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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
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!
- 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!
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!
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.
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!
La Sportiva firstname.lastname@example.org
Sterling Rope email@example.com
FITS Socks firstname.lastname@example.org
Camp USA glen
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