The head wind blew our light rental car around as our studded tires struggled to grip the patches of ice on the snowy road. It took everything in me to get my butt off the heated seat and step out into the howling wind.
I was here for the 2018 Valdez Ice Fest. We decided to do a quick tour of Highway 4 to the top of Thompson Pass. I was not sure what to expect, but my mind was blown away by the amount of ice that loomed above me in all directions. Getting out of that car was definitely the right decision.
The local people of Valdez are welcoming, and all share a common passion for the outdoors that surround this isolated community. Through the small community of committed sponsors in the sport of ice climbing, this year’s Ice Fest brought in a few ice professionals including Conrad Anker, Andres Marin, Katie Bono, Jeff Shapiro and myself.
It was a great weekend of getting people were excited to get out, gain more knowledge and do laps on the ice. The cold wind didn’t drain the enthusiasm out of the excited attendees that traveled from far and wide to get there. The festival attendees were a pleasure to work with during the various workshops and clinics I taught throughout the weekend.
The town of Valdez proved a welcoming place to visit and the ice didn’t disappoint. If you plan a visit, just bring your warm layers and a thermos filled with your favorite warm beverage to give you that little extra help getting out of the warm car into the cold outside each morning.