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Climbing Fest To Celebrate Duluth’s Newest Park

Climbing Fest To Celebrate Duluth’s Newest Park

DULUTH — The second annual Ice & Mixed Fest, a celebration of Duluth’s winter climbing scene, begins Friday, Feb. 10, and goes through Feb. 12 at Quarry Park in West Duluth and at other locations. “Ice and Mixed” refers to ice climbing and mixed ice and rock climbing.

The event, sponsored by the Duluth Climbers Coalition, will showcase recent improvements at Quarry Park, which officially became a city park in May. The 30-acre park — also known as Casket Quarry — is accessed via a trail from the top of 59th Avenue West.

Activities at the event will include climbing, climbing clinics, fat-bike riding, evening presentations, a gear swap and more. Last year, more than 300 people attended the first Ice & Mixed Fest, said Dave Pagel of the Duluth Climbers Coalition.

“It’s not just for climbers,” Pagel said. “That’s what makes this event unique. It’s sort of a celebration of winter outdoor recreation.”

Three climbing clinics will be offered on Saturday starting at 9 a.m., Pagel said. The clinics, for which fees are charged, are Introduction to Mixed Climbing, an Intermediate Ice/Mixed Clinic, and a Women’s Clinic. There’s also a free climbing clinic for middle school and high school students. Sign up in advance for any of the first three clinics at duluthclimbers.org.

On Saturday evening, the events shift to Clyde Iron Works for free climber presentations, a gear swap and a gear raffle. Margo Talbot, a world-renowned ice climber and mental wellness coach, will speak at 7 p.m. She is author of “All That Glitters, A Climber’s Journey Through Addiction and Depression.”

At 8 p.m., Canadian ice climbers Rebecca Lewis and Nathan Kutcher will speak. Both are among Canada’s top ice climbers.

On Sunday, events will conclude with informal ice climbing all day at Casket Quarry.

Since the park was made official in May, an improved access trail from the parking area has been built, said Lisa Luokkala, project coordinator for the Duluth Parks and Recreation Division. Plans call for “ice farming” at the park, where water will drip slowly from the top of the cliff to form beginner ice-climbing routes. The ice farming system will enhance and expand the quarry’s climbing possibilities, particularly for beginning and intermediate climbers, Pagel said.

A trail and a disc golf course also are planned for the level area at the base of the wall.

Luokkala said it’s exciting that people are beginning to discover Duluth’s newest park.

“I know people are using it,” she said. “The number-one question I’ve fielded is, ‘How do we get to the quarry?’”

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