If you’ve never watched a mixed/ice climbing competition, you should. “But it sounds about as exciting as filing my taxes!” you protest. “They’re just flailing those tools around trying to stick them into stuff over and over” OK, sure, it’s a circus act, but there is a high-stakes athleticism at play as these climbers swing their very sharp-picked tools and scrabble for purchase with their very sharp-pointed crampons. Sometimes, they even swing at artificial holds and bizarre Cirque du Soleil contraptions like hanging, swinging logs, then pretzel themselves into improbable figure 4, figure 9, Steinpull (upside-down ice axe), and other futuristic maneuvers. It’s crazy and pointless, and crazy-pointless, but fun in a terrifying-monkey-bars sort of way.
There’s been a mixed competition at the annual Ouray Ice Festival for years. While this climber here is just styling one of the water-ice climbs and isn’t on the mixed comp wall they bolt to the cliff top, he’s surely thinking of the gnar—dreaming of all those sweet, fake, gold-painted dangly logs