Well, if it’s President’s Day weekend, that must mean one thing.
Don Foote is jumping out of his skin.
You see, Don is the founder and promoter of the Cody Ice Festival, and the whole weekend to him is better than Christmas, Halloween and Spring Break rolled into one.
Don and 40 of his closest friends got together 15 years ago to spend a weekend climbing frozen waterfalls in the area. Since then the festival has grown to approximately 300 of Don’s closest friends with things happening throughout the weekend.
I keep saying these are Don’s closest friends for a reason. Once you meet Don it is hard not to get caught up in his enthusiasm and his affable nature. The Cody Ice Festival has been described as the “Friendliest Ice Festival” of the eight or so you will find in this country each winter. Sure there are other festivals that are larger and have more of an “ESPN-X-Games” feel to them, but our area has conditions that cannot be beat as well as the most frozen waterfalls in the Lower 48 states.
If you don’t run into Don at the festival, there’s a good chance one of his daughters will print out your name badge or register you for the festival. Or one of his brothers or parents or nieces or nephews will point you in the right direction. By the way, Don said his daughters – eight and 10 years old – are accomplished climbers themselves with the potential to be world-class. It would have been fun to watch them over the years.
This year’s climbing conditions are perfect as the warm sunny days and below-freezing nights combine for big ice. Climbers from as far away as Germany, Norway and Switzerland as well as New York, Massachusetts and other states make their way to our town to climb and enjoy the rest of the program.
Throughout the weekend will be various seminars, dinners, fundraisers and happy hours. On Saturday night the Jalan Crossland Band will rock the house. Don noted that the Wyoming Wilderness Association (WWA) has stepped to the plate this year and has offered the support necessary to bring Jalan in for this concert.
WWA is also conducting a silent auction benefiting the Wyoming Search and Rescue Association.
The festival is open to everybody. Even if you have never climbed before, you are in luck as a special beginners’ session is designed to show you the ropes. Everybody wants to help, and you’re as likely as not to get tips from some of the best climbers in the world.
Until next time, I’ll be watching folks scaling our frozen waterfalls in Buffalo Bill’s Cody Country!