DENVER (CBS4) – The World Cup Ice Climbing Finals is just three days away and while preparing for has been a tough job, Denver’s Civic Center Park is starting to transform. The 60-foot-tall wall of steel and ice is nearing completion.

“Working in Civic Center Park in the Greek amphitheater is amazing. It’s 100 years old, this year!” said Project Supervisor, Skylar Pais. “This might be the coolest place we’ve ever built a wall before.”

(credit: CBS)

It’s been just over two weeks since construction of the wall began and the team at Eldorado Climbing Walls is feeling the pressure.

“We’ve been working a lot of long hours, long days and nights in order to get it done,” Pais said. “This is event based. If we’re not ready, there’s no event.”

The American Alpine Club, based in Golden, is organizing the event. Civic Center Park was on the top of its list to host the final round of the competition. By the time the location was finalized, Eldorado was looking at a tight deadline to build the climbing wall.

(credit: CBS)

“It would’ve been nice to have about a year. Not six months. The first three months were a lot of conceptual ideas and a little bit of planning going into it but we didn’t really get serious until two to three months ago and there was a tremendous amount of stuff to do.”

Not to mention, this particular wall is a first for Eldorado.

“We build rock climbing walls, big and small, indoor outdoor but the whole ice component is new to us.”

(credit: CBS)

An Austrian company was hired to harvest the ice that will be bolted to the wall. On Wednesday the slabs were laying flat, not quite ready to be mounted. Water is being added slowly to build the slabs up. Each needs to reach a minimum depth of five inches.

“We’re using a chilling system to freeze ice panels on the ground, big ice cube trays, and then forklift ’em into place and then bolt them to the scaffolding,” said Pais.

Pais expects the ice will be ready to mount by Thursday night.

(credit: CBS)

On Wednesday, Pais assisted as construction crews hoisted the biggest piece of the puzzle into place.

“We’re calling it the rhino horn because it’s gonna stick out from the front top of the wall at a pretty steep angle out toward the audience that will be viewing this.”

The rhino horn, located at the very top of the structure is where competitors will finish or “top out.”

“Or hope to top out, if they’re good enough they’ll top out!”

(credit: CBS)

He may be a little stressed, but Pais is having fun and beyond proud of what his team has accomplished. He calls the project a once in a lifetime opportunity.

“This particular job, it’s just, you look around and you’re in the middle of Denver you’re in the Greek Amphitheatre.”

The festivities begin on Feb. 22 from 5-8 p.m. The competition begins the following morning at 8 a.m. More information is available at civiccenterconservancy.org.

LINKS: UIAA Ice Climbing World Cup | Denver.org Winter Festival

Jamie Leary

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