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      Climbers converge on Munising

      The 26th annual Michigan Ice Fest took place at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore this weekend.

      Climbers from across the nation, over 450 of them, came to Munising, not just to enjoy the landscape but to take advantage of it.

      For some, it's their very first time climbing ice.

      "Oh my gosh, it's harder than it looks, said Michelle Bridges from Detroit. Some of these guys make it look so easy, but if you have strong forearms, I guess you're OK."

      For others, they've climbed rocks but not ice.

      "I'm really into rock climbing, said Chris Tomasetti of Chicago. I've done a lot of rock climbing in the past. I wanted to learn to ice climb to broaden my skills and really open up big mountains and snow ice places for me."

      Still others, with years of experience climbing ice, came to enjoy some of the region's best.

      "They are really big; I'd consider them pretty much world class ice climbs out on the lakeshore, said James Loveridge, who has been climbing ice for 18 years. So if you go out to Sandpoint and along Pictured Rocks, there's an amazing amount of really big ice climbs."

      The curtains of ice didn't form from a waterfall; it's the rock itself that causes the ice formations.

      "It's a very unique sport. All places don't have ice formations like we do here in Munising, said Ice Fest organizer, Bill Thompson. And so the beautiful sandstone rock that people come to see in the summertime, actually seeps water and forms these wonderful ice formations."

      You've got to have the right equipment. You need mountaineering boots and crampons with spikes, to dig in. Also an ice ax is needed to swing into the ice.

      For some, climbing is not just a hobby, it's a passion.

      "I don't's great," said Veronica Mulhall from Fort Wayne, Indiana. Like you're able to go up and you have to trust yourself. You have to trust your partner. I love it, so I want to do it for the rest of my life."