Salewa Pro Gaiter Review


Ahh winter is here, the cold winds are blowing and the ice is forming.  Ice season is finally here and it is fantastic this year, by far the best I have seen since I started climbing years ago.  Temperatures are finally warming up as well, it’s a scorching -8 degrees Fahrenheit today.  Luckily this season I picked up my very own pair of Salewa Pro Gaiter ice boots.  These boots are awesome; warm, comfortable, light, and customizable for the hike in and the climb you’re searching out.  We may live in Michigan and we may have shorter routes then those boys and girls on the eastern and western parts of the country but our climbs are steep, technical, and good ole Lake Superior loves to attack with fierce cold winds and lots of the white stuff.


These boots have really saved my feet this year.  The cold temps have been beating us down since early December and if we want to climb we have to go out in the single digits or below.  The extra insulation on the Salewa Pro Gaiter has been a blessing this year, keeping the toes moving and happy as can be.  The long hikes have also been made easier thanks to Salewa’s unique climb/walk mode.  Now the two to three hour hikes into Pictured Rocks are easier and much more comfortable.  The flexing sole in walk mode helps to keep my feet from cramping on the long hikes and when it’s time to go up…. I turn the boots to climb mode and ascend the amazing features in front of me.


Tomorrow I hop in the car and head to Ouray, CO to attend the Ouray Ice Festival and of course my new kicks are coming with me.  It’s going to be a weekend filled with climbing, laughing, and adventure.  I am ecstatic to finally attend the event and can’t wait to climb hard with my new favorite piece of gear.

Don’t forget to check out these boots at our very own 2014 Michigan Ice Fest.  We will have both the Salewa Pro Gaiter and the Pro Guide on hand to test, abuse, and certainly surprise everyone with how amazing these boots really are.  Hope to see you at the Michigan Ice Festival and maybe you’ll catch a glimpse of me out at Ouray…. I’ll be the one hooting and hollering in excitement.

Nic Dobbs


Fits Socks Hooks Up Ice Fest Again!

 FITS products are designed to be the best fitting performance outdoor socks in the industry.  Over 100 years of experience has taught us to recognize the importance of careful, precise sock-fitting based more on total foot volume than foot length.  All FITS deliver unique benefits – thanks to superior construction, the highest quality materials, and innovative design.  Our socks are constructed from two-ply, compact-spun, ultra-fine Merino Wool, providing the ultimate blend of softness and durability.   Our F3 Technology delivers a unique form FIT thanks to a deep heel pocket, specialized toe seam, and contoured leg – which keep FITS socks firmly in place.  This means no more bunching, hot spots, or friction, regardless of the task at hand.



Our staff has been climbing in these socks for two seasons and we absolutely love them!  Don’t miss out as we have a few surprises planned for FITS at Ice Fest- including FITS sock giveaway for Ice Fest participants that demo boots!


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!

Dry Ice Tools Coming To Michigan Ice!

Home wall fanatics – be sure to check out the latest gear for indoor ice climbing training, Dry Ice Tools.  DRY ICE Tools are Indoor Ice Axes used by looping stiff rubber straps over the holds used in rock climbing gyms.  The climbing motion is exactly the same as in ice and mixed climbing. Now you can prepare for the upcoming ice season, in your gym, without worrying about injuring someone or puncturing the pads with sharp points raining down from above.

How will they help my training/improve my climbing?

DRY ICE Tools mimic the movement and body positions used while Mixed and Ice climbing. Aside from the obvious grip strength and arm training, many climbers report an increased awareness of their footwork when using DRY ICE Tools. Footwork is the foundation of solid climbing, and DRY ICE Tools help bring the climbers awareness back to the feet.

Also, it’s no secret that rock climbing on many different types of rock makes you a better rock climber. We believe that many different types of climbing can also make you a better climber. Use DRY ICE Tools to diversify your time in the gym.  Indoor training doesn’t have to be just rock climbing anymore. By thinking outside the gym, DRY ICE Tools help climbers rapidly increase their library of climbing moves.  Check them out at

What makes DRY ICE tools better than other tools?

DRY ICE tools are better for three main reasons: 1) The handle of our tool is larger to accommodate for comfortable use with bare hands, indoors, in a gym.  Regular ice axe handles are of a smaller diameter because they are intended to be used while wearing gloves. 2) Other tools may have straps that have ‘teeth’ or a ‘taper’ with the intention of increased friction.  At Furnace Industries, we think that, like rock slippers vs. hiking boots, less grooves and a very slight taper means more friction on the holds. 3) DRY ICE tools have no sharp points!  This means you can use them indoors without fear of damage to the wall, the pads, your friends, or yourself!

