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      Reporter takes first stab at Michigan's ice climbing

      For the past 20 years, both beginner and experienced climbers traveled across the country to the shores of Lake Superior for Michigan's Ice Fest in Munising. Every year, hundreds come for the chance to dig into the spectacle and Friday, so did I. â??When we first got involved in the Ice Fest, it was actually a really small gathering of about 10 or 15 participants,â?? explained Bill Thompson of Downwind Sports. â??Itâ??s grown to one of the largest ice climbing events in the country with over 500 participants.â?? Iâ??m from the Big Apple, and New York's concrete jungle could have never prepared me for something like this. However, for $40, Downwind Sports helps beginners, like me, get their hands wet. â??We give them the gear, we give them professional instruction and get them on some of the country's best ice,â?? Thompson said. I hit the frozen waterfall with full force, but unfortunately I lost one of my tools and was forced to head back to the bottom. â??When you drop a tool, pretty much the climb is over,â?? Thompson explained. â??You just come back down, get the tool, and go back up.â?? Despite not fully conquering the climb, the experience was everything I hoped for and more. Anyone interested in giving ice climbing a try will have Saturday and Sunday, February 2 and 3, to take a stab at the sport.