2011 South Fork Ice Festival a Great Success
I want to thank each and every one of you who supported or attended the 13th annual “Waterfall Ice” Festival February 18-21, 2011.
The new location held at the Cody Auditorium started on Friday @ noon and the participants were in line at the door waiting to get SWAG bags and their selection of demo equipment from Black Diamond, RAB, PETZL, LaSportiva, ASOLO & Patagonia. The selection of gear was amazing and it didn’t last long. More than 50 sets of crampons and 35 sets of tools went out the door with 45 pairs of boots and many warm puffy jackets from RAB & Patagonia. Happy hour started the flow of cold brews from Pete Limbach and New Belgium Brewing Company at 1630 as advertised and we quickly realized we had some beer drinkers this weekend. The nacho cheese machine was attacked as hungry climbers waited for the Cabin Fever Smoke House catered a lasagna dinner which many enjoyed and had full bellies. A 5 minute video of this year’s sponsors was played as SFI wanted to say a special thanks to all who have helped make this event happen in 2011.
The on-ice clinics where full with 75 ice climbers on Friday night being introduced to their guides and instructors for a 7AM departure on Saturday morning. A special thanks to the “Official Rope Sponsor, STERLING Ropes” for making these clinics possible and to Majka Burhardt, Kenny Gasch, Joe Joesephen, Ben Gilmore, Chad Peele, Kevin Inbody, Pete Tapley, Marko Pujic, Rusty Willis, Ty Cook, Dan Burson and Brian Godbey for helping in on-ice clinics Saturday. Everyone had time to meet and greet their group and then get a refill of beverage and get seated for the presentation by Doug Shepard “side kick” slide show. Doug and Aaron Mulkey described there next day and what was the beginning of the 24 hours of climbing in the south fork valley to raise money for Echo Oak the injured climber back on January 15, 2011. Echo fell more than 220feet off Smooth Emerald Milk Shake and suffered many injuries; Doug shared pictures and video from the RESCUE as he assisted me and three others from the wilderness EMS team and the local search and rescue squad in the 16 hour incident. The night then was honored with Jack Tackle presenting an amazing slide show of his ice climbing adventures and travel over the years. The night kept the high energy vibe as climbers swarmed around the 4X8 SFI map on just where to go and what waterfall to climb next in the valley?
The lights flickered at 10PM as we all had a long day of either travel or by already climbing in the valley. Last call of a cold brew from NBB and the building was locked up for the night by 11PM. Late night scrambles to find more demo gear of helmets and harnesses for those who didn’t have one but needed one to climb in the morning was saved by Kenny Gasch of the Cody office for Jackson Hole Mountain guides. A few short hours later the alarm clock went off at 0500AM and it was time to do it all over again. Picking up morning goodies from local business supporting the ice festival was a challenge. Some of the businesses did not get open on time and some breakfast treats where delayed as the shops are not usually open that early in the winter months. Needless to say, some of the ice climbers where late too so it all worked out ok. By the 730AM hour the building was empty once again as the climbing parties all drove up the valley. A variety of climbing adventures took part indeed. The never ever climbing group of 27 with 5 instructors headed up to the quiet and remote Aldrich Creek drainage. A nice campfire was started and the climbers enjoyed warmth and climbing throughout the day. Other intermediate or advanced clinics where held on the popular Broken Hearts, Broken Ribs, Hostile Take Over, Too Cold To Fire, Miami Ice, Cabin Fever, High on Boulder and Mean Green. The groups all experienced good conditions and spring like temps for February. By 4PM that afternoon groups started to arrive back at the auditorium looking for that cold brew again from NBB. The flowing of brews had the crowd geared up for a busy night. The climbers could smell the feast that would soon be served for dinner. At 6PM a few announcements were made and the dinner bell rang and the Cabin Fever Feast began. Climbers got a plate serving that filled many to the limits and had no room for the brownies or strawberries from the Meeteese Chocolatier for their desert. The special raffle tickets for the “Fat Tire” bike from New Belgium Brewing was catching the eye of many but only a few did purchase the ticket. Only 27 tickets were sold. The silent auction items had many bidders take the next line in the $5.00 increments to raise money for the festival and many good causes. The SFI staff and volunteers hustled the $5.00 raffle tickets to help pay for the use of this year’s facility.
