I don’t know about you but there are only two places I want to be when temperatures reach below freezing: outside and hanging off the side of a mountain. At the Bozeman Ice Festival, that dream becomes a reality for several hundred outdoorsy folks each December. Spread out between Bozeman, Mont., and nearby Hyalite Canyon, this festival is all in on ice climbing, whether that be through films, panels, meeting fellow climbers or participating in it. The festival centers around skills clinics, which accommodate new and experienced ice climbers. Whatever your experience level, your guide may very well be a man in his late twenties who resembles Yukon Cornelius.
Clinics include ice climbing but aren’t limited to it, with mountain climbing and mixed ice and mountain climbing workshops offered as well as sessions on topics like wilderness survival, yoga and mental health in the mountains. There’s even an Adventure Film Festival which is held at the Crawford Theater in the Emerson Cultural Center. The Bozeman Ice Climbing Festival is also known for its inclusivity, with designated clinics intended to be just for women, BIPOC or LGBTQ+ climbers of all skill levels.
The festival touts the social opportunities as it encourages participants to climb together and then gather at the Black Diamond Advanced Base Camp or each evening in town at the Emerson Ballroom, where beer from Bridger Brewing will be served.
In the evenings, dangling over an icy cliff in the dark is not the only offering. Nightly events are held at the Emerson, an event venue in Bozeman that will hold everything from panel discussions to live storytelling nights. One in particular, the “BROADcast” hopes to empower “women and genderqueer folks to embrace wild ideas, wild experiences and the preservation of wildness.”
- 2,500 people have attended Bozeman Ice Fest in previous years.
- While some events are free, you’ll need to buy tickets for events and clinics within the festival. Prices range from $25 to $295.
- First trip to Montana? Check out Fifty Grande’s guide to the best things to do here.
Where is the nearest airport?
Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport (BZN) is the closest airport to the festival, located a 15-minute drive from downtown Bozeman, Montana.
Where is the festival located?
The Bozeman Ice Festival is held across the wider Bozeman area, with events held both in the city and in Hyalite Canyon, just south of Bozeman.
Is festival transportation available?
Carpools and shuttle services are available, but limited. Having a vehicle with all-wheel drive and winter tires is encouraged by the festival organizers.
Is there an age requirement?
No, all ages are able to participate in ice-climbing clinics.
Who organizes the Bozeman Ice Fest?
The Montana Mountaineering Association, a Bozeman-based nonprofit.
When is the Southern Ontario Ice Fest?
The Southern Ontario Ice Fest was held February 10-12 2023 in Maynooth, Ontario, Canada.