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AAC International Climbers’ Meet: Report #1

Posted on: October 9th, 2012 by The AAC

Report from the AAC International Climber’s Meet

By Carol Kotchek, AAC Accountant and ICM Coordinator

For the last seven months I have been organizing the AAC International Climber’s Meet being held in Yosemite Valley from Oct 8 to Oct 13. The purpose of this event is to form connections with AAC members and climbers from all over the world, foster relations with Yosemite Park management, climb in iconic Yosemite Valley, and just have fun!

Andrey poses with his new gear in the Valley.

Two weeks before the event I took a ground fall at the New River Gorge while attending the opening of the new AAC campground there. I was lucky to not be seriously injured but I realized my climbing plans for the week in Yosemite would not come to fruition. Upon contemplating this dilemma I came to the realization that I could rock climb in Yosemite any time, but the opportunity to interact with climbers from all over the world was rare. Below are some quick notes from prior the meet.

Host climber Cory Fleagle and I arrived Wed night Oct 3, four days early for the meet. We headed straight to the Upper Pines campground where we met our first participant Andrey Romaniuk, from Brazil. Andrey’s English is excellent and self-taught. He said that he practiced the language by performing Kiss songs in a heavy metal band.

He informed us that a #2 Camalot cost $175 in Brazil. So before he left home he sold all of his gear on the Brazilian market and upon arrival in the USA he bought all new gear at REI.

We also learned that climbing in Brazil can entail vertical jungle terrain. Brazilian climbers often cling to vegetation that sometimes breaks off. But really, he said, the climbing there is mostly solid slab and they are just starting to develop some crack climbing areas.

One of the ICM’s host climber’s, The Blueberry Ninja, a.k.a. Cory Fleagle, onsight soloed Snake Dike on Half Dome Oct 4. That was his goal for the week. Now he can just have fun!

On Oct 5, three of our California host climbers, Jeff Lodas, Greg Loniewski and Bronson Hovnanian, stopped by to check in. The quality of our hosts this year seems too good to be true.

Bronson Hovnanian just got back from the Yukon, where their team put up a new route on Mount Proboscis, he is also one of the volunteers for the Yosemite ranger program. Jeff Lodas also leads 5.11 trad and did much of the filming for the Sender Films’ look at Alex Honnold soloing half dome. Rounding off the trio, Greg Loniewski has eight years of experience on Yosar, has climbed El Cap 18 times, most of them in a day, climbed the Nose and Half Dome in a combined 14hrs, has been up the Rostrum 45 time, and 12 times up Astroman.

These guys are going to be our point men for information on climbing in the Valley during the climber’s meet, which starts this week.

You can follow what’s going on by checking out the ICM Facebook page.

About the ICM: The International Climbers’ Meet (ICM) is an annual event—taking place this year during the week of Oct 8 – October 13, 2012 in Yosemite Valley. Participants must have some climbing experience but all abilities are welcome to apply. The goal of the program is to host a diverse group of climbing abilities from a multitude of countries.

About the Author: Before working for the AAC full time, Carol Kotchek spent 8 years on YOSAR as an EMT, with 100′s of Yosemite rescues, climbed Half Dome 16 times, going 4hrs up NW face, has climbed 5.12+ cracks, and has enjoyed nearly every classic in the valley up to 5.11, she’s also been an AAC member since late 90′s.

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