Category Archives: Ice Climbing

We did it! (athletes, family and friends…)

Team Canada representing at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia

Team Canada representing at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia

I was in Sochi from Feb.14-24 with several other athletes from all over the world. The countries that were represented by ice climbing athletes were:

Russia, Canada, USA, Japan, Ukraine, Switzerland, Germany, France, UK, and Iran. The Venue in the Olympic park, coastal cluster was sponsored by a major Russian Bank called Sberbank. There were three stations/exhibits:

  1. A place for learning knots, signing your name in a guest registry and taking your photo in front of rugged mountains using ski or snowboard props.
  2. A 60ft high tower with refrigeration and frozen ice on 3 of the 4 sides. These panels were insulated with a foam curtain if the sun was directly on the panel. Amazingly,   despite +20-30ºC temperatures, the ice wall was open almost every day for the public to try ice climbing. Hundreds of people each day, lined up to give it a swing.
  3. A demonstration by the athletes of their physical prowess climbing overhanging panels onto dangling “ice cubes” – see photos!

Everyday we would meet with the public and talk about our sport of ice climbing, belay at the ice wall and take a lap or two on the ice cubes.


The spectators loved learning about ice climbing!


Nae Yagi of Japan, demonstrating competition style ice climbing.


the station for learning knots like the figure 8 and your common noose ;)

ice cubes jo

me, giving the ice cubes a whirl


Alexey Tomilov showed us how the Russians do it

A big highlight of attending the Olympics was connecting with the other athletes. The Russians were open and friendly, we spent more time getting to know each other than we do at the World Cups where the stress and intensity of the competition prevails. I was especially inspired by Zohre and Masoud from Iran. They have improved so much despite coming from a country with not much ice. I hope to visit them one day :)


Zohre crushing the demonstration


An inspiring team from Iran


Looking from the coastal cluster to the mountains!

I also visited the Mountain cluster to watch/blink at the bobsled with my Mom, we also watched the Canadian women win gold in curling.

My mom, Cheryl and I at the curling rink

My mom, Cheryl and I at the curling rink called the “ice cube”

For the Canadians, the Canada Olympic House, provided a refuge of comforts like beer, wine and a healthy lunch or dinner. We also watched the gold medal hockey games, met athletes and shared Canadian Pride with the family and friends of the athletes and Olympic sports. I did my best to spread the word of ice climbing to the other visitors of the house and convince them to come try ice climbing at our venue.


Canada Olympic House, a refuge of good food and friendly canucks!


Watching hockey at the Canada Olympic House

Watching hockey at the Canada Olympic House

We were filmed by CBC and CTV, as well as NBC and many other countries’ networks.

Here are some links:

After Sochi, my mom and I enjoyed a couple days in Saint Petersburg, here are a couple photos of this beautiful city.

mom sp

The gates to the Winter Palace and The Hermitage


The Russian Ballet


No shortage of amazing architecture. This is called The Church of Our Saviour on Spilled Blood.

I then flew to Ufa for my final World Cup competition. I came 12th in the competition and 11th overall in all the world cups. The reason my overall ranking is higher than my individual placing is because not all athletes compete in all the competitions. Generally, the more competitions you compete in, the higher your ranking. My ability to compete in 5/6 of the competitions is because of my fundraising. Nonetheless, I am in the top twenty female athletes competing in this sport in the world. I am grateful to of been able to pursue this passion over the past six months (training, fundraising and competing). I am also especially grateful to of promoted the sport of ice climbing.


Cool format in Ufa where the athletes climb 5 routes for each round, qualifier, semi-final and final

Learning new tricks!

Learning new tricks!

During my time in Sochi, I came to my own realization about what the olympics are about. The olympics in the media appear to exist for economics. In my opinion, the most valuable (and rarely discussed) benefit of the Olympics, not unlike religion, is to inspire, create and guide people’s lives. These sports give individuals and their families and friends purpose and meaning to their lives. Olympic sports create not only excellence in humans in the physical realm, but in a spiritual and social way of life, as well. They provide a structure by which many of these families can contribute to society and connect.

Its unfortunate that we measure the value of the olympics only by dollar figures instead of individual and community well-being.

Spectators were really excited by seeing and experiencing ice climbing.

It is really unclear what the process is for whether a sport will be in the olympics. There are no longer demonstration sports. For ice climbing, both Russia and Korea are big supporters of the sport. The next winter olympics, 2018 will be in PyeongChang Korea.


There was a lot of support at these olympics for “x-games” type sports like the slopestyle and snowboarding- it doesn’t seem so far fetched that ice climbing could be the next addition.

The cool thing about competition ice climbing is we can create the structures in the middle of big cities like Manhattan or Toronto. The spectators loved watching the excitement.

The competition format in Ufa russia allowed 5 climbers to climb at once in the difficulty portion. Please see this video showing the men’s final. Hopefully it gives you a taste of how exciting it can be.

