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Race Ahead: Climbing

Rock Climbing


Horse Pens Rocks Climbing Festival
Chandler Mountain, Alabama
March, 2013

The Horse Pens-40 nature park in north Alabama holds some of the oldest naturally exposed rock in the world. In the 1960s Horse Pens was used as a natural amphitheater for the nation’s best bluegrass and country artists. HP Rocks combines the music heritage and climbing pedigree of Horse Pens with a shared bouldering competition and music festival. DJs spin tunes late into the night, pros show up to teach clinics and with camping on-site, the party rocks until the wee hours. The $8,000 in cash and prizes brings out the best climbers, and its close proximity to Birmingham brings the best food and craft beer in the state.

New River Rendezvous
New River Gorge, West Virginia
May, 2013

West Virginia’s New River Gorge has drawn climbing’s elite to its sandstone faces for decades. The New River Alliance of Climbers (NRAC) in 2002 founded a weekend-long festival of climbing that now draws 1,000 climbers to the area every spring to celebrate the gorge and its climbing history, including the sport’s big names like Sasha DiGiulian and Paul Robinson. Clinics, demos, and comps – including the nation’s only trad comp – highlight the weekend-long event. Though the NRAC had to skip 2012 for a bevy of reasons, they vow to be back in 2013 with an even bigger and better New River Rendezvous.

Red River Gorge, Kentucky
October, 2013

In 2004 the Red River Gorge Climbers’ Coalition (RRGCC) purchased a 750-acre parcel of land in the gorge containing over 400 existing routes, and some of the hardest in the Red. They have been paying off the mortgage ever since, and Rocktoberfest is the main avenue for raising funds. It worked: the 2012 event marked the final payment on the tract of land, and was one of the rowdiest ever with a decidedly Kentucky feel. Along with traditional fare like clinics from pros, demos and comps, Rocktoberfest featured arm wrestling, bluegrass mosh pitting, and crate stacking.

Triple Crown Bouldering Series
North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama
October-December, 2013

The Triple Crown is the standout bouldering series in the Southeast, drawing the top climbers from around the region and the U.S. As the name suggests, the Triple Crown is a string of three competitions at three of the best bouldering sites in the Southeast: Hounds Ear in Boone, N.C., Stone Fort in Chattanooga, Tenn., and Horse Pens 40 in Steele, Ala. Three states, three boulderfields, one overall winner. Even though this is a series, each individual competition stands alone as an event. Some of the boulderfields are on private land and closed the rest of the year, which only adds to the buzz of the series. “Since we’ve started the series, we’ve helped purchase several climbing areas and expand public lands,” says series founder Jim Horton. Live music, free beer, vendors offering free demos and raffles, and pre-comp raves are all on the table for each.

Best of the Rest

Float the Boat
Atlanta, Georgia
January 19,

Rock and Rave
Atlanta, Georgia
February 23,

Beg, Borrow, and Steel
Locust Fork, Alabama

Fall Flash Fest
Asheville, North Carolina

Steele, Alabama
Halloween Weekend,

For more great Race Ahead information check out these sections:


Trail Running

Road Running

Mountain Biking

Road Cycling






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