Why You Need to Attend an Ice Climbing Festival

It’s early February and that means it is ice climbing competition season in cold, mountainous

It’s early February and that means it is ice climbing competition season in cold, mountainous destinations all around North The us. Coming up February twelve-sixteen is the once-a-year Michigan Ice Fest, the oldest celebration of its form in the U.S. From Feb. 14-seventeen is the Valdez Ice Pageant, which John Krakauer writes about in his reserve Eiger Desires. Then Feb. 21-23 is the Festiglace de Pont-Rouge in Québec, at the time “the major climbing collecting on the planet.”

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The writer at the Bozeman Ice Fest climbing with Renny Jackson, writer of ‘A Climber’s Manual to the Teton Vary.’ Courtesy Chris Van Leuven

Like lots of budding ice climbers, I, way too, figured out the ephemeral activity of ice climbing at a competition. Approximately fifteen years ago, again when I labored at Climbing Magazine, I obtained a probability to stop by the Michigan Ice Fest. Invoice Thompson, who nonetheless these days overseas the celebration, shared almost everything I essential to know: where to stay, who to climb with, which routes had been in greatest ailment, and which overcrowded locations to stay away from.

Recollections from that excursion are nonetheless vivid, like the time I rappelled an overhanging cliff to climb Dairyland. Located ideal about Lake Top-quality together the Higher Peninsula’s Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Mountain Venture phone calls the famed 150-foot frozen waterfall “the major, fattest, and most inspiring climb to appear at and climb in the park.” As we climbed, major sets of waves rolled toward the shore beneath. We knew that a person bogus move—like dropping an ice tool—meant it would disappear into the consume. Frigid temps and blowing snow froze my eyelids as I fought for buy in the chandelier ice with my crampons and instruments. By the time I arrived at the best, I was exhausted both mentally and bodily, all set to head again to Munising for the event’s unlimited bash. That I can nonetheless recall each individual depth speaks to the total vary of this sort of a unforgettable expertise. What a blast to drive limitations, test some new, extraordinary climbing, then end with night applications featuring the sport’s greatest athletes, moreover demos supplying a probability to test out the latest gear.

All that, mixed with the hospitality of individuals like Thompson make functions like these even more value the time of any adventurer, no matter of climbing ability.

In the years due to the fact attending that Michigan Ice Fest, I have frequented many other people, which includes the Ouray Ice Fest (Jan. 23-26) in Colorado, the Bozeman Ice Fest (Dec. nine-13) in Montana, and the Smuggs’ Ice Bash (Jan. 24-26) in Vermont. I have volunteered as a co-instructor with North Face athletes which includes Heidi Wirtz and the late Jess Roskelley, where we gathered in modest teams and labored with inexperienced persons who had been using their initial swings. And there had been a lot, as lots of folks we achieved had been attempting the activity for their initial time. They could scarcely make it off the floor, but they nonetheless cherished the expertise. (When it arrives to ice climbing, there is a specific seem to learn that implies a very good ‘stick.’) Other climbers lapped close by lines as we cheered them on.

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It’s all fun and game titles until eventually somebody loses an eye. Scott Bennett and Stefanie Kamm at the Ouray Ice Fest. Chris Van Leuven

Ice climbing festivals generally involve competitions, where the world’s greatest obtain to contend in issues and velocity worries. Not long ago, Tyler Kempney of Boulder, Colo., took 3rd spot at this year’s Ouray Ice Fest. The USA Ice Climbing Team member positioned on the podium ideal behind expert Russian climbers Maxim Tomilov and Alexey Dengin.

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“As constantly, I experienced an remarkable time in this a person-of-a-form Ice Park,” Kempney posted on the Ouray Ice Fest, celebrating its twenty fifth calendar year. The celebration draws hundreds of spectators and climbers who fill the bars, dining places and pack the lodges in the sleepy mountain town. “It is an extraordinary and distinctive useful resource that assists construct group and spread the adore of ice climbing.”

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Night functions draw a packed property at ice festivals. Above is a Chicks with Picks celebration. Chris Van Leuven

Take a look at the UIAA’s event calendar for more data and a plan of future ice fests.