The Great Lakes Mixed Competition #4 By Lauren Loria
The Great Lakes Mixed Competition #4, sponsored by Team Canada, took place at Peabody Ice Climbing in Fenton, MI on November 2 , 2019. Spearheaded by Team Canada members Rebecca Lewis and Nathan Kutcher, this competition was created to give climbers of all ability levels an opportunity to compete. The hope is that this event will open dry tooling to a greater population and grow the sport’s community in North America.
The competition saw many participants, including Ice Climbing World Cup athletes from the USA and Canada. These athletes came to prepare for the upcoming season and sharpen their skills with World Cup style climbing. Nathan Kutcher, route setter for the competition, previously traveled to Russia to work with the UIAA (International Climbing & Mountaineering Federation) head setter. He brought this setting style to the Great Lakes Mixed Competition, helping the North American athletes practice skills needed for the World Cup tour. “You can kick in, just like World Cup climbing,” said Kevin Lindlau, USA Ice Climbing Team Member. In other events, rock shoes are used in lieu of crampons. In this competition, and on the World Cup circuit, athletes use mountaineering boots and crampons to kick into wood panels for foot placement. USA Ice Climbing Team members are spread throughout the country and these competitions are some of the few times throughout the year where the team is together. “It creates a community where we can all teach each other…and have everyone train together,” said Lindlau, referring to both the amateur and World Cup athletes. The competitors are excited for their first World Cup Competition in Moscow, Russia.
In addition to World Cup athletes, the Great Lakes Mixed Competition #4 saw many amateurs, some of whom have been a part of the annual competition since its conception. Michigan native athlete Alex Clarke is one of those people. He originally participated “…because it was something fun to do.” and to break up the monotony of his desk job. Living only twenty minutes from Peabody Ice Climbing, he spends the winter swinging axes on the towers with his season pass. He also embraced the fun of the competition’s Halloween theme by sporting a Yoda costume throughout his climbs and stated a competition goal of not coming in last. It is always fun to see athletes not taking themselves too seriously.
Whether there will be a Great Lakes Mixed Competition #5 remains up in the air, but events like these help create camaraderie among athletes and expand the dry tooling community in North America.