American Alpine Club Craggin Classic is a Big Success!

Splitter weather, more people and more programming combined to take the 3rd Annual Craggin’ Classic to the next level.  Three hundred people gathered under the trees at the rustic yet comfortable American Alpine Club campground venue enjoying a full schedule of clinics, contests, meals, slideshows and some highly competitive ping-pong. Event organizer, Lisa Hummel, the American Alpine Club Southeast Regional Manager reports that the fundraising totals exceeded projections. “We are really psyched! All the money we raised this weekend is earmarked for the continuing development of this amazing campground.”_MG_0255

There are five Craggin’ Classics across the country each with the mission of  uniting climbers around campfires to support community, competency, stewardship and fundraising in iconic climbing destinations. Hummel  sang the praises of National Title Sponsor C.A.M.P. USA. “Not only did they provide significatnt funds, but they have been completely involved in helping us create and execute the educational component of the event.  Our clinic program is the heart of this event and they are responsible for helping make it happen.”

Friday evening got under way with the traditional pig picking, thanks to sponsor Misty Mountain Threadworks.  Longtime NC climber Danny Caldwell once again stayed up all night Thursday to cook the big fat pig to perfection.  Next up was Chris Kalous the host of the Enormocast, a climbing podcast, who had come out from Colorado to tape an interview with locals Kenny Parker and Mikey Williams. The hour long interview featured a healthy dose of humorous East vs. West shit talking much to the crowd’s delight.  Matt Wilder, another Coloradoan, followed with an entertaining slideshow featuring some high ball bouldering, new hard trad routes at the New and a clip of his appearance on American Ninja Warrior.

Saturday dawned with perfect climbing conditions and the smell of coffee in the air. After the 5.10 Epic Breakfast  wrapped up a dozen clinics covering topics such as Off-width Climbing, Light and Fast Alpinism and Pushing Your Limits on Gear headed out for full days.  The crowd reconvened for another huge dinner spread, local craft beer, nutty contests such as Petzl’s Cobra Cane Challenge (imagine spinning around, running, chugging beers and coiling ropes all in one…phew). A steady stream of participants donned goofy costumes in the photo booth presented by Kim Hummel Photography. Salewa, the National Presenting Sponsor, offered the ever-popular table bouldering contest which saw a super tight finish in the women’s category with local 12 year old Kiya Babkirk coming within inches of the title. A new addition to the event _MG_0369was the La Sportiva sponsored dyno comp, featuring the same dyno wall from the New River Rendezvous.  Route setters Tim Rose, Tyler Willcutt and Matt Nance cooked up challenging problems for the strong field. Winners were Jeremy Walton from Chattanooga and Leanna Lockhart from Boone.  The energetic folks wrapped it up with some dancing while the climbed-out crew headed for their tents, to rest up.

_MG_0452The trusty vols, under the guidance of campground host Paul Nelson,  got breakfast rolling  so folks could head out for another splitter day. Let’s all take a minute and appreciate that, in fact, occasionally the weather in West by God Virginia is perfect!

Big news for next year:  New River Alliance of Climbers, organizers of the defunct New River Rendezvous, will be jumping in to add some of the favorite components from that much-loved event to the Craggin’ Classic.  Look for the return of Dessertapalooza, the Midnight Snack, and Sumo Wrestling to name a few.  Stay tuned!

Thanks to all the sponsors including Clif Bar, Outdoor Research, Trango, Tenaya, Evolv, Julbo, Joshua Tree, Vertical Medicine Adventures, Water Stone Outdoors, New River Mountain Guides, Appalachian Climbing School, and Seneca Rocks Climbing School.

More thanks to all the volunteers.  No event happens without volunteers so we eternally sing your praises!