New Product- See these and more at Michigan Ice Fest Headquarters!

During Ice Fest our headquarters is the ultimate “toy shop” that a climber can dream of. From clothing to gear if it is made for ice climbing, you’ll find it here!   All of the leading manufacturers will have booths set up displaying and selling the latest and greatest gear with sales representatives on hand to answer any questions you might have. And that’s not even the best part! As a participant at the Michigan Ice Fest you are entitled to a 20% discount on all purchases made during the festival.

From now until Ice Fest we will be giving you a sneak peak on a small sampling of what you can expect to find in the sponsor booths!



The Warthog 40L is tough and light like its little brother, the Warthog 28L, but added volume and features make it suitable for longer adventures. Like its smaller sibling, it features a helmet holder, rope carrier and a handy quick-release skirt opening system to access to your gear. The lateral compression straps can be used to transport skis and the ice tool holders are perfectly designed for carrying a set of technical tools. The thermoformed ergonomic back panel and shoulder stabilizer straps are designed to provide maximum comfort when carrying loads, and the front haul loop proves to be highly convenient to hang the pack at belays. The Warthog 40L is incredibly durable and its compact design ensures maximum freedom of movement when you’re climbing. It is the perfect companion for all of your most demanding alpine adventures.



Built from Sterling’s RIT 900 cord, the Hollow Block 6.8mm x 13.5in is designed to function as a pre-sewn prusik or climb heist. Made with aramid fiber and sewn with Sterling’s proprietary sewing pattern, this ultra-strong cord is designed to provide excellent griping power on climbing ropes with diameters of 7mm or larger.







Grivel took its revolutionary G20 crampon, celebrated for its unprecedented lightness and quick-climbing, technical design, and added a second front point for versatility when contacting the ice. The result is the semi-rigid Grivel G22 Crampon. The G22 comes with either a Cramp-O-Matic binding for use with plastic-soled boots that have substantial welts or the more adaptable New-Matic binding for use with virtually any boot, including those with shallow front welts or overboots.



The ERGONOMIC ice axe is designed for steep ice and for dry tooling. The sharp angle of the handle is ideal for prolonged hanging and increases power when pulling. The double handle offers multiple grip modes and stable hand switching. At home on rock or ice, the DRY pick optimizes inverted positions and the weights facilitate slotting of the pick in cracks. Featuring a minimalist hammer, the head is protected and allows the user to hammer a piton back in. It is entirely modular and can be configured for the requirements at hand.








Black Diamond’s Ultralight Ice Screw was designed because weight matters for those serious fast and light missions. Looking to shave weight wherever they could, Black Diamond constructed this specialty ice screw out of aluminum with a steel tip so as to not compromise drilling efficiency while also dropping weight in critical areas. The hangar geometry has been updated to provide the strength required and still boast the double openings that come with Black Diamond’s express ice screws. A folding handle shaves more weight when you thought the product developers couldn’t keep finding ways to cut back, and the handles are color coded so you can choose the correct length and drill the screw on the fly as you fight the pump.

2016 Michigan Ice Fest Is In The Books- Here Is The Recap


The 2016 Michigan Ice Fest is in the books and 611  participants ascended on a stormy and cold Munising, Michigan for what was undoubtedly the largest gathering of ice climbers in the Midwest ever! Climbers from at least 19 different states and 3 different countries were represented this year, as participants traveled from far and wide to enjoy the camaraderie of Midwest climbers and the chance to climb the beautiful ice formations at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore!

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For the first time in MIF history, we set up an exhibitor display and opened registration on Tuesday at our new headquarters, The American Legion Hall. Participants had the opportunity to shop products, interact with athletes, and talk shop with sales reps from some of the leading manufacturers in the outdoor industry. Registration was set up and again this year, our Gold Sponsor Fits Socks hooked up our early course sign ups with brand new socks to keep their feet warm during classes. Thanks Fits for joining us again this year!


