Caroline Gleich Is Heading To The Fest!

Caroline Gleich is a professional ski mountaineer and adventurer based in Salt Lake City, UT. When she’s not on snow, she loves trail running, alpine climbing, ridge scrambling, biking and dreaming about her next human-powered adventure. You may have seen her on the cover of Powder, Backcountry or Ski Magazines or in some ski films. A nature lover since birth, Caroline uses her voice as an athlete to advocate for social and environmental causes, working on issues such as climate change, clean air, gender equality and cyber harassment with non-profits such as Protect Our Winters, HEAL Utah, Winter Wildlands Alliance, Wilderness Society, and the American Alpine Club. Caroline’s goal is to inspire people to get outside, live a healthy, active lifestyle and protect the places we love to play. Follow her on social media, @carolinegleich!

New Grant Announced!

New for 2020!

The Heartland Grant is designed to help Midwest climbers and weekend warriors chase their ice climbing dreams.  Our community is rich with dreamers and extraordinary climbers and it’s time we foster that.

We’ll be giving out $1,000 in cash to make those dreams reality.  We think you can do great things, prove us right.

How to Apply

Step 1. Dream up a great trip.
Step 2. Make a one minute video explaining your trip and telling us why it should win the grant
Step 3. Fill out the application and upload your video.
Step 4. Our committee will select the top project.

Important Dates

July 1st – Application Period begins
September 30th – Application period ends
December 1st – Winner will be announced
February 14th – Grant will be awarded to the winner on stage at the festival (attendance required)


Applications will be considered using the following criteria:

  • The Heartland Grant is open to climbers 14 years old or older (parental permission is required for climbers 14-18 years old old) of all abilities
  • Applicants must be residents, or students attending school, in one of these Midwest States: Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Kansas, and Indiana or the Canadian province of Ontario.
  • Project must be an ice climbing trip. Expeditions, notable first ascents, competitions, as long as its primary focus is ice climbing it’s good with us.
  • The committee is looking for fun and interesting trips. Anyone can spend a weekend at the local crag, surprise us with remote destinations, unique challenges, and, above all else, impeccable style.
  • Applications are considered for projects that occur within one year of the date awarded.
  • You can’t be an employee, or family member of an employee, of the Michigan Ice Fest, Down Wind Sports, or any of our sponsors


  • Upon receiving the Heartland Grant, all grant recipients are required to do the following”
    • Trip report or blog post for the Ice Fest website
    • Presentation about the trip at the following festival
    • tag the Michigan Ice Fest in any posts relating to the trip and promote the Heartland Grant
  • Funds must utilized for the trip within one year of the grant award date. If for any reason the project is canceled or significantly changed (as determined by the committee), awarded funds must be returned to the Michigan Ice Fest in full.  Failed ascents happen, and often make great stories. Safety first.


We Shall Continue With Style- Enormocast Live is Coming to Ice Fest!

Yes the one and only Chris Kalous will be returning to his Midwest roots and broadcasting live his very popular climbing podcast- The Enormocast! You won’t want to miss the riveting interviews and chaos that comes with broadcasting a live show.

Do your friends complain that all you talk about is climbing? Does your girlfriend get a glazed over look when you try to explain to her just how run-out you actually were, I mean, you were really out there!  Does the man in your life have no idea why its so important that you cross through before you stab the mono, not after?

Well, my name is Chris Kalous and I am here for you. I know how scared you were above that piece, and will hold you tightly in my podcast arms until you feel better. I understand that your beta works for you, and you’re going with it even if you’ve fallen from that same spot 32 times- my podcast will be happy to belay you on the next burn.

Here at the Enormocast, no beta is wrong, no story is too long-winded, and I will never utter the words, “Can we talk about something besides climbing for a change?”

Each episode of the Enormocast brings you a glimpse into the climbing life through discussion, interviews, and my perspective backed by 27 years in the sport. So get on Itunes and subscribe, leave your comments here at or send me an email at

Be part of the live show Friday evening at Mather Auditorium!

If you climb there is a good chance you have run across the distinguished climbing podcast, The Enormocast. The host Chris Kalous has compiled countless interviews from interesting climbers from around the world and shared them with the greater climbing community. Chris is not only a podcaster, he is also an accomplished climber, journalist, talented interviewer  and all round entertaining guy.

Barry Blanchard Returns To Ice Fest!


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.


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.


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


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!



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!






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!



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!








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!







Ben Erdmann

Raphael Slawinski



Will Mayo

Barry Blanchard

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


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!


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!