This past weekend, I had the opportunity to travel to one of my favorite crags in the world – Smith Rock, Oregon. For many climbers, Smith Rock conjures images of frightening runouts, delicately grotesque slabs, and men in high tops and spandex. However for me, it represents a place of community and our country’s proudest rock climbs. I love Smith. So when Solid Rock – Climbers For Christ (SRCFC) invited me to help out with the American Alpine Club’s Craggin’ Classic climbing festival, I jumped at the opportunity.
Saturday started off with a SRCFC hosted burrito breakfast. After breakfast, I hosted a sport climbing clinic, and worked with an awesome crew of climbers with endless energy. After eight full hours of climbing, they were still ready for more. While I’ve coached youth teams in the past, holding a clinic was a whole new experience. These climbers wanted to be there. They were focused and wanted to improve, yet knew this would take persistence. I was incredibly inspired by the effort these folks put into their progression as climbers, and their willingness to try harder routes and scarier leads. Thanks to Danielle, Cliff, Rick, and Ed for pushing your limits and for patiently working with me through my first clinic!
That evening, the Terrebonne Depot and Redpoint Climber’s Supply hosted a showing of the Reel Rock film tour. My good friends Ian and Kristin Yurdin own the Terrebonne Depot, where Kristin is the queen bee and unbelievably talented head chef. This is hands down one of my favorite restaurants in the United States – try the chocolate chip bread pudding, you’ll probably melt with joy. While watching Reel Rock only two days after the Boulder show, I witnessed a very interesting phenomena. A crowd of 150 Oregon climbers cheered, laughed, and whooped just as loudly as the slew of 1,600 people who watched the show in Boulder. Is Boulder so numb to climbing that the shrieks of Adam Ondra get only a few chuckles, while a much smaller crowd in the pacific northwest can bring down a house with their hooping and hollering? Regardless of the reason, it was awesome to see such an amped crew. I realized that while Boulder may boast the greatest concentration of climber, the meccas for enthusiasm and pure love of the sport might lie in other hidden gems around the country.
The ten hour outdoor competition, held Sunday at Smith Rock, provided a third demonstration of the inspiring Oregon psyche. First, my friends Calvin Landrus and Rob Pizem began climbing at 2am in order to get their full ten hours in before Rob had to fly home. In addition to their alpine start, they also dressed up as the Smith Rock draw thief and a cop (see photo below and watch this video if you’re confused). Second, I got to climb with fellow Oklahomie (yes, I am indeed from Oklahoma – couldn’t you tell?), Andrew Hunzicker. While I nearly toppled over from sleep deprivation, Andrew flew up his project first try of the day. This was a volume comp, not a climb hard routes comp, yet Andrew single handedly put our team on the map. We may have only completed 4 routes in total while the rest of the field completed 40+, but Andrew’s performance was worth the whole trip. Thanks to Andrew for the honor of the Disposable Heros send belay!
Finally, I gave a slideshow Sunday night at the Bend Rock Gym. This reaffirmed my love for the Smith Rock community. These guys are fun, supportive, and they laugh at your jokes even if they aren’t funny. Local climber Nathan Gerhardt’s film of Andrew sending White Wedding (5.13d) started the evening and I finished it off with a slideshow (thanks to Marmot for donating raffle prizes!). My years of shyness are finally coming to an end and I feel more and more comfortable speaking in front of people. Thank goodness, since not being able to breath doesn’t make anything easier when you’re trying to entertain a group of people.
Thank you to Solid Rock Climbers for Christ, the American Alpine Club, CAMP, and the other Craggin’ Classic sponsors for hosting a great weekend. Don’t miss the AAC Craggin’ Classic event in Boulder, October 19-21. A note to Boulder – you all better be cheering as loud as the crew down at Smith!