Friday, January 12, 2007

Kandersteg Ice Fest, Travel Round two

Just returned from the Kandersteg Ice Festival, a really fun event in Switzerland. Sean Isaac and I did "Canadian Ice" shows in English to the huge crowd, good fun. Unfortunately there was very little ice, people were dry tooling in the mud at the local crags and generally looking a bit aggravated, but the festival still had great attendance. I ended up climbing during my clinics on the drytool walls, which didn't do my elbow any good--I just can't resist climbing when it's right in front me. I did manage to refrain from the drytool competition, which was incredible. I think the ice-festival model is the future for winter climbing competitions--Ouray, Festiglace and Kandersteg are all based on participation from the public and a "party" vibe, this just works a lot better than the World Cup style events. The Euro level is really high; Marcus won for the men and Ines for the women, they are both in good form and really getting after it. Ines has decided to quit the world cup and focus on her trips, but I think Marcus will be hard to beat on the world cup (although my bud Albert may be giving him a good run for the money!).

The travel back was pretty much a reprise of the trip over, except I was able to avoid Heathrow Hell. I had to pay an extra $50, I regard that as money very well spent. Unfortunately there was still some good travel hell--the flight back west from Europe is normally slow as it's into the prevailing wind, but the winds were stronger than normal so Zurich to Toronto was supposed to be an 11 hour flight. We flew over Greenland, you could see the snow getting whipped off the peaks in wild plumes for hundreds of K, definitely wind. And of course once we were all loaded onto the plane there was a malfunction of some kind, so we sat there for three hours with "updates" every 15 minutes. All told I spent about 14 hours on that flight, about the same as going to Australia... Missed the connection in Toronto and ended up on the red-eye, finally got home at around two in the morning, or 10 in the morning Euro time. Nothing like a 24-hour travel session to ruin the brain, but worth it to see the energy in Switzerland.

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