9/14-9/16 NRG Craggin Classic Wrap-up
Last weekend marked the first inaugural Craggin’ Classic in the New River Gorge, and everything went without a hitch!
The weekend-long celebration was two-fold; an opportunity to bring people together from several regions to climb and convene in the epic and iconic New River Gorge, as well as to celebrate the American Alpine Club’s soft opening of the 40-acre Climber Campground, which they purchased earlier in 2012. The weekend featured good food, epic climbing clinics, a slide show by Pat Goodman, and a live auction to benefit the AAC NRG Campground.
The AAC campground property is stunning, and created such a beautiful and relaxing atmosphere. The campground is within walking distance to Junkyard and Bridge, not to mention there is bouldering on the property! Gene Kistler has done a phenomenal job imagining, laying out plans, and executing progress for the campground. And not a moment too soon; gravel trucks and track-hoes were rolling in Friday to lay down the final touches for the road and parking for the weekend festivities. The campground is still very primitive, and there are no designated sites. But climbers had no trouble finding a flat space to set up camp, and there are porto-johns and a potable water tank. Micah Klinger and Zak Roper have put their blood, sweat, and tears into the ground work at the campground. Everything fell into place. The road was paved, so to speak, for climbers to come in, throw down, and preview the campground on the ground level.
Friday’s pre-festivities began around 4:30 a.m. when Dan Caldwell, an old-school thorny goat, stoked the flames and shoveled the first coals under the NC harvested pig, to be later devoured Friday evening. The staple Boone Crew took turns manning the painstakingly slow roasted pig, so that everyone had a chance to walk to Junkyard and the Campground Boulders to climb. Early Friday, it took no time for the Boone Crew to discover an epic 35-foot off-width crack boulder problem, which became the weekend project, to be sent by Pat Goodman..but that is for later. Danny McCraken, of the Appalachian Mountain Institute, lead a free clinic on “Pro-Rappel Techniques” Friday afternoon.
We had a great turnout Friday evening, with about 120 people. Dinner was finger-liking good, and the pig was cooked to perfection. Joy Marr of “Gourmet on the Gorge” catered sides for the pig roast, as well as desert. Without electricity (yet) at at the campground, we all mingled by tiki-torch light. We quickly floated the keg, provided by Brevard Brewing Company in Asheville, NC., which was probably for the better. Big thanks to the locals and NRAC for sponsoring the pig, and coming out to support!
Saturday morning, FiveTen provided coffee and breakfast, and folks prepared their climbing plans for the day. Five Ten and Tenaya had shoes to demo, and gear to check out. Several clinics were offered as well, which were all maxed out. Pat Goodman, Mountain Hardware Athlete, took people out to Fern Buttress for a “Racking and Trad Tricks Clinic,” joined by AMGA guide Steve. Jessa Goebel, Five Ten Athlete, took some ladies out for a “Trad Climbing for Women Clinic.” Danny McCraken walked his group to Junkyard for a “Setting up Single Pitch Climbs Clinic.” And Tim Rose, Five Ten Athlete, took out a “Bouldering Clinic.” No-one died, and everyone had a great time!
Saturday evening festivities were at Cantrell’s. It was a little chilly, but “Gourmet on the Gorge’s” African Stew helped warm us up. Carol Kotchek of the AAC Home Office, talked about what the AAC is up to these days, and Gene Kistler gave us the run down of the campground and how it came to fruition. Great things are to come for the campground, as seen by the AAC Phase 1 map below. After dinner, Pat Goodman gave a slide show of his most recent trip. Pat had literally just unloaded his van from an epic trip to the Northwest Territories with Jeff Achey, Jeremy Collins, and James Martin. Putting up an FA in the Vampire Spires, rafting Class IV rapids to get to the “Phoenix,” helicopter rides, hauling six weeks of food plus gear, and driving “June Bug” (Toyota Van) all the way there and back, Pat divulged he spent more time putting this slide show together than he did climbing on the trip–dedicated to the cause! This fresh-tracks slide show was out-of-control with adventure, spirit, and heart. I was very moved by the part where Jeff Achey, Jeremy Collins, James Martin, and Pat Goodman spread Johny Copp’s ashes at the top of the mountain. This was an amazing and inspiring journey, and it was an honor to have Pat Goodman give us his stream-of-consciousness uncut trip report.
After the slideshow, folks crowded around the auction table to check out all the gear donated to suss out what they wanted to bid on. Big Ups to Mountain Smith, Black Diamond, Trango, FiveTen, Mountain Hardware, Tenaya, Stonewear, Misty Mountain, Petzl, ClimbTech, Sterling and Revo for donating swag, which helped raise $2,000 during the auction. Big ups to Karyn and Steve for being the auctioneers, and Jessa for getting the crowd to open their wallets! Folks donated to a great cause, and got killer gear out of it! Jason Babkirk brought it home spinning some house music.
Sunday morning, folks volunteered cleaning up the campground, before taking off for one last stellar climbing day in the gorge.
All in all, the seed was planted for the New River Gorge Craggin’ Classic, and the AAC is looking forward to many more! Thanks to all for coming and supporting the event! See you next year.
Climbers, go stay at the AAC NRG, and check out the progress through the future to come!
Here is the pinacle video from the weekend: Pat Goodman came out and established an old Kistler/Parker project “Souvenir:
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