Black Diamond To Demo Belay Jackets This Year!

November 17th, 2014 Comments off



Gold Level Sponsor Black Diamond is bound and determined to keep everyone warm at this years Ice Fest!  New this year BD will be sending a demo fleet of their awesome belay parkas to keep folks nice and toasty belaying and waiting to climb.

Designed to endure bail-worthy belay conditions on single-pitch ice routes and massive alpine objectives alike, the Black Diamond Stance Belay Parka lets you hunker down while your partner battles it out on the sharp end. Our warmest insulated jacket, the Stance is filled with two layers of lightweight, highly compressible PrimaLoft® Silver Hi-Loft insulation that provide sleeping-bag level warmth, even when wet. A two-way center front zipper lets you wear the jacket over your harness while belaying, and oversized hand, chest and internal drop pockets accommodate gloves, water bottles and other essentials.

2015 New Program- CAMP CLIMB

November 4th, 2014 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.





Categories: Uncategorized Tags: , ,

Will Mayo Returning To Ice Fest- Compliments Of Ice Fest Title Sponsor La Sportiva!

October 17th, 2014 Comments off
Caroline Treadway photo

Caroline Treadway photo

For years La Sportiva has been very generous by sending huge amounts of demo boots so that participants can test out the latest and greatest ice climbing gear.
La Sportiva,  our Title Sponsor, has also sent amazing athletes to our event  ensuring that we get the highest quality instructors, and are entertained in the evening with inspiring stories of climbing around the world.   This year is no different as they are graciously sending Will Mayo back!  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!


“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!”
As always during Ice Fest you will have an opportunity to take a course with one of the country’s leading climbers……be sure to sign up for the Introduction to Leading with Will Mayo, space is limited and its sure to fill up fast!
We look forward to having Will join us for the 2015 Michigan Ice Fest and thank everyone at La Sportiva for all of their support over the years!


2015 Michigan Ice Fest Registration Now Open!

September 19th, 2014 Comments off


Registration for all of Michigan Ice Fest courses is now officially open!  This is a record early open for us, so sign up today as these classes usually fill by the holidays.

Our clinics are the perfect opportunity to gain experience and knowledge from some of the best climbers in the world!  We have scheduled our athletes to teach our Saturday through Sunday courses.   All courses Thursday and Friday will be taught by local climbers.  If you are interested in signing up, act quickly as space is limited!  All clinics meet at the upper level of Sydney’s for introductions and to distribute equipment.


The courses are one day courses- please sign up for the day you would like to take the course.




Our clinics are the perfect opportunity to gain experience and knowledge from some of the best climbers in the world!  We have scheduled our athletes to teach our Saturday through Sunday courses.   All courses Thursday and Friday will be taught by local climbers.  If you are interested in signing up, act quickly as space is limited!  All clinics meet at the upper level of Sydney’s for introductions and to distribute equipment.


The courses are one day courses- please sign up for the day you would like to take the course.




Introduction to Ice Climbing: Thu/Fri/Sat/Sun 9:00am

What better way to shorten your learning curve and learn proper ice climbing technique then to take a class from one of our professional instructors!  Learn equipment selection, tool placement, stance, and ice climbing technique.  Class is limited to 10 participants and with two routes selected there is sure to be plenty of climb time.   Space is limited for this one day course. $130 per person includes gear

Women’s Introduction to Ice: Saturday or Sunday  9:00am

What better way to learn proper ice climbing technique then to take an all women’s class from one of our professional instructors!  Learn equipment selection, tool placement, stance, and ice climbing technique.  Class is limited to 10 female participants and with two routes selected there is sure to be plenty of climb time.   Space is limited for this one day course. $130 per person includes gear

Introduction to Leading on Ice: Saturday or Sunday 9:00am

This class is designed to introduce the beginning ice climber to the gear and techniques associated with leading on ice. Students will learn proper use of gear and equipment and will be shown different techniques and when to use them. Upon entering this class the student must have knowledge of the basic gear and techniques associated with ice climbing. $130 per person includes gear.  STUDENTS WILL NOT BE LEADING- All students will be on a top rope clipping a trail rope to the protection.

