Tuesday, 23 January 2007

Ice Climbing World Cup - Italy

After 3 good days climbing at Ueshenen we headed for Val Daone hoping that the normally cold venue of the first leg of the Ice World Cup series would somehow manage to still have plenty of ice despite the warm temperatures elsewhere. 110 competitors were due to turn up for the biggest event ever.

Fiona Murray in the women's final -All Pictures Hot Aches Images

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.
Scotland's Kev Shields (right) during the qualification round

Hari Berger
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

Kev Shields
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 Shields on the second men's route

Kev receiving his medal (he didn't get a kiss from Barbara - to his eternal regret :)

Fiona Murray
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.

Fiona Murray shaking out during the qualification round

Comp Results
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.
Markus Bendler during the men's final

In the women’s event Jenny Lavada from Italy, an 8c sports climber, was well ahead of the rest of the field and topped out on both final routes. Last year’s leading female climbers faired less well, notably with Anna Torretta having a torrid time.

Jenny Lavarda

Full results here

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


James020 said...

A huge well done to everyone who took part, I was particually impressed by Kev Shields. Sorry to hear what happened to you hopefully you will have better luck next time.

I am still a newbie at outdoor climbing myself but hope to be able to get up there someday, Kev has given me the inspiration to work even harder.

Hot Aches said...

Thanks for your comments James. I thought that Kev's decision as a disabled person to enter the world cup was a very courageous decision. It is hard to imagine the barriers of self-doubt that need to be overcome, to believe that you can hold your own amongst the best in the world when you have such a significant obstacle. The work that Glagow Uni did for him, and many others, is truly life changing.
Dave B

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