Luckily I won a contest to name the group of women climbers we had formed the first year I began to climb rock. The “Rack Pack” seemed a fitting name since climbers carry a “rack” of gear on their harnesses and women carry a “rack” daily (hee!)
The winning entry got me a FREE pass for the Annual Bozeman Ice Climbing Festival. Honestly I was so broke at the time I very likely wouldn’t have been able to attend the festival if I hadn’t won the contest. I had tried climbing ice once before by duct-taping crampons onto a pair of winter boots (sketchy and problematic) – hardly a good solid start to the sport. The Bozeman Ice Festival geared me up with demo ice axes and crampons for the festival clinics. Steve House and Zoe Hart led the Beginners Clinic and from the first swing of the ax I was instantly and insatiably HOOKED on ICE…! The next day Steve suggested I join the clinic led by Conrad Anker – the only girl in a pack of men in what turned out to be the advanced group. Grinning with gumption and pure love of the new sport the fellas accepted and encouraged me.
My girlfriend Amy Bullard started a women’s only clinic at the Bozeman Ice Festival a few years later. The clinic has grown to be the largest on ice clinic for women in the country – and very possibly the world. I volunteer every year to share my love for ice climbing with the ladies. Last Friday at the women’s clinic was a blast. Gear for women has come a long way in a short time. Colors are brighter, gloves and ice climbing boots are actually made for women now (my first pair of boots were the smallest available men’s size at the time - too big but better than nothing).
Yesterday I joined dear friends from Jackson Hole and Whitefish (in town for the festival) for a super fine fun day climbing in Hyalite Canyon. The four of us enjoyed the moderate temperatures and the fat ice at Palisade Falls. Life has kept me from adventuring much on ice the past few seasons but playing during the festival this weekend refreshed my urge and desire to spend more time exploring Momma Nature’s sculptural creations. I MUST find more time to climb!!!