Ice Conditions Report- 3-22-15

March 23rd, 2015 Comments off


We were not able to get out this past weekend but Munising local and Ice Fest staffer Mario make the pilgrimage out to grand Island and found these beautiful formations still hanging in there.  Lake ice was still good and climbable ice is a “healed over snowcone”.  With a snowstorm slated for Wednesday it looks like our season will be extended for a few more weeks!  As always please use good judgement in selecting your climbs this time of year!











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Ice Conditions Report 3-16-15

March 16th, 2015 Comments off



HMR 3-15-15

HMR 3-15-15

Mid March and loads of climbers still getting after it in Munising this weekend!  Reports coming in are a mixed bag of conditions.  As expected anything with exposure to the sun is extremely sun baked and similar to climbing a giant snowcone.  Nic committed to the brutal ski out to HMR to find it still in climbing condition!

Looking up HMR

Looking up HMR


Other groups crossed the lake ice to access what was probably the last day of climbing on the East Channel.  Large sections are beginning to come down as the sun continues its destruction of these amazing climbs.

East Channel Grand Island 3-14-15

East Channel Grand Island 3-14-15


East Channel 3-14-15

East Channel 3-14-15


While the news tends to be bleak for true water falls and climbs exposed to the sun……..many of the seeps that are hidden in the shadows of the cliffs remain solid and climbable!  At this time of year if you are planning one last trip it would be best to check our conditions report to make sure the climbs you would like to tag are still in.



Dryer Hose 3-15-15

Dryer Hose 3-15-15


Dryer Hose 3-15-15

Dryer Hose 3-15-15



Climbs that were in and reported climbable this weekend:


Sweet Mother Moses

Dryer Hose

Curtains, Opening Curtain, Prelude Curtain

Twin Falls

West Shore Grand Island


Climbs that are not climbable

Giddy Up

East Channel (was climbed but now the lake ice is too unstable to cross)



Call 906-226-7112 for up to minute conditions report!

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Ice Conditions Report- Grand Island 3-6-15

March 6th, 2015 Comments off


With bluebird skies, part of the Michigan Ice Fest staff spent the day circumnavigating the island scouting and climbing some beautiful ice.  Travel to the island is still good with lake ice holding strong.  With the recent cold but sunny days some of the ice on the west shore is starting to be sun baked.  If you are looking to get on some Grand Island ice, particularly the East Channel or West Shore, I would make the pilgrimage within the next two weeks.  The north side, and the mainland climbs, seldom see the sun so the climbing season is certainly going to last much longer there.  Remember Down wind Sports continues to rent gear so come on up and get after it!  If you are looking for any route beta be sure to give us a call at 906-226-7112

West Shore

West Shore



Between Gull Point and West Shore

Between Gull Point and West Shore







Near Gull Point

Near Gull Point


North East Shore

North East Shore


Topping out North East Shore

Topping out North East Shore




Endless bouldering North East Shore

Endless bouldering North East Shore




Ice Conditions 2-22-15

February 23rd, 2015 Comments off




Another early morning start….another below zero day!  Minus one with stiff northerly winds kept us off the lakeshore today so we decided to seek shelter inland.  Our good friends at Roam Automotive have a new toy that we just had to check out!  Half truck- half tank this beauty powered us down to Miners Beach….new snow….no problem!  I think Michigan Ice has a new shuttle system!




Check out this beast in action!




Needless to say the conditions of the ice throughout the park are excellent and it seems that it will stay like that for some time to come.  The Lakeshore Trail is still packed but that can change daily- if you are planning a trip up make sure to throw the snowshoes into the gear pile.

Linda on a cold stout lead of AGF

Linda on a cold stout lead of AGF


Thanks to Thomas and TJ from Roam for the awesome ride today- Check out more videos from Roam here!

