Friday, February 6, 2009

Munising Ice Festival

This was my third time attending this event (2002, 2005, 2009) and despite being in the middle of nowhere, it is an awesome grassroots festival. It draws a huge crowd from the nearby major cities of Minneapolis, Detroit and Chicago and everyone is super psyched. 448 people attended from 10 states including Florida and Texas-- plus Canucks from nearby Ontario. The level of enthusiasm for all thing ice is very inspiring. Representing Black Diamond Equipment, I gave my slide show on winter climbing to a packed hall the hall--not even standing room available. I also taught two days of clinics: an intro to ice one day and a woman's clinic the other (Yeah boy, you read correctly). No woman athletes were present so since I had long hair I was the next best thing. Both clinics were successful in that I had first time ice climbers styling vertical pillars with solid technique by the end of each day.
The climbs are located on the south shore of Lake Superior in Pictured Rocks National Park. Most are short vertical pillars and curtains pouring over sandstone caves and overhangs tucked in the trees. The closest routes are only 10 minutes from town and a 5 minute walk. There is some longer stuff out on the lake cliffs and across the ice on Grand Island. Munising is a snowmobile town in winter but for Superbowl weekend every year the ice climbers take over.

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