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  • Ryan Vachon Wins For RAB At The Ouray Ice Festival

featuring
Ryan Vachon

The Ouray Ice Festival is an annual gathering of thousands of people. Folks from all ages descend upon the ‘normally’ sleepy town of Ouray for a celebratory weekend of ice climbing, climbing workshops, athlete presentations and the mixed climbing competition.

To celebrate his impressive win at the festival, we asked Rab® sponsored athlete Ryan Vachon to write a few words about the festival, his winning route and his relationship with the Rab® team.

Ryan writes

I’d completed the festival several times in the past; however this year my efforts delivered me to the top of both the comp wall and the heap of competitors. Truly a dream come true. Competitions have never been my forte. As with many people, the pressure to perform rushes movements and puts blinders on the creative mind. Right before lift-off, I was poignantly reminded that I was there to enjoy climbing and even cracked a joke to a cameraman at the halfway point on the route.

Ryan Vachon working through the final moves during his competition winning ascent. Ryan was the only competitor to finish the route in 2016. Ryan Vachon working through the final moves during his competition winning ascent. Ryan was the only competitor to finish the route in 2016.

The mixed competition route leading to the tower is “Dizzy With a Vision” (WI5, M7+), established by Jeff Lowe in 1998. The mixed competition route leading to the tower is “Dizzy With a Vision” (WI5, M7+), established by Jeff Lowe in 1998.

I relaxed, and was able to problem-solve a couple of moves in front of me. As with the previous year, the route included a devious crack that asked the competitors to pry their picks into awkward torqueing positions. I chose to skip the rattly bottom portion and hook my picks on minuscule chips to either side of the crack. With surprising success, I even threw a figure-four from of one of these jibs later on the route. The technical and power crux of the route manifested towards the top.

Poorly purchased feet matched with a side pull off of tiny dimples were the options to reach a lofty, similarly dimpled hold. With little elegance, my lower pick popped when my upper pick was within millimeters of the high hold. My top tool caught! The final few moves were a race against the rapidly shrinking clock.

Due to the Mountain Pine Beetle killing 40+ critical trees, the Ouray Ice Park was forced to remove the trees and construct over 40 concrete anchor pads in 2015. Rab and Grivel partnered to sponsor the anchor building efforts and keep the park safe and running at full capacity. Rab and Grivel partnered to sponsor the anchor building efforts and keep the park safe and running at full capacity.

Ryan on his relationship with Rab®

Rab gear makes my day, every day. Sure, this single climb carried a higher degree of visibility, but the Rab fit and attention to detail takes the mind off of distracting apparel to allow focus on larger tasks. Most importantly, Rab made the trip memorable. They housed me in a quaint cabin with fellow athletes Scott Adamson and Angela Van Wiemeersch (who gave a rousing slideshow in front of hundreds). The food, the lodging and most importantly the people made the trip for me.

Angela Van Wiemeersch presenting in front of over 400 people during the Ouray Ice Fest Party sponsored by Rab, Upslope Brewing and the American Alpine Club. Angela Van Wiemeersch presenting in front of over 400 people during the Ouray Ice Fest Party sponsored by Rab, Upslope Brewing and the American Alpine Club.

Along with nine other members of the Rab team (managers, athletes and more), we stuck together as a family. We celebrated the sport and brought to life the true spirit of ice climbing. It’s not about the win; it’s about giving context to deeper success – sharing amazing experiences and conjuring visions of future goals.

Ryan hoisting the trophy after his first place finish in the 2016 Ouray Elite Mixed Climbing Competition. Congratulations Ryan! Ryan hoisting the trophy after his first place finish in the 2016 Ouray Elite Mixed Climbing Competition. Congratulations Ryan!

The Rab team detailing the finer points of our demo apparel at the Rab booth. The Rab team detailing the finer points of our demo apparel at the Rab booth.
Ryan Vachon excels on the steep, physical ice and mixed climbs found around his home in Boulder, Colorado.

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