Bozeman Icefest 2012…inspired yet again!

Well it has been a while since I last put up a post. I remember last year writing about the Bozeman Icefest, and how it reinspired me a ton. Turns out the same has happened again! Having just rolled back last night after a 10 hour drive, I have had a bunch of time to reflect and reminisce on the week past.

First off…this fall I decided I wanted to learn how to mix climb, the harder routes. Mostly because I want to go back to Spray Ice and actually get up something! Last year I learned quickly that I knew nothing about the art of climbing upside down, so I made it a goal, started to train on the splice (backyard plywood with holes), and go to the Playground. I actually found it fun for a change and not just terrifying, so that was a good start!

This led to going to the Haffner cave where the famous Caveman M10 route was. I thought that would be a really good goal to work on to get me ready. It was, I learned a lot, about how to transfer from figure fours and nines and deal with the rope. It is a great place to go, because it isn’t a long drive or a long hike and it is really pretty down there. The next climb I tried was Neolithic M11.

At first go, I thought it would be impossible. It starts with a monster long swinging throw/reach, then cut your legs loose and try to release your one tool while swinging wildly on the other one. Once I actually tried the move though, I realized it was doable! I ended up going back the day before leaving for Bozeman with Will.

The day started poorly. I felt scared and pumped and frustrated. I had a bit of a mental adjustment though and tried again…and somehow made it to the top! I was super psyched. I was also psyched because then Will ended up climbing ALL the routes in the cave that day…in a matter of hours…M7, M8+, M10, M10+, M11 and M12! Damn!! Now if that doesn’t inspire…I don’t know what does. Another cool thing was Noel, from Bow Valley Photography happened to come down there to shoot some friends and got some photos…

Will on Pilt Down M12

So, the next day drove to Bozeman. I was really looking forward to reconnecting with friends, seeing Joe Jo, and getting pumped with the energy of the fest! i was also however, deathly nervous and sleep deprived from the thought of having to do a slideshow. Somehow I said yes to that…still not sure how…but I did, and I knew I couldnt’ get out of it anymore! The saving grace that the theme was mentorship…and so I had a lot of great people that I could talk about!

The show went ok…of course I was nervous, and stumbled on words, the video of the sea stacks didn’t work…but all in all, I was still proud of myself for getting up there and giving it a go. i had done a slideshow on my trip to China before, but that seemed easier. It is easier to talk through a start to finish trip…it is harder to talk about your life, the people in it and how it all makes up what you call yourself and your motivation. The crowd was generous though and I felt very welcomed and embraced…thank you Bozeman and thank you Will and Joe Jo for the generous intros…

The next day was the women’s clinic and this was likely the highlight of the weekend for me. This is probably one of the biggest if not THE biggest women’s ice clinics around.

Talking smack

The clinics were booked months in advance and the day was buzzing with colorful, happy ice chippers. I had 13 women in my clinic! Wow!! They were all super keen, psyched and really really wanting to learn. So fun to teach people who really want to improve! A big highlight was having Pam Roberts on my clinic. This was Pams first day back on the ice since Jacks passing last year and it was an honor to the Bozeman icefest and all the women out that day to share the ice with her. Very brave, courageous and inspiring. To maintain and find passion again in that that can take so much away is truly remarkable and takes strength.

Pam and others CRUSHING

Here is link to a very inspiring video of the womens clinic...

That evening we were blessed with some great slideshows by the legend Michael Kennedy and his rock star son Hayden…very cool. Another fun evening of being inspired.

The next day was the competition. I wasn’t actually scheduled to be on it. I didn’t want the stress and pressure along with the slideshow, but Joe Jo graciously let me on last minute and I decided to buck up and try. I think competitors are brave people. i used to compete a ton running as a kid, but as an adult I have shyed away from it.

I think I am saying ….what the hell do you do there???

