Barry Blanchard Returns To Ice Fest!

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Michigan Ice Fest is proud to announce that our good friend Barry Blanchard will be joining us again (use Canadian accent when saying “again”). We have our Gold  Level Sponsor Patagonia to thank for sending Barry to this years 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.

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Barry is also the author of The Calling A Life Rocked by Mountains and will be available for purchase and signing!

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!

 

 

 

 

 

Once Again- The North Face To Team Up With PRCA!

Conrad Anchor seems to be pretty fired up about PRCA.  photo credit Aaron Peterson/ Cold Clear Cinema
Conrad Anker seems to be pretty fired up about PRCA. photo credit Aaron Peterson/ Cold Clear Cinema

It all started out with a comment from The North Face Team Athlete Conrad Anker. Conrad was in Munising filming the new National Parks IMAX Film celebrating the 100th anniversary of the National Park System.  Conrad Anker’s specialty, simply put, is climbing the most technically challenging terrain in the world. This quest has taken him from the mountains of Alaska and Antarctica to the big walls of Patagonia and Baffin   Island and the massive peaks of the Himalaya.  Blown away by the climbing at Pictured Rocks, he was surprised that there is virtually no local youth that have taken up ice climbing.

Pictured Rocks Climbing Academy

Last year The North Face came up with a plan to sell  Yeti Colsters and TNF Beanies and donate the funds to a local non profit.  It is with these funds that the Pictured Rocks Climbing Academy was established and 3 local youth have been “learning the ropes” and getting stoked for the 2017 fest!  Pictured Rocks Climbing Academy is a free program available to Alger/Marquette County youths ages 12-17 where mentors guide a small group of four participants through a four step program designed to advance the participants rock and ice climbing skills. Our goal is to develop, advise and foster a youth climbing community in the central Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

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Based on an application system, each year the PRCA Board selects and awards 4 full ride scholarships that include 6-10 instructional sessions.  The instructional sessions will involve indoor training sessions, outdoor rock climbing, ice climbing, as well as participants receiving full ride scholarships to the Michigan Ice Fest which will include clinics, courses, and slide shows. Participants will be able to hone their skills that were developed throughout the year.  It is our goal to plant the seed and produce the next generation of high level ice climbers.  For more information on the PRCA please contact Bill at downwindsports@gmail.com

 

Once again this year we are receiving big help from our friends at The North Face! At this years Ice Fest, The North Face has a limited amount of Custom beanies made by TNF that will be sold for $20.00 with 100% of the proceeds going back to the Pictured Rocks Climbing Academy. You will want to run right over to the TNF booth at Michigan Ice Fest Headquarters as quantities are limited!

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The staff at PRCA would personally like to thank Alex Brown from The North Face, and all of the Ice Fest friends who purchased beanies last year to help get this program off the ground! The kids are very excited to show their skills off at this years event- THANK YOU!

img_4612Check out more on Conrad’s visit to Munising here!

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MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT- PRESENTER CHANGES!

 

 

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Due to some unforeseen circumstances Kyle Dempster and Doug Robinson will not be able to attend the 2015 Michigan Ice Fest.  While we are disappointed that the guys won’t be able to make it this year we will most certainly see them in Michigan next year!  Thanks to some scrambling and hard work by Jon Jugenheimer of Black Diamond, and Brett Merlin of CAMP USA, we are very excited to announce that Raphael Slawinski  and Anna Pfaff will be joining us as instructors/presentors!

 

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Raphael Slawinski

I got into climbing late, in my mid-twenties. And maybe it was for the best, as I’m still excited about it more than twenty years later. It was moving away from the Canadian Rockies to the flatlands of Chicago, where I went to grad school, which got me into climbing. There were no mountains to scramble, so I started rock and ice climbing on small Midwestern cliffs. These days I’m comfortably settled back in Calgary, on the doorstep of the Rockies. Fortunately my job as a physics professor leaves me lots (but never enough!) time to play in my favorite mountain range.

Picture1It’s a good thing I like winter, because it’s really, really long here. There’s so much you can do: ice, mixed, ski … and sometimes, when the motivation’s high and avy hazard low, even winter alpine. Don’t get me wrong though, I love our summers too. High in the shadows of a big limestone north face, looking down on sunlit glaciers and forests far below, is one of the best places I can imagine being.

