Montana State University

MSU student team wins competition to design proposed Bozeman ice climbing tower

August 16, 2011 -- Carol Schmidt, MSU News Service


A team of former and current MSU students have designed an 85-foot climbing tower that organizers hope will be built as part of an attempt to lure the 2013 world cup of ice climbing championships to Bozeman. The design by Michael Spencer of Willow Creek, a recent graduate of the MSU School of Architecture, Tymer Tilton of Missoula a current architecture student, and MSU engineering student P.J. Kolnik of Helena, won an MSU-based competition to design the Bozeman Ice Tower. Image courtesy of Michael Spencer.   High-Res Available

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MSU News Service
Tel: (406) 994-4571
msunews@montana.edu
A team of Montana State University students has won a competition to design an 85-foot ice climbing tower as part of an attempt to lure the 2013 world cup of ice climbing championship to the Gallatin County Fairgrounds in Bozeman.

A team led by Michael Spencer of Willow Creek, a recent graduate of the MSU School of Architecture, with Tymer Tilton of Missoula a current architecture student, and MSU engineering student P.J. Kolnik of Helena, won the MSU-based competition to design the Bozeman Ice Tower.

The winning team won a $1,000 cash prize in the competition that was sponsored by the MSU School of Architecture, Friends of Hyalite, as well as prominent climbers Conrad Anker, Chris Hamilton and Alex Lussier.

The winning design, which can be seen on the Web, http://bozemanicetower.wordpress.com/, includes a tower that can be used for ice or traditional climbing surrounded by a spectator area that will allow the structure to be used as an outdoor concert venue.

According to Michael Everts, professor in the MSU School of Architecture, the winning design is composed of angled climbing surfaces that attach to stacked, side-cycled shipping containers. The containers, in addition to being economical and sustainable, are designed to be temporary lodging for visiting athletes.

The project was the result of an initiative by mountain climbers Conrad Anker of Bozeman and Joe Josephson of Livingston, coordinator of the popular Bozeman Ice Festival held each year in Hyalite Canyon outside Bozeman. The two are part of a local initiative to build an ice climbing tower in Bozeman that could attract the International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation's 2013 UIAA World Cup of Ice Climbing to Bozeman. They would also like the tower to serve as a venue for the area-climbing enthusiasts and a community event center.

Anker and Josephson said it was important for the project to be a model of sustainable building. For instance, Bridger Bowl donated six decommissioned ski lift towers for use in building the structure. They said they also wanted it to be a facility that builds on Bozeman's world class climbing reputation. The two formed a 20-member team of local climbers, design professionals and contractors to launch the initiative.

Anker previously worked with the MSU School of Architecture with the design of the Alex Lowe Charitable Foundation's Khumbu Climbing School in Phortse, Nepal, and he wanted MSU architecture students to be involved in the ice tower design, according to Everts. Entering teams were required to include current students or recent graduates of the MSU School of Architecture and the MSU College of Engineering. The competition received entries from seven teams, Everts said. The selection committee included nationally and internationally acclaimed climbers; architects, engineers, contractors, business owners, and a physicist.

"It was important for it to be a collaborative project, so students and interns could have a working appreciation of other disciplines," Everts said.

The winning team's plan calls for a public facility with an 85-feet tower that can be used as both an ice climbing wall and a traditional climbing wall, depending on the time of the year. In addition to being a world class rock and ice climbing venue, the facility could be used as an outdoor concert venue that would accommodate 2,000-3,000 people. They also envision other uses for it, such as a training facility for the county's alpine search and rescue team, an outdoor skating rink and, potentially, a hostel geared toward outdoor sports enthusiasts that visit Bozeman.

Spencer suggested that it could also be used as a venue for outdoor theater or concerts. "While there is something like that in Big Sky, we really don't have an outdoor concert venue in Bozeman."

Organizers hope the tower will be financially self-supporting and provide another outlet for the area's climbing community.

"Southwest Montana has international acclaim for natural ice climbing, a world class competition structure would put Bozeman on the map as the capital of ice climbing in the United States," Anker said.

While ice climbing is rabidly popular in some countries, such as Russia, countries in Europe and South Korea, this would be the premier ice climbing facility in the U.S., Spencer said. He said climbers in Bozeman hope to host the ice climbing world cup in 2013 to build up to the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia, where ice climbing will be a demonstration sport.

"We would like this to become North America's flagship world-cup climbing facility," he said.

Organizers are now working with the Bozeman City Commission and the Fairgrounds Board on a site and are fundraising to advance the project, which is expected to have a price tag of $1-3 million.

"Once this is built, it will be a community venue with a wide appeal of uses in addition to ice and rock climbing, it will be enjoyed by all throughout the year," Everts said.

To learn more, go to, http://bozemanicetower.wordpress.com/.

This story was tweeted by the MSU Office of Communications: 2013 UIAA World Cup of Ice Climbing in Bozeman? MSU team is hoping to help make it happen.
http://cot.ag/pOsNTg

MSU student team wins competition to design proposed Bozeman ice climbing tower http://cot.ag/plr396

@archrecord re-tweeted it to just under a quarter million twitter accounts:

Students from @montanastate win competition to design 85-ft ice climbing tower to lure 2013 world cup http://ht.ly/669Rg

Michael Everts (406) 994-3392, meverts@montana.edu