The Kandersteg Ice Climbing Festival held in central Kandersteg in the Bernese Alps, for the eight year in a row, was the focal point of the ice climbing world between January 4-6. The festival has by now developed into the largest event of its kind in the Alps. 500 enthusiastic ice climbers used the opportunity to climb, test, discuss, and party. The program included workshops and slide shows with a fun open competition as the highlight. Around 85 climbers participated in the competition, with some arriving from as far away as Australia and Canada. Among the participants were the top climbers from the Ice World Cup. The main sponsors this year were Arc?teryx, Black Diamond, Julbo, Lowa and Nokia, along with Red Bull, Kandersteg Tourism and Hotel Ermitage in Kandersteg as supporting sponsors.

The highlight of the festival was the drytooling fun competition on Saturday. 85 competitors displayed their skills in the qualification round on four routes set by Thomas Steinbrugger and Kurt Astner. The five best women and men delivered a breathtaking final in the evening, where Petra Müller (CH) triumphed ahead of Ines Papert (DE) and Felicitas Feller (CH), and Markus Bendler (AT) won the men?s competition followed by Patrik Aufdenblatten (CH) and Albert Leichtfried (AT). This was Petra Müller?s second win in Kandersteg and Markus Bendler won the trophy for the third time. The organizers were especially pleased to see many new faces among the competitors and an increasing number of enthusiastic young women ice climbers.

The workshops on Saturday and Sunday were a total success. They were carried out at the ice tower as well as the ice falls near by, regardless of the wind starting to warm up the air. The eight workshops with 50 participants in total were lead by the stars of the ice world cup scene such as Simon and Samuel Anthamatten (CH), Markus Bendler (AT), Albert Leichtfried (AT), Petra and Jack Müller (CH) and Ines Papert (DE), supported by Dale Remsberg (USA) and Rich Marshall (CAN), who flew across the Atlantic especially for the festival. It was an excellent opportunity for the participants to learn new tricks and get some pointers from experienced ice climbers and the finalists of the competition.

A party tent at the festival area was set up for the first time to accommodate the increasing number of participants. It was no problem for either of the presenters to fill this new venue with 500 spectators. On Friday evening Marko Prezelj gave a spectacular insight to his past years? expeditions in Patagonia, Alaska and Pakistan. Robert Steiner impressed and amused the audience on Saturday with his stories from Nepal and the time he spent climbing with a Russian mountaineering team. The party that followed continued on until the early morning hours. We would particularly like to thank all participants, spectators and competitors for making the 8th Ice Climbing Festival an unforgettable happening. Source: Black Diamond