Ice climbing festival begins in Munising

If you aren’t too tired of the cold yet, Munising may be the place to be this weekend.

The Michigan Ice Climbing Festival began today at the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The annual event gives amateurs a chance to try out a new sport.

“We offer top-notch instruction,” festival organizer Bill Thompson said. “We have professional climbers that come in from all over the world to teach our classes. We provide all the equipment, so someone that’s watching this program up in the Upper Peninsula can come on over to Munising, sign up and get out on the ice and learn the sport of ice climbing.”

Ice climbers use some of the same equipment as their rock climbing counterparts, but they also sport ice axes, mountaineering boots and crampons.

“The great thing about ice climbing is, it looks like you have all these medieval-type equipment, so you have ice axes that you hold in your hands that have these picks on it that dig into the ice,” Thompson said. “The mountaineering boots are very stiff, and then, by putting on a crampon, which is the points that stick off of your feet, enables you to kick into the ice and hold your position there.”

The ice walls are formed by water that seeps into the sandstone rocks, which then freezes into the beautiful formations seen here. One of the easier walls participants can climb this weekend is called Opening Curtain and sits just off the shore of Lake Superior.

The festival continues through the weekend. More information is available here, including a complete schedule.