The 10th Annual Kandersteg Ice Climbing Festival took place last weekend in the Ice Climbing Mecca Kandersteg, Switzerland in the Berner Oberland.
With 500 spectators on hand, the Festival was held in a new location this year, at the Kandersteg Rope Park just across the street from the Gemmi lodge. This crag provided the best available conditions for Ice and Mixed Climbing.
Brit Neil Gresham managed a respectable 8th place in the ice climbing competition. Talking to UKC he said:
"It was a bit of a surprise to find myself in the mixed comp at Kandersteg, having not used ice tools for over a year, but I felt in good shape and was pretty happy with how I performed. The qualifier was about M8/9 but you had to climb it very quickly.
I ran out of time just below the top, but managed to qualify for the semis along with eleven others. The next route was about M10/11 and a very different ball game: the hooks were all positive but they were miles apart and it was pretty steep. My lack of experience showed as I performed a series of awkward and slow fig 4s, whereas the guys who beat me saved time and energy by dyoning the lower moves; but I managed 9th nonetheless.
The final was a spectacular affair and it was great to witness the level that has been reached in this highly specialised division of climbing. No doubt, to win one of these events, you need to train specifically, but I'm definitely inspired to have another go next year."
With sub-freezing temperatures as cold as -10°c, some 80 participants showed up for the Dry-Tooling contest on Saturday. The spectacular Final under the floodlights was won by Israel Blanco from Spain, with second place going to Patrick Aufdenblatten of Switzerland and third place going to Albert Leichtfried of Austria. The Women's event was dominated by the Swiss; with Petra Müller in first place, followed by Felicitas Feller and Dalia Hamdy.
This was Petra Müller's fourth victory in Kandersteg; while last year's winner, Patrick Aufdenblatten, took on the podium for the third year in a row. The male competitors had to score well in an Open Qualification as well as the Semi-Final in order to reach the six-man Final. The 12 female competitors had to master one round of Qualifications before the Finals. The routes were set by Thomas Steinbrugger and Kurt Astner. Ice climbers from throughout Europe were among the participants, including some famous names from the ice climbing world cup scene.
The Workshops on Sunday were attended by approximately 50 enthusiastic participants, who tried their luck on the rock and ice, and received some helpful tips from the contest finalists and experienced ice climbers such as Simon and Samuel Anthamatten (CH), Dodo Kopold (SK), Klemen Preml (SI), Petra and Jack Müller (CH), Patrick Aufdenblatten (CH) and Matthias Scherer (DE).
The slide-shows presented on Friday and Saturday evening in the Kandersteg Congress Center were well-received by the approximately 300 spectators. The pioneer of the 'Saxon Switzerland' in Eastern Germany, Bernd Arnold, recited in his program about the history of his home-crag 'Elbsandstein' with insider information and deep historical knowledge. The young Slovak alpinist, Dodo Kopold stoked the crowd with his program 'Himalaya in Alpine Style' with photos and video from his bold ascents on 8000 meter peaks; as well as his training grounds in his home mountains, The High Tatras.
The Ice Climbing Festival in Kandersteg is respected as one of the top events of its kind in the Alps and is known as the international get-together of the Ice Climbing scene.
Main sponsors of this event are Arc'teryx, Bächli Bergsport, Black Diamond, Nokia and Lowa.
Partners of the event include Kandersteg Tourism, Destination Kandersteg, Sterling Rope, Klettern Magazine and Vertical Magazine.