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Frozen Waterfalls a Winter Playground, For Some

  • Ernest Leong

Francois Damilano and Stephane Husson are among the world's best ice climbers. They have been climbing together for ten years.

High in the French Alps, their only tools are their ice spikes, climbing boots - and skill.

Francois Damilano says, "It gives you a real thrill. Climbing is a bit like being a dancer gradually going up a vertical wall of rock. The movements are very satisfying, intellectually as well as physically."

Today, the two climbers, who have climbed 800-meter icefalls in the past, have found a 150-meter fall of ice in the middle of nowhere. Mr. Damilano feels this poses an interesting challenge.

"Let's head for the cave. Then we can do the really steep part in ideal conditions," says Mr. Damilano.

They continue their climb, with tons of ice hanging above them -- ice which could fall on them at any time.

Ice climbing as a sport has been steadily gaining interest. Once more, Mr. Damilano.

"The climbing is different from one day to the next. There are changes in colour, in the texture of the ice, how transparent it is. The climbs have an aesthetic dimension. You can't help but notice," says Mr. Damilano.

As with their previous adventures, this climb is fraught with difficulty, challenges and hardship. But, to Francois' and Stephane's way of thinking, that's just fine. The harder, the better.

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