During the 2013/14 winter season, Petzl supported at a bunch of awesome ice climbing events, including: the Bozeman Ice Festival in Montana, the Ouray Ice Fest in Colorado, the Sandstone Ice Fest in Minnesota, the Adirondack International Mountain Fest in New York, the Smuggler's Notch Ice Bash in Vermont, the Michigan Ice Fest, the Mt. Washington Valley Ice Festival in New Hampshire, the Knuckle Basher Ice Fest in Canmore, Canada, the Catskill Ice Festival in New York, the Cody Ice Fest in Wyoming, the Redstone WinterFest in Colorado, the Nipigon Ice Fest in Ontario, Canada, and more! (You can thank our event’s coordinator Chuck Odette for all the tool and crampon sharpening that goes into the demo program!)

The goal is to help keep these great events going all across North America, and also to give you a chance to try out Petzl’s extensive line of ice climbing gear, from tools to crampons to helmets and harnesses. Our thanks go out to all the event organizers who put in long hours to make these events a reality. 

Here, thanks to our tireless Petzl America sales reps and employees, is a little post-season wrap up of just a few of the ice events we attended.


 Ouray Ice Fest, January 9-14, 2014

Andres Marin ice climbing at a clinic at the Ouray Ice Fest.
Andres Marin leading a clinic in Ouray Ice Park. Photo: J. Roth / Petzl

The Ouray Ice Festival has been taking place at the Ouray Ice Park in Colorado’s Uncompahgre Gorge since 1996. Today, some 3,000 ice enthusiasts flock to the Park yearly to enjoy the fat ice, demo the latest and greatest gear, listen to guest speakers, and watch top-level climbers compete in the mixed and speed climbing disciplines. 

At this year’s event, Petzl athlete and Alpinist Ueli Steck made an appearance, with plans to speak on Saturday night and maybe compete, too. On the way to Ouray, he stopped and onsighted Jeff Lowe’s classic 1994 ice route Octopussy (see the report here). Once he got to Ouray, plans had to be rearranged in a hurry when Ueli discovered he had been nominated for Switzerland's “Person of the Year” award and would have to fly home for the ceremony. His presentation, focused mainly on his mind-bending solo ascent of the Anapurna South Face, was moved to a different location and a different night… and still managed to sell out, no problem.

Ueli Steck signing posters at the Ouray Ice Festival
Ueli Steck signing posters after his slideshow. Photo: J. Roth / Petzl

Ueli had to head home, but the event raged on. Lines formed at the entrance of the Petzl tent first thing every morning, and our staff worked to fit crampons and hand out ice tools, belay device, helmets, and all the other gear climbers needed for their clinics in the Ice Park. 

Team Petzl fared well at the Elite Mixed Ice Competition on Saturday. Jeff Mercier, of France, came out and won for the second year in a row, beating Mauro Dorigatti’s time to the top of the competition route by just 16 seconds. Also climbing on Petzl gear, Will Mayo took third, being only one of three men to finish the route. On the women’s side, Jen Olson powered to an impressive second-place finish. Petzl climber and local Ouray climbing guide Andres Marin finished seventh in the Mixed comp after dropping his tool and fighting heroically to continue up the dangling logs (aka “nuggets”), anyway. Luckily, Andres redeemed himself with a win in the Speed Climbing event on Sunday.

Jeff Mercier launching for the finishing pinata at the Ouray Ice Festival
Elite Mixed Comp winner Jeff Mercier going for the piñata. Photo: J. Roth / Petzl

Saturday night, festival-goers packed the Ouray Community Center for presentations, an auction, and the Saturday Night Freezer dance party, DJ’ed by Petzl’s own Patrick “Pitt” Grewe. (There was also a team drinking competition, involving the new Petzl screws and big blocks of ice, that was kind of hard to describe.)

Big thanks to the event organizers and volunteers, the Ice Park crew, the athletes, fellow sponsor companies, the Petzl crew, and of course all the attendees for once again making the Ouray Ice Fest possible and awesome. See you next year…

— Justin Roth


 Adirondack International Mountainfest, January 18-20, 2014 

Adirondack Mountain Festival 2014

The Adirondack International Mountainfest, held in Keene Valley NY, is a true celebration of the mountain culture and is one of my favorite events of the many I go to each year. Beyond the climbing, all Mountainfest proceeds are donated to local services and programs, such as the Keene Valley Fire Department and a new after-school outdoor program recently started by a local guide. The 18th annual event kicked off Friday night with a great presentation by Aaron Mulkey at the famed “beverdome," showing some awesome slides and videos of winter climbing throughout the western U.S. Saturday morning was busy as usual with handing out tools and crampons to clinic participants. Vince Anderson gave a great slideshow Saturday night recalling his 2005 alpine style ascent of the Rupal Face on Nanga Parbat. It was a great weekend and an awesome way to kick off the ice fest season here in the Northeast!

— Matt McCormick


 Smugglers Notch Ice Bash, January 24-26, 2014

Ice climbing at the Smuggler's Notch Ice Fest 

The 8th annual Smugglers Notch Ice Bash was yet another awesome event here in Vermont, solidifying the Ice Bash as one of the fastest growing events in the Northeast. Friday night kicked off with the 4th annual Ice Bash dry-tooling comp, an event started by Petzl rep Matt McCormick. This year McCormick and Peter Kamitses set the hardest route yet in anticipation of some big name competitors including Petzl athlete Will Mayo, just coming off two top-three finishes in the Bozeman and Ouray Ice Festival comps. Around 250 people showed up to watch the competitors throw themselves at the routes. On the men's side Whit Magro took first, with Will Mayo in second. For women, North Conway's silent crusher Alexa Siegel took first, with Andrea Charest in second.