The festival was officially underway on Wednesday as several full courses headed out with our professional athletes.  New to the class roster this year was a Backcountry Adventure Class, which offered participants an opportunity to head out onto the lakeshore to climb above the open water of Lake Superior.  The class also provided some transportation methods unique to the UP, including snowmobiling with local legend “Singing Carl” and riding in the awesome “Forward Frank” tank provided by Roam Automotive.

Roam from Down Wind Sports on Vimeo.
Brutal winds and road-closing snow conditions did not deter many folks who were new to the Fest, as most were too excited at the chance to climb the vertical pillars of Pictured Rocks to let a little snow stand in the way. A casual climbers social on Wednesday night at the American Legion beckoned those that had climbed all day as well as those that had just arrived in Munising, and plans for more type-II fun were made for the following day.

With an unrelenting storm blowing across Lake Superior, participants headed out into the elements for a full day of climbing and clinics.  With the single-digit temperatures, many visiting climbers took advantage of the multitude of belay parkas that were available to demo from Patagonia, Adidas, Arc Teryx, and Rab.

Great stories kept coming in all day of climbers hitting the ice in what some would call “spicy” conditions as the storm intensified throughout the day.  Many exposed to the harsh conditions along the lakeshore, where they took on the full force of the storm, came back with tales of white out conditions, waves crashing at their feet, and bullet proof ice.  All in all, a great adventure!Bridal Veil Falls in the storm

In the afternoon, there were two off-ice clinics offered.  The first from professional climber Carlos Buhler, who presented an interactive seminar on Expedition Planning.  It was a wonderful opportunity to learn about the logistics of planning that trip of a lifetime from one of North America’s most accomplished mountaineers.

The second seminar of the afternoon was both interesting and extremely important, as Asolo Boot representative Henry Barber led a discussion on boot design and how technical features and proper boot fit enhance warmth and climbing performance. Henry even measured and custom fit each participant during the seminar.

Our two evening slideshows highlighted our new venue, The Mather Auditorium. Scarpa athlete Scott Bennett presented beautiful slides of his first trip to the Pakistani Karakoram. With two strong and experienced partners, the team made two big first ascents: Changi Tower (6500m) and the Southwest Ridge of K6 West (7040m). Inspirational to say the least!

Arc Teryx athlete Katie Bono rounded out the evening with a show on her climbing career, living in Canmore, climbing with amazing partners and her first American Women ascent of the Vail test piece The Lightning M13.Scott Bennett presentation

We were barely 48 hours into Ice Fest and the stoke was already high!

The evening’s social kicked off with a sampling from our official beer sponsor- The Ore Dock Brewing Company.  There’s really nothing we like more after a long day of climbing than to relax with our friends and enjoy a beer. Dairyland Coffee Mile Stout- named after one of our favorite climbs, was tapped and enjoyed by many.

Waking up early Friday morning in the grips of a major blizzard, climbers hit the trails in search of ice. Several groups headed out the Lakeshore Trail, while others walked, skied or snowmobiled out to the backcountry climbs. The fest also saw an increase in participants demoing gear as many took the opportunity to check out equipment and climb in small groups throughout the park.

Most clinics were filled to capacity including one of our newest offerings: the Backcountry Adventure. In addition to the new class offerings, we were fortunate to secure 14 professional athletes — almost triple the amount of previous years — to instruct our clinics and offer some amazing learning opportunities for our participants, all of which wouldn’t have been possible without our sponsors. Even with the cold temps, blowing wind and frozen hands, it seemed like everyone who came through the doors of the Legion on Friday night were all smiles and full of stoke!

New this year we added mini slide shows at the Ice Fest headquarters which offered a more intimate setting to highlight some of the recent adventures our athletes have participated in.  Angela Vanwiemeersch told of her exploits climbing rarely formed ice routes in Zion National Park and Sam Elias on Rooted– his exotic trip to climb in Lebanon.  Both shows were standing room only!Henry Barber Presentation

The Friday evening programs at Mather started off with legend Henry Barber chronicling his storied climbing career cumulating with his amazing first ascent of the Vettifossen a 900-foot frozen WI 6 waterfall in Norway.