Why did you make them out of wood?

After testing several different materials, we learned that wood was the best choice for DRY ICE tools because our hands did not slip off the grips when our hands perspired while climbing indoors.  Wood is lighter, less dense, but still provided the rigidity required for our purpose.  We also felt that, if a climber was to drop a tool (which should NEVER happen if they are being used properly with leashes) that the lighter wood handles provide a higher safety margin than other denser and heavier materials.

Be sure to head on in to the Michigan Ice Fest headquarters during the festival to check out these interesting tools!

Cassin X-Dream….Sweet Dreams!

CAMP is a 123 year-old, family-owned  Italian brand that has maintained its heritage with the global headquarters  still nestled in the tiny mountain village of Premana situated in  the Pre-Alps of Northern Italy.  CAMP maintains a sharp focus on the gear with the goal of delivering  products that are genuinely new and incredible. Examples of this kind of  innovation is the X-Dream.

Aptly named, the X-Dream not only features two different picks to  change the axe for ice or mixed climbing, but it also incorporates a patented  adjustment system in the handle to fine tune the swing and torque even further. A  quick turn of the allen bolt above the grip allows the tools to be switched  between Dry and Ice positions by changing the angle of the handle in relation  to the angle of the pick. In the Dry position, the handle kicks upward for a  more down and out pull. The Ice position drops the handle for a more natural  swing. The picks function much the same way. The Dry pick features a more  aggressive downward curve at the tip while the Ice pick has a more traditional flatter beak for vertical  ice. Both picks feature same angle for optimal performance on all angles of mixed and ice climbing. They are designed to provide solid sticks with  minimal penetration making them the perfect choice for brittle ice and techy  mixed terrain. Climbers can further refine the X-Dream with the  micro-adjustable trigger finger ledge (choose from two inserts that can be  flipped over to adjust the position).

2013 Michigan Ice Fest featured athlete Fabrizio Zangrilli recommends taking the time to explore and discover all of the options with the X-Dream: “Being able to customize the tool to the situation for the day is key. In the Ice position the handle and tool swing brilliantly, with a natural full extension of the elbow and wrist, allowing for power and control. For very steep ice, I switch to the Dry position and still use the Ice pick for short and controlled sticks into cauli? owered and chandeliered ice. The slight rotation in the wrist angle gives phenomenal endurance on grade 6 ice. For mixed days, the Dry position on the handle and Mixte pick combination is very aggressive, allowing ease of movement, control and holding power on alpine routes.” Based on his experience with the tools, Zangrilli also suggests this test: “When you remove the picks, you understand the perfect balance of the handle-shaft. Place the Mixte and Ice picks on different tools and see the advantages immediately of the hammer-weight on the Ice pick, with the extra bit of swing weight, and how light the Mixte pick is without it”.

At the Michigan Ice Fest we firmly believe in the concept of “Try Before You Buy”. Our demo program provides the perfect opportunity to try out a particular piece of equipment including this year the X-Dream!  So excited to have CAMP on board this year and looking forward to being a demo test center for the Cassin ice tools!


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!

2013 Michigan Ice Fest Recap

The 2013 Michigan Ice Fest is in the books and 434 participants braved winter blizzard conditions to ascend on Munising Michigan for this annual gathering.  Eleven different states, and six 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.


The  Fest started with an Introduction to Ice Course, and a Top Rope Anchor Course on Thursday where participants spent the day learning he 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 participants battled snow to get out after some of the classic lines that drop into Lake Superior along the Lakeshore Trail.

We kicked off the festival on Thursday night with the second annual  “Participants Slide Show: Beers with Bill II” while enjoying a tasty beverage climbers were treated to a collection of slides submitted by Ice Fest participants and set to music.   Ben Erdmann, a local climber who moved to the great state of Alaska, entertained us with a beautifully presented slide show of his climbing adventures in Alaska, Yosemite and Patagonia.

After the slide shows concluded we began to celebrate the release of a new ice climbing guide book for Munising.    An Ice Climbers Guide To Munising Michigan Michigan  was available for purchase, and guidebook authors Jon Jugenheimer and Bill Thompson were available to answer any questions about the book.

