Youth ice climbing a top priority of the UIAA

The UIAA ice climbing youth development programme is in full swing as as seen at the Saas Fee World Youth Championships (Photo: David Sweizer for UIAA)

It’s been a busy winter season for the UIAA as it relates to youth and ice climbing.
The activities ranged from the first ever UIAA Youth Mixed Climbing Competition held in Durango, Colorado, a training camp in Kirov, Russia, the third annual World Youth Ice Climbing Championships in Saas Fee, Switzerland and an international youth ice climbing festival in Turkey.
It’s all part of the efforts of the UIAA Ice Climbing Commission and the Youth Commission to train young climbers and popularize the sport among the youth of the world.
The event was managed by Marcus Garcia who is a competitor on the UIAA Ice Climbing World Tour presented by The North Face Korea. The Durango event was made possible with the support of ARISF.
The inaugural event took place 30-31 December 2014 in a park in downtown Durango (6,500 feet) and included two qualification events, and one final each and competitors are divided into two age groups, 15-19 and 19-21 years.
That event was followed by the World Youth Ice Climbing Championships, Saas Fee, Switzerland which has begun to see more and more competitors from North America participate including Noah Beek, 18, and Karlee Hall, 17, who were winners at the Durango competition.

More than 60 young climbers aged 16 to 21 years competed in the Lead and Speed events in the same venue as the 2015 UIAA Ice Climbing World Tour the following weekend. There were three categories for male and female, under 16, under 19 and under 22 years.
“The success of the youth event and the increasing number of athletes from new countries that participate in the youth ice climbing programme is a strong indicator that the future of our sport is healthy,” said Urs Stoecker, president of the UIAA Ice Climbing Commission.
“We are very pleased with how the youth competition, which began just three years ago, has increasing numbers of competitors and countries participating,” said Stoecker.
The emergence of young talent today is best personified by Swiss climber Yannick Glatthard who is only 17-years-old and yet managed to secure a second place entry into the final round of the adult Lead competition of the UIAA Ice Climbing World Tour in Saas Fee, Switzerland, a week after he won the Youth World Championships in his age category.
Other stars who shone at the youth championships included Ekaterina Koschcheeva. Just 19-years-old, she was able to win the adult Women’s Speed competition in Saas Fee, like Glatthard, a week after she won her youth category.

The Saas Fee, Switzerland stop of the 2015 UIAA Ice Climbing World tour also strong performances by several young climbers including Glatthard, Peta Klingler, 22 and HanNaRai Song, 22, who showed that an explosion of raw and young talent is emerging on the tour.
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Noah Beek and Karlee Hall from Canada were victorious at the first Mixed Youth Climbing Championships in Durango, Colorado

The 2015 event was the third annual competition and builds on the first youth championships that were held on some ice cliffs outside nearby Saas Ground in 2013 followed by another successful and well-attended competition in Champany-en-Vanoise in 2014.
The International Youth Ice Climbing Festival in Uzundere, Turkey, about a hour away form the Erzurum city center took place 21 – 25 January. Natural frozen water fall in the area made it a perfect location to organize an ice climbing event in the area, the first of its kind.
The official opening of the youth festival in Erzurum included a meeting with the Mayor of the city Mehmet Sekmen. The mayor was interested in the possibility of promoting and developing ice climbing in the region. At the dinner honoured the participants of the festival.