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The Ouray Ice Festival Begins Today In Ouray, Colorado
Using ice axes in each hand and crampons on their boots, competitors will attempt to climb a variety of routes along a frozen waterfall located inside the Ice Park. They'll each be timed on how quickly they are able to finish their routes, with the fastest climber earning the victory. Considering there will be $16,000 of prize money up for grabs across several events and categories, you can bet the competition will be intense.
Ice climbing is certainly not for the faint of heart. It requires nerves of steel to take part in this sport, as climbers ascend nearly vertical sections of frozen water. They use specially designed climbing axes to chip into the ice, creating handholds they can use to lift themselves up. Meanwhile, the crampons on their boots can be kicked into the ice to create support that can be used to step up to higher levels. They complete the climb by pulling themselves up with the axes while kicking into the ice with their feet. The entire time they have to pay close attention to the ice to ensure it is solid and stable enough to continue along the route.
If you're interested in trying ice climbing for yourself, walk-up climbing is available at the Festival from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. starting today and running through the weekend. There are also a number of clinics designed to help hone your skills and a gear expo to show off the latest climbing equipment. Numerous competitions, film screenings, award ceremonies and other fun events will also take place over the course of the weekend, giving spectators a chance to learn more about the sport and the men and women who take part in it. For a complete schedule of events, click here.
[Photo Credit: Ouray Ice Park]