I am so so so grateful for the opportunity to compete in and promote ice climbing in the past few months.  I couldn’t of done it without every single donation big or small. I especially want to recognize the constant support by my mother Cheryl and my boyfriend Tim.


with gratitude and love,  jen

Thanks to my equipment sponsors:

MEC, LaSportiva, Petzl

and ACC for the administrative support.

Also, a shout out to Gordon McArthur who introduced me to the quote below and this crazy game of World cup ice climbing.

“So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.”

–Christopher Reeve

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The Pearls: UIAA Ice Climbing World Cup 2014 – Part 1

France Isolation

The Warm Up zone in Champangy en Vanoise, France. This was a nice big warm tent with lots of space for stretching and monkeying around.

Scroll down for more photos.

So far on the tour, morale is good. Romania, Switzerland and France have all provided great learning and a healthy balance between work and play. This is not to say that I haven’t been swallowing my fair share of disappointment, but I am coming to learn that disappointment is more common than righteousness or pure joy in competition climbing. If you cannot accept disappointment most of the time, this is a really rocky road. I feel I create a pearl of wisdom each time I fail and this, in itself is rewarding.

Here are some of my pearls:

  1. Nose breathe. This is from my dear friend and mentor, Kim Csizmazia. Apparently there are physiological reasons for nose breathing, but for me, I think it’s a way of creating a mental focus and being less distracted.
  2. One move at a time. This is from the young, but wise Emily Harrington. She uses this in competition, along with the big picture knowledge that this is just a silly game we play to bring reality into perspective and take the pressure off. I have found this one especially helpful when I start to get goal/outcome focused during my climb.
  3. “1st time!” This is what I say to myself when going for a bigger dynamic move. Just nail it the first time. This is from the young and powerful Greg Boswell, he kept yelling it to me at the cruxes. It works great.
  4. Grip less. I remind myself not to over grip, especially on insecure holds or after a slip. Over gripping leads to pumping out way earlier than necessary. Ryan Vachon, who can hold on forever, says release 15%.
  5. Don’t let your guard down. This lesson I learned most recently in France in the semi-finals. I thought I had a better hold than I did and I let myself relax, as a result I slipped on the hold because I didn’t maintain tension on it. I had just completed some other cruxes and I was too eager to relax on what I thought was a secure hold.

Even though I mostly experience disappointment when I compete, I have now had just enough success that I also visualize winning (for me means making it to finals or topping the route). It’s nice to believe I can clip the chains because it allows me to experience that, if only in fantasy.

One of the hardest things about slipping off a route before you are pumped; there is all this unused energy in your body and your mind. What to do with it!!!???

Luckily, the French team was headed to a small local dry tooling crag only ten minutes from the competition venue. Phew! A place to ‘walk the dog’. I was so grateful to use my muscles and spirit to climb a few routes and to remember why I am competing. I love climbing, so to travel the world and only climb for a couple minutes can be very frustrating to say the least.

I watched competitors way better than me fall off unexpectedly low on the route. It can happen to the best.

The lessons learned in competition climbing are hard knocks, but you don’t forget them. A recreational climber may learn them eventually or not at all. So in summary, I am suggesting that it can be a grueling, but effective way of improving your climbing ability.

I now look forward to the competitions, instead of dreading the disappointment, I hope for the rewards of success or at least, another lesson to put towards the ultimate goal of summiting a route!

The Saas Fee structure is in a ten story parking garage!

The Saas Fee structure is in a ten story parking garage!


Steve Johnstone cragging at Quintal on “The Joker” in France. Fun times inbetween the comps.


Kendra Stritch and Brent Peters in Saas Fee isolation sharpening picks.


the view of Mont Blanc from Lillaz Italy, where we climbed Lau Bij for night time photos.


Lau Bij in Lillaz, Italy


Me dry tooling in Romania, I was so grateful to have fun climbing after falling off before the first bolt in competition.


Harry, wonder arms, tooling around on an M10 in romania


Lili and his friend put the routes up at this Romanian crag. They were so good to us. Tea and chocolate, ropes and draws. The Romanians are more hospitable than the Canadians! hard to believe — but true.


There are actually horses and carts as a modern form of transportation in Transylvania, Romania!

The Busteni, Romanian structure with pretty rocks behind.

The Busteni, Romanian structure with pretty rocks behind.


Heeyong Park and Gordon MacArthur discuss strategy for semi-finals.


Petra Klingler looking strong nearing the top of semi-finals France


Stephanie Maureau and her mom after semi-finals. Monique was so good to me this trip, a second mom. <3


the dry tooling crag in france close to the competition structure that put smiles on disappointed competitors faces


Janez of slovenia getting his best result in a finals yet!


Heeyong Park of Korea in the spotlight in the snowstorm!


Angelika of Italy finding her way up the finals route in a snow storm


Steve Johnstone of Scotland dancing his way across the pink route, in L’usine.


Pretty french buildings and towns make this trip so aesthetically pleasing

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