Does Valdez Ice Climbing Festival signal a renaissance for an outdoorsy Alaska town?

ADN-   More than 300 people flocked to this year’s Ice Climbing Festival in Valdez, the premier event for the nascent outdoor nonprofit Levitation 49.

Climbing ribbons of frozen water in spectacular Keystone Canyon, festival-goers spent three days exploring the area, making new friends and reinforcing the idea that Valdez has plenty to offer outdoor enthusiasts year-round — including skiing, fishing, hiking, biking and hunting.

Alaska Pacific University student Fallon Connolly, wearing a pink tutu and climbing with her boyfriend at Bridal Veil Falls, moved to Alaska four years ago from Massachusetts.

“When I moved up to Alaska, I had a vague idea of being an outdoors person. I took a climbing course at APU, and then the winter came. Since there was no more rock climbing, I tried ice climbing and I really hated it,” she said. “My hands went numb, I got the barfies. But I kept doing it. It got easier, and now it’s a good time.”