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Bozeman Ice Festival: Accounts from the Players


Sean Issac M-climbing aesthetic and featured rock in The Cave. [Photo] John Irvine

The Grivel North America Hyalite Ice Breaker: An Athletic Event, Hyalite Style!

By Joe Josephson, Montana

Like many a great climb, this concept was planned on the back of an envelope, literally. Myself and fellow climber from Livingston, Kris Erickson, brainstormed the competition over six hours of manic driving to Salt Lake City and the Summer Outdoor Retailer Show. A few months later, with the generous support of Grivel North America, the inaugural Hyalite Ice Breaker was born.

Put on in conjunction with the Annual Arc'Teryx Bozeman Ice Festival, the Ice Breaker is a unique athletic event in which two-person teams climb as many routes in Hyalite as possible in a single day. Routes are scored on a combination of difficulty, length, approach and other intangibles. All you veterans out there are saying to yourself, "Sounds like what they do at Festiglace du Quebec." Au contraire!

Drawing names, pairing one local with one non-local to determine teams, is where the similarities to Festiglace end. Designed not to be a spectator event taking place in one amphitheater, instead competitors were required to climb in three major areas of the Main Canyon—the most concentrated natural ice venue in the lower 48—with both partners climbing every pitch. Teams had to be efficient, pace themselves, hike up to an hour between areas, make decisions on what routes to do and what routes not to do, watch the time and employ their judgment. Sounds sort of like real climbing, doesn't it? Indeed, this was designed as a high-energy, burly event in the spirit of traditional alpine ice climbing between two partners.


The Invitational was designed to give athletes coming to Bozeman to teach clinics at the Ice Festival a chance to get their "ya-yas" out with a great day of climbing with a local. It also was the chance for our own local contingent to show the more well-known "A-team" climbers our stellar backyard while forging new friendships.

Winners of the Invitational Divisions get their names inscribed on a Men's and a Women's "Ice Breaker Golden Ice Axe," donated by Grivel. These wooden piolets with gold plating should quickly become the Stanley Cup of ice climbing.

Taking the inaugural Ice Breaker title on the Men's side, Ross Lynn and Guy Lacelle climbed thirteen pitches in nine hours, though Chris Hamilton and Stephen Koch were right on their heels with twelve. For the Women, Sarah Hueniken and Jen Olson put their vast Canadian experience to good use and climbed nine pitches with some of the longest approaches in the canyon, including a second ascent of an unnamed route. Perhaps even more impressive: the festival weekend was Jen and Sarah's first visit to Hyalite.

Courtesy of Grivel North America there was $1,000 prize money for the Invitational, all of which the athletes graciously donated back to the ongoing battle to protect Hyalite winter access. For a complete listing of the routes climbed by each team, see

Men's Invitational Division Standings

Must complete at least one route in three of the four areas.

1. Ross Lynn + Guy Lacelle: 9,950 with a 300 point time penalty for 9,650 points; 13 pitches.

2. Chris Hamilton + Stephen Koch: 9,500 points with a 400 point time penalty for 9,100 points; 12 pitches.

3. Adam Knoff + Sean Issac: 8,750 points; 10 pitches.

4. Whit Magro + Rob Cordery-Cotter: 8,750 with a 200 point time penalty for 8,550 points; 11 pitches.

5. Nate Opp + Brian Prax: 7,800 with a 100 point time penalty for 7,700 points; 10 pitches.

6. Kris Erickson + Pierre Darbellay: 6,450 with a 200 point time penalty for 6,350 points; 9 pitches.

Jen Olson and Sarah Hueniken, who won the women's division of the Pro-Invite Class with 6,750 points, which they earned climbing 9 pitches—despite neither woman ever setting foot in Hyalite prior to the contest. [Photo] John Irvine

Women's Invitational Division Standings

The Women all voted to change their rules from three areas to two.

1. Jen Olson + Sarah Hueniken: 6,750 points; 9 pitches.

2. Meg Hall + Zoe Hart: 2,850 points; 5 pitches.

2. Amy Bullard + Kitty Calhoun: 2,000 points; 3 pitches.

Men's Difficulty Award

Kris Erickson + Pierre Darbellay: If scoring the routes on pure difficulty, Kris and Pierre easily had the biggest day of hard routes.

Women's Best Physical Therapy Award

Kitty Calhoun: Kitty recently had two hip surgeries plus her and Amy did routes in three areas and were the first ones back to the parking lot. Nice effort Kitty.

The following Saturday, December 1, was the Open Division: a free event for anyone with a partner so long as one participant could lead climb. Based on difficulty, routes were categorized into Advanced and Recreational levels so that teams could compete at whatever level they were comfortable. A total of fourteen teams participated.