Building Top Rope Anchors: Thursday or Friday 10:00am

One of the essentials of safe climbing is the ability to create and/or identify safe anchors. This course will give you hands on instruction on how to build a solid top rope anchor. The course is designed to give you knowledge and background information and to give you actual anchor building experience under the watchful eye of our instructor. Through the course of the day, you will have the opportunity to build anchors, and have your anchors critiqued. By the end of the day you should have the confidence to set up your own anchors in just about any situation.  $130 per person includes gear

Rescue and Rigging Course: Friday and Saturday 10:00am
While none of us plan on getting hurt while climbing, it is important to plan and practice what to do in the event it happens. In this clinic we will cover basics for high-angle rescue that are applicable to many of the ice climbs we find in the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore area. A number of the falls require the climber to rappel in and climb out, in the event of an injury or bad conditions making ascent difficult, it is required that the person is either hauled out or is able to ascend the ropes to reach the top.
Some of the techniques and concepts we will cover:
-scene size-up and patient handling
-rigging of a mechanical advantage system for hauling a casualty
We will focus on a minimalistic approach to the equipment used. The gear and techniques will form the foundation for rigging and rescue in glacier travel and more complex multi-pitch rescues.  $130 per person includes gear for this two day course.


Kid’s Climb: Sat 10:00am

Ages 9-14 will be able to join the fun and learn how to climb ice!  Participants will learn about ice climbing in a safe and super fun environment! Space is limited so sign up early. $45 per person includes gear.

Register for the event HERE!

Patagonia Sends Barry Blanchard To Michigan Ice!

September 17th, 2014 Comments off


Michigan Ice Fest is proud to announce that our good friend Barry Blanchard will be joining us again (use Canadian accent when saying “again”) instructing our courses and headlining the Saturday evening presentations.  We are so fortunate to have our Gold Sponsor Patagonia for sending Barry to the event!

Barry Blanchard is known world wide as the modern father of Canadian alpine mountaineering and hard ice climbs.  Often described as the “Bonatti of the Rockies,” and Canada’s greatest alpinist, the Canmore-based writer and photographer spends his time romping around the globe in search of adventure on high alpine faces.  Barry is an internationally certified UIAGM guide and frequently works as a safety coordinator for Hollywood. He has been featured ice climbing in the IMAX Extreme film and Vertical Limit. His exploits include the first ascent of the epic North Pillar of North Twin, first ascents in winter on the north faces of Les Droites and two successful expeditions to Mt. Everest. In 2002 he opened a new route on the Emperor Face of Mt. Robson. It was Barry’s seventh start over many years, and partners Eric Dumerac and Philippe Pellet insisted on the name Infinite Patience (VI, WI5, M5, 5.9). In addition to recent routes on the southwest face of East Kahiltna Peak, the southeast ridge of Mt. Asperity and the north face of Bravo Peak.


As if it is not enough just to have Barry at our event- this year will be a bonus as Barry’s new book, The Calling A Life Rocked by Mountains will be available!

With heart-pounding descriptions of avalanches and treacherous ascents, Barry Blanchard chronicles his transformation from a poor Native American/white kid from the wrong side of the tracks to one of the most respected alpinists in the world. At thirteen, he learned to rappel when he joined the 1292 Lord Strathcone’s Horse Army Cadets. Soon kicked out for insubordination, he was already hooked on climbing and saw alpinism as a way to make his single mother proud and end his family’s cycle of poverty. He describes early climbs attempted with nothing to guide him but written trail descriptions and the cajones of youth. He slowly acquires the skills, equipment and partners necessary to tackle more and more difficult climbs, farther and farther afield: throughout the Canadian Rockies, into Alaska and the French Alps and on to Everest, Peru, and the challenging mountains in Pakistan. From each he learns lessons that only nature and extreme endeavor can teach.

Gripped Magazine called his memoir, The Calling: A Life Rocked by Mountains (Patagonia, October 2014), “the most anticipated book of 2014.”  The Calling is the story of the culture of climbing in the days of punk rock, spurred on by the rhythm of adrenaline and the arrogance of youth. It is also a portrait of the power of the mountains to lift us – physically, emotionally, intellectually, spiritually – and the depths of relationships based on total trust in the person at the other end of a rope.

The book includes climbs with top climbers such as Kevin Doyle, Mark Twight, David Cheesmond and Ward Robinson, with killer photos and even Barry’s song playlist! Thanks again to our Gold Sponsor Patagonia for making it possible for Barry to be at this years Michigan Ice Fest!




Doug Robinson To Present At This Years Fest!

