1999 Valdez Ice Climbing Festival Summary 


What a Festival it was! The deep freeze that preceded this years ice fest let up on friday the 12th just in time for the opening bonfire and barbeque event. Although alot of Alaskan climbers were still thawing out , the bonfire brought the hearty ice climbers together and the atmosphere was one of togetherness in a sport noted for its individuality. Climbers ate burgers cooked up by chef Greg Geidt and swilled beverages supplied by Mooses Tooth Brewrey.The scene of the bonfire with climbers bouldering will last forever.

Saturday morning after a group breakfast at Chinooks Books and Coffee the Drytool Climbing competition was held in the railroad tunnel in Keystone Canyon. The drytool route was a new event for the icefest in which climbers attempted to ascend a preset route on rock using iceclimbing picks and crampons. Great practice for winter mixed climbing. As each climber gave the route a try a crowd gathered to cheer on the competitors. After 18 climbers gave the route a try Eddie Phay of Anchorage was the winner with Paul Turecki and Daniel Parks a close tie for second. Last years speed climbing winner Karen Hilton returning for another festival was first for the womens with mountain guide Cobi Harris of McCarthy 2nd and Sara Ennega 3rd. The drytool event kept everyone's attention and several climbers stayed till after dark climbing by lantern. The day was topped out with a Spahgetti dinner at Casa Valdez Resturant with a film on the Ouray Ice Festival for entertainment.

Sunday brought even warmer weather and calm which was perfect for the Speed climbing and IceCraft event.The Ice craft event was new and more of a exhibition than competition in which climbers could pick any route in the Keystone Wall area and demonstrate safety,style and artistry in the route they picked. Ice Fest cordinator Brian Teale started the event with a lead climb up the prow Greensteeps placing icescrews every 20 to 30 feet topping out in great style. Paul Turecki attempted the seldom climbed route Blowhard to the right of Greensteps.Lack of Protection of this difficult route forced Turecki to find a variation to top out and by the time his partner Karen Hilton seconded the pitch darkness had arrived. The father daughter climbing team of Ralph and Daphne Tingey made an outstanding ascent of Simple Twist of Fate despite having to change the fuel pump on their Volvo. Tim Ciosek and Skine Boynton climbed Flying Cloud which is a mixed ice and turf route to the left of Bridalveil falls. Nationally renowned climbers Carl Tobin and Charlie Sassara climbed the seldom attempted Tsuri Gane located up Sheep Creek. This climb finishes with a free hanging 120 foot ice pillar. The womens climbing team of Cobi Harris and Amy Robinson were busy darting around during the festival with collecting ascents of Horsetail Falls , Second Coming and Ski Race as well as some serious hottub time. There were many others enjoying the ice on Sunday as well as a team of four from Delta including Shelly Moore who placed 3rd in the Speed climbing contest.

During the Icecraft the speed climbing event was held on the near vertical pillar of Keystone Green steps. This route was considerably harder than in the past and though the competition went into the dark Pete Lowney of Valdez was the winner with a time of three minutes and fiftyseven seconds with Eddie Phay of Anchorage only eight seconds behind and Chris Moore of Delta 3rd. Lori Bennet of Valdez won the womens speed climbing in 8:19 with Sara Ennega only 5 seconds behind and Shelly Moore 3rd.

After the events on Sunday the climbers joined together at Tsaina Lodge for the Awards banquet and Festival wrap up. The Crowd was treated to a slide shows from Ice and Rock Climbing expert Carl Tobin of Anchorage and Veteran Himalayan Climber Charlie Sassara.

The Event was deemed a huge success with so many people to thank for their support and donations of prises and help with events will need to do that on a diffierent page. But they know who they are and Id like to thank each and every one of them for their generous support. Last but not least Id like to thank the Climbers and their families for attending and their cooperation during the fest as all the Climbing was accomplished safely without a scratch.

Thank You everyone
Brian Teale
Valdez Ice Festival Director

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