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Ice festival celebrates climbing in Hyalite Canyon

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The 21st annual Bozeman Ice Climbing Festival attracts the local outdoor community, ice enthusiasts from near and far, and world-renowned professional climbers for a celebration of one of Hyalite Canyon’s most popular and historic activities.

The five-day community festival kicked off Dec. 6 at the Emerson Center for the Arts & Culture in downtown Bozeman with an après climb party featuring Bridger Brewing Company’s Hyalite APA, brewed exclusively for the Ice Fest.

Throughout the week, organizers are hosting a number of ice climbing skills clinics in Hyalite Canyon, the majority of which were sold out at EBS press time on Dec. 6.

Following the daytime ice climbing activities, the Bozeman Ice Festival includes a host of evening activities at the Emerson.

On Friday, Dec. 8the Bozeman Ice Festival presents the second day of the only Montana stop on the renowned Adventure Film Festival, which features screenings of outdoor-adventure documentaries from around the world. View the complete screening lineup on the Bozeman Ice Festival website.

On Saturday, Dec. 9, the Bozeman Ice Festival brings the film “Dirtbag: The Legend of Fred Beckey” to the Emerson. Over the course of seven decades, the late Fred Beckey (1923-2017) amassed hundreds of first ascents and is now recognized as one of the most accomplished climbers in the world. The now-ubiquitous term “dirtbag” is believed to have been coined to capture Beckey’s off-the-grid spirit.

“Bozeman is a world-class outdoor adventure town, and this year we really want to invite everyone in the community who loves Hyalite and the public lands that surround us to come out and celebrate,” said Festival Director Joe Josephson in a press release about the event.

Josephson is especially excited to bring the film “Dirtbag” to Bozeman. “Fred was the mentor and patron saint of the early Montana climbing pioneers, The Dirty Socks Club,” Josephson added. “The stories of climbing with Fred and his lasting legacy are a foundation of the local climbing community today.”

The Bozeman Ice Festival culminates on Sunday, Dec. 10, with the Local Legends Dinner that highlights Dirty Socks Club co-founder and Bozeman-native Doug McCarty. McCarty will share stories of first ascents in the Beartooth Mountains and Hyalite, jumping freight trains right out of high school, and vagabonding around western Canada climbing with Beckey in the early 1970s. Attendees will have the chance to earn a membership card in the Dirty Socks Club signed by one of the founding members.

“For more than two decades the Ice Fest has always been about bringing the ice climbing community together for the first best fest of the season, but over the past decade, [it] has the added message about securing winter access to over 33,000 acres of public land in Hyalite,” Josephson said. “Just a few short years ago Hyalite wasn’t plowed and once the first snows fell, no one could get back there without an epic adventure.”

In 2010, Josephson co-founded Friends of Hyalite, a nonprofit operating under a unique cost-share agreement with Gallatin County and the U.S. Forest Service. Since 2011, Friends of Hyalite has secured more than $82,000 to fund annual snow plowing operations, which cost an average of $20,000 per year to keep the road to Hyalite open.

Proceeds from the Bozeman Ice Festival go directly to Friends of Hyalite to support plowing and stewardship efforts in the canyon.

For more information and a complete schedule of events, visit To learn more about Friends of Hyalite visit

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