Primary differences between the Invite and the Open Divisions were that partners entered as a team in the Open Division, and they only had to climb in two of the four main areas. Being a brand new event with some learning curves and based on the scoring information learned in Thursday's Invitational, some of the routes had their scores changed and we also instituted a new rule where all the teams climbing any particular route shared the given points for that route, as some bouldering comps are judged.

The scoring was established so that a team climbing many ice pitches would be competitive with a team climbing fewer but harder pitches. The top two male teams—with opposite strategies—were neck and neck. In keeping with the grassroots feel and soul of the Bozeman Ice Festival it was decided to split the $500 Open Division prize money, put up by Grivel North America, into five equal awards with gear prizes going to the rest of the field. After all, the whole concept is to stoke climbers and further the dirtbag climber culture. A hundred bucks should buy a few more tanks of gas up Hyalite.

The competitors in the Pro-Invite classification of the Hyalite Ice Breaker Comp. [Photo] John Irvine

For a complete listing of the routes climbed, see

Women's Open Division Standings

1. Adrien Erlandson + Althea Rogers: 2,717 points; 6 pitches.

2. Ashley Williams + Ashley Lehman: 1,942 points; 4 pitches.

3. Susan Sheard + Meg Hall: 1,872 points; 3 pitches.

4. Cloe Erickson + Katie Seipel: 2,067 with a 200 point time penalty for 1,867 points; 4 pitches.

Men's Open Division Standings

1. Alex Lussier + Tomas Dumbrovsky: 6,217 points; 9 pitches.

2. Conrad Anker + Pat Wolfe: 6,150 points; 7 pitches.

3. Justin Griffin + Josh Apple: 2,833 with a 200 point time penalty for 2,633 points; 5 pitches.

4. Mike Kelloh + Colter Anderson: 2,617 points; 6 pitches.

5. Caleb Sunde + Eric Lamanna: 2,450 points; 5 pitches.

6. Garrick Hart + Joel Ahlum: 1,467 points; 4 pitches.

7. Mark Ehrich + Eric Jackobson: 1,200 points; 3 pitches.

8. Rich Bennett + Jason Baker: 1,283 with a 200 point time penalty for 1,083 points; 4 pitches including the second ascent of the Oldenburg/Timpano.

9. Dan Oldenburg + Seth Timpano: 1,000 points; 3 pitches.

Mixed Division

1. Connie Garrett + Todd Saunders: 900 points; 2 pitches.

Men's Advanced Award

Conrad Anker + Pat Wolfe: 6,150 points; 7 pitches. This was the only team in the Open Division to climb two or more pitches at the harder "advanced" level.

Men's Hardest Pitch Award

Justin Griffin + Josh Apple: Justin and Josh got first tracks of the year on the classic Cleopatra's Needle in unformed WI 6 conditions.

Women's Hardest Pitch Award

Meg Hall + Susan Sheard: The Itchy and Scratchy Show, a thin ice and mixed climb with little protection on the Unnamed Wall. Meg was already signed up with Susan for the Open but helped out by competing in the Invitational (we need an even number of athletes) when there was a last minute scratch by Ashley Williams, who had the flu.

The New Route Award

Dan Oldenburg + Seth Timpano: While searching for a route in the Twin Falls area, Dan and Seth found something else not in the guidebook. Although not on the official scorecard, all of the competitors voted and agreed to allow their new route to be scored. The second ascent was quick on their heels by Ice Breakers Bennett and Baker.

Team Ashley, formed of Ashley Williams and Ashley Lehman, in their pink hot pants, and assorted other regalia. The team tied with Cloe Erickson and Katie Siepel for the Best Outfit category of the competition. [Photo] Chris Hamilton

The Longest Walk Award

Caleb Sunde + Eric Lamanna: For hiking an hour to the classic Twin Falls then post holing for another ninety minutes above to the rarely climbed Palace Butte Falls, a two pitch, thin ice and mixed Grade 3+ with one of the longest approaches in the entire canyon.

The Best Outfit Award

A tie going to the team of Cloe Erickson (Santa wearing a teddy) + Katie Seipel (Fairy wings and halo) with Team Ashley (Williams + Lehman) with their pink hot pants, psychedelic tops and floor length boas. Bonus points were awarded to each team for coming back to the parking lot with their outfits intact (although Katie's wings had metamorphosed from her back to her front).

For information on the 2008 Hyalite Ice Breaker, stay posted sometime next summer at

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Hey! Are you the Brian Prax from MN who attended CSS?!? If so, e-mail me (Carie) back at

2008-06-04 14:54:33
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