Have you ever heard of the Craggin Classics? I had not when I was invited to go along with the boys from CAMP USA. I thought it was going to be some kind of fundraising event where people just milled around and voted silently for old climbing relics. You know, the old hammer or ice-axe that no one could use, but just place on the coffee table as an interesting “piece”. I agreed and asked to attend two places that I had always wanted to go; the first being “The New River Gorge”– West Virgina (cue the banjo music) and “Smith Rock” near Bend, Oregon.
After very few airport shenanigans (nothing too dire) I stepped off the plane in West Virgina with my climbing partner for the trip Sarah Watson. It occurred to us as we waited for our bags to show up that we had no clue how we were going to get to the motel for the first night. As we contemplated the baggage stopped, I grabbed my stuff and realized that the airline had lost Sarah’s baggage somewhere along the line. Typical. Not really unexpected; certainly not appreciated. But what can you do?
We figured (well… she figured) out that her bags were going to be in the next day; so all that we had left was getting to the motel. Sarah had made friends with a local woman on the plane; whom offered us a ride. Serendipity; ah yeah! The next part is just logistics of gathering and going– so let’s fast forward to the good stuff. The gorge.
I had never been to New River Gorge but after the first day of wandering around with Sarah, I think I found where I want to spend the next few seasons of climbing. Bullet Sandstone offers a massive amount of both sport and trad ( a little bouldering) but the ropes are where it is at! Sarah and I first decided to visit the Cirque Wall. I fell in love immediately. A huge cliff full of technical, crimpy, jumpy, and wondrous climbs were at our finger tips. The Craggin’ Classic had brought me there and I was psyched!
After climbing for a few days; we met up with Glen and Jesse we set up the CAMP booth and began to meet with the locals. I was amazed with the amount of people turned up for the festivities and adventure. We were all entertained by clinics given by professional guides and pro-climbers. CAMP set up an obstacle course for volunteers to run through for prizes. We braved a torrential down pour and enjoyed a massive pig-roast, followed by hilarious slide shows. It was an incredible experience and if you ever get a chance to participate in an American Alpine Club’s Craggin’ Classic make it happen… it is a great adventure!
Get out there and have fun!