Southern Ontario climber Nathan Kutcher surprised a strong international field of top competitors and emerged as the winner of the 2012 Ouray Ice Festival. Slated as the fifth climber to attempt the challenging mixed line, Kutcher came out bare-handed and ready to climb. Climbing smoothly, Kutcher made quick work of the lower section and remained unfazed by a small slip at the big-blue-blob feature.

After surmounting the blob and becoming the first climber to establish himself on the South Wall, Kutcher ran into trouble when a committing tool placement slipped, almost resulting in fall. Kutcher admitted this was the first time on the route that he was really concerned about falling.

“While the slip on the blue-blob looked dramatic, I was still in complete control. The upper section tool-slip on the other hand was completely unexpected. I thought I was coming off,” say Kutcher. Luckily Kutcher managed to stay on and made it to the 12th bolt where he took time to shake out. From here it was just a matter of keeping it together to the top.  Kutcher topped out with 80 seconds remaining on the clock becoming the first competitor to climb the route.

He would remain the only top-out until Andres Marin, who managed to climb the route with 74 seconds remaining – six seconds slower than Kutcher’s time. While Marin’s time was good, it was not good enough to supplant Kutcher from his current first place position. “I knew the route could be climbed faster, so I just had to sit and wait until everyone had climbed to find out how I did,” says Kutcher.

As the remaining competitors attempted to make their way up the climb, it became clear that no one else would top out. Kutcher would win the 2012 Ouray Ice Fest – his first ever ice climbing competition. “It blows my mind. I knew I was climbing well when I came out, but I never expected this. My goal was to climb my best and not come in dead last. I had nothing to lose and everything to gain,” says Kutcher.