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Name: INES PAPERT
Gig: ICE CLIMBER
WHEN ICE CLIMBER INES PARERT won the women’s division at Colorado’s Ouray Ice Festival last year, the 31-year-old German scampered up the 165-foot wall so fast, she beat the winner of the men’s event, held on the same course, by nearly three minutes. If anything keeps her from repeating at this year’s competition (January 12–15), it will be her own body; she shattered her right leg in a 65-foot fall last July, in the Italian Dolomites, when a ten-foot-tall slab she was clinging to sheared off the face of a cliff. But Papert has proved before that she can get in shape in a hurry. A former physical therapist who lives in the Bavarian Alps village of Bayerisch Gmain, she won the World Cup title in March 2001, just one year after trying the sport for the first time—and seven months after giving birth to her son, Emanuel. “I couldn’t believe that all the others—who didn’t have kids, who have time to train—were not at that level,” she says. Papert added another World Cup in 2003—the last time the season-long competition was held—and also has four world championships. Her secret is the intense upper-body workouts she does on the ladders and ax holds mounted in the ceiling of her home—and a fierce doggedness that she credits, in part, to her East German upbringing: “It made me a big fighter.”
Win or lose, Papert says this will be her last season of competition. She wants to focus on bigger challenges, like the first ascent of a 3,000-foot frozen monolith she’s been eyeing in Norway. “I don’t even see a lot of other guys climbing like she does,” says Jared Ogden, 34, one of the many men who couldn’t match Papert at Ouray. “When you see someone like her coming in and crushing everybody, it’s pretty exciting to just be a part of that.”