Para-iceclimbing makes its debut in Ufa, Russia

Ice climbing may not be a part of the Sochi Paralympics which begin today but that didn’t stop a group of trailblazing Russians from showing how it might be one day.

Witness what happened in Ufa, Russia, where the 2014 UIAA Ice Climbing World Cup recently concluded. As part of the event, the Russian Mountaineering Federation invited a group of athletes from the local alpine club with disabilities to do some para-iceclimbing on the Speed wall during a break in the competition.

Andy Turner, an athlete who takes part in the UIAA Ice Climbing World Cup said he was “inspired by the para-climbing” he saw in Ufa.

“As soon as I got home to the UK I contacted our para-rock climbing team manager to see if he thought we could look into getting an ice climbing team together,” said Turner. “It’s all sounding positive and I can’t wait to get the UK involved.”

“They trained  2-3 times a week one month prior to the event,” said Dr. Mashkovskiy. “Almost all of them made it to the top.”

Dr. Mashkovskiy who is also a member of the UIAA Medical Commission said the climbers were an inspiration and proof that one day, competitive ice climbing might be possible in the Winter Olympics.

The 2014 Winter Paralympics opened today in Sochi with 547 athletes from 45 countries will compete for 72 gold medals in five sports over 10 days.

The disabilities of the athletes Basko Ruslan, 30 and Sakhno Artem, 28, were diverse. Many of the para-iceclimbers were visually impaired and two of them were blind. One athlete had a chronic musculoskeletal disorder.

Dr. Evgeny Mashkovskiy who is the medical advisor to the Russian ice climbing team during the UIAA Ice Climbing World Cup said it was not a competition, but a demonstration of their ability to climb on the ice wall.

UIAA Ice Climbing president Frits Vrijlandt praised Ufa organisers for leading the way on this front, saying the para-iceclimbers were an inspiration to other athletes and role models for climbers and mountaineers around the world.