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Ice Conditions 1-15-15

February 16th, 2015 Comments off


With the big blizzard this past weekend and sub zero temperatures predicted for the next week ice conditions at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore remain amazing!  Sunday we skied out to Miners Falls in sunny but cold conditions.  With the blowing and drifting Saturday if you are venturing out into the backcountry skis or snowshoes are a must!


Lake ice remains in place and opportunities to climb on Grand Island still exist.  The crossing at Sand Point is still dangerous so if you have plans to go out please use the Grand Island public access.


If you are planning on coming up next weekend it will be cold but the climbing should be spectacular!  Dress warm and remember those snowshoes if you are going into the backcountry.



Photo Contest Finalists

February 14th, 2015 Comments off

Over the past week we’ve been blown away by how many great entries we have gotten for our first annual photo contest.  There were hundreds of photos on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter with the tag #Michiganicefest2015.  If you haven’t looked through them all, I would highly recommend it.  From pizza in the hot tub to remote lakeshore climbs, these entries seemed to catch every aspect of the ice fest experience.  As great as they all were, this is a contest and we had to settle in and pick a winner.

And the winner is… shoot, this is too hard to pick.  We had a handful of favorites and just couldn’t come to a consensus. So with that, we are changing the rules.  We chose our favorites as finalists and are leaving the final choice up to you.  We’re posting all of our favorites to Facebook and letting you vote.  All you have to do is go to our Facebook page and use Facebook’s “Like” feature to select your favorite photo from our album of finalists.  We’ll leave voting open until Wednesday February 18th at 7PM.  Whichever photo has the most “likes” at that point will be our winner.

And what do you get for winning?  A sweet prize of course, this is Ice Fest after all.  We are giving away a free entry to next years event as well a free class of your choice.  In addition to this, we are throwing in a pair of Petzl lazer speed ice screws!

Thanks to everyone who participated. You entered some great images and made our job pretty tough.

Below you can see all of the finalist.  Head over to our Facebook page to vote!

good good3
good4 good5
Good6 good7


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Michigan Ice Fest 2015 Recap

February 12th, 2015 Comments off


The 2015 Michigan Ice Fest is in the books and 492 participants ascended on Munising Michigan for what was the largest gathering of ice climbers in the Midwest ever!  Climbers from 13 different states, and two 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 and Grand Island!



The festival got underway on Thursday with Introduction to Ice Courses, and a Top Rope Anchor Course where participants spent the day learning the 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 early arrivers jumped at the chance to get out on the Lakeshore Trail and take advantage of the great ice conditions.   Sunny and mild temperatures made for an enjoyable day of cragging!


Thursday night with a cold brew in hand, climbers were treated to a collection of slides submitted by Ice Fest participants and set to music, during the third annual  “Participants Slide Show: Beers with Bill III”.  After the show many hung around Sydney’s hatching plans for an early morning departure and dreams of climbing the big routes along Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.



Waking up early Friday morning with temps hovering around 20 degrees, climbers hit the trails in search of ice.  Several groups headed out the Lakeshore Trail, and others walking, skiing or snowmobiling out to Grand Island  The fest also saw an increase in demos as many took advantage to check out gear and climb in small groups throughout the park.  Introduction to Ice Courses, a Women’s Into to Ice, a Top Rope Anchor Course as well as a Rigging and Rescue course were filled to capacity and went out for a day of instruction and climbing.




Friday evenings programs started off with a climbing social and free beer sponsored by Salewa.  Exciting news of a new guidebook coming to the Canadian side of Lake Superior and a short slide show on climbs in the Agawa Canyon area started off the evening’s festivities.  The first presenter originally from Marquette, was Ben Erdmann and now a proud climbing bum.  Fresh off the mountains of Patagonia, Ben entertained the crowd with shots of his adventures.  We are so proud of Ben and what he has accomplished in his climbing career!


