MyClimb features climbing events! We’ll be at the Sandstone Ice Festival in Minnesota this December 18th thru 20th! Hope you can stop by and say hello! Come out and ‘Chase it’ with us!
The first Sandstone ice festival was held by a small group of climbers in 2005. ‘Frozen Kettle Chilly’ cook-off started simmering in 2006 and Elvis showed up in 2007. I’ve been told that the King wore his ‘Winter White’s’ and threw a fairly good axe, legs shaking right to the top. National Geographic put a word out for the ice fest in 2010 and in 2011. The Minnesota Climbers Association organized the ice fest and the city water lines were extended. Hard Water Sports partnered into the Sandstone Ice Festival in 2013.
In 2014, MyClimb founder, Bill Brooks applied to be a sponsor for the Sandstone Ice Festival. Bill and I had already ice climbed in Minnesota several times, and we looked forward to participating and meeting some northern cold-weather enthusiasts. Although the 2014 ice festival started on December 12th, Bill and I decided to fly east on December 5th, The extra time gave us ample time to visit climbing gyms, buy a festival table and warm up on a few ice routes. After dropping off MyClimb posters at the Vertical Endeavors climbing gym, REI and Midwest Mountaineering, we pack our gear and drove north.
We pulled into the Robinson Quarry on December 7th, stretched our legs and gazed at the ice. The MCA does an extraordinary job at making ice. There were steep ice lines up and down the entire quarry, thick ice and interesting formations. Although we only managed to meet a handful of SPM members, Bill and I were blown away at the hard work that they had done to inspire and bring together this community of climbers. Stationed above the crags, a latticework of pipes, hoses, and ladders fed a wide assortment of stunning frozen waterfalls. With the temperatures hovered in the mid 20’s, we hauled our ropes and gear from the boot of the truck and started in. For the next five days, we beat our bodies to a pulp. I ended up with sore shoulders and pumped hands after 50+ pitches of extremely steep ice and a handful of mixed lines. What a blast!
The Festival got going on Friday the 12th of December last year. Stalls and tents were put up and before long climbers began to show up. Bill grabbed a good spot to set up a table and hang a big MyClimb banner. Sponsors such as Grivel, Nemo, Petzel, Hard Water Sports, and Surly Brewing Co. were a few that also joined the festival. A handful of climbing instructors got busy teaching small groups. The scene was fantastic as climbers shared stories, top ropes, and goodwill. I managed to rope-up with the Chicago Mountaineers and thoroughly enjoyed their enthusiasm. That night the Festival offered a slide show and a gear swap.
On Saturday, a huge turnout of climbers showed up. Ropes were thrumming and climbers were testing all kinds of ice tools, laughing and eating some of the best Chili I have ever tasted. From his table, Bill chatted with climbers about MyClimb and showed them how to download and log-in on their iPhones and Android phones.
The festival ended on Sunday, (a rather misty day). Though the turnout had dropped off, the ones who toughed it out were rewarded with some ‘Hero Ice’ and delicate top-outs. One guy even brought a goat to watch!
The 2015 Sandstone Ice Festival is set for December 18-20th
Bill and I will be there.
‘Come out and ‘Chase It’ with MyClimb’.
Written by: Lou Renner, International Climbing Guide and Contributing MyClimb Writer