Ten years ago I discovered the great peaks of the Pakistani Karakoram. There’s something among those giant pyramids of granite and ice, rising above arid, brown valleys, that I haven’t found anywhere else. Whatever it is, it’s drawn me back time and again.

You can check out all things Raphael at his blog by clicking here!

 

Raphael is being sent to Michigan Ice by our Gold Sponsor Black Diamond!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Anna Pfaff

Anna grew up in Ohio and started climbing when she moved out west in hery early twenties.  Some of her earliest memories of climbing include routes like the Emmons – Winthrop on Mount Rainier, Washington, the Salathe on El Capitan, Yosemite with Jean Readle, the Beckey-Chouinard in The Bugaboos, Canada. She has also climbed and ice-climbed in some of the most spectacular locations on earth. From Patagonia, Kyrgyzstan, Tibet, Pakistan, the Himalaya’s.  More info on Anna to come but in the meantime check out her blog here!

Anna is being sent to Michigan Ice by our Gold Sponsor CAMP USA!

 

UPDATE PRESENTATION SCHEDULE

Thursday

TBA

 

Friday

Ben Erdmann

Raphael Slawinski

 

Saturday

Will Mayo

Barry Blanchard

Meet Me In Minnesota….Who Wants To Go To The Sandstone Ice Fest?

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This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Sandstone Ice Festival!  Located in Sandstone Minnesota, this vibrant festival kicks off the ice climbing season in the Midwest as it is a gathering of kindred spirits who share a love for all things cold.   This year the Michigan Ice Festival is comin’ on over and bringing a whole bunch of gear for folks to try out!  If your coming to the fest you will have the opportunity to check out La Sportiva, Scarpa, Black Diamond, Petzl, Grivel and Cassin gear!  We look forward to seeing all of our Midwest friends and getting on some of that Minnesota ice!

2015 Michigan Ice Fest Registration Now Open!

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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.

THERE WILL BE NO REFUNDS IF PARTICIPANTS CANCEL! 

THESE SPOTS FILL UP FAST!

 

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.

THERE WILL BE NO REFUNDS IF PARTICIPANTS CANCEL! 

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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
-ascension
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!

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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.

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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!

 

 

 

Michigan Ice Fest Recap 2014

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The 2014 Michigan Ice Fest is in the books and 411 participants ascended on Munising Michigan for what has been the best ice conditions we have seen in decades!  Climbers from ten 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!

THURSDAY

For the second year, the festival got underway on Thursday with an Introduction to Ice Course, 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 Grand Island and take advantage of the lake ice that was formed enabling access to some seldom climbed formations.  An all day snow and somewhat mild temperatures made for an enjoyable day of cragging!

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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 second annual  “Participants Slide Show: Beers with Bill II”.  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.

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FRIDAY

Waking up early Friday morning with temps hovering around 11 degrees and a stiff wind blowing snow across Lake Superior, 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.  Three more courses, an Introduction to Ice Course, a Top Rope Anchor Course as well as a Rigging and Rescue course taught by Ben Erdmann were filled and went out for a day of instruction and climbing.

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Friday evenings festivities started off with a climbing social and free beer sponsored by the American Alpine Club, La Sportiva and Montane.  The first presenter was Ben Erdmann originally from Marquette, and now a proud climbing bum.  When not working on the pipelines,  he is putting up new routes  in the mountains of Alaska, running up big walls in Yosemite, and pioneering first ascents in Patagoina. We are so proud of Ben and what he has accomplished in his climbing career!

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We are so glad that Gold Sponsor Black Diamond sent Sam Elias out this year to instruct and present.  This is Sam’s second appearance to the festival and rounded out a night of “Michiganders” as Sam originally hails from the Detroit area.  Sam thrilled the crowd with shots and video from his amazing expedition climbing Mount Everest!

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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!

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SATURDAY

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, Kelly Cordes, and Sam Elias.