The dry tooling competition at Smugg's Notch Ice Fest

The rest of the weekend's events were held at the Smuggler's Notch Inn in Jeffersonville, Vermont. Saturday night featured slideshows from Whit Magro and a really unique show from Lindsay Fixmer, in which she sang and played guitar to a song she wrote about inspirational female climbers. The small venue was bursting at the seams with nearly everyone's demo gear going out to clinics Saturday and Sunday.  

— Matt McCormick


 Mt. Washington Valley Ice Fest, January 31-February 2, 2014

An ice climber at the Mt. Washington Valley Ice FestGoing to the Mt. Washington Valley Ice Fest is the equivalent of getting the chance to play catch with the 2013 world series champion Boston Red Sox; no other event in North America gets this caliber of talent

Equally impressive is that the available terrain that is so close to the center of North Conway. Take your pick: rock and ice climbing, alpine climbing, randonee skiing, and paragliding are all right here and can easily be combined if you are ambitious. The area’s ice routes are so varied and abundant that even with a big event like Ice Fest in town you can still get on most any of the classic routes. 

Conditions were outstanding for this year’s event, with Cathedral Ledge being in particularly good nick. Rick Wilcox commented that his classic route Repentance (WI5) was in the best condition since he did the first ascent with John Bragg some 40 years ago. 

There was one close call at the event: Helon Hoffer and Max Lurie from IME were climbing Repentance when a piece of ice fell from 100 feet above and hit Helon in the head. He commented that his Petzl Meteor helmet saved his life. Fortunately almost every climber we see now uses a helmet. If you don't yet use a helmet yourself please reconsider and perhaps visit Petzl's helmet stories page, to read some tales from others who were quite happy that they wore their helmets.

The next generation of ice climbers was at the Ice Fest, too. Only 6 years old, up-and-comer Clara Yager is 42 inches tall and weighs in at 34 pounds. An avid rock climber she was a bit upset that her parents couldn't find any ice boots in her size. Her father, IMCS guide Conrad Yager, solved the problem by bolting a set of D-LYNX crampons onto some tiny, used alpine ski boots. When Cold Cold World's Randy Rackliff heard about Clara's exploits, he happily dug into some old gear for a Charlet P’Tit Loup ice tool he’d found in Alaska, at the base of Mt. Hunter's North Buttress. This particular tool has quite the history, having been used 20 years ago on the first ascent of The Wall of Shadows (VI AI6 5.9 A4, FA Michael Kennedy and Greg Child). And so the baton has been passed to the next generation. Be sure to come back in 20 years to see Clara's Ice Fest slide show….

Six-year-old Clara Yager's custom boots and historic ice tool.
Six-year-old Clara Yager's custom boots and historic ice tool.

Thanks to all of the climbers, sales reps, NEice, and to IME for a great event. The Mt. Washington Valley Ice Fest is a big party and a big event for this town. Over 500 guided client days happened over the weekend, with Saturday night’s slide show attendance swelling so large that it exceeded the venue's capacity. The donations from the various vendors helped the Ice Fest raise upwards of $3,000 during the American Alpine Club (AAC) silent auction. The AAC’s Live Your Dream Grant was this years official Ice Fest beneficiary.

See you next year. Hit the IMCS web site for more event recap info.

— Dave Karl


 VICE Fest, January 25, 2014

Climbers at VICE Fest. Photo: Ian MacLellan. 
Climbers at the VICE Fest in Lincoln Woods, New Hampshire. Photo: Ian MacLellan.

VICE is a non-profit group of college students and alumni "dedicated to safely pushing the limits of our physical and mental abilities in the context of vertical routes and harsh winter conditions.” The Lincoln, New Hampshire, VICE Fest was organized by the Tufts University Outing Club, and they did a great job! Over 100 participants, everything was well organized, and the kids had a blast. Petzl's support with demo gear and schwag items was greatly appreciated. It was a pleasure to climb with the participants during the day and the event was overall very successful.

— Ian Wauchope


 Catskills Ice Fest, Feb 7-10, 2014

Ice climbers at the Catskills Ice FestivalThe 16th annual Catskills Ice Fest showed yet again why the Catskills are a prime place to climb ice in the Northeast. Run by Alpine Endeavors in conjunction with the local gear shop Rock and Snow, the festival drew crowds from near and far, from the country and from the Big Apple, and pulled them all together to sample some fantastic ice conditions. 

Things kicked off Friday night with a slideshow by Alpine Endeavors’ Marty Molitoris. Bright and early on Saturday, clients and casual ice climbers alike descended upon Rock and Snow to demo a wide variety of gear. Nearly 60 people arrived looking to try their hand at a pair of Nomics or Quarks. Climbers hit the “Cats” and found some prime conditions, with the temperatures in the mid 20º F range. Saturday night, Kevin Mahoney, local Northeast hard man gave a fantastic show detailing his ice antics. 

Sunday was much like Saturday, with crowds clamoring first thing to get gear. Some rare conditions were in effect on Sunday as well, as the Trapps area in the Gunks sported several prime ice floes. Providing a true multi-pitch winter alpine environment, the climbs in the Trapps were a true delight for climbers who dared to adventure out. Finally, a small, core group took the Alpine Endeavors backcountry course on Monday, climbing at the fantastic Buttermilk Falls. Not a weekend to be missed; be sure to check out the Catskills Ice Fest next year!

— Tim Keenan