This year's much anticipated competitions which attract the world's best competitive ice climbers continues a trajectory of expanding venues that is making the UIAA organized event a global competition.
Interest in the sport that features Lead and Speed disciplines has grown in recent years. In Lead competitions climbers are judged on their ability to master a difficult route in the best time while Speed events see climbers race up an ice face in the fastest time.
In 2011 the Korean Alpine Federation ensured that South Korea became the first Asian country to host the UIAA competition. It was also the year that saw South Korea's Hee Yong Park end the reign of Markus Bendler of Austria by winning the overall Lead title. UIAA photographer Lukasz Warzecha caught a sense of the atmosphere around the competition last year in Cheongsong, South Korea and Saas Fee, Switzerland through these photos.
This year the French Alpine Club, with support from a local organizer, is hosting the event for the first time in Champagny-en-Vanoise, a scenic ski town located near the Vanoise National Park, the country's first national park.
The UIAA, which is recognized by the International Olympic Committee for mountaineering and natural surface climbing, is currently considering applications to host the competition in the United States of America. Preparations are also underway by the UIAA and the Sochi 2014 Olympic Organizing Committee to showcase Ice Climbing as a cultural event during the next Winter Olympics.
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