Wednesday, March 11, 2009


"Lost Cord" up Hunter Creek

The first Alaska Ice Climbing Festival was a roaring success! Jayme Dixon (at right below) was the originator and prime mover of the whole event, so I have to give her credit up front.

Many others donated a tremendous amount of time and energy to make the Fest the gala event that it was. I could write a whole blog just on the volunteerism of the folks who assembled to produce the Ice Fest. Julie Perilla was our webmaster who created the site where you can check out all the details:

The event was held in Hunter Creek, Chugach Mountains, Alaska, on March 6-8. Here's a rundown of the events:

Friday night Jamie of the Alaska Backpacker's Inn donated his place for the initial dinner. Tom Devine and Harry Hunt cooked us a great meal of salad and meatball penne pasta. Great Harvest Bread Company donated adult refreshments and cookies. It seemed like nearly a hundred folks came and went over the evening. Sam Johnson, a Black Diamond sponsored local, presented slides of his climbing all over the world: "Getting Steep with Vision: Experiences of a Seeker." Check-out Sam’s blog

Saturday, we met early at Hunter Creek to set up the giant North Face geodesic dome which would be headquarters over the weekend for sign up, equipment rental, and clinics. Jayme Dixon held court here most of the time.

A number of clinics, including: Intro to Ice Climbing, Anchors, Fundamental Footwork, Belaying a Second; and Joe Stock and I taught Basic Rescue Skills.

At noon Harry Hunt had set up a great competition route high on a chossy, overhanging rock wall just to the right of "Lost Cord" ice climb. 20 competitors jumped into the fray. At one point I counted over 75 people in the audience watching the comp. Chris Lindsey was our DJ and had hauled in a generator, speakers, computer, and a PA system so I could announce the comp. The music rocked!

Jay Rowe won the event, just beating the time of second place Scotty Vinchik, with Joe Stock, straight off the couch, coming in third. It was a total crowd-pleaser.

Jay Rowe on the 110 degree overhanging rock wall.

Jay Rowe talks with folks following his climb.

Saturday night we all drove in to the Organic Oasis for a dinner of great food. I was the announcer/auctioneer. The fest made a considerable amount of money from items donated from a number of sponsors, including Black Diamond, Petzl, Patagonia, Mountain Hardware, Ice Holdz, Alaska Mountaineering and Hiking, REI, and others. I even auctioned off my vintage 70's climbing sweater!

Sunday were the day-long clinics, including: Intro to Ice Climbing Clinic, Intro to Mixed Climbing Clinic, Intermediate Ice Climbing Clinic. Troy Roades and I taught the Intro to Lead Clinic. We had a great group, including Mark Boydston, Jeremy Pataky, Jake Wilkens, Andy Mamrul, Greg Encelewski, and Kate Yenik. Our group set up on "Split Decision" and did a mock lead, learning the fundamentals of not falling, rope control, route finding, and other skills.
Kate Yenik leads up "Split Decision", mark Boydston belays with Troy Roades instructing.

Sunday night I was totally bushed! Couldn't move an inch the next morning, only to find out I had bronchitis! It was a fantastic weekend anyway.

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