Bozeman Ice Climbing Clinics Begin - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Bozeman Ice Climbing Clinics Begin

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BOZEMAN -

The 17th annual Bozeman Ice Festival kicked off its clinics in Hyalite Canyon on Thursday.

Ice climbs up Hyalite Canyon were packed On Thursday as beginner and experienced ice climbers participated in the Bozeman Ice Festival's first day of clinics.

Chris Walther from North Dakota has been coming to the ice climbing festival for three years. He said climbing has changed his life.

"I came here because it was a safe way to learn how to ice climb," said Walther.

But, that's not what he first thought about it.

"The first time I heard about ice climbing, I thought they were talking about carving ice sculptures," said Walther. "Then, they told me we climb ice. I thought they were crazy."

First time ice climbers said the most challenging part was keeping their balance and hitting the right spot with their ice tool.

"I'm just trying to stay focused and make sure I get to the top without falling," said Matt Millin, first time ice climber.

"It's a lot different than rock climbing. I love it," said Jessica Peit, first time ice climber. "It's not as fluid movements as rock climbing. I've really had to focus on exactly how to move and which order to move in."

One major change at this years festival is Search and Rescue volunteers are present at each ice climbing area in Hyalite.

"We're here and we're ready to respond to any emergency situation," said Steve Halvorson, Gallatin County Search and Rescue. "Being here is a way for us to continue our training and help out the ice climbers at the festival."

Halvorson said there will be about 17 search and rescue volunteers in the canyon, throughout the festival weekend.

"We have radio contact and rescue gear in the parking lot," said Halvorson.

But, climbers said overall, they feel safe.

"It's pretty safe because you always have someone guiding you," said Millian.

The ice climbing festival runs through Sunday.

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