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Climbing festival this weekend

Pull down, clean up and send it

by Stan Cola

With temps dropping in the valley, the climbing season, at least locally, is starting to wind down. But after a season’s worth of pulling down, the time is right to test your strength and skill against your climbing peers—as well as help with a little clean-up—at the Gunnison Valley Climbers Festival Thursday through Saturday, November 9-11.

What started as a bouldering comp one evening several years ago has now blossomed into a three-day event complete with a bouldering competition on Thursday evening, a movie night Friday and a climbers’ clean-up day at the first buttress climbing area in Taylor Canyon on Saturday morning with one last competition timing climbers’ ascent of Whiskey Crack.

The Bouldering competition on Thursday, November 9 will be held in the WSCU climbing gym. Registration is from 5 to 5:50 p.m. with the competition starting at 6 p.m. The competition is open to all levels, with beginner, intermediate and advanced categories. The cost is $15 to enter and there will be tons of great prizes. No sandbagging.

The movies Saturday night start at 7 p.m. Ten dollars gets you in the door for the latest release from the Reel Rock Film Tour, Reel Rock 12. Reek Rock 12 premieres five new short films that will deliver heart-thumping action, big laughs, and pure inspiration.

One film features Margo Hayes, the first woman to climb 5.15. In high-end modern rock climbing, 5.15 is the top of the difficulty scale, a grade achieved by only a few men and never by a woman. Margo Hayes, a little known 19-year-old from Boulder, Colo., is determined to change that. To be closer to the world’s hardest routes, she has moved to Europe, where she trains and climbs with the goal of succeeding on two of the most iconic 5.15s in France and Spain. But pushing her body and mind to the absolute limit, she risks injury and failure in her quest to be the first.

The intensity ramps up with a film about Brad Gobright, an up-and-coming free soloist with a donut addiction. For most climbers, it’s safety first. But Brad Gobright is definitely not most climbers. Fueled by day-old donuts and unhindered by a fear of falling, this young talent is pushing the limits of scary trad and free solo ropeless climbing. Having survived a few big scares, Brad is determined to make his boldest ascent yet—a first-ever free solo of a heart-stopping exposed and difficult route.

Another film catches up with Chris Sharma the world’s greatest practitioner of deep water soloing—climbing ropeless above the sea. Ten years after his generation-defining ascent of a majestic arch, Chris returns to the Mediterranean island of Mallorca, where he discovers a beautiful, sweeping wall with small holds running up its face. If he can link the moves, and endure the numerous heart-stopping plunges into the sea, he will establish what may be the world’s hardest deep-water solo climb.

The film Stumped covers the ascent of Maureen Beck. Beck may have been born missing her lower left arm, but that hasn’t stopped her from going hard. She takes whippers on 5.12 and crushes overhanging boulders, while shot-gunning beers. But she is not here to be your inspiration.

“I don’t want to be known as just a one-armed climber,” says Beck. “I just want to be a good climber. People say, ‘Look, a one-armed climber, now I have no excuses.’ I’m like, dude, you never had any excuses in the first place.” Maureen is here to crush the gnar—with one bloody stump helping her get to the top.

The festival wraps up Saturday with a clean-up effort of the First Buttress area starting at 10 a.m. Once the work is done, climbers can queue up for the final challenge of the weekend, the Whiskey Crack (rated 5.10c) speed climb comp.

For more information, check out the Gunnison Valley Climbers Facebook page.

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