Vertical ascending at improbable speeds; nerve-jangling drops; supreme demonstrations of technique. Ice axes are sharpened, athletes primed after a rigourous ‘offseason’, ice towers gleaming and the world of ice climbing ready to reunite. The sport, which holds a burning Olympic ambition, has never been bigger.

The 2017 UIAA Ice Climbing World Tour, supported by The North Face Korea, commences on 16-17 December in the town of Durango, Colorado before visiting four countries in Asia and Europe. Athletes comprising current champions, former winners, intrepid first timers and competition veterans, and from over thirty different countries are set to etch their axes in ice and their names into the competition leaderboards.

One of the highlights of the new season will be provided by a groundbreaking visit to China with Beijing playing host to the second of five World Cup events from 7-9 January. As host country of the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, the presence of an event in China is a significant one. “With the support of the Chinese Mountaineering Association, we are delighted that China will feature on the UIAA Ice Climbing World Tour,” explains UIAA President Frits Vrijlandt. “The competition venues in Beijing are first class and we are sure athletes will enjoy the challenge of competing in an exciting new environment.”

ice climbing 2017
Following on from the event in Beijing, the 2017 UIAA Ice Climbing World Tour visits well-established ice climbing arenas like Cheongsong (South Korea), Saas Fee (Switzerland) and Rabenstein (Italy).

2017 is also a significant year in that it witnesses the biennial UIAA Ice Climbing World Championships. The renowned ice climbing paradise of Champagny-en-Vanoise will host the event.  “The valley of Champagny-le-haut is situated at the foot of the glaciers of the Vanoise. At the beginning of December, all of the villages in the valley freeze in the cold,” explains resort Competition Director Nils Guillotin. “Temperatures won’t reach 0° before March again.  The valley transforms into a Nordic site. It is in this setting that the tower becomes full of ice. The structure, measuring over twenty meters, is unique in Europe. Due to the particular climate, it is possible to create ice walls for all levels. The ice climbing quality on this structure is internationally recognized.”

The UIAA’s commitment to youth climbing is significant. Two events for climbers from the ages of 16-22 form part of the schedule. The first is a demonstration competition in Durango (United States) from 14-15 December before the main event, the World Championships in Champangy-en-Vanoise from 10-11 February.

Video preview

The Calendar

UIAA Ice Climbing World Cup

16-17 December (2016), Durango, Colorado (USA)

The list of registered athletes can be found here.

7-9 January, Beijing (China)

14-15 January, Cheongsong (South Korea)

20-21 January, Saas Fee (Switzerland)

28-29 January, Rabenstein (Italy)

Logistical information related to the events can be found here.

UIAA Ice Climbing World Championships

4-5 February, Champagny-en-Vanoise (France)


14-15 December (2016), Durango, Colorado (USA)

UIAA Ice Climbing World Youth Championships

10-11 February, Champagny-en-Vanoise (France)

*For youth athletes, ice climbing training camps are being organized by the Russian Mountaineering Federation (RMF) during the months of December and January. For further details please click here.

Lead and Speed, two contrasting disciplines

saas fee 2016

Ice climbing combines the allure of the winter sport environment with fast-paced action, intelligence and determination. In the lead discipline, ice climbers require great technique, tactical mastery and nerves of steel in executing complex moves in seemingly improbable positions. The speed discipline is almost a vertical take on the 100m sprint in the sport of athletics. It’s about raw power, core strength and channeled aggression. For more details about the two disciplines, lead and speed, please click here.

The athletes: A worldwide family

uiaa ice climbing officials

The 2016 season crowned nine different winners from sixteen podiums but ultimately two athletes stole the show in terms of the overall classification. For the first time in the competition’s 16-year history, the same male and female athlete won the lead and speed discipline; step forward the imperious Maxim Tomilov and Maria Tolokonina.

The winners of the 2017 World Cup season, supported by The North Face Korea, will be calculated on accumulated points from all five events.

Tomilov (lead) is one of four defending world champions together with compatriots Alexey Vagin (male, speed), Ekaterina Koscheeva (female, speed) and Shin Woonseon from Korea (female, lead).

The World Championships, taking place from 4-5 February,  is a one-stop opportunity. Any mistake and your chance is gone. There’s no next weekend. No second chances.

Athletes from over twenty countries have already registered for the new season.

Please visit the UIAA ice climbing pages for details of all past winners.

How to follow

ice climber ascending 2016 season

Live streaming will be provided from the semi-finals and finals of the UIAA World Cup events and from the World Championships. A more extensive video service will also include ice climbing features, a replay feature allowing viewers to playback livestreaming segments and watch short in-competition highlights fed to the ighlights fed to the UIAA Facebook channel.

Live streaming will be available via YouTube, on the UIAA website and on event organisers’ websites. Schedules will be communicated shortly before each event.

Live competition updates will be available on the UIAA social media channels, Facebook and Twitter.

A dedicated results portal will provide updates from competition.

The official hashtags are #iceclimbing and #uiaaiceclimbing

The UIAA & the Olympic Channel

In an exciting new development, action from the 2017 UIAA Ice Climbing season will be featured on the IOC’s recently launched Olympic Channel. The UIAA joins the more than 30 International Federations who have reached an agreement with the Olympic Channel to collaborate on content.

The Olympic Channel is a new, multi-platform digital experience where fans can discover, engage and share in the power of sport and the excitement of the Olympic Games all year round, and is available worldwide via mobile apps for Android and iOS devices and at olympicchannel.com. The Olympic Channel was launched in August 2016 in support of the IOC’s goal, set out in Olympic Agenda 2020, of providing a new way to engage younger generations, fans and new audiences with the Olympic Movement.

Notes for media

ice climber 2016 season
Media wishing to cover the UIAA Ice Climbing World Tour & World Championships, supported by The North Face Korea, will be able to download high-resolution images directly from the UIAA Flickr account.

Live streaming and video highlights will be available to embed from the UIAA YouTube.

Press releases, including final results, will be sent out following the conclusion of all events.

Notes for athletes and member federations

Athlete registration details was provided to member federations by the UIAA in early November. For any queries please contact iceclimbing@theuiaa.org

The list of registered athletes can be found here.

As part of their annual competition licence, athletes are required to pass an online anti-doping education course. Once athletes have successfully passed the course, they will be able to download a certificate which will form part of their registration. For specific details and to access the anti-doping platform, please click here.

Athletes and Member Federations are informed that WADA’s prohibited substance list for 2017 is now published on the UIAA website. These new rules take effect on 1 January, 2017.

Event-specific logistical details and FAQs are available to download from the UIAA website.

Furthermore, the 2017 Organisers’ Handbook, Rules and Regulations and list of Routesetters and Judges, and details on related courses, are now also available to download.