The Smugglers Notch Ice Bash was started seven years ago as a small gathering of climbers in Jeffersonville, Vermont, just north of the beautiful Smuggler’s Notch State Park. From its small grassroots start, the event has quickly grown into one of the biggest and most well-attended ice fests on the East Coast. 

Smuggs Ice Bash comp   Smuggs Ice Bash - Matt McCormick speaking
Men’s 1st place Jake List on route (left) and Petzl Rep Matt McCormick holding court on the mic!

Friday kicked off with the 3rd annual Smuggs ice bash drytooling comp held at Petra Cliffs climbing gym in Burlington. Josh Worley, Doug Madara, and I started this event as a way to pull some of the best mixed climbers in the area to show off this crazy genre of climbing. Nearly 20 competitors singed up with a sold-out house to watch the show.

This year with Doug and Josh out of town, I set the routes with Petra co-owner Steve Charest. Both the men’s and women’s routes featured big moves between thin holds and culminated on “foam-ice” volumes and upside down figure-4 moves on a PVC pipe! Local boulderer Jake List successfully defended his title, almost getting to the end of the PVC piping, and Andrea Charest beat runner-up Melissa McNell in the women’s category. 

Smuggs Ice Bash comp crowd   Ice tool at the Smuggs Ice Bash
The crowd at the comp and NOMICs at the high point on the route!

The rest of the weekend featured a slideshow from the accomplished guide and alpinist Kevin Mahoney and many clinics, including a free women's beginner clinic. This year’s attendance topped previous years by far and the event promises to grow quickly in the future. Don’t miss it!

– Matt McCormick