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Craggin' Classic 2009

Submitted by alpine1 on 2009-09-15 | Last Modified on 2009-12-23

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by Dana Richardson

This October the biggest climbing party Utah has ever seen is heading to Salt Lake City with one main goal: to form a community in three days. How does this happen? You take strangers from all over the world with a common interest in climbing, add live music, food, and drinks, and call it the Craggin’ Classic 2009.

Maria Wilcox, a teacher and last year participant states, “Last year's event was absolutely surreal. It is an extremely humbling experience to observe those around you realizing that Lynn Hill was hanging out right next to you. And that was only at night. During the day, the opportunity to climb with inspiring folks had me scraping my jaw off the ground multiple times. I found myself texting/calling anyone I could think of who might know/care that Brink(my husband) was being belayed by Katie Brown on Lynn Hill's rope.”

The Classic debuted last year in Golden, Colorado, with 350 people in attendance. Brittany Griffith, event coordinator says, “This year we're planning to have even more people because there are more local climbers in the area.” With more attendees come more events. This year the entire Spruce Campground in Big Cottonwood Canyon will be reserved for three days that will include slideshows, cookouts, kegs, wine tastings, yoga, live music and lots of climbing. Professional climbers like Lynn Hill, Steve House, Cedar Wright, Caroline George, Jasmin Caton, Kate Rutherford, Mikey Shaefer, Kitty Calhoun, Nancy Feagin and Jim Donini will host sessions including, what the events website refers to as, “Sport Climbing for Boulderers," "Trad Climbing for Sport Climbers," "Bouldering for Weaklings," "Ice Climbing for Climbers Who Are Not Old Or Out Of Shape" and Donini’s "Old Man’s Guide To Climbing 5.12.” New events for this year include a service project for trail building, which will be held at Fergison Cayon on October, 11.

In the week prior to the classic the International Climbers Meet (ICM) will take place in Indian Creek. Last year, climbers from 23 countries attended the five-day event in the Creek and then attended the Craggin’ Classic. This added diversity to the event and brought in more people. Wilcox commented on the connection between the two events stating, “The best part was how engaged and interacting with us, all of the guests were. From the European climbers hilarious interactions with everyone, to Jim Donini's personal invite to stay in Patagonia. We felt like we had walked into an invite only party and were the guests of honor.”

Jim Donini, president of the American Alpine Club (AAC) during the inaugural Classic, says that with two events he hopes for “as much linkage as possible. With the international climbers you bring in people from all over the world. With the Craggin’ Classic you bring in people from all over the country.”

The AAC provides support to foreign invitees at the ICM and Classic.

So where might the Craggin’ Classic take place next year? Donini did not say directly, but he favors Yosemite as a possibility.

"Yosemite and Indian Creek are two neat venues because they are very American, sandstone and granite. Different from climbing that you find in Europe or elsewhere.”

Donini says, “It is a community thing. If you look at the American Alpine club one thing we stand for is community. We have people from all different levels with all different abilities, people that could just climb 14ers to world class climbers."

Anyone can attend the event. The cost is $50 for AAC Members and $65 for non-AAC Members and includes camping, swag bag, meals, adult beverages, entertainment and all shows.

To register visit:


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If you register by October 2, the price is 40 bucks for members of the AAC, and only 55 if you're not. Whoo hoo!

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