Nearly 50 climbers from 23 countries took part in the American Alpine Club’s first international climbing meet in Indian Creek, Utah, from October 3-10.
The AAC had invited each country to send two young climbers, one man and one woman able to lead a UIAA VII-, and was impressed with the response. “Europe was well represented but it was gratifying to see climbers from Russia, China, Japan, Turkey, South Africa, Brazil and Australia there as well,” says AAC President, Jim Donini. The international guests were joined by 30 US host climbers from a dozen different states.
Donini says he was inspired to initiate the event after hearing about the annual International Climbers’ Meets that the British Mountaineering Council organises. “A perfect thing, I thought, for the AAC to do, especially with America’s frayed reputation around the globe,” he explains.
The participants got the chance to spend a week challenged by difficult climbing in a desert environment. The area has sandstone cliffs with hundreds of vertical, hold-less splitter cracks. Donini says that the location was an obvious choice. “I like to say that the climbing in Indian Creek is world class and the camping is even better,” he says.
One important focus of the meet was the protection of the local environment. The area has fragile desert ecology and many native American archeological finds. The regard for the environment influenced the choice of campsites and was a topic for talks given by the local Bureau of Land Management. The AAC has co-operated with the office to address waste problems in Indian Creek.
The participants also got the chance to enjoy evening campfires and traditional cuisine with bear sausage served for breakfast. Perhaps more importantly, they found new climbing mates from other cultures and countries.
“My most lasting impression is that climbers, no matter where they are from, are all members of one tribe. The camaraderie between climbers from vastly different cultural backgrounds was astonishing,” says Donini.