Photographer: Ouray Ice Festival

An incredible weekend in the heart of the climbing community

The 22. Ouray Ice Festival

Thanks to my long-standing partner LOWA I have been able to visit Ouray every January since 2005. Ouray is a small town about 3000 meters above sea level in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Each year an event take place in Ouray that has yet to meet its match: The Ouray Ice Festival. From January 19th to 22nd things got wild. The worldwide ice climbing community, from ambitious novice to pro-ice-climber, met here. Thousands of cheerful folks made their way to Ouray for the weekend. You could feel the passion for frozen water everywhere! At the coffee shop during breakfast, at the material check-out of the supporting companies, during the workshops, at the presentations and even in the hot springs. It's was just amazing how everyone here lives for ice climbing.

As I walked through the streets of Ouray everyone greeted me like an old friend. Some participants of my clinics return every year and are happy about helpful hints at my "Moderate Mixed Climbing Clinic" or my "Advanced Ice Climbing Clinic." I'm just as happy to see old and new friends each year again. The open-mindedness of the Americans is awesome and I seldom look into so many smartphones for selfies.

I was able to give my presentation on "Riders on the Storm" at the opening of the Ouray Ice Festival. My listeners were really enthusiastic about it and I was able to capture the audience of hundreds of people and take them with me on my journey to the Torres del Paine despite my bad jetlag. I was really excited about the many compliments I received and I was totally psyched about the show being full to the last inch.

My talks are a wonderful possibility for me to inspire people. This, to me, is another dimension of mountaineering. Which is pretty useless except for oneself. That's why I try to share my experiences. I want to let my audience know that it's not about what we do or how it is we do. It's about finding our goals and pursuing them with determination. Of course failing is part of it. I've been able to profit the most from failed experiences. As an alpinist and as a person in my "normal" life. So it made me especially happy to be able to speak in front of such an enthusiastic crowd.

Of course competitions belong to the Ouray Ice Festival just like the presentations, clinics and parties. There are two comps: the mixed climbing comp and the speed climbing comp. For me it was not given that I would be able to stand on the podium twice. I decided on a life as an alpinist years ago and turned my back on competitions. But things in Ouray are a little different. The good vibes, the great audience, the awesome route, the amazing community. Ouray just lit up my competitive spirits again! I had so much fun climbing the routes!

Another highlight of the yet young year has come to an end. Many ideas were exchanged and plans were made for future expeditions. I am so thankful to be part of this community.

Thank you OURAY!