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
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!
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
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!
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!
Headed to Munising today under blue bird skies and warm temperatures. Headed down the Lakeshore trail and soon discovered that with the amount of snow that is still on the ground and our warm temperatures snowshoes are a must! We also discovered that our beloved ice is deteriorating at a much faster pace then normal. It seems that the heavy snow pack is melting putting much more water into the ground than normal which in turn is eating the ice formations from the inside out. After scouting for a bit we finally found some small seeps to play on.
With the East Channel climbs falling with a thunderous boom all afternoon, we did not see anyone venturing out towards the island. Judging by the ice fishermen just off shore of Sand Point, it looks like the Grand Island season is over. If you are jonesing for some ice there still is some small seeps available to climb but they don’t seem like they will be around too much longer. We’ll try again Sunday and let everyone know how they are holding up.
With winter temperatures not loosening their grip on the Upper Peninsula (minus 10 this morning) conditions are still excellent! The lake ice is still skiable all the way around Grand Island and along the mainland fro Sand Point to the Chapel area climbs as well.
The lake ice was incredibly skier friendly as there is just enough snow to give you grip and glide and very few pressure ridges to deal with. Miners Beach has incredible ice bouldering opportunities as the lake ice is piled up forming a mile of bouldering. Under blue bird skies, we skied out to Bridal Veil Falls which we found in amazing shape!
Looks like winter temps are going to hold again this week so make some plans for next weekend and come on up and get some!
With our store beginning to transition into spring inventory, it is always nice to see new products flowing on to the sales floor that we really don’t have to wait for nice warm weather to use. Fresh out of the box we just unpacked the Patagonia Ascensionist Pack that would make the perfect light weight ice climbing or fast packing pack. Weighing in at a scant 1.4 lbs this ultra light pack is sure to make the spring skiing out to Grand Island more enjoyable!
Patagonia Ascensionist Pack
Designed for one-to-two day speedball ascents in places like Chamonix and Patagonia, this streamlined, yet highly versatile climbing backpack has everything you need, but absolutely nothing more. It features an integrated, asymmetrical spindrift collar that opens wide and closes in a single motion for fast packing. A secondary collar protects your gear from ugly weather, allows serious overstuffing and holds gear securely when the pack is hanging at belays. The removable frame sheet, made from a lightweight aluminum rod and covered with mesh, provides support for weighted loads and moves with you as you bend and flex. Ergonomic shoulder straps (with load lifters) match your torso’s contours for 24-hour comfort, and the hip belt has removable pads for simplicity. Four rows of exterior daisy chains provide lashing options for a rope, helmet and pad; ice tools attach via an integrated buckle and tool pocket. Other details include compression straps to carry skis and cinch down loads, an asymmetric profile for elbow clearance and a zippered pocket on the lid for quick access to small essentials. Made from lightweight yet durable 6.25-oz 210-denier nylon double-ripstop and 6.05-oz 400-denier nylon ripstop, with a 1.8-oz 40-denier nylon double-ripstop lining. All fabrics have a polyurethane coating.
See what Michigan Ice Fest friend Steve House has to say about this pack.
Well the photo says it all….-28 degrees this morning almost had me heading back to Marquette and a warm bed! Fortunately the plan was to ski to Trout Bay on Grand Island which was almost guaranteed to keep us warm! With the morning sun cresting over the ridge we made good time skiing from the Grand Island Public Launch to the West Shore of Trout Bay in 1.5 hours.
The lake ice is super solid and it looks like all climbs are still accessible from the lake ice via skis or snowmobile. As you can imagine, there is more ice formations on both the east side and on the west side this year due to our amazing cold temperatures.
Based on what we saw today, it looks like March will be the perfect time to come up and climb Grand Island in warmer temperatures-its got to be coming soon right? Keep checking back as we will have weekly updates on how long of a season we will have this year!
Another great weekend for climbing ice in the Upper Peninsula! Not to sound like a broken record but conditions are amazing right now and will be for the foreseeable future. Why? Well check out the forecast below to see that our temps are holding steady for the remainder of the month. Could we possible break our record this year and be climbing the second week of May?
Scott Thomas, Michael Donhost, Jack DeAugustine, and Bryan DeAugustine sent in these photos of their outting Saturday. They had sunny skies and fat ice. It was a beautiful day to be climbing for sure!
Planning on coming up this next weekend? Pack yer long undies as we are still full on winter! The lake ice to Grand Island is still solid as is the shore ice along the Lakeshore Trail.
For all of our Michigan Ice Fest fans cold temperatures have not released their grip on the Upper Peninsula (thankfully) and our ice conditions are excellent! Several of the Michigan Ice Fest staff gathered Sunday to travel out to Grand Island for a wee bit of climbing along the West Shore. Right now conditions are EPIC with big fat beautiful blue ice and it really looks like long term forecast show the ice is not going to go anywhere anytime soon. If you haven’t been to Grand Island be sure to get up here in the next month or so as you will be treated to long routes, perfect ice and NO CROWDS!
The West Shore of Grand Island has more routes concentrated together than any other climbing location in the Upper Peninsula! Only a ten minute snowmobile ride from the Grand Island public access, the West Shore is the closest major ice formation to the mainland. Unlike the major climbs at Pictured Rock National Lakeshore, many of the West Shore climbs are less than vertical, offering moderate leads well above the waters of Lake Superior.
Death and/or old age is coming…..we must live sweet.
The time is now. Why ration passion?
Dream big…..and climb those dreams.
After all, it is not only life, but the quality of this life.
As our good friend Mike says- The time is now! Don’t wait….start planning your trip up and get after the amazing ice that Grand Island has to offer. If you have any logistical questions about the island or the climbs don’t hesitate to drop us a line.