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!

Black Diamond Stance Belay Parka- Be Cold No More!

If you have ever climbed along the southern shore of Lake Superior in February you know that temperatures can be brutal.  The north winds screaming across the lake can make even the saltiest of climbers whimper in their boots- this sure ain’t no sunny Colorado climbing! To endure these temperatures the smart climbers invest in the best gear….and that just might be the new belay parka from Black Diamond.  The Stance Parka is a warm synthetic parka designed to withstand the cold temperatures encountered at a snowy frozen belay stance.  It’s designed long and baggy, so there is really no need to size up.  The unique hand pockets are sewn in between the two layers of PrimaLoft so your hands stay toasty warm,  a great feature that your climbing partners will love while leading Twin Towers.


Designed to endure bail-worthy belay conditions on single-pitch ice routes and massive alpine objectives alike, the Black Diamond Stance Belay Parka lets you hunker down while your partner battles it out on the sharp end. Our warmest insulated jacket, the Stance is filled with two independent layers of lightweight, highly compressible PrimaLoft Synergy®insulation that provide sleeping-bag level warmth, even when wet. A two-way center front zip lets you wear the jacket over your harness while belaying, and oversized hand, chest and internal drop pockets accommodate gloves, water bottles and other essentials.


  • Adjustable, climbing helmet-compatible hood
  • Two zippered chest pockets, two zippered hand pockets, two internal drop pockets, internal stretch media pocket
  • Stretch gusset cuffs
  • Two-way front zipper
  • Drawcord hem


Don’t forget you can check out all the brand new Black Diamond apparel at this years Michigan Ice Fest!

Find New Climbs! An Ice Climber’s Guide To Munising Michigan


Andrew Burr photo

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore has been called one of the premier ice climbing areas in the country.   Nestled on the southern shore of Lake Superior, it is renowned for its beautiful setting and phenomenal ice routes.  This edition An Ice Climbers Guide To Munising Michigan offers the most thorough and up-to-date information, maps, and descriptions of the major ice climbing formations.  The Munising area is the host to one of the largest ice festivals in the country- The Michigan Ice Fest and it’s easy to see why that is when you thumb this comprehensive guidebook, which covers 100 pure ice routes, from WI2 to WI6.

This season make it a goal to discover some seldom visited climbs- pick up your copy An Ice Climbers Guide To Munising Michigan here!



 WI 4 18 meters

A pillar on the east side of Miners Lake that forms up just like the Dryer Hose.  From the trail heading to Miners Falls go north down the hill onto the lake.  If frozen cross the lake, if not walk around the lake (very thick brush ), to the center of the east side of the lake.  Thick pine trees, unlike the rest of the cliffline, surround the falls so you cannot see the climb from across the lake or from the viewing platform at Miners Falls.

Beers With Bill III- Anyone Thirsty?


Twin Towers, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Aaron Peterson photo


Join us for the third annual “Participants Slide Show: Beers with Bill III ”- while enjoying a tasty beverage of your choice with our own Bill Thompson of Down Wind Sports, Thursday evening at Sydney’s.  The idea is to have everyone submit their favorite ice climbing photos and Bill will put them together in a slide show set to music.  During the show feel free to cheer for your personal favorites!  If you have great pictures to show that you took, and just love, please submit them to Bill at (in digital form please) and he will put them all together for the show.

Title Sponsor La Sportiva To Send Will Mayo!

For years La Sportiva has been very generous by sending huge amounts of demo boots so that participants can test out the latest and greatest ice climbing gear.
La Sportiva,  our Title Sponsor, has also sent amazing athletes to our event  ensuring that we get the highest quality instructors, and are entertained in the evening with inspiring stories of climbing around the world.   This year they are  graciously sending Will Mayo.
“The most captivating aspect of climbing is the manner in which it demands complete focus on the present. In climbing, during a crux section, it’s only right now; it sounds banal, but it actually seems like a rare and precious thing in our day-to-day lives. Everything else just falls away from one’s mind and one is completely engaged in the moment. Climbing allows for a healthy reset of the mind which allows for clarity upon return to our daily grinds. Besides, it’s just plain fun!”


