• TNB: Climbing's Big Mistake
  • TNB: Trad Dads and Dad Bods
  • TNB: Do the Right Thing
  • TNB: Big Wall Soloing Sustenance – Cookies vs. Bugs
  • TNB: When Your Rope Falls Off—and 5 Ways to Prevent the Nightmare
  • TNB: Before I Die - What Would Climbers Think?
  • TNB: Raphael Slawinski - Firsthand Account of Everest Earthquake
  • TNB: Point Break - Sharma, Andrada on the Big Screen
  • TNB: Muscle Shoals - Rock and Soul
  • TNB: Naked Soloist is Saner Than Me
  • TNB: The Hard Climb to Heaven
  • TNB: Summer Camp
  • TNB: Suicide in Our Sights
  • TNB: Ethan Pringle's 10 Tips for Sending Your Project
  • TNB: Hawaii Rocks - Totally Aloha
  • TNB: PointGate - Why Comp Climbing Is Not The Future
  • TNB: My First Epic
  • TNB: Eight Ways to Avoid Braking Bad - The Art of the Soft Catch
  • TNB: #Dawnwall and The Creation of Alex Honnlove
  • TNB: Vision Quest - Benji Fink and Mexico’s Steepest Big Wall
  • TNB: The New Dawn (Wall) of Climbing
  • TNB: The Top 5 Weekend Whippers of 2014 (Plus the Comments)
  • TNB: 10 Tips for Jolene Kay, Professional Climber (and Hot Actress)
  • TNB: The Story Behind the Craziest of Rescues
  • TNB: The Risk of Climbing
  • TNB: How to Get Stronger by Doing Nothing for 5 Minutes a Day
  • TNB: Eight Ways to Improve Your Footwork
  • TNB: In Praise of the Weekend Warrior
  • TNB: Joe Kinder Visits the World's Hardest Cave
  • TNB: Celebrating Insomnia in Chamonix
  • TNB: Run, Rabbit - Hermann Gollner, 71, Cranks Pump-O-Rama (5.13a)
  • TNB: Five Best Photos of 2014
  • TNB: Clip Like A Pro - 5 Tips from Sasha DiGiulian and Sean McColl
  • TNB: Five Things Every Gym Climber Must Know About Climbing Outside
  • TNB: Still Jeff Lowe
  • TNB: Moving Over Stone With Doug Robinson
  • TNB: Wheels Up—The Top 5 Climbing Rigs
  • TNB: Is K2 The New Everest?
  • TNB: Things—Besides Us, That Is—That Fall
  • TNB: When Homemade Gear Works, Sorta
  • TNB: The Outsiders
  • TNB: R.I.P. Homero Gutierrez Villarreal - The Padrino of El Potrero
  • TNB: A Short Talk with Sierra Blair-Coyle
  • TNB: Ian Dory, Ninja, or The Craziest Thing I Ever Seen
  • TNB: The Best Crag Dogs of All Time
  • TNB: 5 Ways to Make People Love Your Routes
  • TNB: Hudon and Jones, and Don't Forget It!
  • TNB: Climbing's Tribal Rites
  • TNB: Sasha DiGiulian and Alex Johnson On How to Be a Modern Pro
  • TNB: Is Dean Potter A Bad Father?
  • TNB: Silly Places We’ve Slept - Tales of Unplanned Bivies
  • TNB: Forgotten Hero - Frank Sacherer 1940-1978
  • TNB: The World-Class Weekend Warrior – Martin Keller Climbs V15
  • TNB: Everest Sherpas No Longer Willing to “Grin and Bear It”
  • TNB: Hardheaded Helmet Lesson Learned
  • TNB: Six Most Awesome Jobs for Climbers
  • TNB: The Coolest Climbing Deal Breaker
  • TNB: Sharma and Glowacz Send World’s Steepest Rock Climb
  • TNB: An Encounter with a Legend - Patrick Edlinger, Plus A Whipper Vid
  • TNB: Six Things Every Climber Should Do Before They Die
  • TNB: Falling from the Top
  • TNB: Weekend Whipper
  • TNB: Band of Crushers
  • TNB: Charlie Porter, We Hardly Knew You
  • TNB: Climbing's Greatest Route Names
  • TNB: Hot Women Die and Have Sex on Everest
  • TNB: The Great Tragedy at Carderock
  • TNB: Thoughts On Death, and Last Words
  • TNB: Climbing's Next Big Story
  • TNB: Next Level? Honnold Pushes the Game on El Sendero Luminoso
  • TNB: Jeff Lowe Invented the Sport
  • TNB: The Most Popular Weekend Whippers of the Year