These things rarely play out the way one thinks they will and so I don’t want to take the chance. I did though, and enjoyed the process. It was fun to hang out with the other competitors, feel the vibe, get excited and nervous. it was super fun to climb, and feel and hear the crowd and just want to hang on because you know people want the best for you! I could hear my friend Cheryl’s voice throughout the climb, and it was nice to feel the support of friends. Unfortunately though, I was bummed by the fact that everyone following my climb learned to not use the swinging tuna log. This log was the reason all those before me either fell off or disqualified their high point by using the red part of the log which was out of bounds. Luckily, I managed to down climb and try going the other way, but it was a major energy sapper!


highpoint for me

Not to say results would be different, but i would be curious where the 4 of us would have gotten to had we had the knowledge the others had after us, or vice versa. it would have bean alot more fun to watch the other competitors ride that darn spinning log a while too! But, as I wrote before…these things are not always fair, and somehow, the others learned the beta to skip the log. Regardless, I had fun, the problem solving, the botching of sequences and the surge of the crowd. it was super inspiring to watch the other competitors and cheer for their ascents.

Go Jason go!
Will, showing us how its done

Will and Whit making it to the end was very fun to see and once again inspiring. Jason had a great go as well, and of course I was sad for my friends who I knew had so much more in them but just slipped off early like Gord…such is the way of competitions…

The following day, i was psyched to get out climbing with some of the ladies, Steph from France and Dawn from Ouray. Bummer for us though that the start of the route we wanted to get on was being used for a clinic, so instead we froze our butts off in the shade of the Roman Candle. It was SUPER cold, but Dawn and I each gave it a go. I learned that I suck at onsighting, so scary not knowing what you are on… and after coming down and suffering through a half hour of screaming barfies, in both hands and feet I was done. Dawn did another burn though and sent…nice work Dawn! Yeah!

The fest was officially done at this point, but Outdoor Research had a product development meeting and so we all stayed a bit longer to talk “down, gore and soft shell”:) First of all Outdoor Research has an amazing group of people working for them. I always feel super fortunate to be part of this group. Some amazing new products coming out again and the gear only keeps getting better and better.

Of course we had to put it to the test though…and so the next day we all rallied to the Unnamed wall to climb in some new duds. I tried out the Radiant hoody, very nice…, and somehow it helped me get up Northwest Passage…an M11 in the Bingo cave! Jason started the send train, and on my 3rd go, i found myself at the roof still holding on. Sadly though I had never climbed past that point in the other 2 burns so I was a little nervous about blowing it! It is a fun climb, starts easy, goes horizontal for a few moves then exits on another vertical face for a couple bolts.

I managed to dig deep and take it to the chains, but was likely on the thing for close to a half hour. Thanks to Kyle for his patient belay and all the cheering from the OR crew! I was sooo stiff for the drive home!

Here is a link to some of these things from the past week…


Rock and Ice

I was asked to do an interview for this, but it turns out mostly the article is Will and Ines’ words! That is fine with me, as they are truly the Mixed heros and to have their input is an honor. I find Ines’ comments interesting. i feel the same. i do think that separating women and mens ascents likely in the end holds women back from achieving full potential. At the same time though, I strongly support women only courses because of the different learning styles and because of how I’ve watched women achieve things by seeing other women do it first. I know that I need women role models in my life and Ines has been one of them, so it is an interesting dichotomy and one I am trying to wrap my head around. Truth is, I have worked WAAAAAYYYY harder redpointing rock climbing routes at my limit then I have climbing these mixed routes, so that tells me that there are a ton more women out there that could be pushing this grade as well if they decide they want to. it is a learnable skill! Anyway, I hope that others get out there and give it a try. Maybe this whole type of climbing is passe…but if Will Gadd is still keen on it, after seeing it from pretty much its birth, then why not others?

So, in closing…it was a great week. Loved the Bozeman Icefest…big kudos to Joe Jo, Coop, Conrad and Adam for pulling it off…impressive. Thanks for the opportunity to do a slideshow and get uncomfortable. Thanks for a cool and fun competition. Thanks for all the psyched people out there wanting to get better and learn more about ice and mixed climbing….thanks to OR for hosting us all so well and for an inspiring product development meeting and enjoying all the other great people that are part of that group.

Looking forward to a good winter of guiding and hopefully working some new projects…and some Spray ice:):)! Yeah!


5 thoughts on “Bozeman Icefest 2012…inspired yet again!”

  1. Sarah….you soooo rock! Great to read your words, and thanks for inspiring me also. I made a bit of a slide show for my students about the weekend, and they got a lot out of it, especially the girls, I think, to see pictures of so many strong and beautiful women in a venue they never even knew existed. Feeling good….thanks for contributing to that!

