Monday, 29 December 2014

Bozeman IWC

The Ice Climbing World Cup at the Bozeman Ice Festival was pretty exciting. I made semi finals again no problem by climbing both preliminary routes to the top. There were two routes, Routes A an B and everyone got to try climbing both. Both routes were very straight forward on good holds with reasonably sized moves. Getting to the top was more a matter of hanging on and climbing efficiently. Route A was on a shorter wall and had slightly more technical and powerful moves. Route B was taller and climbed out onto the boom and the "Montana Cowbell", a box hanging from the boom. Prelims were open format, meaning there was a forerunner who climbed the route for demonstration, and competitors were free to watch others as they climbed. This format is a lot of fun because you don't need to sit in isolation for hours and hours, and you can watch your friends climb.
We have the technology! Neil with the Dremel for sharpening our picks.
Topping out the A route in the preliminary.

Route B

Semi finals were on the second day. The format was with isolation so we couldn't see ho others climbed the route and we were only allowed seven minutes to preview the route. After the preview, I was a bit nervous. From the ground it looked very difficult. The holds looked very technical, and the moves looked huge!! The semi finals route went a little better than I thought it would, but not as well as I would have liked or could have done.

Starting up the Semi Final route

Because the wall was so short, the holds were made to be very difficult to use. My ice tool slid off the first hold as I took it, but I caught myself and it held better the second time. After the first couple short moves it was mostly big moves on highly technical holds, requiring a lot of precision coupled with strength.

Getting ready for the first difficult move.
Aiming for one of three shallow divots in a small metal plate embedded in the plastic hold.
I fell off almost halfway up the route. There was a long move off a very bad hold and while I read the move the correct way at first I didn't get the push I needed to get the far away hold. I changed tactics and tried the move in a more dynamic manor and my pick skated off the hold I was leaving just before the leading pick caught the hold I was going for.
Another big move off a terrible hold.

Leaving a "good" hold for another skatey metal plate hold.

Getting near my high point. The next move was to the grey hold on the left side.

I finished 2nd in the North American Championship and 11th overall for the IWC competition. This has been my best finish yet and I feel like I'm still making progress.   I'm excited for the folloowing five competitions. The next is in two weeks at Cheongsong Korea.

Top N.Americans L to R: Ryan Vachon 3rd, Gordon McArthur 1st, Nathan Kutcher 2nd

I'm super proud of my Team Ontario who represented all of Eastern Canada. They have worked really hard and made big improvements since I started working with them. All are all hoping to do at least one more IWC competition somewhere else around the world this winter.
Neil Gowan, Nathan, Rebecca Lewis, Stephanie Mahallati

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Its been a busy past few weeks. After getting back from out west we made a quick trip to St. Alban, Quebec. Last year I climbed the three hardest routes on the first afternoon we were there and I thought it would be great to add another harder route to the area. After contacting a few people I had permission to equip a new line at the cliff. On the Saturday morning of our visit I bolted my new route and then climbed it later in the afternoon. I named it "First Blood" and its a little harder than the other routes at the cliff.

Rebecca climbing at St.Alban.
First Blood


 We have been in Bozeman for the last week. I was hoping to finish off a couple routes at the Bingo Cave, but the warm temperatures made it very difficult. The rock for almost all the routes needs to be frozen together making them unclimbable. Fortunately I was able to climb one of the routes I wanted to do. Northwest Passage is one of the more difficult routes in Hyalite Canyon and I'm excited to have been able to do it my first try.

Tomorrow (Fri 12th) the Bozeman World Cup competition starts. It will be live steamed at