Bozeman and a new Surge of Motivation

I just returned from a week trip to Bozeman. This was my 5th year attending the Hyalite Bozeman Icefest and by the far the most fun, inspiring, and motivating year I have attended…

Where do I start? I came here 5 years ago with my bud Jen Olson.

We participated in the Icebreaker and had a blast running around Hyalite trying to climb as much as possible in the few daylight hours.

The next year I was able to participate in the same comp with another great friend, Caroline George. We had all sorts of mishaps, getting lost, falling off logs into creeks etc but laughed through it all. The third year, I was super excited to get paired up with yet another amazing friend, Lilla Molnar. By noon we were way ahead of our projected climb schedule, and were having a blast when we learned about Guys death at the other end of the valley. All I remember is falling to the ground in complete heartbreaking sadness and disbelief. It was such an incredible tragedy. The rest of that fest was challenging but crucial to everyone who took part in it to learn and understand and recover from our great loss. We needed each other and we shared our sadness together. Last year Lilla and I returned.

We spent a day with Guys amazing wife and Joe Jo, and placed the golden axe behind the falls that Guy spent his last moments. It was a very touching day and helped put a small bit of closure to that day a year ago.

This year, I came to Bozeman with very little expectation. There would be no competition. Many of my friends like Jen and Caroline wouldn’t be there. I haven’t been super motivated by personal climbing this past month. I was, as usual though, psyched to spend some fun days with people in the clinics, teaching up and coming ice climbers, and rub elbows with the heros of ice that helped us embrace the sport, and it ended up being WAY better then I could have hoped.

This year Outdoor Research was one of the main sponsors of the event, and so we had many people representing, many amazing people and all in one great big house that Christian rented for us. What a great way to start the inspiration train. Lilla and I arrived late on Wednesday and learned that already, one of our own Outdoor Research athletes, Gordon Macarthur had crushed the second ascent of the hardest route in Hyalite in much harder conditions then the first ascent. Wow…Kyle Dempster, Piolet D’or winner was also in the house, along with Jason Nelson, Shingo, Graham Zimmerman, Margo Talbot, and my good bud Lilla Molnar.

The first two days I worked some fun clinics at G1, a prime spot to get on some great steep ice lines. Newbies and veterans shared swings at this great venue and inspired each other day after day. In the evenings, the inspiration didn’t stop…in fact it accelerated to insane levels! Joe Jo, put together probably the greatest evening event shows packed into one weekend that any ice festival will ever see…ever…

Joe Jo making ice for the first year's Icebreaker event

The first night Margo Talbot, shared her very personal and inspiring stories of how climbing had turned her life around from a very destructive existence to one filled with passion and zest for life. The next night we were filled with stories, videos and slideshows from first ascentsionists of classic ice lines. Watching a video on the first ascent of Bridalveils falls with a long straight mountaineering tool and one short hammered tool was absolutely mind blowing. These men were not just pioneers, they were visionaries. To climb that route with the equipment they had and with no one in front of them showing them that it was possible, is extremely courageous. Other great slideshows from Kitty Calhoun and Bernard Mailhot, Henry Barber and Yvon Chinouard rounded out an incredible evening.

The next day I was lucky enough to get out climbing with Christian Folk and Jeannie Wall from Outdoor Research. We spent a fun few hours dodging bullets, ice and tools!! on Dribbles, and then hiked over to Responsible Family Man. Super fun route that gave us another great perspective on the whole Hyalite Canyon. Fun times with fun peeps, good adventures and great ice.

That night we were again treated to a view into how ice and mixed climbing got to where it is today and where it is still going. Will Gadd had a super fun video on all the incredible things he has done on ice and his latest excitement with Spray ice. Slideshow on the first free ascent of Winter Dance, a talk from Jeff Lowe, words of wisdom from Bubba himself, an amazing history or our very own Trophy Wall from Bruce Hendricks and a great video of Gord’s ascent of El Matador. Totally motivating night once again.

The next morning, I hooked up with good friend and total ice/mixed badass Rob Owens, and climber/skier/OR product guru Jeannie Wall. We decided to try Mummy 3 and 4, despite knowing that Mummy 4 wasn’t touching down.

We scrambled up Mummy 2 through the masses of clinic users and headed up to Mummy 3. This pitch was so much fun. Great mixed climbing, on good rock to a beautiful narrow ice smear. Mummy 4 was truly a lesson on how to get it done. Watching Rob climb this pitch was a real treat. Swinging into Moss hammocks, hammering in spectres all the while on overhanging terrain, tiptoeing onto the ice and weaving a line behind and in front of it. So cool, and so fun.

That night we all celebrated a fun dinner of food and drinks at the Emerson and shared appreciation for all that Joe and Coop had done to create such an event. Those guys work so hard, but make it look so easy:)

The next day, was a bit of a late start, but Lilla was feeling a bit better and being that she is 6 months pregnant and was motivated to get a bit of climbing in, I could not refuse! We headed up to Hyalite and only had an hour and a half before we had to leave so we did a quick romp up the Scepter. I have always wanted to climb it, but every year there is a rope on it for the clinics. It was in easy, punched out shape, but fun nonetheless and always fun to get to hang out with Lilla!

I am not sure exactly what it was about this week…rubbing elbows with pioneers of the past, watching new climbers find a new passion, hanging out with climbers who are taking the sport to the next level, climbing with good friends in an incredible setting, or just sharing an energy all week of similar, like minded and motivated people…but it changed me.

I have spent so much of my life immersed in the passion of climbing. It has completely guided me through and into the life I lead today. it has been the focus of work and play. Its taken me away from things, and led me towards other things. It has shown me incredible places. It has connected me to incredible people. Sometimes though I find myself thinking that I need to “move on”…

This weekend however, reconnected me to why it is “ok” to have this passion. Sure, it can be a selfish endeavor, but the people and the stories I saw this weekend reinforced to me that this is the group I want to be and stay in. These people love life…they love to discover things, and themselves. They love to share adventures, creativity, passion and exploration. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that? I do…and I plan to stay in it for as long as I can!!!

Thanks again to Joe Jo and Coop, all the great participants that make the festival possible, all the motivating speakers and role models and the whole OR crew!

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