Climbing hard, crushing routes, cries of determination, and the domination of rock describe the events that transpire at the International Climbers' Festival year after year. Lander, Wyoming has hosted the ICF for over five years and draws some of the world's strongest athletes to push their limits on world class rock. But hold up ... wait ... we are not all 4% body fat, rock pulverizing superheroes, so what is it about this festival of climbing that draws hundreds of participants every year? What was happening off the wall when you and your fellow climbers were giving your tendons that much-needed break? Explore what made the 2015 ICF so unique off the rock and dive into a community of climbers from across the globe!
Access Fund Trail Day
Kicking off the festival Thursday morning, the Access Fund and over 30 volunteers constructed a brand new trail near the Erratic wall at Wild Iris crag that opened up the potential for many new routes. The team used shovels, pick axes, machetes, chainsaws, sheers, and pure brawn to develop the new trail system. My personal favorite tool was the Pulaski, an axe with a pick on the back, which I used to break ground and clear roots. Trango and Ethan Pringle also came out to support the volunteers for the trail build (I'm not sure Ethan knows how to use a shovel as well as he does a small crimp). The Access Fund initiates crag cleanups and trail maintenance across the country to ensure climbers' access to their favorite climbing destinations (Go to www.accessfund.org to see how you can get involved in your local climbing community).
Writers and climbers alike came to the Lander Bake Shop to hear seasoned authors discuss the process in guide book construction and the method for writing material dealing with rock climbing. The featured authors were Stewart Green, Hans Florine, Sam Lightner, Jr., and Buck Tilton. This clinic provided great insight on how a climber might take their love for the sport and turn it into a career (because, sadly, we don't all climb 5.15c). The clinic also briefly touched on how to take your photography to the next level for publication in climbing media.
The Art Crawl was the highlight of Thursday night as local artists displayed their craftsmanship at various locations across the city. Each stop not only had beautifully hand-crafted, art but also had free giveaways and activities for participants to partake in. Artwork included pottery, oil and acrylic paintings, photography, handmade clothing and jewelry, and even recycled bike sculpture. The artwork was displayed at a number of locations including the historic Noble Hotel, Lander Chamber of Commerce, Wild Iris Mountain Sports, The Middle Fork and Old Town Coffee. The Art Crawl acted as a great way to immerse the visiting climbers into the community of Lander and help boast incredible local talent!
City Park Trade Fair
City Park on Friday night hosted a plethora of events. The park was a hub of commotion and excitement as the Trade Fair commenced! Companies such as Patagonia, Outdoor Research, Trango, La Sportiva, as well as many more, set up booths that hosted competitions for free gear and prizes. A few of the most notable events were crate stacking, rope coiling, the beam carry, a tug-o-war, a push up competition, and last but not least a Dyno competition! (A dyno is a move where the climber springs for a distant hold). Winners from all of these events walked away with incredible prizes. The NOLS booth teamed up with the National Forest Service to educate visitors on bear awareness in the area. The tandem booth allowed guests to practice spraying actual bear spray at a fake bear on a skateboard (Yes, bears do ride skateboards occasionally ... so ... watch out!). The Trade Fair culminated with a spectacular dyno competition of epic proportions!
Friday night culminated in a spectacular show of rock-crushing dynamic prowess! With over 30 male and female competitors, this comp was sure to be impressive. Mixed in with the rest of the competitors were pro athletes Carlo Traversi, Ethan Pringle, Hans Florine, and Alex Johnson. Ethan and Hans lost out in a matter of minutes into the first round, greatly surprising the onlooking crowd. Carlo and Alex made it deep into the final round along with a handful of other competitors. As the rounds progressed the moves grew larger and more difficult, forcing the athletes to literally reach new heights! With the crowd cheering wildly and competitors flying through the air, the dyno comp was the highlight of the festivities!
Of course there was finger numbing, tendon popping, jaw dropping rock climbing going on the whole time, but occasionally it's nice to lean back and soak up the world around you. The Climbers' Festival was not only an opportunity to climb great rock but also a time to share in a culture and a community that have a like-minded passion. As the Volkswagen Westfalias, Subarus, and Ford Sprinter vans pulled out of Lander's City Park on Sunday, one could feel the anticipation in the air for next year's festival and all of the rock climbing madness sure to accompany it!
All photos by Kirk Rasmussen.