The 10th annual “Tough Axe” awards were presented and many enjoyed gifts from RAB, Mammut, PETZL &AAC. The 10th annual pull-up contest had good participation and the winners truly enjoyed their new prizes. The live auction by Dave Woods was a success of selling goodies from Cilo Gear and the future first ascents still this season or into next season was great. The lights then flickered as the crowd was told to top off their cups of brews from NBB and be seated for the Majka Burhardt slide show. Majka was introduced by friend Jack Tackle and the 40 minute show of ice climbing and Africa had the crowd’s attention as many were simply amazed at her adventures. Following the slide show the band Buffalo Head started to jam and yes more beers continued to flow in the house. The hourly raffle named off the winners and the night was full of good times by many and even a few had too good of a time but managed to find their way home and heads in beds for the evening by midnight. At midnight the special raffle, a 50/50 split to Echo Oak was drawn and the lucky ticket went to Suzi Foote and no it wasn’t rigged! The late night once again was a scramble to get all the clinics arranged for in the morning and dry out wet gear.
The town received about 3 inches of snow and many slept in and some even missed their clinics at 7AM. The 6th annual RESCUE EVAC class and its rescuers enjoyed the day doing scenarios of lowers and raises with the PETZL NEST litter. The other on-ice clinics with Hilary Eisen, Emily Reisenl, Ty Cook and Ben Gilmore again enjoyed their day on some of the valleys classic climbs and some got to see Aaron and Doug towards the end of their 24 hour journey. Groups started to head back to town by 4PM to again finish the selection of cold brews from NBB. The Pizza on the run Party was tasteful as the climbers dug in to all you can eat pizza dinner with DQ ice cream sandwiches for desert. Black Diamond athlete and Montana Alpine Guide Pete Tapley presented a 30minute slide show of his adventures around the region and home in Hyalite Canyon in Bozeman, MT. Aaron and Doug arrived to share their stories of the 24 hours of climbing to tell what climbs and how many pitches they accomplished. The cal cutta auction and selling of numbers on Saturday night was successful and raised some good money for Echo. Aaron shared his 10 minute video of regulators 5 and the crowd really enjoyed it. The winning number of pitches was 21 just like in Black Jack and Sean Johnson of CODY won the 25% pot and 75% went to Echo Oak recovery fund. The entire fundraiser event raised nearly $4,000.00 for Echo and another event is being held in Billings at Steep World Climbing gym on Friday February 25th @ 6PM.
The night then calmed down with the finishing off all seven flavors and kegs of NBB beverages and climbers saying their good byes to new friends and old. Many possibilities to see you later this season or maybe in the summer on the river, on the rocks or on bike trails but for sure next year back here in CODY on the ice! Unconfirmed numbers for the event are 218 for Saturday night attendance and we thank you all for supporting us and we will see you again next February 17-20, 2012 if not sooner on that next adventure.
Until then, climb safe-
Don, Suzi, Anna & Issie Foote
A special thanks to these fine sponsors for making 2011 a success:
Sterling rope, New Belgium Brewing Company, RAB, Black Diamond, PETZL, MAMMUT, Kate’s, Devil’s Tower Lodge, Clif Bar, Park County Travel Council, Sunlight Sports, ASOLO, Big Agnes, Crazy Creek, Mountain Hardwear, American Alpine Club WYOMING Section, Sierra Trading Post, JETBOIL, SMITH, Liberty Mountain, OSPREY, LaSportiva, Access Fund, Restop, GRIZ Guides, Klean Kantean, RED EAGLE, Rock & Ice, Eddie Baurer / First Ascent, Wyoming Rescue Source, KBL Audio, L# Design, CODY office of JHMG, Mountain West Screen Printers, WYSARA, Pizza on the Run, Big Bear Motel, Shoshone National Forest, The BETA Coffee House, IRMA hotel, coldfear.com & Bozeman Ice Festival.
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