First Tools In

22579554493_4cf5962206_zIt started with a call from Matt.  He was busy sharpening his tools getting ready to be the first on the ice in the U.P. this year.  He and Brian had plans to head over to Cliff’s Drive up in the Keweenaw Peninsula to see what might have come in with the recent snow and cold temperatures.  Not that we are a competitive bunch, but the Ice Fest staff down in the Marquette store couldn’t stand it if the IF staff in the Houghton store beat us to the ice.

First tools in for Ice Fest staff in Houghton
First tools in for Ice Fest staff in Houghton

With plans for an early alpine start the Marquette staff headed out to Scratch Wall near Big Bay Michigan to try to beat Matt and Brian to the punch.  With a perfectly executed plan we  were at the wall at 8am and climbing a good seven minutes before the guys in the Keweenaw.  One slight problem was that there wasn’t a stitch of ice on the entire bloody wall!



23206641375_9f8595be09_zIt was pretty disappointing but we made the best of it with a quick dry tooling session before heading off to work.

Up in the Keweenaw it was a bit of a different story.  Matt and Brian raced out to Cliff’s Drive and found water that was actually frozen!  A fresh blanket of snow had turned the area into a winter scene and thin rime ice had covered the crag.



22812539077_c3829102e9_zWhile there was ice, it was extremely thin, and a sketchy lead so the boys ended up bailing and headed down for some bouldering on thicker ice.   While we don’t like to admit defeat, we have to congratulate and give it to Matt and Brian as they scored the first tools in this year!

Photos by Matt Abbotts and Jack Frost