The International Climbers’ Festival, held from 12-16 July in Lander, Wyoming (USA), has been confirmed as the winner of the 2017 UIAA Rock Climbing Festival Award. The popular five-day event welcomed over 1,000 participants including a number of recognised international climbers representing some 37 US states and 16 overseas countries from Asia, Australasia, Europe, North and South America.
The UIAA Rock Climbing Festival Award was launched in 2015 and is open to climbing festival organisers who meet the specific assessment criteria of the UIAA Rock Climbing Working Group. This includes creating a rock climbing event for all types of climbers (from experienced to youth to para), a commitment to the preservation of the environment, and a contribution to local economic development. The International Climbers’ Festival (ICF) met this brief with flying colours.
In turn, the Award is an opportunity for the UIAA to offer support and offer advice to organisers in terms of expertise across its three core pillars of safety, sustainability and sport.
“This location was selected because of the historical significance as well as the influx of climbers from national and international representation,” explains Marc Beverly, UIAA Executive Board member and part of the UIAA Rock Climbing Award Assessment Team. “As a climbing area becomes more popular, it is important for the organizers to address the sustainability of increased use. Going forward, continued relationships with the UIAA is also important, and creating awareness of the goals of the UIAA is of paramount importance.”
“The Climbers Festival started in 1993 with the ethos of celebration and community building,” explains Festival Director Elyse Guarino. “We maintain that to this day and it drives our decision making. Four years ago, The Central Wyoming Climbers Alliance and the Bolt Anchor Replacement Fund, got together with the Board of the International Climbers Festival and decided we could be a more effective organization if we formed a community umbrella that could incorporate each organization’s mission. We became the Central Wyoming Climbers Alliance (wyoclimbers) and promote and foster the celebration of climbing, create and support climbing education opportunities and engage the community in access and advocacy work. Our access work involves bringing public comment to local land managers, working with land managers and other user groups to plan, trail work, promoting climbing ethics, and building a sense of stewardship and ownership in our event participants.”
The Festival organised a number of clinics and workshops designed for all types of climber, beginner to experienced, focusing on different objectives such as confidence building, mental training and an introduction to traditional climbing approaches. One of the future goals of the International Climbers’ Festival is to further educate its expanding community by adding specific knowledge to its clinics through the incorporation of UIAA expertise particularly in the field of mountain safety. This will focus on education around the importance of using trusted climbing equipment, specifically that which meets the UIAA’s renowned international safety standards.
The Festival, supported by the American Alpine Club (AAC) and Access Fund, serves as the primary annual revenue stream for the organization’s yearly programming and community events. Guarino continues: “We work with community businesses and third party providers to create climbing opportunities for underserved youth and rural youth. We expanded to adults in 2017.”
In reference to receiving recognition from the UIAA, Guarino added: “For 24 years the ICF has experimented with new events and formats, sought feedback from sponsors and participants, and looked to increase educational opportunities and a sense of ownership regarding sustainable climbing practices. Recognition by the UIAA affirms for us that we are achieving our goals. We will continue to review our practices and work to keep the ICF inclusive, fun, and focused on educating attendees.”
In addition to granting the UIAA Rock Climbing Festival Award, the UIAA supported a number of cash prizes for individuals who performed outstanding climbs throughout the event.
Winners of the UIAA Rock Climbing Festival Award:
13-14 June Original Climbing Festival, South Africa
14-16 August Aggtelek Climbing Festival, Hungary
7-9 October Kalymnos Climbing Festival, Greece
12-16 July International Climbers’ Festival, USA
Main Image: Nick Knocke/International Climbers’ Festival