A 30 metre high wall of ice appeared in the Austrian town of Bad Gastein in Salzburg over the weekend for a new ice climbing competition. The enormous wall played host to 20 competitors whilst more than 1,000 spectators watched on.
Such scenes are normally only associated with the mountainous Austrian countryside but on Saturday, athletes armed with ice picks and crampons began to climb a giant ice wall in the middle of a residential area. The competition was entered by new young climbing talent as well as more experienced old-hands who went head to head to conquer the 30 metre face and be the first to ring the bell at the summit.
More than 1,000 people flooded to the streets below to watch the eight finalists sprint up the ice. Spectators looked on as chunks of ice fell to the ground below and climbers lost their footing all making for a thrilling display. Climbers ascended in two lines with those with the fastest times going onto the next round.
The final saw Georg Santner and Peter Neufang racing over the final icy overhang to ring the bell. Despite a five second penalty after losing an ice-pick, Santner still went on to be victorious. The 26-year-old said, “It was very close and I was very lucky with my win. The atmosphere here in Bad Gastein was completely unique.”
Organiser Bernhard Steinacher was immensely pleased with Urban-Ice premier and it was duly celebrated after the competition. “Whether an athlete, on the organising team or a spectator, it was an amazing experience for all and we are very much hoping for a follow-up event next year,” said Steinacher.