  • TNB: If Ondra Isn't The Best Climber In The World, Who Is?
  • TNB: Storm Years or Typhoon? The Biggest Issue in Climbing
  • TNB: Jim Bridwell Speaks
  • TNB: Honnold's Biggest Solo
  • TNB: Death on Forbidden Peak - Was the NPS Complicit?
  • TNB: Ice Climbing Goes to Sochi Olympics
  • TNB: When Gear Attacks
  • TNB: 8a.nu: The Best Climber in the World is the One with the Most Points
  • TNB: Shutdown: Illegal Climbers in Yosemite—Ninjas or Criminals?
  • TNB: Who is the Best Climber in the World?
  • TNB: The New Courage in a Rucksack
  • TNB: Unsolved Mystery - The Ten Sleep Shooting
  • TNB: The Pad Problem - Honnold, Kehl on Headpoints and Highballs
  • TNB: Travels with Delaney Miller - National Champ Turns to Rock
  • TNB: Jail Food and Booty
  • TNB: Love on the Road
  • TNB: Is Pakistan Safe for Climbers?
  • TNB: Flash Floods, Climbers and How to Get Out of the Way
  • TNB: Climbing's Next Level
  • TNB: Best in Show - Brand New Gear from the Outdoor Retailer Show
  • TNB: Adam Ondra Ties the Knot
  • TNB: Under Pressure - Trotter and Honnold On How Bets Can Help You Send
  • TNB: The Tragedy of Tito Traversa
  • TNB: DR's Crazy Brain Puzzle. Get It Correct or Else.
  • TNB: What Happened To Climbing Films?
  • TNB: Cry of the Colorado Fussy Snivel
  • TNB: Mystery Solved!
  • TNB: The Mystery of Moses Tower - Help Answer a 25-Year-Old Question
  • TNB: No Such Luck
  • TNB: Erasing Midnight Lightning
  • TNB: Mayhem - Crawling, Balling & Brawling on the Evere$t Soap Opera
  • TNB: Watching the Boston Marathon
  • TNB: Chasing the Devil's Snort
  • TNB: Born-Again Gumby
  • TNB: Super Unknown - Austin Dark Horse Establishes 5.14d in Random Texas Cave
  • TNB: Fearless?
  • TNB: The Big Freaking Deal, Ain't Bouldering
  • TNB: Honnold's Achilles' Heel
  • TNB: He's Either Crazy or a Poet
  • TNB: The Fish Cheat and the Prince of Climbing
  • TNB: A Letter from Santa... I mean Sharma
  • TNB: Traveler's Advisory - El Potrero Chico, Mexico
  • TNB: A Year Ago - Athol
  • TNB: Gun Control
  • TNB: What's the Problem?
  • TNB: Derek Hersey's Magic Carpet
  • TNB: The Apprentices
  • TNB: The Jungle
  • TNB: Klem Loskot is Back Climbing V15 and 5.15
  • TNB: Eliminated
  • TNB: The Hurt Locker
  • TNB: The Perils of Sport Climbing
  • TNB: Baddest Climb of the Year
  • TNB: Crossfit Misfit
  • TNB: Eating People and the Real Seventh Summit
  • TNB: Bring It On, Bitch!
  • TNB: What Would Warren Harding Do?
  • TNB: The Curse Of The Bandit
  • TNB: Reality Pro
  • TNB: Chris Sharma and The Art of Jeep Maintenance
  • TNB: American Dirtbag
  • TNB: How Not To Climb 5.12
  • TNB: Project FAIL
  • TNB: The Backwards Future of Climbing
  • TNB: The Death of Progress
  • TNB: The Da Vinci CO
  • TNB: The Philosopher King
  • TNB: Spam Alert
  • TNB: Bad Genes - The Different Types of Gumbies
  • TNB: Mouth Wide Shut
  • TNB: Outside Reality
  • TNB: The Day I Saved Jésus
  • TNB: My Pad, Your Problem
  • TNB: House Rules
  • TNB: Five Things I Don't Hate About Climbing
  • TNB: Metro-Pointing
  • TNB: Beast in the East
  • TNB: Artificial Intelligence
  • TNB: To Boldly Go Sprad Climbing
  • TNB: Self-Destruction
  • TNB: Soul Sport
  • TNB: Nine Pitches
  • Video Spotlight
    FOREVER – It Ain’t Over ‘til It’s Over
    FOREVER – It Ain’t Over ‘til It’s Over
    Whipper of the Month
    Weekend Whipper: Chris Sharma's 100-foot Pont d’Arc Deep Water Solo
    Weekend Whipper: Chris Sharma's 100-foot Pont d’Arc Deep Water Solo

