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Canadian Will Gadd at a North American UIAA World Cup competition. Photo credit: Rafal Androwski

Ice Climbing is Reaching New Heights in Colorado

Denver is the first American city to host the World Cup Ice Climbing finals.

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It’s exhilarating to watch a person ascend a 60-foot wall of ice—essentially a vertical American Ninja Warrior course—using only ice tools, crampons, and muscles. Yet despite its thrills, competitive ice climbing hasn’t received much love in the United States—outside of Colorado, that is. Not only does the Ouray Ice Park throw one of the few festivals for the sport in the country, but the American Alpine Club (AAC), the governing body for top-level U.S. ice climbing competitions, makes its home in Golden. Centennial State denizens currently hold 11 of 16 spots on the national team. And from February 22 to 24, the World Cup Ice Climbing finals are coming to Denver’s Civic Center Park, marking the first time an American city will host the event. Naturally, one of the country’s best chances at a medal during the free-for-spectators games hails from Colorado: Kevin Lindlau, a Durango native, took first place in ice climbing’s two categories, speed and lead climbing, at the 2018 North American Ice Climbing Championships. Even if Lindlau loses, though, the AAC believes the World Cup will be a victory for a sport that’s hoping to grab hold of America’s heart.

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