Monday 24 January 2011

Ecrin No-Ice Festival

Socialising at the Ice Festival - copyrigt Lukasz Warzecha
Well, the temperatures were not exactly ideal for the Ice Festival - in that it turned warm a few days before the festival started and continued to stay positively tropical throughout. Ice had well and truly melted. Luckily there is loads of dry-tooling around and about. Thank you to Lukasz for the photos - my camera decided it was a bit hot and tiny little flames came out of it!
The first day I went climbing with a couple of Spanish guys, Israel and his mate, we headed to an ice-mixed crag called Cervieres. We did a couple of mixed routes to start with and then I finished off with the classic ice route called L'Tube which was just about hanging in there.

copyright Lukasz Warzecha

Next day the Ice Festival was holding it's annual competition so with no real ice to climb I decided to join in and give it a go. We all headed off to a crag that had been drilled specifically for the competition, it even included a mini via-ferrata to get down to it. 8 qualifying routes were ready for us, ranging in grade from about M6 up to M10. Unfortunately a large contingent from Russia decided that it was alright for them to spend a whole lot longer on routes than anyone else, which meant it was really difficult to have a go at everything in the time allowed. I wasn't too worried as I'd only joined in for a bit of fun but quite a few folks were really unhappy. The finals were held in the evening at the main event venue on man-made structures. It was great to see Stephanie Maureau turn on the style and win the womens event. In the mens Alexey Tomolov, one of the team Russia from earlier in the day came out on top but was a less popular winner!  Also going on was a Big Air comp for the crazy skiers and boarders - those guys are mentalist! And a whole load of Vin Chaud was available to keep the spirits up. The evening then progressed onto the music and dancing. Check out the report and more photos from Lukasz Warzecha on Plant Fear, video coming soon.

Descending to the competition crag - copyright Lukasz Warzecha

At the event venue there were all kinds of stalls from the sponsors such as Petzl and Mountain Equipment who were by coincidence right next to each other which meant it was really easy for me to hang out and get some quality banter from both sides. Brilliant to catch up with them all and a special thank you to Mathieu Maynadier for the invitation and for sorting me out a place to stay with team Petzl. Thanks also to Arnaud, one of the Petzl engineers who happily drilled my new Nomics to make sure they couldn't have the grip rest failure problem.

To finish off my whirlwind trip to the Ecrin I went to visit some friends up in Puy St Vincent, Stew Rogers and Sam Lowe who put me up for a couple of nights - thank you! I managed to get rock climbing for a day with Bruce Pole at a local conglomerate crag, whose name escapes me! A conglomerate crag which has been covered in winter recently and hasn't been climbed on .......hmmmm,  now conglomerate is tricky enough to climb on when there is loads of chalk to show you the decent holds, with absolutely none it was desparate! I've only climbed on conglomerate a couple of times, once in Maple Canyon, Utah and at Moy Crag just outside Inverness. Both of these venues you use the pebbles to pull on, most of the time. At this crag you use the pockets left behind when the pebbles have come out. This sounds easier but the pebbles are really tiny and hence so are the pockets. After feeling around for the next pocket it seems almost impossible to find the one you've just taken your hand out of, as you can imagine I wasn't exactly putting in a stunning performance, but it was great to get some sunshine - we were climbing in t-shirts! 

I'm now back in UK and just arrived in Scotland for a couple of weeks. Working mostly, firstly for Mountain Equipment and then Plas y Brenin but hoping to squeeze something for myself in on my days off. Watch this space!


Lafouche said...

Hi Andy,
A bunch of shots from Cerviéres are on the Petzlsport flickr slideshow.


Morgan74 said...

The conglomerate is probably Mont Dauphin. Shame about the lack of ice.

Andy Turner said...

That's the place - Mount Dauphin! Thanks.