Just wanted to give a big shout out to all the work, effort, passion and energy that went into the super successful Bozeman Icefest this year. A huge showing of people came from all around the world to celebrate Hyalite Canyon and the sport and play of ice and mixed climbing. This was my 7th year attending the festival. Wow…hard to believe how fast time goes by. This year I had far less commitments then in years past and so was able to climb a couple days in the canyon prior to and after the comp.


The first day I headed out to Bingo Cave with a bunch of other psyched cave dwellers. It always takes a few goes to adjust to a new area and different rock. My first few goes I truly sucked, but eventually I started to rebuild my confidence and start trying again. Like I wrote in a previous blog, I don’t mind sucking, but I do care if I am not trying. A couple days prior I was training in the bouldering Cave and was “trying” a bit too much and as my foot blew I felt a good tug on my rotator cuff. I was happy to even be in the Bingo cave giving it a go, and every try gave me more confidence that I would still be able to compete later in the week.

Fun to watch Justin and Andres go for it on Neolithic, Will send both Inglorious and Daggers, and Steph close to onsighting Inglorious! The next day Steph and I went back to the cave and both sent Inglorious. She sent it first go of the day and gave the mixed clinic that was hanging out at the base, a solid show on how its done!


That night Ines did a great slideshow on a variety of climbing projects she has been doing lately. She sure gets things done, both on the rock and the ice and mixed!


On Saturday the much-awaited comp hit the stage. Competitors from several countries came to give their best to the crowds and the plywood of the cool structure Bozeman put together. Last year was my first time kicking into plywood, and competing in something this big, and I knew I wanted to return this year and try my luck again. I have been training a bunch and felt stronger this year then I did last year, so I was hopeful. The line up that showed up for the comp was strong this year, and I was intimidated for sure.

In the end, I made it into the finals and then squeaked out a 3rd, only a hold higher then Jen who got fourth. Ines popped off a hold midway and Katie (a new Canmore bud that I have been climbing with this winter) took a good whipper going for a clip! It was a close comp between the 3rd and 6th and as excited as I was to get 3rd, my personal unspoken goal was to climb on the boom. I REALLY wanted to try those steeper moves, but flash pump won on both the second qualifying route and the final. Maybe next year! Angelika showed us how it is done, by taking it to the top and Steph (gecko sister) got super far before running out of time. Impressive performances.


The mens comp was super exciting as well. Great to see my friend’s hard work paying off in their finals performances. Gord was one hold from the end, Will Mayo and Will Gadd both showed their experience and talent by tagging the final hold. It was motivating to watch. In the end, a young, new talented climber, Janez from Slovenia flew up the route tapping out with minutes to spare. It was interesting to watch the different styles and the crowd loved every moment of it.


I always learn something from these events. I haven’t done very many climbing competitions and they are both fun and stressful all at the same time. Competing is a skill in and of itself. Everything from training for the event, the preparation before your turn to climb, the way you warm up,the mind set, the way you look at the route etc…is all so unique to the act of a competition. I thought at first that it would be akin to doing a redpoint burn on a project, but I don’t see it that way anymore. Obviously, onsighting is not the same as redpointing, but with plastic holds, it is fairly straight forward to find the “spot”, so it isn’t quite like rock onsighting. Finding the right head space though and getting your body ready for the climb would be two things I would work on improving if I were to do more of these. Jumping nerves and an over zealous grip on my tools were those novice errors.


In the end I had a blast. The crowd cheering is a unique experience and one that for sure is memorable and motivating. Watching the other competitors was also a highlight. Nothing like seeing people try their hardest in a sport that you enjoy playing in. So great to see old friends…and wonderful to meet many new ones.


Thanks Joe Jo and Conrad for hosting this unique festival. I look forward already to next year!

Leave a Comment

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