"Not all those who wander are lost"

International Climbers’ Festival

Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.

-Andre Gide


While in Boulder I heard about the International Climber Festival in Lander so, after my visit in Cheyenne, I headed to Lander to check out the festival.  I missed the first couple days but showed up in time for the trade show on Friday.

I wandered around, collected schwag, and ran into a few people I knew.  First I ran into David, who I briefly met in the Red a few weeks earlier, and his friend Chase.  Excited to know people I could climb with, we made plans to climb the following day.  Later, watching the dyno competition I bumped into Sam Cody, who I had met on the road last year, then saw again in Tonsai.

I climbed with David and Chase at Sinks Saturday.  It was a fairly mellow day of climbing, just getting in some really fun 11’s and one attempt on Purple Galaxy, a great route following up a purple streak in the rock. We were incredibly fortunate to not be broiled by the sun thanks to clouds that hung around most of the day.

The evening festival event was a set of presentations by Kate Rutherford, Kevin Jorgesen, and Royal Robbins.  The presentations were a phantasmagoria, depicting their climbing in Patagonia, Yosemite, Bishop, Wyoming, and much more.  It was a great experience to see climbing legends, find out what they are psyched on, and see a bit of their side of the experiences.

Sunday I went climbing with Sam, another Sam that I met through Sam Cody while making dinner sitting on the sidewalk.  Our plan was just to go crag at Wild Iris, but when we got there we were told the wall we had our eyes on would be packed with people from the festival clinics.  As we headed out to find an area that wouldn’t be crowded, Jonathan Siegrist asked if we wanted to join his clinic since most people hadn’t shown up.  Of course couldn’t say no so we headed off with Jstar in the lead.

Since there only turned out to be six of us, including Jonathan, it turned into an informal day of cragging with a bone crusher.  We chatted, asked advice, and generally ogled over him walking up our projects.  When we had finished climbing, Jonathan headed around the corner and we got to watch him on Genetic Drifter.  It was the first time I had ever watched anyone even try a 5.14 and it was something else: casually cranking long moves off mediocre foot holds, cutting feet with only three fingers on, and some plain old awesome climbing.  I took some pictures too, my favorite of them (below) he put up on his blog.

What I had planned on being only a couple days of Lander quickly turned into nearly two weeks thanks to meeting more people and plentiful climbing partners.  We soon had one campsite with three vans, two cars, and five tents.  I ended up climbing and hanging out with Sam, Sam, Fritz, Matt, Ben, and Jen the rest of my time in Lander.

Stopping long enough to climb the same route more than one day allowed me to finally get stronger and begin having more success for the first time on my trip.  I sent a few good routes, but most notable was Ruby Shooter, my first 12b in the US.  I began working on it the first day at Wild Iris with Jonathan, but it wasn’t until I found my own sequence that I managed to send.  Lesson learned: I can’t use the same beta as 5.14 climbers, probably should have known that already.

At Erratic one afternoon I was taking pictures of Matt on his project, When I Was a Young Girl, I Had Me a Cowboy, and got a couple cool ones of BJ Tilden working on his long term project.  Turns out, he sent that rig this fall and now Moonshine is the hardest route in Wyoming.  Pretty cool to see something like that in progress.

I did several other stunning routes at the Iris, but my favorites were Court n’ Spark, Choke Cherry Eyes, Zorro, and Gaucho.  Court n’ Spark was especially fun because it required a couple really big moves off two finger pockets and rocking up onto a foot above your waist.  Though I had heard mixed reviews of Wild Iris, including that you need to climb hard to go there, I found that I loved the climbing.

(Matt on Young Girl)

(BJ Tilden on one of the big bouldery throws on Moonshine)


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