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International athletes to compete in UIAA Ice Climbing World Championship and World Cup in Edmonton

A 12-metre ice wall may stop you in your tracks as you pass by it in Edmonton’s Ice District.

It has been built for the 2024 UIAA Ice Climbing World Championship and World Cup. The event is hosted by the Alpine Club of Canada’s (ACC) Edmonton section and takes place in Alberta’s capital next month,  running from Feb. 16 to Feb. 18.

Nearly 100 athletes from 12 different countries will arrive in Edmonton for the events.

Athletes compete in national teams for the World Cup. There are up to six competitions around the world every year.

Officials with the City of Edmonton said they are thrilled to be hosting this type of event in the downtown core, one that thrives in cold temperatures.

“As a proud winter city, we want to promote opportunities for Edmontonians to get out and enjoy the season together,” said Tom Girvan, the downtown vibrancy and safe city director for the City of Edmonton.

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The ACC built the first ice wall in Edmonton in 2010 at Gallagher Park. This is the first year the ice wall has been built somewhere else.

Click to play video: 'Our Winter City: Climb a ice wall in Edmonton’s river valley'

Our Winter City: Climb a ice wall in Edmonton’s river valley

“The YEG Ice team is grateful to have the opportunity to be able to bring this unique and sensational spectator event to Edmonton,” said David Moon, chair of the ACC’s Edmonton section.

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Next month’s competition involves two main events, including lead ice climbing and speed climbing.

In lead climbing, climbers use ice axes to climb up a designated route. The winner is selected by how high they get before falling or running out of time.

In speed climbing, athletes use specialized metal tools to get up the ice wall as quickly as possible. In this category, some athletes can make it up the wall in six or seven seconds. The falls can be fast and far, but while it can be shocking for spectators, all competitors are tethered to ensure their safety.

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Click to play video: 'Outdoor ice-climbing wall at the Edmonton Ski Club'

Outdoor ice-climbing wall at the Edmonton Ski Club

Explore Edmonton, the City of Edmonton, Travel Alberta and the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation are some of the organizations providing support for the event.

Janelle Janis, the executive director of events and business development for Explore Edmonton, said this  event is very different from any other sporting event in the city.

“We have long supported the vision and excitement of the Edmonton Section of the (ACC),” she said.

“Now we get to see it come together and bring another exciting event to Edmonton that celebrates our spirit as a four-season destination.”

The ice wall is also open to Edmontonians who want to try it.

Click to play video: 'Ice climbing in Montreal gaining in popularity'

Ice climbing in Montreal gaining in popularity

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