Photo: Justin Willis, a 19-year-old rising star from Bozeman, made it out to climb and see old friends. Although this year’s Bozeman Ice Festival was not part of the International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation’s Mixed Climbing World Championships, as it has been in years past, many of the elite competitors still showed up for fun or to help lead clinics.
The 20th annual Bozeman Ice Festival started off well below freezing earlier this month, with temperatures hovering around minus 15 degrees Fahrenheit. Hosted in Hyalite Canyon south of town, the four-day festival gave pro athletes lots of time on world-class climbing ice. Plus, athletes and guides teach a range of clinics for all levels and on all sorts of terrain. Here are some of photographer Seth Langbauer’s favorite moments from the weekend.
On day one, the excitement and anticipation among climbers wasn’t dampened by the frigid temperatures. It is an ice climbing festival, after all.
Montana Alpine Guides were up early to get fires started for cold climbers. With a fire, local coffee, and regular weather and ice condition reports, their tent served as a community hot spot throughout the day.
Clinic participants heading to their climbing area. Here, a group starts the approach to a spot called Genesis One.
People come from all over the country to take a Bozeman Ice Festival clinic, which are lead by professional climbers and guides.
Climbers looking up at Genesis One as their instructor shows them how to spot weaknesses in the ice.
A beginner climber learns the techniques by getting lots of practice under the security of a top rope.
At the end of the day, climbers had a chance to demo gear, find great beer, and tell stories at Emerson Ballroom in downtown Bozeman.
Local climber Ryan Griffiths makes his way up a route called Jeff’s Right. Escaping the crowds this time of year can be tricky, but more experienced climbers found plenty of open routes, typically a bit higher than where the clinics were taking place.
A climber watches her friend attempt a route during a women’s mixed-climbing clinic.
Here, a climber tops out on a classic WI3 called The Fat One. Ice climbing has a similar rating system as rock climbing—as the difficulty of the climb increases, so does its corresponding number (WI1 through WI8). WI3 is a mid-level waterfall ice climbing grade that typically refers to a route with a 60- to 70-degree pitch angle that has some near-vertical sections but plenty of spots of place screws.
A popular clinic, called Light and Fast, was taught by professional climber Scott Bennett. The course taught participants how to move through the mountains in small teams using fast, safe high-alpine techniques.