Bozeman Ice Climbing Festival Cancelled for 2020
Due to the covid-19 pandemic, the event is cancelled until December 2021
The Bozeman Ice Climbing Festival (BIF) has been cancelled for 2020 after over 20 successful years. The event is cancelled due to covid-19. Organizers of the event told guests on Aug. 31: “It is with heavy hearts we have made a difficult, but we feel the most responsible decision to cancel the 2020 Bozeman Ice Climbing Festival in light of the covid-19 pandemic. Climbing, is an intimate, tight-knit activity best celebrated with aprés-climb gatherings in the parking lot, over beers and powerful storytelling with words, pictures and film.
“BIF is a small team, volunteer-driven festival with the goal of bringing a diverse community from around the world together to celebrate the life-sport of ice climbing and the beauty of Hyalite Canyon.”
The event is still planned for Dec. 6 to 12, 2021: “We look forward to putting on our best fest yet for our 25th anniversary. We can’t wait to get the expedition back together. Save the date.”
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Dear BIF friends and family… – It is with heavy hearts we have made a difficult, but we feel the most responsible decision to cancel the 2020 Bozeman Ice Climbing Festival in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. – Climbing, is an intimate, tight-knit activity best celebrated with aprés-climb gatherings in the parking lot, over beers and powerful storytelling with words, pictures and film. BIF is a small team, volunteer-driven festival with the goal of bringing a diverse community from around the world together to celebrate the life-sport of ice climbing and the beauty of Hyalite Canyon. – To prioritize the health and safety of our staff, participants, volunteers, athletes and partners we are pushing pause on the 2020 festival and will look forward to putting on our best fest yet for our 25th anniversary. We can’t wait to get the expedition back together. Save the date for December 6-12, 2021! – As a community event, we encourage all of our fans to consider reaching out to your fellow climbers, inspirational athletes and guides in your life to check in on them and help all of us stay in touch for when the need for physical distancing simmers down. – As you know, one of the beneficiaries of the Ice Festival is Friends of Hyalite (@hyalitecanyon) who manage the winter road plowing fund that keeps the road open during the winter. Please consider sharing a small portion you’d normally spend on Ice Fest as a direct donation the road plowing fund so that we can all continue to enjoy climbing in Hyalite this winter. – As winter approaches, BIF is in contact and coordinating with our dear friends at other Ice Festivals around the country and our sponsors to keep the stoke alive and bring on-line swag opportunities and virtual inspiration where ever you may find yourself this season. Stay tuned for more information. Brace yourself! – Thank you, the Bozeman Ice Festival Team and Staff ✌️ – – – #hyaliteprovides #bozeman #montana #bozemanicefest #hyalitecanyon #hyalite #bif2020
About Bozeman Ice Fest
The Festival began as two separate events in the mid-1990s by Barrel Mountaineering and Northern Lights Trading Post. Barry Blanchard, Joe Josephson and Jack Tackle were the original clinic instructors. For a decade, Barrel put on one of the best ice festivals in the country as the sport exploded with new gear and generally became more accessible to a wider diversity of participants. The Northern Lights event, held after Thanksgiving, was a smaller event but with better ice – provided the road wasn’t snowed in already.
In 2006, Northern Lights and Barrel along with Joe Josephson and Mike Cooperstein joined forces to organize one event. This was, in part, at the request from the sponsors who struggled to support two individual events. But it was also to improve advocacy and fundraising to help keep Hyalite Canyon open in winter. The Forest Service was proposing to close the road. Without access, the 250 ice and mixed routes would require a big ski in.
In 2008, after years of advocacy by the Southwest Montana Climbers’ Coalition and the Access Fund, the US Forest Service and Gallatin County agreed to a unique cost-sharing agreement to plow the road regularly. This allowed for Hyalite Canyon access through the end of March. With reliable access now secured, organizers were able to move the Ice Festival to the current regular time, ensuring consistent ice conditions and to reserve use of the beautiful Emerson Cultural Center in downtown Bozeman. This venue allowed the Festival to provide better evening events, organization and room to grow.
In 2012 BIF put on the first of several internationally sanctioned ice climbing competitions. Culminating in a major World Cup event held at the County Fairgrounds in 2015, these competitions attracted dozens of Olympic-caliber athletes from around the globe to Bozeman. These events stand today as some of the biggest and most successful World Cup events ever produced and BIF staff continue to be the leading experts working with the American Alpine Club and others to create a sustainable World Cup presence in North America.
As the overall event grew and the two local climbing shops shut down, the event needed an organizational home. So in 2013, BIF became fully incorporated under Friends of Hyalite to benefit Hyalite road plowing and stewardship. Between 2010 and 2017, Friends of Hyalite and the Bozeman Ice Fest have raised more than $82,000 to help keep Hyalite open and enjoyable for all.
By 2018, however, the size of BIF had outstripped the capacity of the Friends of Hyalite, so it was mutually decided to spin BIF off into a separate non-profit organization. Incorporated by Joe Josephson as a 501c3 non-profit, the Ice Climbing Alliance (ICA) is currently organized specifically to run the Bozeman Ice Festival. We share the same goals and objectives that have been in our DNA for decades: to secure winter access to Hyalite Canyon through road plowing while promoting our long tradition of personal engagement and camaraderie between climbers of all abilities, ages and backgrounds, whether you are a sponsored athlete or trying this life-changing sport for the first time.
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@sterlingrope has been a part of Ice fest since the beginning! Our official rope sponsor has supported every clinic participant as they push their skills. That's a hard working set of ropes! #ropes #iceclimbingimages #climbing_photos_of_instagram #climbingmotivation #climbmt #hyaliteprovides #climbing Photo: @speedcoachingandcreative
In 2009, legendary ice climber Guy Lacelle died in an avalanche during the festival. “A small pocket of snow pulled out and caught him. It hit him and took him off the cliff, down the ice,” said Doug Chabot, director of the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center.
Lacelle was one of the world’s top ice climbers, with numerous groundbreaking first ascents and repeats in the Canadian Rockies, Quebec, the U.S. and Europe. Lacelle was also a talented competition climber, having won the Ice Competition in Ouray, Colorado, in 2000 and 2001, as well as the Festiglace Competition in Quebec in 2004.
His accomplishments earned him international recognition, including the Bill March Summit of Excellence Award in 1999. A frequent contributor to Gripped, Lacelle’s articles and reports embodied his passion for climbing.
Born in Hawkesbury, Ont., Lacelle started climbing while studying at the University of Ottawa in the 1970s. He later became a winter courses instructor for Outward Bound in Ontario and a guide for the Yamnuska Mountain School in Canmore, Alberta.
“You don’t loose people like Guy, other than physically. I’m bummed, I’m sad, he is like a little brother to me, I wanna go play. But, I did’t loose him, he is there constantly,” said David Burger in the Guy Lacelle tribute below.
“Even though he was a climber, that’s not the stories people are telling. They are telling the human stories about the lovely human being he was, and that just says it all to me,” said Marge Lachecki, Lacelle’s wife.