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

 

Black Diamond Spot Headlamp Ice Fest Special!

Powerful and fully featured, the 130-lumen Spot offers convenient PowerTap Technology, which allows for quick, on-the-fly brightness adjustment with just a finger tap to the side of its touch-sensitive housing. 130 lumens is perfect for those late night excursions finishing up on Dairyland and heading back home along the Lakeshore Trail!  Teaming up with Gold level Sponsor Black Diamond, the Michigan Ice Fest staff are proud to announce that we will be selling a limited amount of these amazing headlamps for only $29.95!

2014 Michigan Ice Fest Tee!

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Check out the new 2014 official Ice Fest Tee Shirt!  The shirts are an original woodblock designed by Rick Allen of snowy Duluth Minnesota.  We will have a variety of sizes available all weekend at Ice Fest headquarters.

KENSPECKLE LETTERPRESS
Established in the fall of 2003 by Rick Allen and Marian Lansky, The Kenspeckle Letterpress represents the unholy marriage of 19th Century cast-iron printmaking and 21st Century digital technologies, producing an array of original prints, letterpress and offset notecards, giclee prints, and a miscellany of Curious Engravings, Eccentric Broadsheets, Quaint Conceits of Modern Design, and other printed ephemera.

Kenspeckle is a Scottish word meaning “conspicuous, easily recognizable, distinctive.” One might say that King Kong is a kenspeckle ornament of the Empire State Building.

Welcome Asolo To The Michigan Ice Fest!

 

 

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Asolo, the leading manufacturer of mountain boots, and the organizers of the Michigan Ice Fest are pleased to announce its collaboration with this years Ice Fest demo!  Having never had a presence at the festival, this year climbers from all over the Midwest will be able to test out the Asolo ice climbing boots and give them a test ride on some cold Michigan Ice!

 

 

The boot that Asolo athletes chose to face frozen waterfalls all over the world is the Eiger GV: a model designed for fast ice climbing, alpine hiking and technical climbing. Made with Gore-Tex® Duratherm® uppers, Eiger GV offers the perfect thermal insulation ensuring maximum waterproofness and breathability.

 

Welcome Asolo to the Michigan Ice Fest!  Be sure to stop in and check out a pair of Asolo boots at this years Michigan Ice Fest!

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Black Diamond Stinger Crampon

It’s always exciting to check out the gear being offered at the Michigan Ice Fest demo and again this year we are super pyched to have the Black Diamond Stinger Crampon available for participants to try out!

Designed to tackle serious ice and mixed lines on winter crags and alpine faces the world over, the Black Diamond Stinger is the lightweight stainless steel crampon offered by Black Diamond, with a replaceable monopoint. An asymmetrical design fits the contours of modern mountain boots, and thin, low-profile heel and toe wires offer a precise fit for less weight.

 

  • Asymmetrical stainless steel design is lightweight, won’t rust and fits the contours of modern boots
  • Mono frontpoint is replaceable at low cost and can be changed quickly and easily in the field
  • Hooded frontpoint and aggressive secondary points are optimized for precise, secure placements
  • Low-profile micro-adjust heel level offers precision fit
  • Thin, low-profile toe bail and thinner, shorter heel wire for improved fit with modern boots
  • Includes front and rear dual-density ABS

From the Black Diamond Web Site, the following interview  took place with Climbing Hardgoods Category Director Bill Belcourt to talk about the BD  Stinger crampon, a highly technical monopoint crampon designed for high-end mixed and ice climbing.

 What was the design goal in creating the Stinger?

We wanted a crampon that climbed ice like a sticky rubber rock shoe climbs rock. This meant a monopoint crampon that was as stable as a dual, and had traction no matter where you stepped on it.

What kinds of climbing is the Stinger designed for?  Why the monopoint?

Hard ice climbing and mixed climbing of all kinds. The Stinger has been developed and tested by our global climbing team on serious new routes all over the world, including a first ascent on Hispar Sar in Pakistan. Mono points allow you to follow your tool placements with your front points (tracking). Monos are also lighter and better for climbing rock because they fit in cracks and on small holds.

What are the main features that set the Stinger apart from other monopoint crampons on the market?

Using stainless steel is the biggest thing; it wears better, sheds snow better, and doesn’t rust when compared with CrMo steels typically used in crampons. The stainless steel we use is also 3 times more expensive, but it is worth it. The Stinger has a front point that easy to replace and inexpensive, and this is a big advantage considering how quickly the front point wears compared with the rest of the crampon. We also positioned the secondary points closer to the front points providing much more stability, and we added a massive amount of point serrations giving traction in all sorts of situations where a normally configured crampon would leave you slipping.

What design features have been incorporated to accommodate modern mountain boots?

A new, narrower toe and heel bail have been designed with modern boots specifically in mind. We will still stock our older wide bails for those with older boots that still have plenty of life left in them.

Were there any unique challenges encountered by the design team when building the Stinger?

The biggest thing is the spectrum of boot models and boot sizes that crampons need to fit today are as broad as ever and it just gets bigger every year. It is a real challenge. The second is creating a light and strong crampon with a full ABS system that does not compromise on climbing performance. It is too easy these days to sacrifice real performance to save a little weight and we don’t want to fall into that trap; performance has to be king.

Like what you see?  Give the Stinger a ride at Ice Fest this year and don’t forget-  for the first time ever during the  2014 Michigan Ice Fest participants can score a HUGE deal!  We are excited to announce that all clothing will be discounted 30% off, all hardgoods will be 20% off!

Silver Sponsor Grivel Heads Up An Awesome Field For Our Demos!

The organizers of the Michigan Ice Fest are super stoked to have Grivel back for the Michigan Ice Fest this year!   Heading up our demo, one of the worlds oldest manufacturers of ice climbing gear, will have demo crampons and tools available to check out and do a few Michigan Ice routes with.

 

More importantly, after demoing the gear we will have Grivel product to sell!  Make sure you stop in at Sydney’s to check out the latest and greatest from this company that has produced alpine equipment since 1818.

Quantum Tech Ice Axe

If ever there was a sexy ice climbing tool this is the one!  The ultimate axe for technical climbers with aerospace grade composite. Hot forged head in chromolly steel: no compromise over quality because forging internal microstructure can be oriented to improve strength, and internal defects or porosity are minimized. Available with shovel or hammer.

Carbon Composite shaft: no compromise over quality because composite materials means that the parts of the final product subject to major pressure that require more strength and rigidity can be designed specifically to enhance these characteristics. This vital aspect is made possible by the type of reinforcement and the orientation of the fibres, and the light alloy matrix transfers load to the external reinforcement in Carbon fiber.

Helix SPD Ice Screw

The Grivel Helix SPD Ice Screw uses an integrated sling which lets it be place and removed while still clipped to a rope. This makes protection your pitch easier and faster, reduces the chances of dropping gear, and saves you the weight of a carabiner on every single piece. Like the standard Helix ice screw, the Grivel SPD includes a large knob that makes placements easier, even in the hardest bulletproof ice.

Super big thanks to Liberty Mountain Works and Grivel for bring their products out and helping to make our Ice Fest even better!