A West Highland extreme events hub extraordinaire
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Scale vertical rock and ice, test mettle on an outdoor aerial adventure course or sit back with a coffee and enjoy the west highland views! For the past 15 years, Ice Factor Kinlochleven, the world’s largest indoor ice climbing facility has been a year-round magnet for seasoned climbers, ‘weekend warriors’ and curious spectators alike.
Yet increasingly, the 5-star VisitScotland adventure tourism attraction is also being cast in another unexpected role; one that contributes to the on-going success of the business and also supports the local Lochaber economy as part of the Outdoor Capital of the UK.
Sandwiched between the renowned classic British mountaineering terrain of Glencoe and Glen Nevis, the £3.6m facility is increasingly in demand as an event hub or as a start and finish point for major endurance mountain running, mountain-biking and occasional charity events.
In late July, event organiser Rat Race will use Ice Factor as a staging post for its tough City to Summit (Edinburgh to Ben Nevis) duathlon while the facility is also an emergency point for the Coast2Coast event. Then in the early autumn (13-15 September) Salomon Skyline Scotland™ will host the International Skyrunning Federation (ISF) 2018 Skyrunning World Championships. It’s an event that will see eight Skyrunning World Champions determined and Ice Factor Kinlochleven will once again be a registration and finish point for the world’s top mountain runners.
Shane Ohly is race director of the 2018 Skyrunning World Championships and Director of Ourea Events. He explained how the event has grown and the importance of Ice Factor and the village of Kinlochleven in helping host such major events: “The Salomon Skyline Scotland event is a phenomenon in the adventure racing calendar. In just four years it has grown from a niche race to an extended, weekend event that features four Skyrunning races and which in 2018 year will also host the prestigious Skyrunning World Championships.
“With the dramatic Mamores and wild mountainous terrain of Glencoe on its doorstep, Kinlochleven is an ideal base for these events.
“The event has worked hard to nurture a relationship with the local Kinlochleven community, engaging with both the Community Trust and Community Council, liaising with local businesses, holding public meetings and running an outreach programme with the local high school. The backbone of the (Skyrunning) event is the village of Kinlochleven. Ice Factor and its facilities are an essential part of the event delivery and is transformed into a hive of adventure racing activity during the weekend.”
The end of September (30 Sep) will also see Ice Factor Kinlochleven serve as the start point for the Mamores Half-marathon as part of the Glencoe Marathon Gathering while on 3 November, some of the UK’s top mountain-bikers will once again descend on Ice Factor as the registration point for the 2018 Kinlochleven Enduro.
Tracey Smith, Site Director for Ice Factor Group that includes Ice Factor Kinlochleven, believes it’s essential for an SME like Ice Factor, located in a spectacular but remote location to embrace unexpected opportunities that arise within the tourism and adventure market. She commented: “Ice Factor Kinlochleven welcomes approximately 100,000 visitors per annum; a significant footfall for a west highland adventure tourism attraction. We’re delighted to be increasingly approached to help host major outdoor adventure events like Salomon Skyline Scotland™ and to play our part in encouraging more visitors to the village and Lochaber area. Anecdotally, there’s no doubt that these events have a significant and positive impact on the area’s accommodation providers, especially in the shoulder months.”