By Emily Wolfe Explore Big Sky Managing Editor
BOZEMAN – Ice climbing in southwest Montana is about to hit the world
stage, as the 17th Annual Arc’teryx Bozeman Ice Climbing Festival is set
to host the inaugural Open North American Championships Dec. 13-15.
The only ice climbing competition in North America sanctioned by the
International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation (UIAA), the
championships will boost the Bozeman ice fest to a new level, said Festival
Director Joe Josephson.
Since its inception in 1996 – where Josephson was keynote speaker in
front of a crowd of 50 and approximately 12 people attended the
climbing clinics in Hyalite Canyon – the Bozeman festival has grown
immensely. Josephson expects a cumulative attendance of at least
3,000 people this year, between on-ice clinics, slide shows, the
competition, and the farmers market-style “Urban Base Camp” in
downtown Bozeman.
“As the first festival of the ice season and one of the biggest, we are
excited about what we believe will become the ‘Daytona 500’ of the ice
circuit,” he said.
The Bozeman competition is an expansion of the “wildly successful” ‘Ice
Breaker’ comp held during the 2102 Bozeman Ice Climbing Festival,
Josephson said. It will be held on an artificial structure built outside the
Emerson Cultural Center in downtown Bozeman, similar to last year but
likely taller.
Bozeman alpinist Conrad Anker, who has been working to bring a World
Cup caliber competition to American soil, is the competition director.
The championships will also be a boon to the UIAA, Josephson said.
“Having a ‘sanctioned’ comp on their calendar in North America is
critical for the UIAA, as they are going to make an application to the
International Olympic Committee in 2014 for future inclusion in the
Winter Olympics.”
Ice climbing is already planned as a cultural demonstration at the 2014
Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, and UIAA Ice Climbing President Urs Stoecker said in a press release that this is “going to be an important year in
the development of ice climbing.”
Other 2014 UIAA events are set for Korea, Romania, Switzerland, France,
Italy, and Ufa, Russia.
In Bozeman, the difficulty championship will be on Dec. 14, with
preliminaries during the day and the final at night, Josephson said. The
speed climbing will be during the day on Dec. 15, on specially made
40-foot vertical ice walls. He expects 30 athletes to compete.
The two-day Urban Base Camp will include local and industry vendors,
in-town climbing gear demos on an “ice boulder” – where anyone can
try ice gear and play around on ice near the ground – and masters
clinics, which are new this year.
These will be small, exclusive clinics with some of the top athletes on
the tower in town on Friday, Josephson said.
“We get all these great athletes, well-known guides and instructors
that come to Bozeman for the festival – this will be another opportunity
for people to engage with them.”
Among those athletes coming this year will be German climber Ines
Papert and Scotsman Dave McLeod. Papert is a three-time World
Champion and the first woman to climb M11 (a rating for exceptionally
difficult “mixed” rock and ice climbing). McLeod has authored the
world’s hardest traditional rock and mixed climbs including the
unrepeated Echo Wall on Ben Nevis, in Scotland. Both are scheduled to
give an evening presentation at the festival.
The Arc’teryx Bozeman Ice Climbing Festival is dedicated to promoting
and protecting access to the world-class ice climbing of Hyalite
More info
Find a final festival schedule, live broadcast times and registration
details for the UIAA North American Continental Championships at, on Facebook and on Twitter @bozemanicefest
#bif17 #naicechamp
About the festival
Operated by Friends of Hyalite, the Arc’teryx Bozeman Ice Climbing
Festival celebrates the traditional history of ice climbing while
embracing the modern trends in mixed climbing.
Only 30 minutes from Bozeman and home to the longest season of
accessible ice in America, Hyalite Canyon provides the on-ice venue for
the festival’s full-day clinics, Dec. 12-15. The clinics are limited to 260
participants, due to Forest Service regulations, and registration opens
Oct. 1.
Friends of Hyalite is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) dedicated to maintaining
access to and stewardship of Hyalite Canyon.