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 checking out new routes listed in the guidebook.  The fest also saw an increase in rentals as many took advantage to check out gear and climb in small groups throughout the park.  Three more courses, an Introduction to Ice Course instructed by Joe Josephson, 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.

Friday evenings festivities started off with a climbing social and free beer sponsored by Scarpa and Trango.  We are so glad that Gold Sponsor Scarpa sent Fabrizio Zangrilli out this year to instruct and present.  Fabrizio thrilled the crowd with shots and video from his days climbing and guiding throughout the world.

A first time Michigan Ice Fest athlete, Joe Josephson was welcomed into the Michigan Ice Fest family and proceeded to entertain folks with slides of routes he pioneered up in the Canadian Rockies as well as some of his recent work-  the beautiful video Genesis 40 Years of Ice Climbing In Hyalite Canyon.  Joe is also the organizer of the Bozeman Ice Festival– something we should all visit soon!  If you missed the show check this out!

The rest of the evening you could find people browsing the booths of Bob The Mountaineer, 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!


As usual we got the ball rolling early with equipment hand out for Ice Fest Courses.  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 Joe Josephson, Mark Wilford, Fabrizio Zangrilli, Zoe Hart,  and Will Gadd.

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 exceptionally long but once again this year all of our demo sponsors really stepped up  by sending larger demo kits and everyone was able to get outfitted and  get out on the ice!


The Demo area at The Curtains saw lots of first time ice climbers learning the basics on some of the routes set up.  Cold temperatures and constant snow fall added to the challenge of the 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 the success of their first climbs.

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.  Before the shows we introduced Rachel Hahn  and Madison Almquist as the 2013 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.  Rachel and Madison 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.  Super special this year, Evi Nott, Sue’s mother,  flew in from Colorado to meet the girls and to climb with them over the weekend!  It was a special part of the weekend for the organizers and we were so excited that Evi was able to come join our ice climbing family.    Way to go girls!

Evi Nott and Maddie

With a standing room only crowd, our first presentation of the evening was from Zoe Hart.  A huge thank you goes out to Gold Level sponsor Patagonia for flying in Zoe from her home in Chamonix France.  A fast pace show, Zoe kept folks entertained with stories of climbing in the mountains, sharing adventures with Sue Nott, and funny videos of her exploits with her husband Maxime Turgeon.

Our final presentation of the night was from Ice Fest favorite Will Gadd.  A fantastic story teller, Will spoke of his family and early adventures, kayaking and paragliding, climbing ice bergs, a new adventure television show he is a “guinea pig” for, and a highlight for the crowd- ice climbing with Tim Emmett on the spray ice wall near the 463-foot Helmcken Falls in British Columbia.  An amazing show if you ever get a chance to see a Will Gadd show- don’t miss it!

Missed the show?  Check out this video of the incredible climbing that will is doing on spray ice!

As usual the evening concluded with the Michigan Ice Fest raffle where we gave out over $5000.00 of gear and clothing to some very excited climbers.  Soft shells, belay parkas, Ice Axes, Sterling and Petzl ropes, Osprey Packs, 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, Arc Teryx, Sterling, Black Diamond, Petzl and Osprey, Montane, Fits Socks for providing such killer raffle prizes!  As a side note the 2013 Michigan Ice Fest marked the second time in our history that we had a marriage proposal during the weekend- see it is true, you can fall in love at the Michigan Ice Fest!  (she said yes!)


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.

New 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!

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 44 new members to the American Alpine Club, and the Access Fund  and exposed hundreds of first time climbers to the sport of ice climbing.

The reason our event is so successful is because of the assistance we get 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!


Arc Teryx              

La Sportiva          

Black Diamond    





Sterling Rope       

FITS Socks             

Mountain Hardwear






Be sure to keep up with what is happening with the Michigan Ice Fest through our blog at or on our facebook page!


ICE FEST 2014 January 30st-February 2nd


Welcome Back Gold Sposor Grivel!

The organizers of the Michigan Ice Fest are super stoked to have Grivel back for our Ice Fest again this year!   We will have demo crampons and tools available to check out and do a few routes with.   Also our territory rep, Jon Jugenheimer will be attending representing Grivel, and answering any questions you might have regarding Grivel and their products.


Jon Jugenheimer of Ames Adventure Outfitters taking a ride up the Dryer Hose

More importantly 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 Ames Adventure Outfitters, Liberty Mountain Works and Grivel for bring their products out and helping to make our Ice Fest even better!