MUNISING, Mich. (WJMN) – Ice formations create a scene of winter beauty throughout Munising every year. These pretty creations are also perfect for the sport of ice climbing.
“The Michigan Ice Fest is an opportunity to come out and try the sport of ice climbing and we’re super excited that this is our 29th year of ice climbing,” said Bill Thompson, Organizer, Michigan’s Ice Fest.
Bill Thompson, the organizer of Ice Fest, says about 1,100 people from seven different countries and 28 states are expected to be participating throughout the five-day event.
“We are a worldwide event,” said Thompson.
Throughout Ice Fest, there are experienced climbers and people who are just starting out. Behind me is a beginners class who I got to watch trying it out.
“So if you come over to Munising this weekend you’ll see everything from the very experienced climber to somebody that’s never tried it before,” said Thompson. “We also have all ages. We have really young kids all the way up to senior citizens coming out for a little adventure. So you don’t need any experience. We provide all of the equipment. We provide all of the instruction.”
Josh Schwanke came to Munising from Minnesota just for Ice Fest. He’s a first-time ice climber.
“So I came to Ice Fest because I got linked up with a veterans organization called Veteran’s Expeditions and they were out here,” said Schwanke. “I found an interest in ice climbing and mountaineering in the last couple of years and these guys have done a great job of organizing trips getting people out into the wild, getting out into nature. A little healing for the soul, a little healing for the mind.”
Josh is one of nine people from this veterans organization taking on Ice Fest.
“There’s research and a lot of talk these days about the benefits about getting out into nature for people who are suffering from PTSD and depression and those sorts of things,” said Schwanke. “That’s a big issue with a lot of veterans coming back.”