A recent trip to Valdez, AK was the moral booster I had been looking for. In a winter much warmer than most, this has been the season to get creative and search a little harder for the things I love to do. Minimal snow has kept the skis in the closet more than I care to admit, but with the extra time, I’ve found plenty of good ice to climb!
For any ice climber, Valdez is a mecca and a must see. The roadside classics of Keystone canyon are awe inspiring and just the tip of the iceberg. Plenty here to keep you busy for days on end. So, when I heard about the Valdez Ice Climbing Festival, I knew I had to go. Five days spent over Valentine’s weekend with fellow Exit Glacier Guides; Shawna, Cody, and Ryan proved to be the highlight of my winter so far! Lots of amazing pitches of ice were climbed; we met so many awesome people, warmed ourselves around the bonfire and just had an all-around great time!
A few of the roadside classics in Keystone Canyon! Bridal Veil Falls, Simple Twist of Fate, Glass Onion, Green Steps (L to R)
400’ off the ground, Travis leads the third pitch of Bridal Veil Falls.
Hung Jury might be the wildest climb we’ve ever been on! Strong updrafts of wind create these really unique ice hoods and umbrellas. Shawna confirms climbing on that day had the winds to prove it!
Top ropes set up on the first pitch of Bridal Veil Falls and Green Steps were great spots to socialize and meet members of the community…and climb until you couldn’t hold on anymore! Also, this photo really puts Bridal Veil into perspective.
Valdez is also a mecca for skiing so we couldn’t pass up the opportunity for a few road laps! Ryan and Cody get ready for the first turns!
Ryan following the crux pitch of Simple Twist of Fate. A great way to end the trip!
Tired, but satisfied!
A big thanks to Nick Weicht, Travis McAlpine and everyone else who made the ice fest possible! Can’t wait for next year!!