Outside of the climbing-sphere, both George and I are designers.  George works as a custom woodworker, and myself as a lighting designer and programmer for TV and live events.

With a designer sensibility comes a certain appreciation for art, art history, composition, and the peculiar aesthetic that runs as an undercurrent to the ice and mixed climbing culture.

Ice climbers are a creative bunch, likely due to the mental processes required to get us to the top of a frozen bit of water.  There are really very few rules in this activity. We are after all climbing with a portable one-armed belay. Anything goes really, just get to the top safely.

Just as there are few rules in climbing there are seems to also be few rules in how to approach the artistry used in Ice Fest Posters.  As Ice and Mixed climbing continues to broaden it’s presence into mainstream culture, the imagery we use to portray our activity informs the world at large how we want to be perceived.  Below is an representative study of ice fest posters from mostly past but some upcoming events.

What are we saying with the images we share of ice/mixed climbing?

What are we as an ice climbing community trying to communicate to the larger world?

How are we representing women? ARE we representing women?

What do we want them to see? Where do we want it to go? How do we want to show it?

Are men and women represented as equal?

 What are we selling? Are we selling adventure?

Just something to zen out on... Enjoy.

-Ben Carlson


As an extended exploration on the subject of climbing art in mountain-themed event posters, below are some more examples of how we represent our lifestyle.  What are are these posters saying about us?