The UIAA Ice Climbing World Cup kicks off this morning in Bozeman, Montana. It's the first time a world cup event has been held in the U.S.
About 200 climbers from 30 countries arrived in Bozeman yesterday to compete in the three-day event, the first of six such weekends, the International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation reports. Over the next three months, the athletes will compete in Korea, Switzerland, Italy, France, and finally Russia, where the tour will end on March 8, 2015.
The Bozeman competition, part of the 18th Bozeman Ice Festival, consists of two challenges: a speed climb and a lead difficulty climb. For the speed climb, athletes race head-to-head up a 32-foot ice wall; the lead difficulty climb pits athletes against intricate routes designed by Russian climber Pavel Dobrinskiy.
The weekend is interspersed with Ice Festival climbing clinics, film showings, and athlete panels. Audience members will have a chance to test their mettle on the Olympic-level competition routes Sunday.