We are so happy that Title Sponsor La Sportiva sent Will Mayo out for a second straight year to instruct and present.  For the last few years Will has been literally on fire putting up and climbing some of the hardest mixed routes in North America.  Friday evenings presentation was highlighted by Will’s trip to Alaska with Josh Wharton - the two completed a new route on Huntington, Scorched Granite (4,200′, M7 AI6), just two days after leaving home in Colorado!


The rest of the evening you could find people browsing the booths of  Mountaineer Bob, The Access Fund /American Alpine Club, 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.  One of the unique aspects of the Ice Fest is the opportunity of taking a course from one the  most accomplished climbers in the country.  Sent to the festival from one of our Gold Level sponsors, these athletes work with our participants to give them the tools to be successful.  Talented, patient, funny and some of the nicest guys in the industry- these climbers are what make Michigan Ice Fest so darn fun!  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 Will Mayo, Mark Wilford, Ben Erdmann, Anna Pfaff, Raphael Slawinski, and Barry Blanchard.  Again this year, our Gold Sponsor Fits Socks hooked up course participants with brand new socks to keep their feet warm during classes!  Thanks Fits for joining us again this year!



Year after year the leading manufactures of ice climbing gear and clothing step up to the plate and send loads of demo gear to our festival for participants to “try before buying”.  We really appreciate the effort and the amount of gear these companies send to help ensure that the demo is a success and that we are able to outfit many first time climbers.  Besides our long time sponsors of the demo- Sterling Ropes, Black Diamond, Petzl, Scarpa, Salewa, Asolo, Camp, Cassin, Grivel- Liberty Mountain, Patagonia, Hopp Outdoors, University of Minnesota, and the Ridge Roamers.  Saturday morning saw long lines of participants winding through Sydney’s waiting to score their gear.  It was close but we outfitted nearly 275 participants with the latest ice gear!  We thank everyone for their patience and we are working to secure more demo gear for next years event.


Gold Level sponsors Black Diamond and Patagonia graciously supplied their Stance Belay Parkas to the Michigan Ice Fest participants to keep the participants warm and happy throughout the weekend.


The Demo area at The Curtains saw lots of first time ice climbers learning the basics on some of the many routes that were set up.  Mild temperatures and a light snowfall greeted the participants but determination and grit got most climbers to top out on their first 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 their success.




After a long day of climbing, everyone converged upon Sydney’s for the Saturday evening social and free beer provided by Dry Ice Tools.  During the shows we introduced Leigha as the 2015 Sue Nott Scholarship winner.  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. 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.  Leigha was selected from the applications and was provided with free entry into the fest and the Women’s Intro To Ice Course.   It is always one of our favorite parts of the whole weekend- way to Leigha!


With a standing room only crowd, our first presentation of the evening was from Cold Clear Cinema on a new film project called Michigan Ice. Producer Aaron Peterson premiered the trailer and answered questions on the film.  Be sure to make it to the 2016 Michigan Ice Fest as we will have the world premiere of this beautiful film!
Raphael Slawinski followed with a wonderful show highlighting the spectacular climbing in the Canadian Rockies as well as his amazing climb of K6 in Pakastan.  A plethora of amazing ice and mixed routes filled the screen as Raphael described various routes he has established and climbed over the years.   A huge thank you goes out to our Title Sponsor Black Diamond for hooking us up with a class act like Raphael.

Our final presentation of the night was from Ice Fest favorite Barry Blanchard.  One of North America’s top alpinists, Barry read excerpts from his new book The Calling: A Life Rocked by Mountains.  Entertaining, funny, and poetic, Barry never disappoints delivering a great show.  Questions and a book signing followed this amazing show.



As usual the evening concluded with the Michigan Ice Fest raffle where we gave out over $6000.00 of gear and clothing to some very excited climbers.  Soft shells, belay parkas,  Sterling Ropes, Cassin crampons, Mountain Hardwear parkas, Patagonia packs and jackets, GoPro, Petzl Nomics and La Sportiva ice boots were only a few of the items raffled off!