August 29th, 2014 Comments off


To say we are excited to have Doug Robinson present is truly an understatement!  An iconic figure in the climbing scene for decades, it will be an honor to have Doug presenting and instructing at the years event.



thisDoug Robinson was dirtbagging his way through the Golden Age of Yosemite climbing in the Sixties, when one fall evening over a kerosene lantern at Chuck Pratt’s camp he met Yvon Chouinard. Two weeks later, Chouinard showed up on the edge of the Palisade Glacier to give him, hot off his Ventura forge, a new curved-pick ice axe, ice hammer and rigid-frame crampons. The next day they made the first ascent, under full blue-ice conditions, of the V-Notch. It’s hard to realize now how revolutionary that new gear was, ending a hundred years of step cutting. The THUNK! of that curved axe into hard ice was heard ‘round the world.

The next winter they teamed up again to do the first routes on waterfall ice in Lee Vining Canyon, which is still California’s most popular roadside ice. Doug then helped write Chouinard’s classic Climbing Ice. In 1976 Doug and Dale Bard made the first ascent of Ice Nine, which to this day is the hardest alpine ice route in the High Sierra. Doug’s article about their climb was featured in the third issue of Outside magazine. In 1979 he joined Jeff Lowe and David Breashears on Tom Frost’s expedition to make the second ascent of Ama Dablam (22,495), which they filmed for ABC Sports. Shortly after returning home, Doug became the first president of the American Mountain Guides Association. Then he went skiing.



Doug is also known for sparking the clean climbing revolution–his first hammerless ascent of Half Dome with Galen Rowell and Dennis Hennek was featured in National Geographic–many ski-mountaineering firsts, and for writing that vividly evokes our love of climbing. His articles have ranged from Rock & Ice to Alpinist to Powder. Doug is bringing his new book, The Alchemy of Action, which delves into the high we get from this vertical passion, to share at the Michigan Ice Fest!




Doug Robinson, 68, is a professional mountaineer known internationally for his climbing, guiding and backcountry skiing, as well as his poetic writings about the mountains and why we climb them. Closely identified with California’s High Sierra, Doug has been called “the modern John Muir.”

The Art of Clean Climbing from Cyrus Sutton on Vimeo.


Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

The Upper Peninsula Of Michigan- 7 Months Of Ice Climbing!

May 4th, 2014 Comments off
Matt Abbotts on the sharp end November 2013

Matt Abbotts on the sharp end November 2013

This Sunday marked the 7th month of ice climbing in the U.P.!  You might remember Michigan Ice Fest staff Matt Abbotts and Arni Ronis were getting after it November 6th last year and ever since the Upper Peninsula has been locked in a cold zone- perfect for churning out excellent ice conditions.

Ice Fest staffer Linda Wappner leads a fat line at Opening Curtain May 4th 2014

Ice Fest staffer Linda Wappner leads a fat line at Opening Curtain May 4th 2014

Today Sunday May 4th and the Curtains along Sand Point Road are still in and dare I say- in fantastic condition for being a month where most folks in the Midwest have already mowed their lawn. There is still plenty of ice to climb and will be for at least another week or so!  Now I’m not going to lie to anyone….most of the climbs are short seeps that are tucked back into the shady areas of the park- but none the less it’s still ice! 14127816353_803f5907cc_z

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Ice Conditions Report 4-27 It’s Still On!

April 27th, 2014 Comments off


An alpine start and it felt like January conditions!  19 degrees this morning means that the ice is here to stay (at least for the foreseeable future).  Want to come up?  Give the store a call before you do to get the up to minute report- 906-226-7112









Categories: Ice Conditions Tags:

Ice Conditions Report- 4-20

April 20th, 2014 Comments off


Still climbable ice in Munising for those who are not ready to hang up the tools!  The Curtains were in fine shape this Easter Sunday with moderate temperatures in the early morning and closing in on 60 degrees in the afternoon.







As a side note we did see two snow machines blast across Munising Bay to Grand Island……not sure if I would risk it but they made it to Trout Bay!

Categories: Ice Conditions Tags:

Ice Conditions 4-13 Not Too Bad!

April 13th, 2014 Comments off


After finding disappointing conditions last Thursday along the Lakeshore Trail, I was pleasantly surprised today to find the Sand Point climbs in excellent condition!  Lots of quality ice at the Curtains, and the good news……it looks like it might be around for awhile!


Prelude Curtain and Opening Curtain are as large as I have ever seen them.  We also discovered some short fun climbs that have formed this year climbers right of Prelude Curtain.





It looks like the key to finding climbable climbs is to scout around and find areas that have relatively low snow cover above them.  Everything we found today was snow free and are not getting eaten out from the water above.  With cold temperatures coming back to the area this week it looks like our climbing season will be extended!


Categories: Ice Conditions Tags: