A November snow dump and cold, sunless days leading up to this year’s event combined to deliver superb ice formation in Casket Quarry. A sudden thaw on game day provided blissful temps for 200 climbers and onlookers. Climbers reveled in the conditions and then fueled their stoke by lounging around the campfire with hot cocoa, Duluth Coffee, and snacks galore including s’mores and, of course, bacon on a stick! The newbie clinic (that sold out in just a few hours) was humming all morning. Community climbers strung top-ropes for all to share on nearly every climb in the quarry, while the hardcores led classics and test pieces alike. Everything was in bumper shape, including a rare touchdown of ice on Crocodile Tears that created a wild thread-the-needle section. In short, the 2020 DI&MF was ice and mixed heaven! Did we mention the hikihut sauna in the parking area?!
In the evening, climbers feasted on pizza washed down by Bent Paddle beer and Duluth Cidery’s finest, while listening to an intergenerational panel and slide shows by local superstars explaining how Duluth climbing got started, how it got to be what it is, and how flatlanders can take skills learned here and compete at the highest level or tick the greatest climbs on earth. Happy winners took home thousands of dollars in raffle prizes donated by REI, Black Diamond, Camp, Mammut, and many other sponsors and supporters. Thanks to everyone who donated, sponsored, organized, and volunteered to make this year’s Duluth winter climbing festival a Superior experience for all who attended. Relive highlights from the day in the following gallery, provided by expert photogs Hansi Johnson and Larry Aho: