Our return to the South East continues to impress. Coming from Colorado, this month has reminded us of all the things we missed when we left in May. It was our first Gauley Fest, our first time rafting the Gauley, and the ‘firsts’ keep on coming. The past seven days have been filled with our first (and second and third) time climbing in the New River Gorge, our very first Craggin’ Classic and our first time to beautiful Fayetteville, West Virgina. What a week it was!
We rolled in last Wednesday ready to dust off the cobwebs that had unfortunately accumulated on our climbing gear over the past couple of weeks. You can’t come to The New and NOT take advantage of some of the best rock climbing in the country. The sheer amount of climbing that’s available is enough to make even the most well-traveled climber drool. There are literally thousands of routes for all skill levels and climbing styles. If you have never been to the area, don’t expect to roll in and immediately hop on the crag. The approach trails here can be rugged, hard to find, and many skirt private property. We highly recommend stopping into Waterstone Outdoors in Fayetteville to purchase a guidebook. You’ll thank yourself and you’ll be able to maximise your time climbing. On top of being a stellar gear shop, Waterstone is also heavily involved with the stewardship of the area can be a fountain of information for those who want a nudge in the right direction.
On Friday, following a solid day of climbing and feeling a bit off of our game, we had our first meetup since we got sick. We joined forces with The New River Alliance of Climbers (NRAC) to help build a new access trail to Fern Buttress, as well as help with a little housekeeping in the area. Each year before the Craggin’ Classic, NRAC hosts a day of stewardship and conservation. The day allows climbers from near and far to help give back to the land that they love and use. The turnout was excellent and really speaks to the local climbing community, and the climbing community as a whole. It would be easy to take the day before The Classic and climb your heart out. However, 25+ people (some local and some not) showed up at 9:00 AM for a full day of moving rocks, building fences, cleaning up broken glass, and ultimately building a new trial. It was a long, hot, and humid day but we love giving back whenever possible. NRAC is doing amazing things in the community. If you climb in The New, we highly encourage spending a day with them or making a donation to help with gear replacement. They’re out there keeping us all safe.
Following the work day, we would have loved to relax but it was day 1 of the American Alpine Club’s Craggin’ Classic! The Craggin’ Classic is “country’s only nationally-touring, grassroots climbing festival.” The festival drew climbers from all over the country for clinics, films, competitions, local food & beer, and a wild late-night dance party in the woods. The Classic is a gathering of the tribe so to speak. It draws the core climbing community to world-class climbing destinations across the country. To be honest, this was one of our favorite festivals to date. The stoke was through the roof and everybody came to climb hard.
Saturday and Sunday climbers were treated to breakfast courtesy of the AAC, and delicious coffee from Stone Tower Joe. These guys were awake far before everybody else to make sure we were fed, caffeinated, and ready to send some New River sandstone.Saturday night is the big party at the Craggin Classic’. Once again, it was a priority that everybody was fed. The AAC put on a massive pig roast and it was magical. Following dinner, the crowd turned to the beer booth and got ready for the evening’s raffles, giveaways, and the dyno competition. Men and women who are much stronger climbers than us, took to the stage to show off their strong dyno skills. Contestants had 10 minutes to stick a dyno move on increasingly difficult routes. A “dyno” is when a climber uses dynamic movement and momentum to get to the next hold. In other words, the climbers were launching themselves into the air and trying their best to cling on to the next hold.
As the night progressed, it was time for everyone to blow off some steam after a couple hard days of climbing. Just over the hill in the AAC campground, the late night dance party was kicking off. We thought by now everyone would be worn out enough and just want to party. Nope… Climbers gonna climb. By the time we got there people hopped on the wall behind the dance party and started bouldering.
Our favorite part of our time here has been getting acquainted with the local climbing community. Everyone at the festival and at the crag has been friendly, caring and overall pleasant to spend time with. So if you are reading this, thank you, and we’ll see you next year!
As with every event we attend, we will be repping our sponsors and their awesome gear! You can check out first hand what we use on the road to live outside and play, including gear from La Sportiva, Crazy Creek, National Geographic, RovR Products, Sea to Summit, Mountain House, LifeStraw, and Lowe Alpine.