Book: Winter Dance

Big Timber native Joe Josephson was one of the first sponsored athletes invited to the Bozeman Ice Festival in 1997. “Jo-Jo”, as his friends know him, enjoyed the experience so much that he’s been back every year since. “I love to guide, I love to teach people climbing,” says Josephson, “and the Ice Festival is a great place to do that.” In fact, his re-exposure to the Bozeman area’s great terrain and energy—after living in Canada for over a decade—is what ultimately lured him back to southwest Montana for good, and prompted him to write his new guidebook Winter Dance: Select Climbs in Southern Montana & Northern Wyoming, due for release in September 2004.

Winter Dance focuses on regional ice climbs and presents them in a way unlike any other previously in print. Never before has an ice-climbing guide offered such accurate assessments of local routes and provided such pertinent and striking color photographs of them. Josephson brings together stories and images from 25 years of alpine adventure and route development, presenting them in a way that both beginners can comprehend and experienced climbers can appreciate.

Josephson’s guidebook ultimately became a much larger project than expected, because of all the data he had to collect, assess, and reconstruct in order to maintain the book’s credibility. “When you write a guidebook,” Josephson explains, “you obtain a certain amount of responsibility and it is important to present the material well.” His effort and research are evident—the 320-page book details 300 routes with nearly 400 full-color photos and outstanding accuracy.

At once accessible and complex, Winter Dance is sure to become a staple of any local climber’s outdoor library. However, its ambitiousness may also be its weakness—320 pages makes for a heavy guidebook. Thus, for all you ounce-counters out there, Ron Brunkhorst produces a less extensive, but nonetheless strong guidebook, Big Sky Ice, which covers some of the same routes as Josephson’s book. Both Winter Dance and Big Sky Ice can be found locally at Barrel Mountaineering and Northern Lights Trading Company.