Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Two Men, a Passion and Vision.

Love is a wonderful word. It's birth in a soul starts with that first flash...like a spark from flint. Hot and fast. A quickening in your center and a drawing that cannot be denied. Love has no boundaries and no rules as to what it chooses. Tony Vavricka and Greg Martin experienced this the first time they climbed ice. A passion for ice was born that could not be denied. From the early days of mismatched tools and borrow and swap gear they nurtured this love to what it is today. December 11th - 13th marked the fifth annual Sandstone Icefest organized by Tony and Greg. Definitely a mile stone establishing it as the premiere ice event here. Two years ago I stumbled upon a post on a board about the icefest and on a whim signed up for the intro to ice climbing class. I felt that same spark and haven't looked back. The icefest has clinics for the brand spanking new climber to advanced. This year I brought my whitewater paddling friend, Lori, with to introduce her to ice. Her experience climbing consisted of one trip to Vertical Endeavors the week before. The clinics provided all the gear and the instruction was top notch. Having gone through all the emotions two years before it was special to watch Lori experience the same. The first incredible awe of seeing the beautiful ice wall and thinking "I am going to climb that?" To the moment you see the spark ignite. This not only happened for Lori but was repeated many times over as I watched the excellent instructors teach the clinics. The excitement was addicting. This years featured climber was Dawn Glanc. Winner of the 2009 Ouray Icefest. I was very fortunate to be able to take two of her clinics. I started with the intermediate clinic on Friday and was amazed. Just the smallest of details make the biggest advancement in climbing. Saturday I was in the advanced clinic. For me this was my intro to dry tooling. So many techniques were shown. Again being precise was more. Dawn is truly an amazing woman and great instructor!
The clinics are not the only thing going on. Routes were set and climbers could climb all day. Gear reps were there to loan out the best of gear...fun!! In the evening, music, dinner, the best fireworks you'll ever see and a slide show by Dawn taking us on her journey from the spark to the amazing climb she did to win the Ouray! There was a mountain of swag given out and the party went on through the night. Sunday featured the chili cook off and more climbing. The city of Sandstone is the epitome of Minnesota nice. The local businesses welcomed us with open arms and great food (and beer). The local residents came down to watch the fun. There are miles of XC ski trails in Banning State park...not to mention a few other (forbidden) ice climbs in the park. Another aspect of the Festival is the winter camping. Many forms of tents and shelters were assembled and I must say it did spark some curiosity in me. There was even a tee pee. Some were heated and some were not.
Vision...if you can dream it... Next year will be a whole different animal. Born from the hard work of Tony and Greg and the pasion over the years from all climbers the city of Sandstone is installing piping along the entire quarry cliff creating an awesome ice climbing park! Mark your calenders for next year...it's going to be huge!! What?! You can't wait that long?! Then mark your calenders for the first annual Ice Pit Gear Demo and Climbing weekend in Green Bay Wisconsin. January, 16-17, 2010. More fun and we also get to hang out at an indoor waterpark at night! More information and amazing photos can be found at www.theicepit.org

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