New River Rendezvous Dispatch

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Karen and the LollipopsPhoto by Jeff Achey

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Monday, May 22 12:46PM

“This is the Woodstock of climbing festivals,” said Craig Luebben, offwidth master and slide show presenter, after a weekend of absolutely splitter weather, a million feet of climbing, and countless crazywildwierd events. An estimated 700+ climbers attended, and events went off pretty much without a hitch, with comp winners walking away with wads of cash and clinic attendees with precious gems of new knowledge. No one was seriously hurt during crash pad sumo wrestling, although small children were crushed in the Patagonia garment grab, with 3-year-olds biting their way out of the pileup and fleeing the scene with tears in their eyes. Saturday night music featured rapper Odub mating street beat with climbing lyrics (“… Katie Brown I’ve seen you around/I remember when you used to weigh about 82 pounds …”), followed up by the incomparable local band Sock Monkey, who worked a crowd half their age into a classic rock dancing frenzy, before suddenly falling asleep in their rocking chairs at around 1 a.m. An early end to the dancing hopefully led to consumation of some budding new romances under the West Virginia stars. As in years past, the event was free but drew massive donations from festivalgoers, and the collective effort raised nearly $10,000 for the New River Alliance of Climbers and the Access Fund, much of that money going to local climbing hardware and access. Next year, unfortunately, there will be a fee for the event – due to an enforcement of Park regulations, not an effort to make more money. Now finishing its 4th year, the Rendezvous has become an annual pilgrimage for hundreds of climbers from all over the Southeast and beyond, a spiritual waypoint for those who come to climb, cavort, and bond with likeminded rock-addled souls. “It’s ritualistic,” says Maura Kistler, event organizer and godmother of the local climbing community. “We think we’re so modern, but we’re so caveman.” Ooga-chaca.

DesertapaloozaPhoto by Jeff Achey

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Saturday, May 20 8:47AM

By Friday evening the Rendezvous zone way full of cars from points far and wide, and festivities had already heated up to a fever pitch, copiously fueled by a Dessertapalooza that would make Martha Stewart squirm with envy (and the free-flowing beer). Kenny Parker kicked off the formalities with another stirring speech, and shortly after the sun set over the green hills of the Mountaineer State, the inimitable Timmy Oneill took the stage for a classically tasteless show about … well, no one could really figure out what it was about, but I think he took the New’s Endless Wall as inspiration for the duration of his program. He claimed the stage for most of the night, leaving a few hours before dawn for John Varco and Craig Luebben’s superbly photographed and humbly presented shows. The weather has taken a turn for the sunnier, with Saturday developing into a prime climbing day, with dry crags, scattered clouds, and cool temps. I’m jonesing to get out of the Cathedral Café and out on the crags, so unless anyone out there needs to know anything more about what they’re missing out in Fayetteville, I AM OUT OF HERE.

Maura KistlerPhoto by Jeff Achey

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Fayetteville, WV, 18 May, 1:00PMThe Burnwood (not Burning Man, dude) tent city has sprung to life once again, on therim of the East's most dramatic river gorge, for the 4th annual New River Rendezvous. Weather is breezy and cool, with continuing chance of uncertainty forecast for festival weekend. People are hittingthe wind-dried crags today, the dyno comp wall has a fresh coat of gloss black paint, and Pies and Pints has made it clear that there will be no food fights tolerated this year, upon pain ofpublic spanking. Table moving, sound wiring, and food arrangements are safely proceeding with the cold precision of a Summersville Lake deep water solo.Asked about how theevent is shaping up, key organizer Kenny "burnwood" Parker responded, "Rendezvous? What Rendezvous?"From the general level of enthusiasm and number of campers already occupying groundzero, this could be a record turnout year.Festival highlights are to include the venerable climbing contest (bouldering, trad, and sport divisions -Porter Jarrard expected tosweep all three), crash pad sumo wrestling, desertapalooza, and evening entertainment c/o Timmy o'Neil, John Varco, and Odub the climbrapper (will he do his Lauren Lee number?).Stay tuned for event photos(no site visitors under 18 please)(just kidding)as the trouble unfolds.

New River Rendezvous Photos

Phillip Kistler - Circus boyPhoto by Jeff Achey

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