Will has been very busy over the years ticking off notable ascents including:
Le Mulot (WI 6+) and Speedy Gonzales (WI 6+) in Sept-Iles, QC
Three ascents of La Pomme d’Or (WI 6) in La Malbaie, QC
Eight ascents of Omega (WI 5+) on Cannon Cliff, NH
Personal record of 1 hour 27 minutes car to car solo at night of The Black Dike (WI 5), Cannon Cliff, NH
Solo ascent of French Reality (WI 6+, 5.8), Stanley Headway, BC
Solo ascent of Polar Circus w/Pencil (WI 6), Icefields Parkway, AB
Second ascent of The Fecalator, the hardest traditional mixed climb in North America (M10)
First ascents of Superfortress (M13), The Flying Fortress (M13) and Red Beard (M12), Vail, CO
First ascent of the five pitch sport mixed route Nophobia (M11), Waiparous, AB
Onsight first ascent of traditional mixed climb Silhouette (M9, WI 6+), Mt. Evans, CO





Will is an insurance agency owner, father of two teenage girls and is sponsored by La Sportiva and Petzl.  We look forward to having Will join us for the 2014 Michigan Ice Fest and thank everyone at La Sportiva for all of their support over the years!


La Sportiva New Title Sponsor!


We are so excited to announce that the Michigan Ice Fest now has a Title Sponsor- La Sportiva!  Not only do they make incredible climbing gear and clothing, they were the first climbing manufacturer to come to our event back in the days where there were only a handful of participants at the event.  Back in the early days, Mark Wilford of La Sportiva,  generously donated his time and talents to help build a solid foundation for our festival. This year we think (those early days are a bit hazy) Mark and Sportiva have been involved with the Michigan Ice Fest close to 19 years.  Look for exciting things to happen between Michigan Ice and La Sportiva for years to come!

La Sportiva

In the Twenties Thirties and Forties, Narciso Delladio hand-crafted wooden clogs and leather boots for many lumber-jacks and farmers of the Fassa and Fiemme valleys, who trusted his skilled hands. Very important is the date of a participation certificate at the Milan Trade Fair in 1928. During the Second World War, Delladio custom produced mountain boots that were supplied to the Army. Dating back to this period is a patent for a special lacing system, that later will be used by the most important footwear factories.

After the war, the demand for boots increased, obliging Narciso to hire new workers: the good name of “Calzoleria Sportiva” crossed the boarders of the valleys and reached the cities of Trento and Bolzano.

In the Fifties, his son Francesco began to work for the company, and by doing the right thing at the right time he started building a new workshop on the outskirts of Tesero, where today is located a large industrial area. In the new and roomy building they began to design and develop ski boots, for a fast growing sport, requiring more technical boots. The market opened up quickly and Francesco Delladio introduced the brand name “La Sportiva” firstly in the Milan Exhibition, then throughout Europe, with a winter collection characterized by audacious technical and aesthetic solutions, and a summer collection of traditional mountain boots.

In the Seventies, with the arrival of plastic boots, “La Sportiva”, after a trial season, had to discontinue the production of ski boots, for financial reasons; the investment would have been too high and therefore the production was limited to mountain boots and cross-country skiing footwear. In the meantime the sons of Francesco began to work in the company: Lorenzo, Luciano, Marco. The desire to create, to stand out and to make a name for oneself in an ever increasing market is a characteristic present in the Delladio family.

During the Eighties  the focus of the firm moves towards the climbing sector due to an intuition which will prove to be a winner. An innovative shoe characterized by the colors purple and yellow was devised and produced to become the forerunner of a long series of avant-garde products, which very quickly will seal the success of the brand name world wide.


Sharpen Your Own Screws With The Petzl Lim’Ice!

In years past sharpening an ice screw was either super expensive or incredibly time consuming…..not anymore!  FINALLY- Petzl has introduced a light, compact, hold in your hand, tool for sharpening any ice screw.  The Lim’ice fits neatly in the palm of your hand and is the roughly the size of an electric razor . The tool consists of a file with a handle and guide so you can insert any ice screw- simply move the screw up and down a few times to sharpen.

The Lim’ice is also very easy to use even a drooling ice climber type can figure out how to do it.  There are two holes on the guide-insert your screw in one to sharpen the vertical edges, and then into the other to sharpen the angles. When you insert an ice screw into the guide you twist it half clockwise to lock it in place. Petzl suggest moving the screw up and down the file 3 to 4 times depending on how dull the screw is.

At the edge of each hole is a small triangle graphic explaining the sharpening process, ensuring you sharpen each tooth, but it is advisable to mark each tooth with a black marker after you’ve sharpened it so you remember where you are!  Ice is almost here so get your screws ice ready and capable of going through bullet proof ice like a hot knife through butter!


  • Easy handling of the device makes for quick and easy sharpening
  • Two sharpening guides allow precise sharpening of both sides of the drill teeth
  • Standard sharpening guides allow sharpening of most ice screws
  • High-quality file is reversible for extended life


Can’t buy it at your local shop?  Click here to purchase it from your friends at Down Wind Sports!