The temporary festival tattoo is fading off my arm, but I’m still processing some of the memories and events of the International Climbing Festival held last week in Lander, Wyo.
Despite my older-than-dirt status, our group representing eastern Idaho injected a bit of youth to the happenings. We had three teens and three 20-somethings in our small tribe of rock climbers. While rock climbing does appeal to the younger generation, most are introduced to the recreation at indoor climbing gyms and many never go outside. It turns out that the gym experience — while fun and challenging — only partially prepares climbers for all the nuances of the outdoor climbing experience.
I like to go to the International Climbing Festival each year because it is my annual excuse to climb on the world-class limestone dolomite found there. The rock is as good as some of the best limestone found in France and Italy.
Some might say that climbing festivals are getting too expensive, but everything goes up in cost. When I compare the four-day festival to many of the one-day bike or running events, the price is about the same, except you get so much more bang for your buck at the climbing festival. We camped for free, there were breakfasts, a film festival, a trade show, silly contests with great prizes, gear giveaways, raffles and four days of rock climbing. Some in our group won back more than the cost of their ticket in gear giveaways.
Memorable moments included watching my sweetheart — generally a social climber — climb during the festival. I also was excited to see friends push their climbing envelope by leading new routes. Attending an event sometimes gives us the extra incentive to try harder routes.
It was fun watching first-timers to the event try new routes and be exposed to the new tribe of rock climbers from around the world.
I did get on some new routes myself that reminded me of why I’m addicted to the sport.
“Once you get through that hard, tricky part at the beginning, you can cruise the nice pockets up high,” I remember telling my friends. We were working a route at the OK Corral at the Wild Iris climbing area.
I was continually impressed with the teens in our group throwing themselves at difficult routes with no worry of failure. For me, I just have to remind myself that I’m having fun. But sometimes my ego gets in the way.
There is another climbing festival coming up in August — the Idaho Mountain Festival. It’s held at Castle Rock State Park Aug. 15 to 18 near City of Rocks National Reserve in Almo. Here, again is an opportunity to join with the tribe and have some fun.