Colorado Ice Climbing: Ouray Ice Fest redux

It was Buster's 14th season being at the Ouray Ice Fest. He wanted to compete this year, but was not selected.

"It is a very competitive event, with several climbers flew in from Europe this year to have a chance at this year’s larger purse. The silver lining was that some of my friends, including fellow Alpine Mentors participant Marianne were accepted. Also, Vince Anderson, the route setter for the comp, was psyched to have me along with the other non-competing AM participants to forerun the comp route. I found the mixed rock and ice climbing to be a breeze, but discovered I have much to learn about climbing dangling logs."

- Buster


Getting the word out

Friday night we were at the Outdoor Gear Fair at the Community Center in Ouray. Many of the festival-goers dropped by for the free beer and to check out the latest in climbing gear, and the latest in non-profit organizations!


The lucky winners of our raffle were:

  • Alpine Mentors T-Shirt: Corrin L.
  • Alpine Mentors Mug: Curtis R.
  • Defiant Bean Fever Coffe: Sveinn S. As Sveinn is from Iceland, and had already returned home when we had the drawing, he donated his present. Thanks!


Alpine Mentors' Team and Eva at the Ouray Community Center
Eva, Colin, Buster and Steven (f.l.t.r.)

Marianne competing in the Ouray Ice Fest

Marianne placed second behind Ines Papert in the Elite Comp at the Ouray Ice Fest 2013. Here is her report:


"The whole week in Ouray I kept on waking up, nervous for the upcoming competition. On the final day that Saturday I actually felt pretty ok. Although I had the worst warm-up ever, but with the -27C I was feeling pretty fine.


In Ouray I was happy to have climbed some quite hard things in the ice-park and at the new crag, The Hall of Justice. Several M10's onsights, M11+ onsight, M9's onsight and all that without getting severely pumped! 
I knew I was in shape and I knew I could do much more.


On the competition route, I felt fine in the first bit. I couldn't get my axe out of the wooden log and couldn't figure the next move properly. Getting confused even more with the dangling chain around my shoulder I made a mistake: I thought it would be better not to kick my feet in the log as it was so hard to get my axes out, I reached for the next hold after the first "fixed ice axe" my feet popped off and out of the competion... I was fairly disappointed there. Not just because I figured it wouldnt be enough for the first place, but more because I really wanted to climb that route. 

Vince Anderson and the whole team had put SO much effort in making that route there! And yes, as Steve said afterwards, I would have been happy only if I'd beaten Jeff Mercier, the overall winner.
He was right.


I'm a climber, preferably an outdoor climber. And outdoor stuff like rock and ice doesn't care if you're a man or a woman. I mean: the ice is not going to form any easier when it sees that you're a woman trying to climb up..."


Doing the homework, planning the training

Sunday evening before three of our group embarked upon a six hour drive across Colorado, we met to go through everyone's training plans for the next two months. I was happy to answer lots of questions, as that's the key to learning. 

I encouraged everyone to make sure they started doing the strength training routine I had developed for myself several years ago. Strength training is often overlooked by climbers who worry about getting too heavy, but done right there are huge benefits in getting stronger for alpine climbing.

We also reviewed the three basic tenets of training consistency, modulation. It's important to practice all three of these to get the most out of your training: 


  • Consistency means maintaining a regular schedule of training.
  • Gradualness means to slowly and deliberately increase the training load.
  • Modulation is to cycle training stress with periods of rest.


Each of them now has a plan that includes 10 to 14 hours of workouts each week. These hours will include throwing weights around the gym, chucking laps at the crag and long days of hiking/skiing uphill. 

Funky stuff: You better love Euro-dance music

The guys gave Marianne plenty of grief about Euro-dance music; for this video she found an extra nice specimen of this genre. Enjoy the vibe!

Some impressions

More pix to come...