New River Rendezvous Write Up
Last weekend marked the 10th annual New River Rendezvous. It also marked the official Grand Opening of the American Alpine Club’s Campground in the New River Gorge, which was offered to participants of the Rendezvous for the weekend for free. The American Alpine Club is proud to own and offer a climber friendly campground in the heart of the New River Gorge, walking distance to world-class climbing. This 40-acre campground is a collaborative effort of several organizations and individuals, who realized there was a necessity for climbers to have their own zone. The Access Fund (AF), New River Alliance of Climbers (NRAC), the National Park Service (NPS), and the American Alpine Club (AAC) are all part and parcel of this campground coming into fruition. This amazing project has facilitated a climber strong-hold in the New River Gorge and will forever be a resource for both the community, and all who are passing through to climb at the New River Gorge.
Folks started filing in on Thursday for the Rendezvous to grab their spots and tent platforms throughout the AAC campground; volunteers manned a registration booth and helped orient campers around the campground. Literally over night, the campground went from being a construction site to a functioning campground–generators, saws, drills, hammers, and gravel trucks could be heard putting the finishing touches on 74 tent platforms, 40 picnic tables, and a gravel loop road. As the gravel trucks were leaving, campers descended upon the campground and breathed life into this special place with their clinking trad racks, colorful tents, and party shoes on.
The festivities of the Rendezvous kicked off Thursday evening with Karaoke, which I hear the locals crushed. The weekend weather looked ominous, but actually panned out and everyone got to climb. Friday night began with the sponsor dinner; the organizers of this event really went the extra mile to take care of the sponsors–THANK YOU! Desertapalooza followed dinner, and after everyone was coming down from their sugar high, we settled in and watched slide shows from Brittany Griffith, Nic Sruill, and Sam Elias. Saturday, everyone scattered for the different comps, clinics, and climbing in general. We all reconvened for dinner, and then shuffled around the venue for the different games and mini-comps going on; there was arm wrestling, a dyno comp, shake-weight challenge, table mantling, and a slew I am sure I missed out on. Tim Keenan spun music from 10pm-1am, and the AAC represented on the d-floor.
The highlight of the Saturday night festivities had to be the after-party at the AAC Campground from 1-4am. Gene Kistler and Co. have been hard at work building a trail to connect the AAC campground to the Rendezvous, so people could walk to and fro the campground to the weekend festivities. The trail was sufficiently marked with glow sticks, and a mile-long train of people hiked in the dark Saturday night to the after-party, without headlamps for affect. The woods suddenly opened up to a clearing with boulders, christmas tree lights, and more live music–all on AAC property. We all danced and climbed and I am sure some saw the sun rise.
This event was a huge success and a big thanks goes out to Maura and Gene Kistler and to all the Rendezvous Volunteers and campground workers. This was an event for the history books.
It’s very exciting to have the grand opening of the AAC Campground. There are so many climbing destinations around the country that lack climber campgrounds; there are even more that lack the criteria to justify starting one. To the AAC, no other climbing destination needed a place for climbers to congregate, drink beers around a fire, find a partner, and lay their heads at the end of a crushing day more than the New River Gorge. We all understand how important climbing is to us, and to have our own piece of land carved out to support us in our climbing endeavors is a special thing, invaluable. I look forward to many beers around fires, war-stories from the crag, and weekend long climbing festivals; this campground gives us a means to do so.
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