The Elite Mixed Competition originally started by Jeff Lowe has historically been a wild, world-class event! This year our own San Juan Mountain Guides’ Andres Marin joined Vince Anderson for setting the Elite Mixed Competition route. After having participated as a competitor in World Cup Climbing Competitions and in this same event for years, Andres got to put a touch of his style into the setting of the route. We asked Andres a few questions about what it was like behind the scenes.
Q. How does the Elite Mixed Climbing Competition compare to the World Cup?
A. The Ouray Ice Festival Elite Mixed Competition is the biggest competition like it in the US and it’s unlike any other. It has real rock, real ice, and it’s a wild competition. The route has been a bit of a wild card. This year both routes (men and women’s) started with grabbing holds with your hand.
Q. What do you think about when you’re setting a route?
A. We all have our own styles of climbing and each setter has their own style. So you try to imagine how the climber is going to see the route, and we all have our own way of seeing, which is cool because we each bring our own creativity to the mixture. You don’t want everyone to send. You don’t want everyone to not send. Ines read her route as it was intended, like you would in the mountains. She pulled the crux move. I was hoping she made it to the top.
Q. What was your vision for the climb?
A. Our vision for competition was for the experience to be just like climbing in the mountains. Sometimes you have to put your tools away and use your hands. It was a mixture of alpine climbing style, adding in the Russian holds, and putting it all together. Some climbers were so focused on their tools they forgot about other possible movements.
Q. What were some of the challenges in creating the route?
A. The biggest crux was a week before the competition. Everything came down to the eleventh hour. We had planned the moves based on Krukonogi holds from Russia. These holds are made only for mixed climbing and most often used in the World Cup, when they got held up in customs, and got sent back. Krukonogi drove them to Finland and shipped them from there. The box arrived in Ouray just six days before the competition. Then the morning of the comp, with the holds finally in place it was still unclear if there would be ice between the route and the bottom of the structure. Up until an hour before the competition the Ouray Ice Park, Ice Farmers were out there adding water to route connecting this section.
Q. What was a highlight of the competition for you?
A. Watching Nathan top it out and knowing that The Chronolith goes. Also seeing Ryan take the shot to win it.
Q. Would you set another route for the Ouray Ice Festival?
A. For sure!!! I had a ton of fun working with Vince. Plus I got to learn a lot.
2017 Men’s Results: 1st place Ryan Vachon, 2nd place Nathan Kutcher, 3rd place Will Mayo
2017 Women’s Results: 1st place Ines Papert, 2nd place Sarah Heuniken, 3rd place Katie Bono
Congrats to all of the competitors!