As it turned out the ice structure was in good shape, right up until the morning of the mens qualification. Then the temperature rose to +18c and warm strong winds devastated the prospect of climbing much on the ice. So instead the organisers bit the bullet, reduced the number of qualifying routes and got an army or joiners out to transform the structure into a huge dry-tooling wall. – Not as good as normal, but at least they managed to still stage a good event.
Hari’s absence this year was so noticeable, having dominated the event for the last three years. He was remembered by a film presentation, and hopefully a considerable amount of money was raised for his family.
Hari Berger winning the Ice Climbing World Cup, Norway 2006
Scotland’s Kev Shields climbed remarkably well in his first international competition, finishing in 34th place out of about 85 men. Remarkable because Kev has no left hand and is only able to use an ice axe with a prosthetic attachment developed by Glasgow University Prosthetics Department and with support from Black Diamond. Despite the prosthetic he is still at a major disadvantage by not being able to swap axes and use other techniques. Kev’s achievement certainly impressed the organisers as well as other competitors and he was awarded him a medal for achievement!
Kev receiving his medal (he didn't get a kiss from Barbara - to his eternal regret :)
Fiona was in good form and continues to improve. In the qualifying round she was timed out one move from the top on the first route, and did fine on the second to qualify for the finals in 6th place. Called “mama” by the other women climbers on account of being almost double the age of some of them (she’ll kill me when she reads this) she didn't climb as well in the final and finished in 8th spot.
The men’s event was dominated by the usual suspects. There are about 6 men, all of whom are capable of winning on their day. This time Markus Bendler pipped Simon Wandeler courtesy of an out-of-bounds decision that I thought was a bad call.
I had a terrible comp myself, although my exit was a bit ‘Peter Sellers-esque’; a third of the way up the route an advertising hoarding cut loose in the wind and engulfed me. I spent a minute or so hanging upside down trying to get the damn thing off me, getting more and more pumped. When I was finally free I moved onto the next bollard only to realise I’d left an axe on the previous one. No way back!
Still, it’s been a good week for all, good routes ticked and a lot of good photographs too. Now I’m back in the UK and this week will be route-setting for The UK Ice and Mixed Climbing Championships hosted at The Ice Factor next weekend