Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Chamonix-based Climber Jeff Mercier Wins The Ouray Ice Festival

Rab-sponsored athlete, Jeff Mercier, looked on at an intimidating four-foot dry tool dyno on a 42-degree overhang affectionately named ‘The Diving Board,’ took to the air and planted his right axe firmly on the final hold to win the 2008 Ouray Ice Festival that took place in late January.

Mercier was the only climber to complete the testing mixed route, which incorporated every type of climbing move possible using ice tools, progressing competitors across five challenging sections as reported on www.alpinist.com.

“An easy ice slab led competitors to the first challenge, a 60-foot section of overhanging rock, drytooling up solid flakes and traversing on horizontal seams,” said Mercier. “Those who made it to the third section, a crescent-shaped ice chunk, quickly entered the final man-made sections. These involved balancing across two ‘tuna rolls,’ wooden cylinders hanging from chains, and powering through the ‘diving board,’ a plywood plank with increasingly sparse climbing holds, overhanging by 42 degrees.”

After the first round the fifty strong field was whittled down and 12 men and five women. The finalists included the men’s and women’s world ice-climbing champions Evgeny Kryvosheytsev (Ukraine) and Ines Papert (Germany). Still, Chamonix-based climber Jeff Mercier was the sole competitor to make it to the top.

Not one for resting on his laurels, three days later Mercier made the first spur-less ascent of one of the world hardest mixed routes, Jedi Mind Tricks, near Lake City, Colo., a route that Mercier confirmed to be rated M14.

Mercier is keeping busy by competing in the forthcoming Nissan Outdoor Games in Chamonix, and the Ice Climbing World Championship in Saas-Fee, Switzerland.

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