Our final show was brought to us by our new Title Sponsor Black Diamond.  BD was kind enough to send us Dawn Glanc who mesmerized us with tales of amazing ice climbs in Greenland.

For Party1the rest of the evening back at headquarters, you could find people browsing the booths of Mountaineer Bob, American Alpine Club, socializing with other climbers from around the country, sampling Black Diamond Brown Ale from the Ore Dock, introducing themselves to the athletes and reps that were scattered around the room or, of course, talking about the crazy weather that soon became the common denominator of all Ice Fest 2016 stories.


Demo4 - Scott BennettAs 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 to take a course — whether entry-level or advanced — from one the most accomplished climbers in the country. Sent to the festival from 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 people in the industry- these climbers are what make Michigan Ice Fest so darn fun (and welcoming!)

The weather remained as a top conversation starter as the white-out blizzard shut down M28 for nearly an entire day, and even Sand Point Road for Friday evening. While most of the country was experiencing “El Nino”  we were experiencing “El Tovio”….a real, UP winter that is.  Logistical problems aside, everone got to their appointed classes and proved, once again, that Midwest climbers are a hardy bunch.

Demo Wall 2The 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 high winds greeted the participants but most climbers were able to top out on their first climbs. Hundreds of climbers were challenged throughout the day with a variety of difficult climbs set up, as morning excitement to get on the ice quickly gave way to afternoon exhaustion that can only come from climbing hard in single-digit temps and Lake Superior gusts.

With a long day of climbing — for some, their third or fourth in a row — everyone converged upon Mather Auditorium for the highly anticipated Saturday night presentation by Tim Emmett and the World Premier of the Michigan Ice Film. Prior to the shows we introduced our 2016 Sue Nott Scholarship winners. Down Wind Sports has created the Sue Nott Scholarship with the purpose of promoting, inspiring, and introducing young females to the sport of ice climbing. The girls had to submit a letter regarding why they wanted to participate, a letter of recommendation from someone other then their parents, and their report card. Three girls were selected this year (triple the amount of previous years!) and were given free entry into the fest, as well as a spot in the Women’s Intro To Ice course. Recognizing these young athletes in front of hundreds of Ice Fest attendees is always one of our favorite parts of the whole weekend- way to go ladies!

With a packed auditorium of over 700 people Tim Emmett started the evening off with an entertaining presentation of base jumping and ice climbing.  The crowd was in awe as Tim described what it was like to be able to climb at Helmcken Falls, BC, where a 500 foot waterfall sprays the underside of a gargantuan cave, forming some of the wildest ice formations that we’ve ever seen. Inspirational, funny and motivational — if you ever get the chance to see Tim present- GO!

Finally, the weekend’s most anticipated event was cued up, as Aaron Petersen presented his labor of love, the Michigan Ice Film , to a sold out crowd! Three years of filming culminated into the world premier of the film, which was set against the crashing waves of an inland sea, and packed with humor and action from some of the biggest names in climbing alongside a cast of hardy locals. It is the untold story of one of the world’s largest concentrations of climbable ice in a scrappy corner of the American Midwest: Munising, Michigan. For a lot of people this was the highlight of the weekend.  A big congratulations goes out to Aaron and all of the people who devoted so much time and energy to making us proud to be not only Michiganders, but Midwest ice climbers.  Haven’t seen it yet?   Click the link above to see this feature length film!

After the show the excited crowd gathered on the city shuttles and headed over to the Legion. With an incredibly packed headquarters the evening concluded with the now famous Michigan Ice Fest raffle where we gave out over $7000.00 of gear and clothing to some very excited climbers. Soft shells, belay parkas, ropes, crampons, parkas, packs, tools, screws, and ice boots were only a few of the items raffled off to the biggest Saturday night crowd we’ve ever had!

