Ice Climbing. A burning Olympic ambition

An Olympic Ambition

“We have organised the UIAA Ice Climbing World Tour for 15 years and in that time have witnessed the incredible growth in popularity of the sport throughout the world,” explains UIAA President Frits Vrijlandt. “Ice climbing is a dynamic sport, combining determination, technique, speed, precision and excitement. The sport is increasingly appealing to young people, evident by the number of international climbers who take part in our World Youth Championships.”

Youth ice climbers meet IOC President Thomas Bach in Lillehammer (Photo: Ian Jones/IOC)

IOC President Thomas Bach visiting the ice climbing demonstration wall in Lillehammer (Photo: Ian Jones/IOC)

Ice climbing combines the allure of the winter sport environment with fast-paced action, intelligence and determination. In the lead discipline, ice climbers require great technique, tactical mastery and nerves of steel in executing complex moves in seemingly improbable positions. The speed discipline is almost a vertical take on the 100m sprint in athletics. Its about raw power, core strength and aggression.

Ice Climbing at the Sochi Winter Olympic Games in 2014

Already on its Olympic journey, ice climbing has featured as a demonstration sport at both the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi and at the Winter Youth Olympic Games held earlier this year in Lillehammer. Frits Vrijlandt is currently in Rio discussing ice climbing with IOC delegates and officials at the Games of the XXXI Olympiad.

Legacy. The UIAA’s guide to ice climbing


For those wishing to get involved in the sport of ice climbing whether as an athlete, coach or organiser, the UIAA has harnessed the knowledge it has built up as organizer of the sport by producing a dedicated Practice ICE Climbing handbook.

The near 170 international athletes who took part in the 2016 UIAA Ice Climbing World Tour, partnered by The North Face Korea, may now be in off season mode, but the following months provide the perfect opportunity for the athletes to build on the experiences and lessons learnt from the past season, and embark on the hard hours of physical and technical training for the new season.

“During the past decade, I have met many ice climbers through the UIAA Ice Climbing World Tour. Today, I feel that competitive ice climbing has never been stronger with a huge and lively community from all over the world,” explains Frits Vrijlandt.  “This positive moment provides the perfect opportunity to step up the development of ice climbing. To ensure a sustainable future, we need to be proactive in sharing our know-how and in promoting ice climbing to youth athletes, thus offering a legacy for future generations.”


This manual, written by UIAA experts, is a key document gathering a wide range of information on several topics: including speed climbing, lead-difficulty, national teams and event management. It is dedicated to member federations, athletes, national bodies, event organizers and also ice climbing lovers who want to improve their skills and knowledge.

“This manual is a product of a strategic milestone of the UIAA Ice Climbing Commission and a big step in bringing ice climbing forward as a professional competition sport,” adds Commission President Urs Stöcker. “The aim of this project is to explain the philosophy and nature of competition ice climbing, support the officials of national federations in building national teams and national competitions as well as assisting personal trainers and athletes in planning and executing their training so they can compete with the best.”

The Guide can be downloaded here.

New Season, New Ideas


The UIAA is delighted to announce the provisional calendar for the 2017 UIAA Ice Climbing season. The upcoming season, partnered by The North Face Korea, promises exciting changes and developments. The UIAA Ice Climbing World Tour, which has run since 2002, is set to comprise five events in as many countries – competitions in the United States and China are pending confirmation, those in South Korea, Switzerland and Italy confirmed. Following on from the World Tour, which will crown the continental champions, a revamped UIAA Ice Climbing World Championships will be held in Champagny-en-Vanoise, France. A week later, the same iconic ice climbing venue will host the increasingly popular World Youth Championships.

UIAA Ice Climbing World Cup
TBC: 16-18 December, Durango, Colorado (USA)
TBC: 7-8 January, Beijing (China)
14-15 January, Cheongsong (South Korea)
19-21 January, Saas Fee (Switzerland)
27-29 January, Rabenstein (Italy)

UIAA Ice Climbing World Championships
4-5 February, Champagny-en-Vanoise (France)

TBC: 14-16 December, Durango, Colorado (USA)

UIAA Ice Climbing World Youth Championships
10-11 February, Champagny-en-Vanoise (France)

Further programme and registration details will be communicated in the autumn.

More Coverage


Exciting new developments are in store for the upcoming UIAA ice climbing season. Enhanced live streaming, with YouTube integration, will be provided from competitions together with ‘near live’ edits of some of the best moments from the events, available through the UIAA Facebook channel. Highlights and feature packages capturing the best moments of the events will also be available. In short, more ice climbing content will be available both during and after competition.

World Championships: New Format
The 2017 UIAA Ice Climbing World Championships, to be held in Champagny-en-Vanoise, will feature some modifications. Like world championship competitions in other sports, a quota system will be applied to each country with only the top performing athletes qualifying. Further details will be provided with the official competition programme.

2016 UIAA Ice Climbing World Tour In Numbers

hosting countries
169 athletes (113 male, 56 female)
22 nationalities
born 1960, Chu Byoungsun (KOR), oldest athlete
born 1999, youngest athletes, Lukas & Sina Goetz (SUI) and David Oberprantacher (ITA)
9 different gold medal winners from a possible 16
6.76 seconds Nikolai Kuzovlev (RUS) in Saas Fee fastest final round speed climb (male)
10.09 seconds Ekaterina Koshcheeva (RUS) in Saas Fee fastest final round speed climb (female)

The current champions are:
Lead and Speed, men: Maxim Tomilov (RUS)
Lead and Speed, women: Maria Tolokonina (RUS)

Video Footage


Video highlights from the 2016 UIAA Ice Climbing World Tour season can be viewed on the UIAA YouTube channel as well as UIAA Vimeo.

Photos capturing the best of the action and behind the scenes moments can be viewed and downloaded from Flickr.

UIAA Ice Climbing Partner
The North Face