Aysen Patagonia Ice Fest takes off

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Under the flight of numerous condors, a lot of snow and wind and temperatures dipping four degrees below zero Celsius, took place the third version of the only ice climbing competition in southern Chile.  During the last weekend of July, around 600 people were present to watch some 30 climbers and mountaineers, men and women from several regións across Chile, compete at intermediate and expert levels. 

Aysen Patagonia Ice Fest, which was held at the Cerro Castillo National Reserve, 80 km from Coyhaique, provided a series of impressive natural waterfalls for the competitors, accompanied by an intense spirit of comraderie and cooperation.

Francisco Lazo Gumucio, Aysen Regional Director of Sernatur (Chile's national tourism ministry), describes as “rare” the special conditions that Aysen can provide for this extreme sport. Said Lazo: “The environment that we have here is incredible, the tremendous value of practicing this sport in a national reserve, climbing natural frozen waterfalls, this will mark the difference. We have a first-class event. This is special interest tourism that we can export, positioning both this event and the region both nationally and internationally. We will aim for a greater turnout every year and seek to attract climbers come from around the world.”

The ice formations are different and unpredictable in the Patagonian Andes, this magnificent phenomenom depends on several factors, among them the temperature and frequency of snow. For Jose Luis Dragon, a climber from Puerto Montt and member of the the Eskala Patagonia Mountain Club, “this is the best place he has ever competed, the ice was excellent and very vertical, perfect for experts.”

This competiton is co-sponsored by the Chilean Climbing Federation, helping to consolidate this new climbing discipline throughout Chile. Patagonian Ice Fest is organized by the Club de Montaña Andino Patagónico. Javier Aguilar, president of the Club, said that he was content with this year's event: “Everything went well, there were no accidents and the level of competition was optimum. This will help lay the foundation for the Patagonia Winter Games next year, which aims to include all parts of Aysen Patagonia," he said. 

The women displayed excellent technical skills and also had a great performance, showing that their presence in alpine sports is growing. Womens climber Romina Reuss said she will be back: "It is very important to hold this type of competition here in Patagonia, as it helps to position this wonderful sports destination. I am very happy to have participated, will definitely be here next year."  

Below some photos from this year's event:






All photos by Cristian Aguirre for Patagon Journal


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