Time to Climb America Tour: Mt. Washington Valley Ice Fest

Woman climber at Mt. Washington Valley Ice festThe Time to Climb America Tour decided to kick off 2016 at one of America’s first & longest running ice climbing festivals: The Mt. Washington Valley Ice Fest! Going on 23 consecutive years now in the White Mountains of New Hampshire , lets see why this climbing festival is all about!

Crowd during speakers at the Mt. Washington Valley Ice FestHundreds of climbers, mountaineers, and alpinists come from all around the country every year for the Mt. Washington Valley Ice Fest. First starting back in 1993 by Rick Wilcox out of his shop, IME, in North Conway New Hampshire, 23 years later has grown into the event for the Northeast’s ice climbing & mountaineering community to gather at each year!

Mt. Washington Valley Ice Fest LocationThe Mt. Washington Valley Ice Fest is 3 days long and kicks off each morning at IME – International Mountain Equipment Inc in North Conway, New Hampshire.

signing inClimbers come in each morning to sign-in and/or register for the clinic of their choice. The Mt. Washington Valley Ice Fest hosts a wide variety of guided clinics & courses! You can choose anything from Ice, Mixed to Alpine climbing techniques, Avalanche & crevasse training or go do a guided summit attempt of Mt. Washington itself!

**Note** – Make sure to sign-up for the clinics that you want at-least a month in advance! Many clinics book up well before the event!

After you are done checking-in and getting your registration head upstairs to find your guide and check out all the gear and vendors that come out to the Mt. Washington Valley Ice Fest!

Mammut demo gearNow I don’t know about you but I find myself to be a bit of a gear junkie. With all the vendors that show up at Ice Fest you have a wide variety of gear & equipment to check out from ice tools, boots, crampons, helmets, packs, jackets, gloves etc.

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The best part about all this gear being shown off? You get the chance to go demo it all day out on the ice!

Climbers heading out

After everyone got done choosing the gear they wanted to try out for the day, meet-up with their guide and/or climbing partners everyone head out the door to get on the ice!

Brad White giving me directionsAlthough I come up to the White Mountains often and had an idea of where to go its always best to get the info from the leaders themselves. I got the chance to sit down with Brad White one of the masterminds behind the Mt. Washington Valley Ice Fest!  Brad gave me the scoop and a personally hand drawn map on where all the climbers, guides and clinics were going to be at for the weekend so that I can go cover some of the action out on the ice!

train bridgeWe hopped in the car and made our way over to the Arethusa Falls trail-head and started hiking along the train tracks to the Frankenstein Cliffs! Needless to say the views along the tracks are spectacular!

guide teaching tool techniqueOnce I crossed the bridge I came across a clinic just getting started with their day. Their instructor was speaking about some gear fundamentals and I caught this shot as he was going over different ice tool & crampon techniques with one of the students.

climber going up Standard route

Going down further along the train tracks you come up on “Standard Route” which is probably the most classic ice route you can find in the Frankenstein Cliffs! Above you can see this climber beginning the route making his way left.

climber going up the beginning of standard route

Standard Route can be taken up the right or left side.Whichever side you decide to take leaves you with incredible views as your backdrop. This climber is checking his crampon placement as he is making his way up the right side.

male climber rope trailing on standard routeclimber puting in ice screw on Standard routeWoman climber near train trussel2 climbers smiling at the bottom of standard routeClimbers on and off the ice were having a blast! Whether they were working on their seasonal projects or just hanging out enjoying the day getting outside with friends, the folks you meet throughout the Mt. Washington Valley Ice Fest are super welcoming and willing to talk shop about their favorite climb!

crowd at the demo and vendors areaAt the end of each day everyone gathers back at IME to drop off the demo gear, talk with each other about the day, enjoy some free soup & beer courtesy of North East Ice & Tuckerman Brewing Co, a few contests and the chance to catch some free gear being tossed into the crowd! (Thanks Rab & Ibex love the beanies we caught!)

AAC speakerEach night of Ice Fest continues on at Theater in the Woods for a night of speakers and presentations. Guest speakers from the North East and around the world come to talk about what is going on in our community. They speak about topics ranging from the conditions and trends happening on Mt. Washington, the White Mountains, to their adventures in Squamish and Denali.

silent auction AACThe American Alpine Club hosts a silent auction for a chance to win some of your favorite gear donated by the different vendors to raise money for the “Live your Dream” Grant.

crowd at 2nd night Jewel Lund & Chantal Astorga presented about what guided them into a life long pursuit of climbing and their inspiring ascent up the Denali Diamond route on Denali in Alaska.

climber walking down the tracks at the end of the dayThe people that you meet at the Mt. Washington Valley Ice Fest is quite extraordinary. You have individuals who are rock climbers looking to explore the other side of climbing to those hungry to expand their knowledge base. I had the opportunity to meet and speak with folks that have been climbing for longer they I have probably been alive, who are still going out and climbing regularly routes I only wish to climb myself some day! As we made our way around the Ice Fest you can see and sense how it has been a catalyst for the past 23 years for many. An event that so many over the years have come, learn and catapulted their climbing ambitions to the next level, meeting like minded people looking to do the same.

To learn and read more about the Mt. Washington Valley Ice Fest – Click Here

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