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It seems like I hit the road in mid-December and I’m just now returning home. Work, traveling and climbing made the time pass like oncoming traffic. It’s hard to remember where I’ve been and what I’ve done over the last month, but I can assure you I wasn’t sitting around watching episodes of Gossip Girl.

Aaron Mulkey continuing his battle with the logs for yet another year. Photo By: Dean Lords

Aaron Mulkey continuing his battle with the logs for yet another year. Photo By: Dean Lords

The one thing I am positive about is that the ice climbing community across the U.S. is awesome and the stoke for the sport is at an all-time high. I taught nearly 50 people during the Ouray Ice Festival and Mountain Fest in the Adirondacks. I know it’s scare to think there could be that many more people thugging their way up the ice like I do, but I’m certain they will be crushing in the near future.

Mulkey sporting the "old School" boots and chains during the Ouray Mixed Comp

Mulkey sporting the “old School” boots and chains during the Ouray Mixed Comp

The Ouray Ice Festival was an absolute blast, as usual. I continue to be amazed by how organized the festival is and how awesome the volunteers, San Juan Mountain Guides and festival committee members are. These people are some of the friendliest in the sport and from the moment you show up you feel welcomed. As you can see in the photos above, I did compete in Ouray and although I do not consider myself a competition climber, Mike Macleod always seems to get me psyched up for their competition. It’s difficult to push myself out of my comfort zone to compete, but it is such a valuable tool to my growing as a climber. In Wyoming, I might as well be climbing on Mars since no one is ever around to ring cow bells or heckle me. Over the years competing in Ouray, I have learned a ton about myself and have grown as a climber.

Mulkey on the lower comp route. Photo By: Alton Richardson

Mulkey on the lower comp route. Photo By: Alton Richardson

After Ouray, I attended the Adirondack Mountain Fest in Keene Valley, NY which is put on by The Mountaineer. The Mountaineer is one of the best shops I have ever set foot in. It’s a great example of a local, knowledgeable shop that is super stoked from the moment you arrive. Vinny, who runs The Mountaineer and puts on the festival, was incredibly nice and made my friend Shawn Gregory and I feel like family, like we were visiting our second home. We stayed at a really cool place called Rock and River Guides. If you’re in the area to climb, hike or just enjoy the outdoors, I highly recommend this place.

Shawn Gregory heading up the classic route "Positive Thinking"

Shawn Gregory heading up the classic route “Positive Thinking”

The Adirondack Mountain Fest was a fantastic festival and I got to meet some great people and make some new friends. The East Coast has some great ice climbing venues and the approaches make Cody ice climbing seem like epic journeys. After days of climbing, I wasn’t all that tired. I realized that not having a 2-hour approach makes it a bit easier to climb strong day after day.

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While attending the festivals, I got to premiere Chris Alstrin’s and my new film “The Pursuit”. So far, the feedback has been overwhelming. I can’t tell you how awesome it is to hear that people leave the film stoked to get after it and find their own adventures in their local areas.

A packed house at the film premiere in Ouray.

A packed house at the film premiere in Ouray.

I’m finally back home and am psyched for some new projects and to report back on some recent new routes. Stay tuned, I’ll report them here!

If you haven’t checked out The Pursuit trailer, check it out below.

The Pursuit – Official Trailer from Aaron Mulkey on Vimeo.