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The 2023 Southern Ontario Ice Fest Was Awesome

The event has become one of the biggest Canadian ice climbing festivals

Photo by: Will Tam

The eighth annual Southern Ontario Ice Climbing Festival (SOIceFest) was a success. The in-person festival was the first in two years after the pandemic. Stoke was high as climbers gathered in the small town of Maynooth for the three-day festival. Things kicked off Friday night at the Arlington Hotel & Pub where climbers and clinic participants gathered for a meet-and-greet social, swap climbing stories and share ice conditions while enjoying pizza and beer. Saturday had a packed schedule starting with 6am breakfast at the ANAF Hall followed by morning clinics at Diamond Lake.

New this year to the festival were two local guiding companies: Element Guiding and Muskoka Mountain Works who lead the beginner clinics. Returning guides Shaun King and Scott McKay taught the advanced and mixed clinics. During the lunch break, festival participants could warm up in the heating-tent, sample local Madawaska Coffee and check out gear from Arc’teryx, Camp and Cassin. ACC Toronto Section member Bryan Thompson was back this year offering his famous chili. The afternoon clinics rolled by with a visit from local MPP Ric Bresee congratulating festival organizers for receiving a grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

After a day of climbing, festival goers returned to the ANAF Hall for dinner, prize giveaways, a vendor village and a guest speaker. Door prizes included a full Arc’teryx kit, The North Face sleeping bag and other goodies from local sponsors. On Sunday, the festival continued with its clinics and even had a local-try-a-climb in the afternoon to introduce the sport to residents.
With the sun shining all weekend, festival goers left with smiling faces and stories to share with families and friends. SOIceFest is an annual festival put on by a non-profit organization; proceeds are donated to the North Hastings Children Services. For more information, visit here and follow on Instagram below.

Lead photo: Will Tam