A renowned Adirondack retailer presents a celebration of all things ice and snow

Mountainfest, an annual celebration of Adirondack ice and snow, organized by the Mountaineer in Keene Valley. Outdoor recreation enthusiasts travel from around the world, and from the Northeast, to take part in ice climbing and skiing clinics, meet invited guest athletes, and connect with a warm community of like-minded individuals. Whether you’re a seasoned ice climber or skier, or someone who wants to dip their toes in the water (or sharply into ice), you should stop by The Mountaineer during Mountainfest to see what’s going on. 

A few people walk into a snow-covered gear shop

The Adirondack International Mountainfest

Mountainfest, as it's more commonly referred to, has a wonderful line-up of events this year, and the excitement that builds for them is no different than years past. Big names have brought stories of their expeditions, and lessons gained from them, including Conrad Anker, Steve House, and Colin Haley, just to name a few. This year, guest athletes include Vince Anderson (prolific first ascensionist in Pakistan and Canada), Marcus Garcia (labeled as “...the best climber you’ve never heard of.” by Rock and Ice, prolific route developer), Jordan Revis (BIPOC in the outdoors advocate, climber of ice and rock from the Northeast), and Tyler Kempney (member of the U.S. Men’s Ice Climbing team). At Mountainfest, you’ll get the chance to chat with each of these athletes and brand ambassadors at coffee hours and happy hours, as well as take part in clinics with them - if you have signed up for a slot. While we have some of the world’s finest athletes in rock and ice right here in the Adirondacks, meeting those with different perspectives and ability levels from other slices of the country is a chance not often had. 

Not only will the guest athletes be taking part in clinics, but many of them will be taught by local mountain guides. Along with the overarching community-oriented theme, Charlie Wise, owner of the Mountaineer, has said that they "have expanded the pool of professional guiding outfits that support and run a diverse mix of field clinics - broadening the energy and involvement of the event across a wider range of players in Northeast skiing and mountaineering." Much of the clinic spots have filled up, but they include avalanche awareness, backcountry skiing, multiple ice climbing classes focusing on different experience levels, and general mountaineering and alpinism systems classes. Go check them all out, some spots for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday clinics may still be available.

A white sign on a black background that says "The Mountaineer"

If you aren’t apt for getting on the sharp end, or hopping on skis, Mountainfest still offers activities and events that cater to different interests and levels of skill. This year, some of the more casual events include coffee and happy hours, a Patagonia worn-wear clothing repair set-up, and presentations (with raffles!) at the Keene Arts Center, The Mountaineer, and Keene Central School. There’s also yoga at Keene Fitness, daily gear demos, and a spaghetti dinner. One presentation you don’t want to miss will be given by our very own Olympian Andrew Weibrecht, where he’ll dissect what life post-competitive alpine skiing is like. Charlie also emphasizes that "The mission of Mountainfest has always been to raise monies for the local community," and lists Keene Central School, Keene & Keene Valley firehouses, the Ausable River Association, and ADK Foundation as just some of the places they have supported via Mountainfest for over two decades. Keep this in mind when attending events, your money is going to exceptional local causes!

The Mountaineer - Keene Valley

While the highlights of Mountainfest, now it its 26th year, are surely the adventure-based activities, the professional athletes, and the programming, at the core of it all is The Mountaineer. Our hometown gear shop has been nestled in Keene Valley for over 49 years, and during that time has both evolved as a business and stayed true to its mission of providing high quality gear for many facets of the outdoor industry. Its current owner, who took the reins back in 2019, has continued the tradition of hiring knowledgeable, salaried employees that are experts in the industry, and give customers a comfortable and safe place for learning about outdoor activities and the gear they’ll buy for it. 

Warm photo of a fire place in a gear shop
Puffy jackets in a wooden-paneled gear shop
A table of sleeping gear in a gear shop
A space for ski and snowshoe rentals in a gear shop

An emphasis on inclusivity

The Mountaineer has been part of a broader effort to promote inclusivity in outdoor spaces, and in the world of outdoor recreation. Folks can feel the "inclusive energy" of Mountainfest, as Charlie puts it, and that is shown through the representation in guest athletes in years past and present. Last year, Nikki Smith, a professional climber, gave a presentation on her "journey as a climber, first ascensionist, guidebook author, writer, and woman who happens to be transgender." Her presentation was important for this community, and gave valuable perspectives on an industry that is striving to become more inclusive. This year, Grivel ambassador Jordan Revis, a member of the BIPOC community, is leading clinics, and as his biography states, Jordan being an active member of the outdoor industry "shows that we as a climbing community do welcome all and we do elevate those that have been historically undeserved." 

In addition to representation during Mountainfest, The Mountaineer provides gear assistance and some financial support to the Adirondack Queer Ice Festival, an LGBTQIA+ event co-founded by Melissa Orzechowski and local Forest Ranger Robbi Mecus, with help from Nol Huther. This one-of-a-kind inclusive ice climbing festival celebrates, and creates space for, members of the queer community. This year, Nikki Smith, who presented at last year's Mountainfest, will be presenting during the Ice Fest, and joining in on the ice climbing fun at local Keene Valley sites. While spaces have filled up already for the event, there is a waitlist you can get on! The evening presentations and celebration by Nikki Smith is an affinity space for members of the LGBTQIA+ community, and you do not need to be signed up for ice climbing to attend. It'll be taking place at the North Country School's Walter Breeman Performing Arts Center (WallyPAC) from 7-10 p.m, February 24.

A person ice climbing a narrow dagger of ice

Charlie says that Mountainfest has become a "focal point of many winter enthusiasts' seasons." Whether you have experienced its magic before, or have never gone to one, there are so may tangible and intangible reasons for why heading to Keene Valley during this special festival is a must. Come for Mountainfest, and stay here to ice climb or ski, support local shops and restaurants, and connect with our wonderful Adirondack community.