OURAY - Dawn Glanc was hoping to repeat. The Ouray resident, who was 2009 Ouray Ice Festival women's champion, was gearing up for her climb.
Did Glanc, an experienced ice climber, perhaps have some butterflies?
“Yes," she said. “Lots of them."
Glanc was one of 24 competitors at the 15th annual Ouray Ice Festival. Climbers descend into deep ravines and slowly climb up, using ice axes and crampons.
Every competitor climbs the same route, about 100 feet up a wall of ice. Climbers have 20 minutes to advance as far as they can.
“The goal is to get to the top," Glanc said. “Not everybody does."
As the climbers methodically worked their way up masses of icicles in Ouray's Box Canyon, fans watching from bridges cheered them on.
Besides the competitions, the ice festival hosted children's and adult ice-climbing clinics, 50 vendors' tents and an estimated 5,000 spectators. Live music, a film and a superhero party were scheduled for Saturday night.
Jeff Lowe, a renowned mountaineer, started the Ouray Ice Festival 15 years ago.
“People just showed up and climbed," said director Erin Eddy.
Since then, the ice festival “has become an international type of event," Eddy said.
But it is the competition, bringing climbers from around the world, that is the festival's centerpiece.
“This is the biggest and best ice festival that's held in the United States," said Glanc. “All the other ice festivals try to be like this one."
The crowds of novices far outnumbered the competitors.
Mike Young of Abilene, Texas, arrived at the ice festival by happenstance.
“We were on a road trip through Arizona and Utah, and we heard about it in Flagstaff and thought we would check it out," Young said. “We're trying the Easy Ice clinic."
Young was impressed by the atmosphere.
“I might just have to move here," he said.
Another novice climber, Sheldon Kerr, was trying out her new gear.
“I'm a new kid on the ice scene," she said. “I've been climbing for a total of about 10 days."
Kerr recently moved from Haines, Alaska, to Silverton, where she works as a Silverton Mountain ski guide.
“I bought myself a set-up, made some friends and now I climb three days a week," she said.
Eddy said the festival is particularly proud of the kids clinics that each year teach about 200 children the rudiments of ice climbing.
“That's really developed over the years," he said.
Josh Wharton of Rifle repeated Saturday as men's champion. Ines Papert of Germany won the women's division.
As for Glanc, she did not repeat as champion but finished in third place in the women's competition.
“That's pretty darn good," she said. “I'm pretty happy with that."
Monday, January 11, 2010
AAI guide Dawn Glanc took third in the Ouray Ice Festival over the weekend. Following is an article by Chuck Slothower about the event from the Durango Herald. To see the original article, click here.
Posted by American Alpine Institute at 11:30 AM