Ep. 17 - Building Community Through the Adirondack Queer Ice Fest with Melissa Orzechowski

Feb 21, 2024

Today on Ice Ice Beta, we’re chatting with Melissa Orzechowski of The Adirondack Queer Ice Fest 🌈 a no-cost ice climbing festival solely dedicated to the LGBTQ+ outdoor community.

When the idea first came about, the organizers, Melissa, Robbi, and Nol, thought they might be the only attendees — something for just the three of them. They didn’t know how big the community was in the Adirondacks, or beyond. When 40 people showed up in the middle of a blizzard — many of whom hadn’t ice climbed before — they knew there was a need.

Now in their third year, they keep being surprised: Registration filled up within 45 minutes.

In this episode, we talk about why identity-based affinity spaces are important, the power of starting (however small), and being the change you want to see.


01:32 - Melissa's (sandbagged) journey into ice climbing

06:31 - Organizing in college and beyond

11:20 - Moving to the Adirondacks and building community

18:56 - The start of the Adirondack Queer Ice Fest

25:55 - The importance of affinity spaces in climbing

37:26 - Overcoming gear challenges 

45:37 - Future plans and aspirations

Resources and links:

While registration is full, you can support the festival by donating on gofundme.

And if you’d like to follow along with this year’s event, and stay up to date for future happenings, their Instagram is @adirondack_queer_ice_fest. Melissa's IG is @melissaormo.

Find the rest of the notes, timestamps, resources, and more on the episode page.


A big thanks to our sponsor, Blue Ice, for supporting this show!

Blue Ice is the best kind of ice, and also my choice when it comes to fast and light ice climbing gear. Their Aero Lites go in like a hot knife through butter and their climbing packs hit the sweet spot between function and lightweight. Designed to get to the point in the alpine, their gear is tested by mountain professionals between the Alps and the Wasatch. If you’re looking to get to the point too — and with a little less weight on your kit, check out Blue Ice’s gear at blueice.com or your favorite local retailer.


For the price of a beer per month, you can help us produce episodes like this and much, much more. If you’ve been enjoying the podcast this season, consider supporting us on Patreon.


Episode cover photo provided by the Adirondack Queer Ice Fest

Intro music by Hannah Noelle Enomoto (thanks, sis!).

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© 2023 Ice Ice Beta. All rights reserved.

© 2023 Ice Ice Beta. All rights reserved.

© 2023 Ice Ice Beta. All rights reserved.