  2. What a fun start to my day, reading this first thing. It’s going to be a good day, thank you very much Miss Sarah! I have a hard training session ahead and you have always been a good mentor and model for me. Your post is inspiring. I was interested in your words about competition. I know so many strong women who don’t/won’t compete and yet love to go to competitions, are inspired by seeing “the best women” up there do their thing, and yet they are as strong or stronger. I want to see all those that are really THE BEST. And I want to competed with the best of my peers, which would be a truly honest competition in which to give my best, measure myself and build off the positive energy of strong focused women around me. In the end it is true that I really compete just for myself, to draw out my best performance, but I am likely to do MY very best by measuring my performance against who are more experienced, exhibit better technique than mine, and who prepared the with the most dedication. Good for you for competing, Sarah! It was thrilling to see you methodically work that wall, face the dangling tuna, and inspiring when you passed it, thinking outside the box.

    I am so impressed with your goal setting, to do better at the Spray this year, and the steps you have taken to prepare. Seems you surprised yourself more than the rest of us who believe you haven’t even tapped your full potential yet. And look at you go, girl!! Well, it is easier to see stellar potential in someone else than in one’s self. Maybe in our own head we are mislead by habits of how we view ourself, and by annoying negative thoughts that present themselves as reality checks but are really self imposed restraints.

    So that brings me to a question I had reading your post…. You said, “The day started poorly. I felt scared and pumped and frustrated. I had a bit of a mental adjustment though and tried again…and somehow made it to the top!” I would love to know specifically what was going on in your head before and during your first go round and exactly how you adjusted your thinking. This is a frequent crux for me — fear resulting in poor technique and a tense, wooden performance, followed by frustration. I find myself wishing things had gone better as if it was a matter of an outside force like luck rather than something within my control. This way of thinking makes it difficult to step back and get psyched to perform at my potential. I don’t have a ready “reset button”. I swear, most of athletic competitive success is in the mental muscle… at minimum I’m sure mental muscle is the most difficult to train. This year I’ve been focused on the mental aspect with my trainer. I’m improving.

    Thanks to the great photographers whose pics you shared. Thanks to the video guys who shot the competition and the women’s story. I almost felt like I was there.

    If I ever finish competing in these wintertime indoor rowing races, I’ll be in Bozeman, Ouray and Canmore all winter long trying to climb like YOU!

    1. Thanks Anne, for your comment. I like how you view competitions…makes me reconsider my excuses and want to be braver. You have a good attitude!
      You asked about how I felt on the first go round and how it changed. I think something I am learning (others knew long ago, as I got nicknamed “second try Sarah”), but I usually need a good warm up to send something. Those first goes, were just that in my mind, warm ups, and even though I wanted to feel great on them, I didn’t and wasn’t going to, because I wasn’t warmed up enough. Not only physically warm up, but mentally.
      The other part to it, is habit. I am used to not sending first go, so I don’t expect it of myself. If the mental game is the hardest part, then that muscle is super weak my first go around. A habit I should probably try to break, or onsights will never improve!
      So, an unwarmed up body, a habitual mind, and before I knew it I thought I was climbing like crap:)
      On Neolithic, I came down…vented a bit…and then reconsidered my day. I could a) just belay and try to act like I was having fun (although no one likes that…someone who came to climb and then pretends to be happy belaying…I think that is referred to as a party pooper)…or b) make the most of where I was, who I was with, the time I had, and if nothing else…just try my hardest. I was mad at myself for being scared, and not trying as hard as I knew I could…and so that seemed like a pretty easy fix….just try for real. That is basically what I did. I also like to start up routes thinking…hmm, maybe I’ll surprise myself?? no pressure, just some good old fashioned hope!
      Sorry if that is too easy of an answer. I welcome more discussion!
      Often…the only difference between sending and not sending is the word “take”.

      Thanks Anne and good luck with your rowing comps!! Crush!

  3. Thanks for continuing the dialog. That’s what I was looking for, literally what went through your mind first try, back on the ground and setting out for the second try. I wouldn’t have thought your answer was too easy. It’s practical and it’s the truth — the easiest kind of advice to remember and use myself. Climbing well isn’t magic. It’s hard work to be strong and learn technique. It is practice, practice, practice… working your weaknesses…. and a strong focused mind.

    Thanks for everything, Sarah. Post again soon, as your winter season unfolds. I think it is going to be an exciting one for you.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *