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Wrap Up of the Bozeman Ice Fest

A climber stretches his way up Hyalite’s cold ice. The Bozeman Ice Fest is more than a weekend of slideshows and clinics, it is a small microcosm of the sport as practiced in Montana. [Photo] Ari Novak

The Arc’teryx Bozeman Ice Fest is different every year, but the span of emotions from this year’s festival seemed particularly representative of the sport and culture of ice climbing: in the joy of beginner climbers hefting tools for the first time and the glow of older climbers returning to Hyalite after being away; in a somber tribute to friend and mentor Guy Lacelle, who had a fatal accident in the canyon one year ago. The Bozeman Ice Fest represented a microcosm of the sport as a whole, both in its highs and its lows.

Climbers excited for more ice climbing. [Photo] Ari Novak

In the silence following “La Vie de Guy Lacelle” (a tribute to Lacelle from Chris Alstrin) Ice Festival attendees felt the other darker emotions of this sport. For both strangers to old friends, the film captured the life of not just an amazing climber but and amazing human being who brought a light into the lives of all who knew him. The following day some of Lacelle’s close friends and family visited the site of his accident for a more personal remembrance. A reflection of the personal tragedies that occur far too often within our community.

Alan Kline, on his second Ice Fest, said the gathering felt “like climbing in your backyard with all your brothers and sisters.” Kline enjoyed swapping leads, beta and stories. Saturday night Will Gadd amazed everyone with his slide show. And Northern Lights owner Greg Caracciolo got a surprise when he received the Hyalite Service Award (formerly the Golden Carabiner) for his years of activism in the local outdoors community.

No Comment. [Photo] Ari Novak

Sunday rolled into Sunday night with more pitches, solid sticks, and shouts of “ICE!” As Alpinist Correspondent Drew Ruderman put it, “no one had to climb the next day so libations flowed into a bit more of a party atmosphere.” Young and old all relished in the camaraderie and community found when climbers gather together for the sole purpose of sharing and enjoying their sport. In the spirit of the closing night, the Emerson Bar and Grill rang with laughter and “outdoor voiced” conversations until that announcement of a free gear raffle quieted the rowdy crowd. Bozeman local Peter Ramos picked up a ten-issue subscription of Alpinist and a C.A.M.P. Corsa Nanotech ice axe (read Alpinist’s five-star review of the axe here). Well done Peter!

The man himself, Joe Josephson. [Photo] Ari Novak

Another Ice Fest has come and gone. Climbers from distant places are back at their homes and locals have returned their normal work routines. Hyalite Canyon is quiet once again. But the echoes of the last weekend are found in sore muscles, memories and emotions that linger on. As is indicative of ice climbing, the fest takes a lot of work and coordination. Bringing in the top professionals and guides, organizing permits with the Forest Service and negotiating with sponsors and finally put it all together is no easy task. Thanks to Joe Josephson for making it happen.