    TNB: Ice Climbing Goes to Sochi Olympics


    Gord McArthur at a World Cup in Rabenstein, Italy. Photo by Alexey Dengin.Last May, in a secret ballot in St. Petersburg, Russia, sport climbing got axed out of consideration for the 2020 Olympics. Baseball, wrestling and squash proceeded along with all their agitating believers, and in September an IOC session in Buenos Aires slammed wrestling into the sole open slot. Climbing had been one of eight sports short-listed for inclusion. At least we didn’t lose to wushu, another contender, since I don’t even know what it is.

    What you may not know is that climbing HAS been to the Olympics, and it will again. Ha! Soon.

    In 2006 Emily Harrington, who won the Serre Chevalier Masters Championship that year, served as a USA Athlete Representative for a sport-climbing event during the Winter Olympic Games in Torino, Italy. Also invited were Vadim Vinokur and, from Canada, Mike Doyle.

    This February, up to seven North Americans are off to Sochi for ice climbing—in a “cultural demonstration,” whatever that may be.

    The N.A. invitees are: Kendra Stritch, a Minnesotan living in Calgary, Alberta; Marc Beverly, Albuquerque (American team organizer); and Aaron Montgomery, Broomfield, Colorado; with Jen Olson and Sarah Hueniken of Canmore, Alberta; Gordon McArthur of Canbrook, British Columbia; and Nathan Kutcher of Saint Catharines, Ontario, for Canada.

    The UIAA website reads, "[A]thletes from UIAA member federations will participate in the two-week-long festival in Sochi that occurs at the same time as the Winter Olympics."

    Urs Stoecker, the UIAA Ice Climbing president, adjusted this year’s competition calendar “to ensure that athletes would be able to participate in the Sochi Winter Olympics festivities in Russia between 7-23 February 2014.” The site gives the UIAA’s vision that Sochi could help pave the way toward Olympic inclusion.

    Granted, no one seems quite to know what the ice climbers will be doing, at least yet.

    Kendra Stritch in the semi-finals at the Rabenstein, Italy, World Cup in 2013.  Photo by Nathan Kutcher.Kendra Stritch produces at least some information. “We will be doing lead and speed demonstrations,” she says, “and also teaching clinics on their ice wall for a few days.” Lead and speed are the two competition formats.

    From Aaron Montgomery: “To my understanding, they are going to build a structure and the athletes will basically be required to climb on it (not a bad requirement) and to demo the sport by showing people the ins and outs of it. I do not think there will be any organized competition.”

    Jen Olson, though, finds it hard to imagine there wouldn’t be. “The Russians dominate,” she says good-humoredly. “They’re really good at the sport. They’re going to want to show everyone that!”


    * * *


    I once participated in a demonstration event on a rock-climbing wall at the Atlanta Super Show, billed as the world's biggest sporting-goods trade fair. For a daily fee some four or five of us women wore Danskin clothing and climbed and belayed the same 5.10 route, all day every day. Other than that we hung around a lot, chatted, took turns fetching lunch.

    That, though, was no Olympics. Being next door to the Games is a lot different from being next door to a motorboat display, beside which girls in bikinis stood stock-still for hours, which looked like far harder work than ours.

    The Olympics may give ice/mixed climbing—especially today’s athletic, colorful sport—a visibility it’s never had before. Creative coursesetters long ago shucked the idea of simulating nature, and now launch the adept climbers up artificial walls to wrench and jump around on hanging cylinders and geometric figures as well as icicles.

    Marc Beverly makes a good case for the sport’s potential broad appeal and ability to keep spectators “on the edge of their seats.”

    “The difficulty competition does not allow for a long decision process, it forces the climbers to move. The falls are sometimes impressive and unexpected … Speed is exciting as it is a head-to-head competition (sudden death style).”


    Jen Olson (leading) and Greg Boswell on the <em>Gargoyle Wall</em>, Ben Nevis, Scotland. Photo by James Dunn.Vadim Vinokur recalls that Turin was “pretty unstructured,” with bouldering walls erected in a local gym “so that people could watch us session.”

