Rifle Climber’s Festival Recap – Moustache or Unibrow?

When you’re out enjoying a day of sport climbing and a gaggle of climbers walk up to the cliff with stick-on mustaches affixed to their upper lip, cheek and forehead, you might be a little concerned. You may even decide to leave the cliff and remove yourself from this clearly annoying situation with obviously deficient individuals pretending to be climbers.

Unless, of course, you’re at the annual Rifle Climber’s Festival, in which case you embrace them like long lost brothers and sisters, because the Sanuk-supplied mustaches are all part of the fun and games for the weekend.

This year the annual event saw a recharge and upgrade as Jeremy Hensel invested countless hours, with generous support of title sponsor Prana, to bring this gathering to the next level.

Saturday morning saw a steady stream of climbers getting ferried up and down canyon through a van shuttle system. By 9 A.M., lines were forming to get signed up to demo some shoes from the many vendors, and of course to grab a mustache as well. Many were also eager to get their hands on the new Rifle guidebook from Wolverine Publishing.

The Sno Cone wall is an area in the canyon that has had a bunch of new routes added recently, and on Saturday it was packed, with ropes hanging on every climb and other rope bags waiting in line. A new open project (later sent at 12c) extension to the roof crack of Lever Action spit off many suitors, and for a wall that has historically been a quiet getaway, it was fun to see people digging into the new route. Elsewhere in the canyon, the walls were busy, including a new wall of moderates that was established at the request of the City of Rifle.

That evening, a long line formed for the hot burgers and dogs being served up by volunteers, and ample beer donated by Avery Brewing passed hands. This part of the festival has always been my favorite, a chance to share stories and embellish the details of a recent send with old friends and a chance to make new ones.

The evening was capped by what has been described as “the longest-raffle ever,” which is a good problem to have because there was so much stuff donated by the sponsors, followed by a presentation by special guest Chris Sharma. Word also trickled out, as evidenced by the pictures on Facebook, of a dance party at the community house to polish off the evening.

Sunday was filled with a wide variety of activities other than the standard bolt clipping you would expect in Rifle. Olivia Hsu offered a yoga session followed by free climbing clinics led by Andrew Bisharat and Jen Vennon. Many also tried their hand at running a cordless drill and learning the ins-and-outs of bolting at a clinic sponsored by Glenwood Climbing Guides and ClimbTech.

Crag work was also the order of the day. A crew of hardy folks built some impressive, durable steps to the Meat Wall and Rapbolting.com donated 200 steel carabiners to aid in replacement of old hardware. Earlier in the week, local high school students and residents at Jaywalker Lodge constructed two new bridges at the Feline and Sno Cone areas to replace the sorrily dilapidated and frequently washed out old bridges. They also carried a few ton of stone to construct steps leading to the Sno Cone area to help prevent erosion of that steep and slippery approach.

Excitement was aplenty as another chapter ended for the Rifle Climbers Festival. All told, sales of festival tickets generated $3,000 for the Access Fund, with a similar amount going to the Rifle Climbers Coalition to fund work in the canyon. I look forward to the festival every year and in my experience, this was the best ever and I can’t wait for next year. Props to Jeremy and all of the other volunteers, organizers and companies that helped make it happen. My question is, what’s it going to be next year, clown wigs? Stick-on zits? Pirate eye patches?

Happy climbing.

Mike Schneiter is the owner of Glenwood Climbing Guides.

2 Responses to Rifle Climber’s Festival Recap – Moustache or Unibrow?

  1. Let’s do it again next year!

    Bill Gibson August 7, 2013 at 11:46 am
    • An awesome event. My kids were super-stoked to meet Sharma and soak up the schwag. Hopefully I can manage to make the party next year. Thanks to all who made this happen!!

      davedad August 29, 2013 at 8:15 pm
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