B.C. climber Gord McArthur is currently out of the country on tour with the UIAA Ice Climbing European Cup. He’s one of Canada’s most experienced ice competitors ever, having gone up against the best in the world over the past 15 years.
Last weekend, McArthur was the only Canadian competing at the first stop of the year in Bern, Switzerland. After making finals, he finished in a strong seventh place – a good sign of things to come for the circuit veteran.
It’s a long comp season, with the next event taking place in Zilina, Slovakia on Nov. 26, followed by a comp in Brno, Czech Republic. Earlier this year, McArthur, known for establishing hard winter mixed and drytool lines in Canada. sent all eight routes in the Haffner Cave up to M12 in a day.
“It’s different this time around,” McArthur told us from his Switzerland, “because of all the restrictions. However, seeing everyone, the other competitors, it brings it all back to life; that try hard mentality.”
The seventh place finish in Bern was a four-way tie with fifth-place Florian Gantner, sixth-place David Bouffard and eighth-place Ben Bosshard – finals standings was decided by their qualification scores.
“The first round was amazing,” said McArthur. “There was a lot of the usual World Cup competitors, so it felt like a proper comp again. I was able to make finals, and do really well. The atmosphere was electric, which was super cool to be part of.”
Gold medals for men and women went to Nikolay Primerov and Sina Goetz, two of the 15 Swiss climbers in the competition, which was full of stoked. “At the comp venues, everyone is so stoked to be competing again,” said McArthur. “You can tell there’s a bit of nervousness, but the overall vibe is that everyone is just so happy to be there.”
Despite such a long season, one that stretches to March in Russia, McArthur said, “Yes, I’ll be competing at every comp. It’s a lot to take on. I feel like I’m pretty fragile still, with all the stress of Covid and running a business. Not to mention the weight of ongoing grief from the loss of my brother and friend. But, as each day goes by, I’m reminded to why I love this, and that I’m good at this.”
We’ll be touching base with McArthur, the only Canadian going for gold in Europe this fall in winter on the Ice World Cup circuit. We asked what he’d change about the first round, and he said: “I was jetlagged like crazy and was running on three hours of sleep when the comp started. So, my head was mushy. But, if I were to change anything, I would try to focus on keeping my mind clearer, as well making sure my body was engaged through the hard cruxes.”
Despite the jetlag and competing for the first time in years, McArthur said, “Overall, I was quite happy with my performance – considering.” For the schedule and results visit here.