Ice Masters Bouldering World Cup

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Scott Muir - 13/04/2005

After last year's excitement at Sass Fee, taking part in the Ice world Championships, I wasn't entirely sure that competitions were my forte. Especially since I'd been disqualified for touching one of the red marker lines that I could have sworn wasn't there! But on play back I had obliterated it, Scottish style.

Never mind at least I'd done some climbing, unlike stories from the past where competitors have pulled onto the starting holds, blown off them, and sat back down on the ground, only to be disqualified immediately. A costly mistake if you've flown across the world!

Having not been entirely put off, I decided I'd try again. I didn't make it to Saas Fee, stupidly double booking a lecture the same weekend, which left Val Daone as the only other World Cup event on the Circuit this year. Situated only 2 hrs north of cheap air destination Milan and not far from Trento, Val Daone is a fantastic ice paradise worthy of a visit for the climbing alone, with over 165 Ice Falls in the one Valley, cheap accommodation and easy access. Built into the competition was an ice festival that continued into the following week and looked very busy.

Typically over the top, the competition was expertly executed and ran flawlessly from start to finish with a pomp and buzz that only the Italians could muster. They had almost every official and important person in the area speaking at the opening which at -10 dragged on forever, at least the bursts of regular clapping kept the frostbite at bay. The opening night was grand with fireworks, bands, traditional dancers, free meals and wine flowing and competitors marching to the main area in a procession with their countries flags blowing from a pole. All fantastic, but as a proud 'Jock' I did feel a bit resentful at representing a nation that does little to support climbers at events like this and climbing in general considering the success UK climbers have worldwide in comparison to higher profile sports.

The competition structure that they had built was absolutely unbelievable. The time and effort looked considerable and it had certainly paid off, as it was proving very difficult to stop everyone from jumping straight onto it. The atmosphere was excellent and music pumped all day from the speakers, which on the first problem were about 5 metres from my ears. I could only just think, never mind try to climb, and the other commentators kept calling me Scott Mooiier, which was amusing, but totally distracting.

The open went very well, but I was realising that my training had been very wrong and I was finding the 6 minute rests between the 3 problems too short to fully recover from a heinous pump. I had got really badly pumped on the first problem (each problem 6 minutes to complete) due to the late announcement of starting numbers so as third up, I had only 10 minutes to get booted and suited and had barely tied my laces when I was called up to climb totally cold. Not recovering at all, the last problem was a battle, as I couldn't even hold my tools when I left the ground, so god knows how I came so close to flashing it. I came in 15th which was good enough to go through to the Semi's the next day where the top 12 climbers from Saas Fee automatically qualified and went through, joining climbers from the open.

Evenings provided some good entertainment by way of lectures and music at the main tent in the village, but the locals in the Bar Centro were a piss laugh and great value for money. Isolation is more stressful than you'd think, especially when surrounded by some of the strongest mixed climbers in the world, but they are all pretty mellow and helpful. Appearing in front of a large crowd from isolation is another matter and suddenly all your power drains into your pants. It takes a minute to adjust, but the second your name is called and that screw gate closes, its animal instinct time and its like a complete out of body experience. I can't believe how much longer you can hold on and how loud your heart is, how rapid your breathing and how sharp the senses become.

Pace is vital, if you fall of you can try again, but in 6 minutes only one go is realistic, so selection of rests and precision is essential but hard to select when pumped and the clock is ticking. The horizontal roof was massive, the constantly overhanging legs of the central structure unrelenting with big moves between them and the crazy jump from one leg to another kept interest high and the crowd animated. It really is a fantastic spectator sport with totally unpredictable falls due to popping holds and ripped ice leaving the leading climbers in point losing situations.

The female competition was very tightly fought with Italian Jenny Lavarda, an exceptionally talented F8c Sport Climber and fellow Red Bull athlete taking part for the first time with tools and adapting so well to this type of competition. Whilst Ines Papert stayed cool, calm and maintained her almost flawless dominance of the female scene. Herbert Klammer won the finals but was beaten in the Superfinal's by a still on form Harry Berger.

The Final's and Super finals routes were insane and I definitely need to spend many more hours this summer training for next year if I ever stand a chance of catching up and competing well, but I'm not far away and the experience gained this year was invaluable coming in Joint 18th with the strong Urs Odermatt of Switzerland. Competitions are so difficult to train for, except by taking part in more competitions which in the ice scene is quite challenging for a Brit.

The organisers and volunteers were tremendous and the valley should be commended for the level of support committed to the competition and to the locals for making us feel so welcome. With over 40 male competitors and 30 female it was well attended by all nations, but it is still unbelievable that no other UK Climbers took part. Anyone interested in doing a few competitions next year should feel free to contact me for more info and advice.

Red Bull - Marmot - Simond - Kayland - Zero G - The Ice Factor - Life Link - Mad Rock

Womans Final Positions:

  1. Ines Papert - Germany
  2. Natalia Koulikova - Russia
  3. Jenny Lavarda - Italy
  4. Petra Muller - Switz
  5. Maria Shabalina - Russia

Mens Final Positions:

  1. Harald Berger - Austria
  2. Herbert Klammer - Italy
  3. Simon Wandeler - Switz
  4. Evgeny Krivosheytsev - Ukraine
  5. Mauro Bole - Italy
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