    “It was good fun,” he recalls, “just to hang out and climb with my friends from other national teams. We stayed at a hotel apart from the Olympic athletes but in the same town. I ran into Shaun White before his first Olympic gold. They also arranged tickets for us to watch men's half-pipe finals. All in all, it was a good experience …. picking up some Olympic exposure for climbers and for the sport.”

    I have known people who got to go to the Olympics as athletes, translators, as film crew; one was a horse trainer, another the Canadian speed-skating team doctor. Ten snow-sport athletes from my area are currently vying to get to Sochi. Who wouldn’t want to go to any Olympics?

    Marc Beverly says, “Representing the USA in Sochi is a huge deal to me. I'm standing on my mentors’ shoulders, [those of] Jeff Lowe and Craig Luebben, and get to pass the torch on to the next generation to represent at the Olympics in the future. It's a very exciting time for ice climbing.”

    Hope springs eternal for some climbing, any climbing, someday to become part of the Olympics. Gord McArthur has said in an interview that ice climbing could be considered as a medal sport, "perhaps even as early as 2018, in Korea." Why the heck not?


    * * *

    Meanwhile, get psyched for the season. This year’s ice comp at the December 13 to 15 Bozeman Ice Festival is the North American Championship, with dreams of morphing into a World Cup next year. World Cup events will follow in South Korea, Romania, Switzerland, France, Italy and Ufa, Russia. North American ice festivals are thriving. Ice fests began in 1984 with the Valdez Ice Festival, at which all 50 attendees stayed at Andy Embick’s (brave soul) house. The Ouray Ice Festival, brainchild of Jeff Lowe, has exploded, drawing some 3,000 attendees, even as the area ice park has recharged the town of Ouray the way mountain biking did for Moab. Other friendly, fun, exciting, beer- and hot-chocolate-offering festivals are festooned across the United States and Canada. See our list and info below.

    If we have neglected any events, please fill in below, in the comments field. Are you going to any? Which ones and why are they your picks?

    Portland Alpine Festival, OR, 11/11/2013 - 11/16/2013, http://portlandalpinefest.org/
    Arc'teryx Bozeman Ice Festival, MT, 12/11/2013 - 12/15/2013, http://www.bozemanicefest.com/
    Sandstone Ice Festival, MN, 12/13/2013 - 12/16/2013, http://www.sandstoneicefest.com/
    Ouray Ice Festival, CO, 01/09/2014 - 01/12/2014, http://ourayicepark.com/ice-festival/
    MCA (Mountaineering Club of Alaska) Ice Festival, AK, 01/09/2014 - 01/12/2014, http://www.mtnclubak.org/index.cfm/What-We-Do/MCA-Training/MCA-Ice-Climbing-Festival
    Ice Magic Festival, Banff, AB, CAN, 01/16/2014 - 01/26/2014, http://www.banfflakelouise.com/Area-Events/Festivals/Winter/SnowDays/Ice-Magic-Festival
    Adirondack International Mountaineering Festival 2014, NY, 01/18/2014 - 01/20/2014
    Smuggs Ice Bash, Smuggler's Notch, VT, 01/24/2014 - 01/26/2014, http://www.smuggsicebash.com/
    Michigan Ice Fest, MI, 01/30/2014 - 02/02/2014, http://www.michiganicefest.com/
    Mount Washington Valley Ice Fest, NH, 01/31/2014 - 02/02/2014, http://www.mwv-icefest.com/
    MEC Canmore Ice Festival, Banff, AB, CAN, 01/31/2014 - 02/02/2014, http://events.mec.ca/event/9634/mec-ice-climbing-festival
    Cody Ice Climbing Festival, WY, Presidents' Day Weekend, http://www.southforkice.com/
    Lake City Ice Festival, CO, 2/8/2014, 01/24/2014 - 01/26/2014, http://www.lakecityiceclimbs.com/icefestival.html; https://www.facebook.com/lakecityiceclimbs
    Nordegg's Tri Ice A Thon, Nordegg, AB, CAN, 02/22/2014 - 02/24/2014, http://www.coe.ca/icefest; http://events.mec.ca/node/2319
    Nipigon Ice Fest, Nipigon, ON, CAN, 02/28/14 - 03/02/2014, http://www.nipigonicefest.com/

    Reader's Commentary:

    Don't want to use Facebook, but still want to comment? We have you covered:

    Add Your Comments to this article: