The 2013 Michigan Ice Fest is in the books and 434 participants braved winter blizzard conditions to ascend on Munising Michigan for this annual gathering. Eleven different states, and six different countries were represented this year with participants coming to enjoy the camaraderie of Midwest climbers and the chance to climb the beautiful ice formations at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
The Fest started with an Introduction to Ice Course, and a Top Rope Anchor Course on Thursday where participants spent the day learning he tricks of the trade out at The Curtains. Many folks new to the Fest were excited to get out on the ice and a chance to climb the vertical pillars that are so common in the park. Other participants battled snow to get out after some of the classic lines that drop into Lake Superior along the Lakeshore Trail.
We kicked off the festival on Thursday night with the second annual “Participants Slide Show: Beers with Bill II” while enjoying a tasty beverage climbers were treated to a collection of slides submitted by Ice Fest participants and set to music. Ben Erdmann, a local climber who moved to the great state of Alaska, entertained us with a beautifully presented slide show of his climbing adventures in Alaska, Yosemite and Patagonia.
Waking up early Friday morning with temps hovering around 11 degrees and a stiff wind blowing snow across Lake Superior, climbers hit the trails in search of ice. Several groups headed out the Lakeshore Trail, and others checking out new routes listed in the guidebook. The fest also saw an increase in rentals as many took advantage to check out gear and climb in small groups throughout the park. Three more courses, an Introduction to Ice Course instructed by Joe Josephson, a Top Rope Anchor Course as well as a Rigging and Rescue course taught by Ben Erdmann were filled and went out for a day of instruction and climbing.
Friday evenings festivities started off with a climbing social and free beer sponsored by Scarpa and Trango. We are so glad that Gold Sponsor Scarpa sent Fabrizio Zangrilli out this year to instruct and present. Fabrizio thrilled the crowd with shots and video from his days climbing and guiding throughout the world.
A first time Michigan Ice Fest athlete, Joe Josephson was welcomed into the Michigan Ice Fest family and proceeded to entertain folks with slides of routes he pioneered up in the Canadian Rockies as well as some of his recent work- the beautiful video Genesis 40 Years of Ice Climbing In Hyalite Canyon. Joe is also the organizer of the Bozeman Ice Festival– something we should all visit soon! If you missed the show check this out!
The rest of the evening you could find people browsing the booths of Bob The Mountaineer, socializing with other climbers from around the country, introducing themselves to the athletes and reps, and heading over to the Down Wind Sports booth looking to score a few deals!
As usual we got the ball rolling early with equipment hand out for Ice Fest Courses. Two Intro to Ice, Lead climbing, Women’s Intro to Ice and the Kids courses all filled up fast and participants were treated to instruction provided by Joe Josephson, Mark Wilford, Fabrizio Zangrilli, Zoe Hart, and Will Gadd.
After getting the courses set and on their way it was time to hook up demo participants with demo gear. This year the line to pick up gear was exceptionally long but once again this year all of our demo sponsors really stepped up by sending larger demo kits and everyone was able to get outfitted and get out on the ice!
The Demo area at The Curtains saw lots of first time ice climbers learning the basics on some of the routes set up. Cold temperatures and constant snow fall added to the challenge of the climbs. Hundreds of climbers were challenged throughout the day with a variety of difficult climbs set up, and excitement filled the air as climbers celebrated the success of their first climbs.
After a long day of climbing, everyone converged upon Sydney’s for the Saturday evening social and free beer provided by La Sportiva and Montane. Before the shows we introduced Rachel Hahn and Madison Almquist as the 2013 Sue Nott Scholarship winners. Down Wind Sports has created the Sue Nott Scholarship with the purpose to promote, inspire, and introduce young females to the sport of ice climbing. The girls had to submit a letter of why they wanted to participate, a letter of recommendation from someone other then their parents, and their report card. Rachel and Madison were selected from the largest group of girls ever to submit applications and were provided with free entry into the fest and the Women’s Intro To Ice Course. Super special this year, Evi Nott, Sue’s mother, flew in from Colorado to meet the girls and to climb with them over the weekend! It was a special part of the weekend for the organizers and we were so excited that Evi was able to come join our ice climbing family. Way to go girls!
With a standing room only crowd, our first presentation of the evening was from Zoe Hart. A huge thank you goes out to Gold Level sponsor Patagonia for flying in Zoe from her home in Chamonix France. A fast pace show, Zoe kept folks entertained with stories of climbing in the mountains, sharing adventures with Sue Nott, and funny videos of her exploits with her husband Maxime Turgeon.
Our final presentation of the night was from Ice Fest favorite Will Gadd. A fantastic story teller, Will spoke of his family and early adventures, kayaking and paragliding, climbing ice bergs, a new adventure television show he is a “guinea pig” for, and a highlight for the crowd- ice climbing with Tim Emmett on the spray ice wall near the 463-foot Helmcken Falls in British Columbia. An amazing show if you ever get a chance to see a Will Gadd show- don’t miss it!
Missed the show? Check out this video of the incredible climbing that will is doing on spray ice!
As usual the evening concluded with the Michigan Ice Fest raffle where we gave out over $5000.00 of gear and clothing to some very excited climbers. Soft shells, belay parkas, Ice Axes, Sterling and Petzl ropes, Osprey Packs, and La Sportiva Nepal Evo ice boots were only a few of the items raffled off! A big shout out to Patagonia, La Sportiva, Mountain Hardwear, Arc Teryx, Sterling, Black Diamond, Petzl and Osprey, Montane, Fits Socks for providing such killer raffle prizes! As a side note the 2013 Michigan Ice Fest marked the second time in our history that we had a marriage proposal during the weekend- see it is true, you can fall in love at the Michigan Ice Fest! (she said yes!)
More cold temps greeted our Intro to Ice and Intro to Leading participants which made for challenging classes all day long. The effects of climbing hard all day Saturday and a late night of socializing must have took it toll on climbers as the demo area was a very laid back all day Sunday allowing climbers their choice of routes for most of the day.
All in all it was another great Michigan Ice Festival and we appreciate all of the patronage we get from Midwest climbers. We are proud to say that over the weekend we were able to sign up 44 new members to the American Alpine Club, and the Access Fund and exposed hundreds of first time climbers to the sport of ice climbing.
The reason our event is so successful is because of the assistance we get from all of our sponsors. If you were at the event and had fun, enjoyed the presenters, or loved the killer raffle prizes please drop the following sponsors a note to tell them that you appreciate them supporting the Michigan Ice Fest!
Patagonia email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Arc Teryx email@example.com
La Sportiva firstname.lastname@example.org
Black Diamond email@example.com
Sterling Rope firstname.lastname@example.org
FITS Socks email@example.com
Mountain Hardwear BPittam@mountainhardwear.com
Be sure to keep up with what is happening with the Michigan Ice Fest through our blog at michiganicefest.com or on our facebook page!
SAVE THE DATES!
ICE FEST 2014 January 30st-February 2nd