Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Festival

Early afternoon at Friday's Trade Fair.
We had a good time at the International Climbers' Festival this year, and did a lot of good climbing too!  The festival was well organized, the films were entertaining, the speakers inspiring, and the prizes seemed perfectly selected for the recipients.  Autumn won a digital camera in the pull up contest, and has been a busy photographer ever since.  And Sierra won a copy of Katie Brown's book Girl on The Rocks.

Before the festival even began, tents started going up in City Park, and the Wild Iris parking area had more cars than usual.  But we still had the Rock Shop to ourselves.  We went up there for a morning session with our new Wyoming climbing (and family friendly) vehicle, a Honda Ridgeline. 
We visited a new sector that Chris showed me last week called Wonderland.

Ashley on a Wonderland warm-up.

 Chris said that a line could go out right to the rail, but that it would be pretty easy.  I cleaned it up, and it turned out to be more interesting, and climbed better than I expected.  I think it's a first ascent. But the holds before the rail had already been cleaned.

"Wanderland" V4**

 On Wednesday, we went out for a session in the Sweatlodge.  It was a good session, and we got on four routes.  The highlight for me was "Whiskey Drunk."  It's a great steep and pumpy sport route at a level of difficulty I'm working on right now.  But the cave itself has a couple strange properties that deserve reporting.  While we were in the cave a couple small storms passed by, but the wind in the Sweatlodge became exceptionally powerful.  The cave seems to act as a wind tunnel, and I can't imagine what it would be like to be in there on a truly windy day.

The entrance of the Sweatlodge.
 A more mysterious property is that the area seems to steal or possibly warp time.  I'd left my phone in the truck, so we weren't sure what time it was, but we were very aware that we wanted to leave by 4:00.  We didn't want to miss the Explorer's Presentations that night.  When we walked out of the cave we all thought it was about 3-3:30 in the afternoon.  When we looked at the time in the truck it was 6:45!  Where did the three hours go?!  We arrived at the Explorer's Presentation just as it ended, and I was disappointed that I missed Jesse's Lander bouldering slideshow.

On Friday, we spent the afternoon at the Trade Fair, watching and participating in competitions.  The burrito eating contest started innocently enough.
The burritos really looked good, but they were hot and spicy and filled with eggs and potatoes.  In fifteen minutes the winner only managed to finish three and a half of them.  One competitor puked, and everyone looked somewhat uncomfortable.

George breaking a sweat.  I'm not sure what the other guy is disgusted about.
 The tug of war championship went to a very strong local team.
 And I stayed steady with my crate stacking performance two years ago with 16 crates.  Maybe I'll be able to do better next year?
 It was interesting to watch the toprope get set up for the crate stacking contest.

Steve on belay.
 Mike making the terrifying lead up the cottonwood.  An "R" rated route for sure.
 Jesse, and the festival program, inspired a few people to check out the new bouldering areas.  Saturday afternoon, I gave Mitch and George a tour of the Rock Shop.

Mitch climbing "Lord of the Flies."
" Zef" was feeling difficult in warm conditions, and I worried that "Starry Night" would feel even worse, so we went to "Nexus" which is physically easier.  George was still recovering from the burrito eating contest, but Mitch made quick progress.

 He got to the lip twice, but wasn't willing to commit to the topout mantle.  Hopefully he'll return to finish it off someday.  The line still hasn't had a second ascent.

This year's festival was everything that it should be.  A chance to socialize, share information, have fun, be inspired, and for visitors to discover the amazing climbing this area has to offer.
 I'm looking forward to the 20th!

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