December 9-14, 2015
For the fourth year I headed up to Bozeman, MT for the Bozeman Ice Festival. This year found me and the rest of the team from work missing three of our most important members. First off, Holly who’s the brains behind the operation for Black Diamond, took advantage of an opportunity to grow her career, unfortunately outside of BD. Kim filled her shoes and pulled off a great event despite being on the road for many weeks leading up to Bozeman. Second team member missing was JT who’s energy, ability to consume and process alcohol was missed (sort of) from our ranks. We only got rowdy on the last night. Lastly, and most regrettably was the absence of crusty old Bill Belcourt. The circumstances keeping him from attending are complex. All were missed at BIF19, but we made the most of it. A new member was Matt Berry who brough some considerable strength and guts for putting up some mixed routes for Oakley and I to thrash around on.
Wednesday former BD, Derek, helped us out construct Advanced Base Camp at the parking lot in Hyalite. He snowblowed a zone just off the parking lot where we erected some tents and a firepit. The firepit and the wood were courtesy of Whit Magro and Bozeman Tree Service. Like last year we served hot drinks and snacks to climbers returning back to their cars. It was great to see all the folks trying ice climbing for the first time or those just out for a hard day on the test pieces.
Climbingwise the Matts and I were able to do: Upper Green Sleeves (WI3+), Elevator Shaft (WI4), a mixed line to the right of it, Champagne Slot and Sherbert (WI3 & WI4), Killer Pillar (WI5), and Hangover (WI3). Not a ton of pitches but some good ones nonetheless. Killer Pillar was certainly the highlight. Doug Chabot came out with us and as always it was a pleasure spending a day climbing with him. His wit and climbing ability are matched by few.
Despite two of the best weather days I’ve spent in Hyalite, we got a storm Sunday night. This made for some tough driving conditions back to SLC. The team decided that interstates and caravanning would be the safest way back despite being a bit longer of a route. This allowed us to split up two per vehicle and once Rob and Andy joined us we had four vehicles. Conditions straight out of the gate were cruxy. Shey executed some white knuckle driving in the Sprinter on iced over roads and major cross winds. I took over after her and experienced some of the same nasty conditions. Iced roads, 30 mph crosswinds don’t mix with Sprinter vans. We were blown sideways 1/2 to 3/4 of a lane at times due to the wind. There wasn’t much to do other than just slightly correct and hope the gust stopped since braking and complete correcting would have been a recipe for spinning the van or worse, ending up in a ditch. Even Matt’s new truck with the 9,000lb winch wouldn’t have been able to pull us out.
After multiple driver switches between Berry, Shey and myself, we got back to SLC. A tip of the cap to Shey for piloting through SLC on the home stretch when it was nuking out and there were a mess of cars on the road. All told the storm turned a 6 hour drive into 12 hours.