Uniting Canada's Largest Climbing Community

Success at Southern Ontario Ice Fest 

The first Southern Ontario Ice Fest took place at the Maynooth/Bancroft area late last month and by all accounts it was a huge success. The event brought together the growing ice climbing community and helped raise funds to support The Rural Overland Utility Transit, a fully accessible public transit service in the north half of Hastings County and one Haliburton County municipality that’s located in a rural region of Southeastern Ontario. The event also helped increase local awareness in regards to the economic benefits provided by ice climbing.

Many individuals and companies donated their time and support to help make this event happen:
Two things immediately come to mind as being most memorable about the event. First would be  Diamond Lake and all the routes nearby busy with dedicated climbers, and the clinics running strong on Saturday - this felt like a true measure of the success of the event and indication of its potential to grow. 

The other most memorable moment would be attending festivities Saturday at the Arlington, where Arcteyrx supported the event with giveaways and a grand prize. That night I was able to speak at length with people attending SO Ice Fest and get a sense of where everyone had come from, the diversity of skills and experience at the fest, and the general stoke for SO Ice Fest! – Timothy Lytle, Arcteryx
Thanks again for having me at the fest last weekend! I was really impressed with the event and happy to be a part of it. I'm definitely looking forward to being involved again with Petzl next year so please keep me in the loop as you begin planning for next year's event. 

As a presenter, talking about northeast climbing comes pretty easily to me as I've always been pretty passionate about my home areas. We have a lifetime's worth of terrain here in the northeast to continuously progress on and I see these shows as an opportunity to get people excited about the climbing we have close to home. In talking about trips further abroad, I always come back to the northeast as an area that provides us with all the opportunities we need to develop skills needed for the greater ranges and larger objectives. 

I really enjoy seeing new areas like Diamond Lake and meeting people from these climbing communities. There is obviously a tremendous amount of excitement and enthusiasm for winter climbing in Southern Ontario and I can't wait to return next year to try some of the routes I saw at the fest! – Matt McCormick, Petzl
Ice climbing invokes passion, beyond what you would normally expect for two reasons:
a. Requires a wide variety of skillsets that you continually improve, refine and apply to the situation at hand: rock climbing skills, ice climbing skills, leadership and team-building, performance management (hydration/food/warmth/moisture). And each climb, requires a unique combination of those skills for the experience to be one to cherish in good company.

b. The ice routes we climb are ever-changing and ultimately temporary. Because they are dependent on mother nature they can be here today and gone tomorrow. And when environmental conditions align for a route to form, each one is a little treasure. Even with the rise of online forums and website conditions pages where field observations are shared, there is always a bit of uncertainty when you visit a location - even if you've been there before. And visiting an area no one has been to before this year is a complete adventure - where there was ice one year, may be a completely blank wall of rock that puzzles even the most experienced ice climbers. Ice routes change throughout the season, day-to-day, even hour to hour (if the ice has gone from the shade into the sun). No two ascents of the same route are exactly the same. I think that encourages camaraderie and community, as people share and compare their experiences. I think because of that, there is also a close connection ice climbers have with nature and the environment. – Andriy Kolos author of Southern Ontario Ice
The SOIceFest was a great opportunity for La Sportiva to showcase their ice climbing footwear and apparel to the participants. For sure we will return again next year! – Liz Maffett, La Sportiva
I was attracted to ice climbing because it was just a great excuse to have an adventure with my friends. Over a number of years in the Rockies, a handful of friends and I learned many lessons from the mountains under sometimes harsh conditions that forged the lifelong bonds between us that we share to this day.  Ice climbing also has put me in some incredible natural places, and I am always blown away by the fact that what I am climbing in the winter  "does not exist" at least half of the year (frozen waterfalls that is).  – Josh Smith, ACMG Guide
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Gus Alexandropoulos is a freelance writer who has been involved in the outdoor industry for over 35 years. During his career he has been the editor at Canada’s national climbing magazine, as well as the gear editor for a national cycling magazine, triathlon magazine and running magazine. His work has been published in Canada’s national newspaper, The Globe and Mail, and he has been a guest on television and radio broadcasts. His passion for climbing began in Ontario in the mid-80s and he continues to travel extensively in search of crisp conditions and steep rock.