March 5, 1999


Winter/ Spring ’99 Gadd Update

Dear friends and other activists:

This winter and early spring have been, in a word, intense. The following is a mixture of straight self-promotional spew and notes on what Kim Csizmazia and I experienced on what’s best described as a four month winter road trip extravaganza. I feel incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to live this lifestyle, it’s a gift made possible by those I work with and the energy in the outdoor sports world. I’m still in Salt Lake, but I’ll be in Canmore, Alberta, for the rest of the spring, same cell and email will work, I look forward to hearing from you. Remember, no one ever died wishing he had spent more time at his/her desk…



Many new routes, slideshows, and clinics from Bozeman, Montana, to Sun Valley to Golden, Colorado and wherever else we went with the 5,000 miles we put on the car. Good energy at the slideshows from giving out Red Bull and Bolle Sunglasses as premiums. Put up a new route in Bozeman with Pete Tapley, Juvenile Delinquets, M8+ or M9- depending on conditions in Hyalite. First "modern" route in Hyalite, Pete’s super-motivated and has been putting up new routes at a rabid pace.



Santaquin Canyon, Salt Lake area.

Opened three new mixed routes with Kim Csizmazia, hardest routes in Utah at the time. This helped inspire the locals to get off the couch, the mixed scene here is now really strong with new routes from Chris Harmston, Rob (a younger climber, don’t know his last name, one of his new routes is supposed to be really hard, I hope it freezes again so I can go flail on it!), Doug Heinrich, Bill Belcourt and others. Salt Lake is now one more place where the mixed revolution is in full force.

Courchevel Invitational World Ice Climbing Championships

First Place

THE big ice event of the year in Europe, worked really well as Black Diamond Europe ran a booth, I won on Black Diamond Cobra tools, Kim Csizmazia won the women’s on Cobras too. Picked up by Eurosport, the biggest Euro TV sports network, good press in Climbing and a stack of Euro mags. Did a slideshow too, went well.

Fournel Ice Festival, France

Opened Dry Martini, perhaps the first M8 route in France. This festival is incredible, it totally takes over the town of Argientierre for four days with hundreds of climbers. Bolted mixed lines are still sort of new in the area, so when I put one up it created entertainment for all. At one point Kim, Jean Phillipe, Karin and I had photographers from Vertical, Montagne, Alpi Rando and several other publications stacked up like penguins at the base, the sound of shutters was like locusts in attack mode.

The festival is pretty cool, they invite the top ice climbers from Europe and, for the first time, the US to basically show up and climb, do presentations, etc. Very good energy.

X Games, Crested Butte, Colorado

Won. Also worked as an ESPN technical consultant for the Women’s event, which was a good experience. I think the competition at this year’s event was really strong, last year I won by a fair amount but this year Raphael Slawinski came really close and Gary Ryan did some sick moves to take third. I thought this year’s coverage was also good, less bullshit announcer speak and more letting the climbers be climbers. The X Games is one hell of a media circus, but it’s also the highest concentration of top winter adventure sports athletes ever assembled.

Red Bull gets the award for athlete support at the X games—Jim ran a house stocked with a chef, masseuse, DJ, free food and plenty of RB…

Ouray Ice Festival, Ouray Colorado

This is one of the biggest "grass roots" events in the US, definitely more of a soul event than a hard-corps competition. More than 400 people showed up, which made Ouray look like it was under siege from ice climbers. Scheduling was tight with the X Games—I drove back and forth three times, I’m sick of that road. Did a slideshow with premiums from Red Bull and Bolle, well-attended and fun. Won the mixed event, came in dead last in the "ice artistry" as I sort of didn’t read the rules and exceeded the time limit… Jeff and Teri always manage to do a better event each year!


To The Max TV Show, Montreal Canada

So this TV show calls up and wants me to act as, "guest host," meaning that I torture the usual host by taking him paragliding, ice climbing, snow kayaking and snowboarding in the same day. Turned out really well, although I rode the host down a ski run trying to launch the paraglider in less than optimal conditions. Thanks to Wave Sports for organizing the kayaks on short notice.

Cody Ice Festival

Cody is a small town in the middle of nowhere with awesome ice climbing and Buffalo Bill as the main attractions. Worked the event for Black Diamond, did a slideshow with premiums from Red Bull and Bolle. I think this event will grow—lots of ice, the Footes from Foote’s mountaineering are really well organized.

New Hampshire, North Conway Ice Festival

This is the biggest ice festival on the east coast and one of the biggest in the US. Worked for Black Diamond during the festival, managed to climb a ton of routes around that. Kim and I did a linkup of Promenade at Lake Willoughby, The Black Dike on Cannon and Dracula at Frankenstein. Long day, fun. I look forward to this event next year for sure.

IME/White Mountain School Ice Festival

White Mountain School Ice Festival

Went back to my old boarding school, the White Mountain School in Littleton, NH, for a day of climbing ice with alumni and friends. The WMS event was quite good also, small and a lot of fun, open to everyone. Kim and I taught clinics and generally enjoyed more super-fat ice. I think WMS has the best outdoor program for high school students I’ve ever seen; the staff is extremely qualified, competent and motivated to give the kids not only a good traditional education but also a strong set of real mountain skills. If you know or have a kid in high school who would benefit from mountain sports then check this place out.

Festiglace, Quebec City, Quebec Canada

Won the mixed competition at this event, which was held on a Jean Philippe Villemar creation of a route called "Rodeo," M8,. Tough competition came from Guy Lacelle, Scott Backes, Alex Lowe and Kim, who entered the "men’s" event and placed a super-solid sixth, beating half the men. Yowza! The Festiglace has a very Euro feel, super well-attended thanks to good support from the North Face (they sent Scott and Alex). This event will grow for sure. I can’t even begin to explain how good the climbing is at Pont Rouge, site of the event. Let’s just say it makes Vail look, well, even smaller than it is. JP, Kim and I opened a new line on lead, there are only about 100 more to do just at Pont Rouge alone. I’ll be back.

What’s NEXT?

Some recovery time, then alpine climbing in Canada, paragliding in Texas, more competitions and just more.

Big Thanks to:

Black Diamond: Super solid gear, putting up with me ranting about crampon design until they and I were blue in the face. The future of ice gear is in good hands.

Bolle: I love starting my shows by giving out a few pairs of sunglasses by asking the audience "skill-testing questions."

Fila: The clothing and boots continue to keep me warm, dry and alive.

Firebird/Superfly: Sorry about surfing the TV host on National TV, it wasn’t the glider’s fault… I look forward to flying far in Texas and everywhere this spring.

Red Bull: Jet Lag. All-night drives. Back-to-back competitions. No problem.

Wave Sports Kayaks: The X carves snow almost as well as water, vertical cartwheels are tricky on an ice run…