More mild temps greeted our Intro to Ice  and Intro to Leading participants which made for comfortable 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 34 new members to the American Alpine Club, and the Access Fund  and exposed hundreds of first time climbers to the sport of ice climbing.

As you look back on your Ice Fest experience we ask you to think about the companies and organizations that you saw this weekend- and if you liked what you saw or tried during the weekend we encourage you to buy local.  Buying local in the Midwest supports the Reps that came, and in turn helps to keep the Michigan Ice Fest alive and healthy.  Having remorse for not buying those mountain boots?  Down Wind Sports is still offering the Ice Fest discount for the next week.  Give them a call at 906-226-7112.

We also want to thank all those who volunteered their time, energy, and hard work throughout the weekend.  Without these folks Ice Fest would simply not happen.  A big shout out to  Maddog Lynch, Mario Molin, Linda Wappner, Bryan DeAgustine,  Neil Poglese, the Schneiderhan’s, Ian Hahn, Colten Morre, Alec Berghoef


The reason our event is so successful is because of the assistance behind the scene 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!


La Sportiva        

Black Diamond  




Sterling Rope       

FITS Socks             



Camp USA            




Thank you so much for being part of the Michigan Ice Fest this year!  Be sure to keep up with what is happening with the Michigan Ice Fest through our blog at or on our facebook page!



ICE FEST 2016 February 11-14th

CAMP Climb Reminder!

February 6th, 2015 Comments off


New for the 2015 Michigan Ice Fest will be CAMP CLIMB.  On Saturday and Sunday out at the Demo Curtains, Brett Merlin of CAMP USA will have a route set up where you can demo Cassin Climbing tools and crampons!  Be sure to come out and give this route a spin with these beautiful tools!


The X-DREAM incorporates a patented adjustment system which allows you to optimize the angle of the handle for steep and sustained ice routes or delicate mixed pitches – effectively giving you two-tools-in-one. Radical 3D handle is molded around a solid aluminum core and bolted to shaft providing a sturdy carabiner clip-in point – for leash attachment, copping a rest or backing up anchors. The underside of both “rests” sport serrated teeth for additional purchase and stability and the bottom rest has integrated rubber pad – to save your pinkies. For dry tooling and mixed pitches, position the handle “up” (as shown)- so the pull is more down and out – locking you onto thin edges. For ice and a more natural arcing swing – drop the handle down – 15 degrees – so it’s more parallel to the lower shaft.
Climbers of all ability can further fine tune the X-DREAM for hand size or preference with the micro-adjustable trigger finger ledge (choose from two length inserts that can be flipped over to adjust their height) and a bolt on third tier POMMEL.
Factory equipped with the MIXTE PICK which has a more aggressive downward curve. Accessory ICE PICK is “flatter” and smoothes out the swing for straight forward, steep & sustained Grade VI ice. Both 50 cm shaft and picks are T Rated and incorporate refined beak and tooth configuration, lightening cut-outs and large clip-in window.




12297536174_1403cc748f_zBrett Merlin is living his dream. A graduate of the University of Vermont and alumni of some formative summers learning to climb in Colorado as a teen, Brett works for CAMP USA in Colorado and is a strong, enthusiastic, and always smiling fixture at front range crags. Brett recently returned from Greece, where he and his wife Courtney enjoyed their honeymoon and some climbing.




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Shuttle Information

February 3rd, 2015 Comments off


To help alleviate the parking problem along Sand Point Road, the city of Munising has agreed to run a free shuttle to and from the demo area and the Sand Point Road parking area. Departures are from Sydney’s Restaurant, The Curtains and the Sand Point Road parking area.

