22nd Annual Ouray Ice Festival Delivers the Stuff

Highlights and competition results from the 22nd annual Ouray Ice Festival.

By Francis Sanzaro and Harriet Ridley | January 23rd, 2017

Winner of the female mixed and speed events Ines Paper throws down a figure-four near the top of the dry tooling wall. Photo: Francis Sanzaro.


The 22nd annual Ouray Ice Festival has now come to a close. As expected, it was a raucous and well-attended event, replete with sponsor after-parties, slideshows, clinics, mixed and speed competitions, and other NSFW antics.

Held in January every year in the town of Ouray, which should be given the title of “hot tub capital of Colorado,” the festival is a long weekend for novice and pro ice climbers alike to celebrate the sport, take part in climbing clinics, demo the latest gear and apparel, and party like only climbers know how.


The mixed and speed competitions are the main events, and this year’s mixed event began with some techy dry tooling up a slightly overhanging face, only to finish on about 30 feet of figure-four inducing plastic. The routesetting was superb and complex. Each move, especially higher up, took on average 20 seconds for each climber to perform.


Men’s Elite Mixed Comp Results:

1st – Ryan Vachon (USA)

2nd – Nathan Kutcher (CAN)

3rd – Will Mayo (USA)


A psyched Marcus Garcia and his novelty-size prize for winning the men’s speed event. Photo: Jeff Reuppel, @jeffrueppel.

Women’s Elite Mixed Comp Results:

1st – Ines Papert (GER)

2nd – Sarah Heuniken (CAN)

3rd – Katie Bono (USA)


The speed competition followed some vertical to off-vertical ice near the mixed final’s route, and if you have never watched speed ice climbing, please do so. It is something to behold.


Women’s Speed Results:

1st – Ines Papert (GER)

2nd – Beth Goralski (USA)

3rd – Rebecca Lewis (CAN)


Men’s Speed Results:

1st – Marcus Garcia (USA)

2nd – Todd Felix (USA)

3rd – Xander Bianchi (USA)


Other headline events included two inspirational get-after-it slideshows, the first by Ines Papert (Friday) and second by Hayden Kennedy (Saturday). Both slideshows were fueled by free beer from Upslope. The full sponsor list can be found here, including Rock and Ice, the festival’s title media sponsor.

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