Climbers attack Rock at Glory event

39 competitors finish

“Twenty-four hours of climbing—that sounds crazy.”
Those words were said by Governor Bill Ritter this past Friday in downtown Gunnison at a kick-off for our event, 24 Hours of Gunnison Glory, held in conjunction with the Gunnison River Festival. Similar thoughts had been going through my own mind for the last six months since Alec Solimeo, coach of the local youth climbing team, the Peaceful Warriors, convinced me to team up on organizing the event.
My worries and stress over the event were real: we were organizing climbers together to rack up as many climbs as they could at the notoriously brutal granite boulders and crags at our local Hartman Rocks; all while depriving themselves of sleep, which upped the risk factor considerably. Thoughts of injuries and other possibilities even worse ran through my head often while planning out the logistics of the event. You can bet that the Western State College Mountain Rescue Team was one of the first organizations we called up to help assist us. (They came through brilliantly by the way.) Sally Thode and Arden Anderson from the Bureau of Land Management were also extremely helpful with risk management.
But in the end 39 competitors finished the event, almost without a scratch. Here’s some highlights. Chad Jukes, of Salt Lake City, an Afghanistan and Iraq war veteran, and below the knee amputee came out and met up with some locals to make a squad of four that called themselves Team Impromptu. Matt Samet, the editor of Climbing Magazine out of Boulder, showed up to sample for the first time of our Gunnison rock and was thoroughly impressed.
The Peaceful Warriors were perhaps the most impressive of all competitors. Only allowed to compete for 12 hours, the youth competitors climbed their hearts out, and made up a good percentage of all climbers at the event.
Their 12 hours were cut a little short by one of the most fantastic summer storms I’ve witnessed, when a dramatic orange sky filled with thunder, lightning and even a rainbow, finally let loose with rain just as the sun was setting.
Night climbing was interesting to say the least. Phillip Street, a competitor in the Gunnison Loco Motive, multi-sport race, also held this weekend, showed up at midnight ready with a headlamp to take part in Gunnison Glory. Pretty impressive considering he had been up since six in the morning and had done a four-mile float down the river, biked 26 miles at Hartmans and finished up with a challenging six-mile run.
Most climbers didn’t make it through the night without sleeping though Solimeo and Dakota Becker, a Western State College student and volunteer managed to climb their way up until sunrise. Solimeo, a tireless worker and a recent father, was a true hero for this event.
Now as the event fades into my memory banks I’m fairly confident that we were not crazy. 24 Hours of Gunnison Glory is now another excellent event that we can add to the prolific list of summer festivals. Now… it’s time to catch up on some sleep.

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