a route of pure ice and pre-fabricated mixed rock. At stake, a week's vacation for two in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, which inspired a fierce competition.

Will Gadd, fresh from his Thursday victory in the men's difficulty ice climbing competition at the X Games, climbed past the sixth clip on the men's mixed route, "Titanic", M9, and made the highest mark among his 12 competitors. Figure fours, heel hooks, and a lot of spectacular falls left the rest of the men disappointed.

"Figure fours, heel hooks, and a lot of spectacular falls left the rest of the men disappointed..."

On the pure ice route, it was Bruno Sourzac of France who dominated the competition. Scoring 73 out of 100 points, Bruno ascended a fragile overhanging ice curtain with grace and efficiency while the spectators were shaking their heads. Although he fell low on the difficulty route, Sourzac won the overall event and is now dreaming about Cabo, where the only ice will be a sculpture in the punch bowl.

click to zoom
Saturday night, a crew of drag queens introduced Himalayan climbing veteran Carlos Buhler, who presented a slideshow. Stevie Haston, Jim Donini, Travis Spitzer, Allison Smith, and Kristin Carpenter, and I, along with Buhler, strutted onto stage in mini-skirts, make-up, and fish-net stockings. This definitely got the crowd, already inebriated from free kegs of beer, rolling.

On Sunday, just a day after the X Games, Lizz Grenard, who took 9th there, and X Games champ Kim Csizmazia, dominated the women's mixed route. Grenard went up to the ice curtain and with just three minutes left fell just short of the top with a 25 foot whipper!

Csizmazia climbed strong. A figure four in the middle of the route put her on the ice curtain, but she ran out of time just a few minutes before reaching the top. She was the only woman to finish the route and thus became the 1998 overall winner.

click to zoom
After a long busy weekend with over 400 people milling about, Ouray and the Uncompahgre Gorge Ice Park has again settled down to their regular pace. The huge crowds were welcome and the events went on without a hitch. Once again Jeff Lowe put on a great event and is already putting together even greater plans for next year.

Jared Ogden, Mountain Zone Correspondent

[ Home] [Climbing Home]