2013 Craggin’ Classic

Posted: August 29th, 2013 | Author:

Words by Brooke Gaynes

One of the reasons we love being involved in a sport is being a part of the community that surrounds it. When we think about skiing at Alta, we look forward to long runs down High Rustler the morning after a storm or the excitement of finding our favorite powder stashes fresh and untouched.  We also look forward to gathering at the bottom of the lift with friends, seeing familiar faces during lunch at Watson Shelter and admiring the old timer who shreds past us in a one piece and skinny skis.  Sharing all of these experiences is what defines us as the ski community at Alta. Believe it or not, there is also a climbing community in Utah that is just as rewarding as our ski community. Spending time studying our routes, hiking to the crag with friends and cheering on our buddies can be just as rewarding as placing gear and crushing routes.

Alta Ski Area Cragging Classic

Learning the ropes.

This past weekend, at the Alta Peruvian Lodge, local climbers were able to participate in the “Craggin’ Classic” climbing festival. When I say “local climbers”, I mean the weekend warriors, the folks who have been climbing for decades, kids who are still waiting for their adult teeth to come in, professional climbers, ski mountaineers and even people who are interested in learning to climb for the first time. These “local climbers” do have a few things in common. We all share desire – desire to improve our climbing skills, desire to become involved with the climbing community, and desire to enjoy the beautiful mountains that are home to Alta Ski Area. The American Alpine Club teamed up with The Salt Lake Climbers Alliance (SLCA) to make sure this happened.

Environmental Stewardship at Alta Ski Area
One of the important aims of the SLCA is to nurture environmental stewardship in the climbing community. You already know that Alta Ski Area is home to some of the premier skiing terrain in the world; but you may not know that Alta is also home to some amazing climbing routes. Each summer parades of climbers hike to Devils Castle. SLCA and the Access Fund Conservation crew noticed the effect this level of traffic was having on the meadows below Devils castle and decided it was time to do something about it. Saturday morning, several climbers rolled up their sleeves, got their hands dirty, and helped re-vegetate the meadows below Devils Castle.


Alta Ski Area cragging classic

Brooke and Caroline Gleich just hanging out.

Climbing Clinics
The American Alpine Club invited Mountain Education and Development (MountainED) to teach clinics at the “Craggin’ Classic.” Fundamentals of top rope, sport lead and traditional lead climbing were offered to help climbers feel more confident outside. I went into my class never having lead traditional climbing routes and walked away ready to buy a rack. The clinics were that good. The MountainED instructors were enthusiastic, thorough and passionate about teaching others how to safely enjoy the outdoors.  Other classes were offered to strengthen climbers and mountaineers in areas that we often feel somewhat weak in, including multi-pitch transitions and efficiency, and securing anchors (natural, fixed, and using traditional climbing gear). Another important clinic that was offered was instruction in self-rescue. In this clinic we learned several different ways to protect ourselves, and our partners, in emergency scenarios. Not only did I learn a few new knots, I also learned that I would totally trust Caroline Gleich to use her munter-mule knot tying skills to secure me if I ever broke my femur 130 feet off the ground.

One of the important aims of the “Craggin’ Classic” was to nurture the camaraderie of our climbing community. The campground at Albion Basin and the Alta Peruvian Lodge were the perfect settings. Each morning while we ate a delicious breakfast across the street from Mt. Superior, we couldn’t help but feel like we were among friends. The opportunity to spend time talking with vendors from Black Diamond Equipment, Petzl, CAMP, Liberty Mountain, La Sportiva, Evolv, Scarpa, and Golite (just to name a few) not only increased our knowledge about available gear, but invigorated our enthusiasm for climbing. While eating delicious food, climbing, watching presentations, arm wrestling, and sharing stories during the “Gongshow”, the friendly, inclusive atmosphere was palpable. Spending time with like-minded people in the beautiful mountains was surely an uplifting and inspiring experience. A big thanks to the American Alpine Club, Salt Lake Climbers Alliance, Alta Ski Area, and everybody else who contributed to this amazing event.

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One Comment on “2013 Craggin’ Classic”

  1. 1 Julia geisler said at 3:16 am on September 1st, 2013:

    Thanks for the awesome recap!! See you at adopt a crag at Ruth lake in the Unitas October 5th!!

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