The classic UP weather finally broke, the highway opened and a wee bit of sunshine warmed climbers as they headed out to Sunday classes and the demo.  The effects of climbing hard all day Saturday and a late night of socializing must have taken its toll on climbers as the demo area was very laid back all day on Sunday. This afforded climbers their choice of routes for most of the day.

Asleep on a duffelWith all the changes we’ve seen this year and with over 100 new registrants, 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 54 new members to the American Alpine Club, and exposed hundreds of first-time climbers to the sport of ice climbing — not to mention all the professional athletes who were able to experience the cold and masochistic world of Midwest ice climbing for the first time.

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 on 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. Feeling some retrospective 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.

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.

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 and their support for the Michigan Ice Fest!


La Sportiva

Black Diamond




Sterling Rope

FITS Socks




Dry Ice Tools

The North Face

Arc Teryx

Mountain Hardwear


And finally we can’t thank our athletes enough.  Over the years they have shared their expertise and knowledge to hundreds of Michigan Ice Fest participants giving them a solid foundation to help them to enjoy the sport we love and to help keep them safe while out climbing.  The 2016 lineup was as strong as it has ever been- to the following we are forever indebt. Many of these athletes are guides and would love to see Michigan Ice Fest participants in the future.  Want another adventure?  Be sure to click on their links to see where they might be able to take you!

Henry Barber
Scott Bennett
Katie Bono
Carlos Buhler
Anne Gilbert Chase
Karsten Delap
Sam Elias
Tim Emmett
Dawn Glanc
Kim Hall
Anna Pfaff
Jim Shimberg
Angela VanWiemeersch
Mark Wilford
Jeff Witt
Heidi Wirtz

Thank you so much for being part of the Michigan Ice Fest this year! The festival is a gathering of our tribe and we are so thankful that climbers from all over the Midwest continue to come up and celebrate everything that is Michigan Ice. We hope you had an enjoyable experience and you can be sure that we are already working on bringing you the best Ice Fest in 2017! 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 February 14-19th 2017

Sterling Ropes Hooks Up The Demo Site!


We really could not organize the Ice Fest without Gold Sponsor Sterling Ropes…….really.  We finally retired our demo and course ropes and in steps Mattison and Mark Wilford of Sterling Ropes to save the day.  Sterling has set the Ice Fest up with a whole new fleet of demo ropes!  After years of having our hotel room draped in frozen ropes that were stiffer then cable, and a heater running full blast in a meager attempt to dry them-  Sterling comes along and donates all new ropes!  I think the first toast Friday evening will go to Mattison and the gang over at Sterling!  Thanks so much for all of your support!

For over sixteen years now, Sterling Rope has been designing and manufacturing the highest quality, most technically advanced rope and cord for climbing. Our ropes for climbing and outdoor are designed for their specific purpose and as such we offer a broad range of great ropes from which to choose. Sterling ropes are made to perform extraordinarily well in all conditions due to our unique DryCore™ and Better Braid Technology™. These processes give you incredibly durable ropes that are smaller in diameter, lighter, and better handling, as well as dry cores, designed to keep moisture out and performance up.

Sterling Rope spent years researching and testing various solutions and treatment processes. We developed a process, using our own proprietary coating, that greatly improves dry treatment of rope. Studies have shown that wet ropes are more difficult to handle and their dynamic performance is drastically reduced. Our dry treated ropes provide an additional safety factor for alpinists, especially on ice, mixed ground and in winter. Protecting the rope from water absorption eliminates weight increase, risk of freezing in cold weather, and slows the wearing of the rope considerably.

In conventional ropes, it is usually only the sheath fibers that are dry-treated. Sterling Dry Ropes not only have a superior coating on the sheath, but also have DryCore standard on all its cores, reducing the ropes natural inclination to absorb moisture to greater levels. Sterling’s Arid system ensures a more effective and durable water resistance, while improving handling, resistance to friction, dirt, and durability.

Don’t forget we will have a full selection of Sterling Ropes at Ice Fest Headquarters at special pricing so you can take one home to send your next project!  Check out all of the fantastic product that Sterling produces by clicking here!