This year the Ouray Ice Festival was a total blast!!!!
Great times teaching clinics, seeing friends from all over the globe, and the challenge of the competitions were the highlights on this year's festival.
I look forward to this event, year after year. Training hard, I put major focus on fitness to perform at a high level in the biggest ice climbing competition in the country.
The OIF has two competitions: Difficulty and Speed.
On the difficulty competition we had to climb about 20 feet of ice followed by an M9 rock route, over an ice bulge, in order to get to the final structure. This is where very difficult and powerful climbing had to be done in order to finish the route. I was feeling very strong, and with plenty fuel in the tank after reaching the structure I made a technical mistake and one of my ice axes fell off. Leaving me with only one tool. I fought toughly to climb with only one, but the steepness of the terrain did not allow me to continue without my other axe. Meanwhile, the crowd cheered me on for my solid effort and good show. Better luck next year!!!!
The next day (Sunday) was the Speed comp. I was totally focused, and after studying the course I had a plan.
The Speed comp consists of two steep ice routes. The goal is to climb both routes as fast as possible and the total combined time will give the result. You also go head to head with other competitor.
The time had come, it was my turn. I tied into the rope, waited for the sign of the judges, and there I went climbing as fast and efficient as I could. i remember thinking after i finish the first route, "man I climbed fast that route" the belayers lowered me down to the ground. The other competitor had not finished the route which gave me an extra few seconds to rest besides, the 60 seconds allowed. He finished the route, got lowered down. We rested for bit longer and it was time for the next heat. On the second route i focused my energy on climbing as fastest as I could. Basically full throttle. My heart is pumping really fast, but my eyes stayed focused on the goal of reaching the top of the route as fast as possible. It was a surreal time until the sound of the bell from my ice axe hitting the metal wok me up.
I had finished both routes. After all the competitors (20 men and 6 women) had the opportunity to go it was time for the judges to pull the times and get the result. At the award ceremony, not knowing my name was going to be called for first place in the mens division, it was a great surprise, and an awesome feeling standing on the highest step of the podium, along with two of the best competitors in the world Jeff Mercier from France, and Mauro Dorigatti from Italy. Many hours of hard training had paid off and a dream had come true. Can't wait for next year's Ouray ice festival.