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La Sportiva Title Sponsor

February 2nd, 2015 Comments off


We are so excited to announce that La Sportiva is returning as our title sponsor!  Not only do they make incredible climbing gear and clothing, they were the first climbing manufacturer to come to our event back in the days where there were only a handful of participants at the event.  Back in the early days, Mark Wilford of La Sportiva,  generously donated his time and talents to help build a solid foundation for our festival. This year we think (those early days are a bit hazy) Mark and Sportiva have been involved with the Michigan Ice Fest close to 20 years.  Besides Mark’s return, La Sportiva is also sending Will Mayo for a second straight year of instructing and presenting!   Look for exciting things to happen between Michigan Ice and La Sportiva for years to come!


Who’s the one guy you can guarantee you’ll see at the fest?  Mark of course!  A long time supporter of the festival, Mark is considered one of the most proficient and diverse alpinist/rock climbers in the world. With more than 30 years of experience, he has accumulated a long resume of bold rock ascents, alpine solos, Alaskan climbs and Himalayan expeditions. Among his most notable climbs are the first American solo ascent of the Eiger North Face, a first ascent route on Nameless Tower, a winter solo of the Diamond on Long’s Peak and first ascents in Alaska’s Saint Elias Range.




For those of you that are Ice Fest veterans, one thing that always sticks out is what characters some of the climbers can be, and Wilford is no exception.  Profiled in John Sherman’s book, “Sherman Exposed“,  Wilford’s accomplishments on the rock and antics off the rock are examined.  He has a passion for fast cars and that has given him the dubious record of surviving at least six automobile rollovers, although…… he claims he was only driving for five of them.



Caroline Treadway photo

Caroline Treadway photo

Will Mayo is one of the world’s strongest ice and mixed climbers.   Will has been very busy since we saw him at last years Ice Fest, putting up another testpiece in a string of difficult mixed lines he’s established on Mt. Evans’ Black Wall in Colorado. Read about it here!  We are so excited to have the quality of climber and instructor that Will brings to our Ice Fest!

“The most captivating aspect of climbing is the manner in which it demands complete focus on the present. In climbing, during a crux section, it’s only right now; it sounds banal, but it actually seems like a rare and precious thing in our day-to-day lives. Everything else just falls away from one’s mind and one is completely engaged in the moment. Climbing allows for a healthy reset of the mind which allows for clarity upon return to our daily grinds. Besides, it’s just plain fun!”


La Sportiva

In the Twenties Thirties and Forties, Narciso Delladio hand-crafted wooden clogs and leather boots for many lumber-jacks and farmers of the Fassa and Fiemme valleys, who trusted his skilled hands. Very important is the date of a participation certificate at the Milan Trade Fair in 1928. During the Second World War, Delladio custom produced mountain boots that were supplied to the Army. Dating back to this period is a patent for a special lacing system, that later will be used by the most important footwear factories.

After the war, the demand for boots increased, obliging Narciso to hire new workers: the good name of “Calzoleria Sportiva” crossed the boarders of the valleys and reached the cities of Trento and Bolzano.

In the Fifties, his son Francesco began to work for the company, and by doing the right thing at the right time he started building a new workshop on the outskirts of Tesero, where today is located a large industrial area. In the new and roomy building they began to design and develop ski boots, for a fast growing sport, requiring more technical boots. The market opened up quickly and Francesco Delladio introduced the brand name “La Sportiva” firstly in the Milan Exhibition, then throughout Europe, with a winter collection characterized by audacious technical and aesthetic solutions, and a summer collection of traditional mountain boots.

In the Seventies, with the arrival of plastic boots, “La Sportiva”, after a trial season, had to discontinue the production of ski boots, for financial reasons; the investment would have been too high and therefore the production was limited to mountain boots and cross-country skiing footwear. In the meantime the sons of Francesco began to work in the company: Lorenzo, Luciano, Marco. The desire to create, to stand out and to make a name for oneself in an ever increasing market is a characteristic present in the Delladio family.

During the Eighties  the focus of the firm moves towards the climbing sector due to an intuition which will prove to be a winner. An innovative shoe characterized by the colors purple and yellow was devised and produced to become the forerunner of a long series of avant-garde products, which very quickly will seal the success of the brand name world wide.