It has started. The southern winds that have been blowing for a month, and bringing with them an extended summer, have changed. There is frost on the ground, steel grey sky’s blanketing the U.P, and gales building on Lake Superior. Today it finally feels like fall. A change is in the air.
For the past eight months, the organizers of the Michigan Ice Fest have been working tirelessly to put together an amazing week, yes we said week, of ice climbing festivities! We’ve pulled out all of the stops for 2016. From adding a day to the festival to bringing in more than 4 times as many professional climbers, this is not an Ice Fest to miss. A change is in the air and good things are happening.
WHAT’S NEW FOR 2016
For over 25 years our headquarters have been located at Sydney’s Restaurant. Over the years, the fest and Sydney’s have had a great relationship. While we love Sydney’s- everyone involved agrees that the event has outgrown the facility. For months we have sought out somewhere that can better handle our growing list of friends and supporters. With the blessing of Sydney’s our new headquarters will be at the American Legion Hall for 2016. We now have the space to let the festival grow. Lot’s new opportunities are possible! The Legion Hall will be home to registration, demos, vendors, after parties and more.
In the past we’ve seen great support from our partners in the climbing industry. Sales reps came to the event to help folks with all of their product questions and share their knowledge. Nothing in the past holds a candle to the support we’ll see this year. A dozen companies are sending representatives and products to help you get the most out of your gear. Most of the companies you love will be on hand. You’ll see the latest and greatest in climbing gear and have the chance to buy it at a discounted price!
The Mather Elementary School was built in 1921 and included a classic auditorium with a raised stage and theater style seating. In 2001/2002 the auditorium was completely renovated and a state of the art sound and lighting were introduced. With over 700 seats, and a sixty foot screen, the auditorium will provide the perfect setting for our featured slideshows. Gone are the days struggling to see a small screen in a hot, overcrowded, and loud room.
The Michigan Ice Fest and Clear & Cold Cinema are excited to announce that if you are coming to the 2016 Michigan Ice Fest you will be the first climbers to see the new Michigan Ice Film! Join us Saturday night at the Mather Auditorium as we unveil the film that documents the spectacular ice climbing and history that is only available in Munising Michigan.
Ice Fest is a social event. Always has been, always will be. We love seeing our friends, having a beer, and sharing our adventures from the past year. That’s one thing that will never change. Every evening after a hard day of climbing we’ll be gathering at our new headquarters for a Climber’s After Party, just like we’ve always done. The real news here is that we have secured an official Michigan Ice Fest beer sponsor! The Ore Dock Brewery of Marquette is coming over to tempt our taste buds with their fabulous beers. There will be a few free kegs of beer each night and a cash bar during the after party. Enjoy the shows at the Mather Auditorium and then come back to the American Legion Hall to taste some of the finest brews the U.P. has to offer!
While not new to the fest, we are expanding our shuttle service by adding an additional bus and running them throughout the evening.
*Free Shuttle to the demo area and Sand Point Parking Area
*Free Shuttle from Hotels to the American Legion Hall
*Free Shuttle from the Mather Auditorium to the Ice Fest headquarters for the After Parties
*Free Shuttle from the After Parties to most area hotels
Michigan Ice Fest has always brought in some of the most amazing climbers to instruct our courses and share their stories in the evenings. Over the years we have averaged 4-5 athletes teaching courses and providing the featured slide shows. For 2016 we are so stoked to say that we will have more sponsored athletes than ever, four times as many! So far we have 16 professional athletes committed to this year’s fest and more to come!
In 2015 we offered 120 class spots over 4 days of climbing. All of those spots were filled more than a month before the event and people were scrambling for more. This year we have expanded our course offerings and are excited to say 420 class spots are now available! In addition to offering more spots in our beginner and intermediate classes, we have added many classes to help people expand their climbing skills and make the most out of the incredible instruction the pro climbers can offer. Here’s a list of our new classes:
Women’s Intermediate Ice
Advanced Leading on Ice
Back Country Adventure
Ice Climbing Photography
Half Day Class- Ice Climbing Teaser
Half Day Class-Belay Station and Transitions on Multi Pitch
Half Day Class-Equipment Modification
Ice Screw and Anchor Placement
You can check out our full class schedule including their descriptions HERE. Our registration is open so don’t wait….classes are already starting to fill!
To us, Ice fest never really felt long enough. Lots of folks come up early and, aside from the amazing climbing, there really wasn’t much going on. So this year we’re starting the festival a day early. On Wednesday we’ll be offering classes, demo gear, a casual social in the evening, and maybe a few surprises.
For 2016, participants will be able to checkout demo gear Wednesday through Sunday at the American Legion Hall. We have many more companies attending the event and that means there will be a lot more gear available this year!
Gear for Classes – If you sign up for a class you will receive demo gear for the day of your class only. If you intend to use demo gear the rest of the weekend you will need to pay the $40 demo fee.
Last year we introduced online registration and it was a big hit. It made our lives so much easier we were able to drop the price of registration at this year’s event. Registering online will only cost you $40, rather than the $45 you paid last year! The savings only applies to online registration though. If you wait and sign up at the door it will $45. So save yourself a few bucks and sign up now!
We hope you are as excited as we are with all of the changes that are happening to our festival. We are striving to offer Midwest climbers the best possible ice climbing event by offering a wide variety of opportunities through these changes. Bring on the ice!
To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.