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DEMOS

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. Again this year, our Gold Sponsor Fits Socks hooked up demo participants with brand new socks to keep their feet warm at the demo!  Thanks Fits for joining us this year!  Besides our long time sponsors of the demo- Sterling Ropes, Black Diamond, Petzl, Scarpa, Salewa, Grivel Liberty Mountain, Patagonia, Mountain Hardwear, Hopp Outdoors, and the Ridge Roamers, this year we saw new sponsors Asolo, Trango and Camp USA joining us!

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After getting the courses set and on their way it was time to hook up demo participants with demo gear.  This year the line to pick up gear was shorter then usual and everyone was able to get outfitted and  get out on the ice!

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Gold Level sponsor Black Diamond graciously supplied their Stance Belay Parkas to the Michigan Ice Fest staff to keep the belayers warm and happy during the hundreds of belays throughout the weekend.   The Stance is filled with two independent layers of lightweight, highly compressible PrimaLoft insulation that provide sleeping-bag level warmth, even when wet. The two-way center front zip lets you wear the jacket over your harness while belaying, (check out Matt belaying above) and oversized hand, chest and internal drop pockets accommodate gloves,  and other essentials like snicker bars!

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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.  Cold temperatures and added a bit of a challenge for 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.

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After a long day of climbing, everyone converged upon Sydney’s for the Saturday evening social and free beer provided by La Sportiva and Montane and the American Alpine Club.  Before the shows we introduced Olivia and Ava as the 2014 Sue Nott Scholarship winners.  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. The 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.  Ava and Olivia were selected from the largest group of girls ever to submit applications and were 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 go girls!

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With a standing room only crowd, our first presentation of the evening was from Will Mayo.  A huge thank you goes out to our Title Sponsor La Sportiva for hooking us up with a class act like Will.  A plethora of amazing ice and mixed routes filled the screen as Will described various routes he has established and climbed over the years.
 
 

Our final presentation of the night was from Ice Fest favorite Kelly Cordes.  With his third time returning to the fest, Kelly is a  fantastic story teller, keeping the crowd entertained with his exploites, adventures, and accidents over the years.   An amazing show, if you ever get a chance to see a Kelly Cordes presentation- don’t miss it!

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As usual the evening concluded with the Michigan Ice Fest raffle where we gave out over $4000.00 of gear and clothing to some very excited climbers.  Soft shells, belay parkas,  Petzl ropes, Cassin crampons Mountain Hardwear Packs, Patagonia Footwear and fleece, Salewa shoes and La Sportiva Nepal Evo ice boots were only a few of the items raffled off!  A big shout out to Patagonia, La Sportiva, Mountain Hardwear, Sterling, Black Diamond, Petzl and Osprey, Montane, Dry Ice Tools, Prana, Osprey, Marmot, MSR, Outdoor Research, Skhoop, Cassin, Julbo, Sherpa, Alpinist, Red Bull, Black Rocks Brewery, ThermaCell,  Fits Socks for providing such killer raffle prizes!

 

SUNDAY

More cold temps greeted our Intro to Ice  and Intro to Leading participants which made for challenging 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.

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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 42 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 or use promo code icefest at their online shop.

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 Edith Nelson, Maddog Lynch, Mario Molin, Linda Wappner, Bryan DeAgustine, Rob Harwood, Neil Poglese, the Schneiderhan’s and Megan Ostrowski.

 

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!

Patagonia                       dixiemarree@patagonia.com   Jimmy.Hopper@patagonia.com

La Sportiva                    iachey@sportiva.com

Black Diamond            Holly.Merriman@bdel.com  bodhiagency.jon@gmail.com

Scarpa                            shunnie@scarpa.com    mark@scarpa.com

Petzl                               james@figure8sales.com        codette@petzl.com

Grivel                               peterm@libertymountain.com

Sterling Rope                 marketing@sterlingrope.com

FITS Socks                       help@fitssock.com

Mountain Hardwear    BPittam@mountainhardwear.com   JPedersen@mountainhardwear.com

Salewa                               info@salewa.us   nrgsales1@gmail.com

Montane                           matthuff@sport-hansa.com

Asolo                                 cbf106@asolo-usa.com

Camp USA                      glen@camp-usa.com

Trango                               CKlinke@gthi.com

 

 

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 michiganicefest.com or on our facebook page!

 

SAVE THE DATES!

ICE FEST 2015  February 5-8th