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Lander is officially the hottest place on earth, because of the awesome climbing scene and the fact that it is about the same temperature as the surface of the sun. It’s odd because we are pretty far north in the scheme of things and at 6,000 feet. Who would of thought?
Once again we withstood the heat and had a blast. The Trade Fair took place all morning and most of the afternoon on Friday. There was such a great grassroots feeling to the whole day, it was just climbers having a good time. The events of the day, many of them just an excuse to look like a idiot and to watch other climbers looking like idiots, drew in many participants on their rest day. The Hera Climb for Life Dyno competition had quite a number of competitors who battled it out with laughter. In fact, I don’t think there was one serious competitive word spoken. Sean Patrick, the founder of Hera was on hand as well as Stephanie Forte (who later rocked it in the pull-up contest). The climbers were from all over the world and had many skills, not with a bo staff or nunchucks, but in pinochle, life guarding, and being unemployed climbing bums. Wyoming residents BJ Tilden and Bronwyn Tullis won the comp for the men’s’ and women’s’ divisions.
One of the most popular spectator events was the Climbing Magazine Plunger Toss. It was seriously a test; I mean have you ever tried to chuck a toilet plunger into a toilet bowl from a distance? It’s no easy feat, yet it is a skill that every climber should have for rest days. The Elemental Fitness Pull-up contest was a loud affair that involved a very enthusiastic lunchtime crowd munching down on pizza, burgers, sushi, and kebabs, that were made right on the scene.
By the time the Trade Fair ended our crew of climbers were pretty much frying in the heat. Our dehydrated brains looped in crazed circles over finding a pool or going to Sinks Canyon to climb. By some unseen force we made it to the crag, and by some miracle we made it up the hike. In the shade the rock was fine and this was evident by the mob of climbers at all the shaded walls. Even the sunny walls saw parties ascending. We decided it must be NOLS guides who had just spent the last few months guiding on frigid mountain peaks and were not going to let any heat escape them.
When the sun began to dip low and the air cooled, the Festivalgoers found themselves at Lynn Hill’s media presentation. Before the show, there was an giant raffle of ropes, harnesses, gear, clothes, really good stuff was just given away thanks to Black Diamond, Patagonia, La Sportiva, Trango and Montrail. The raffle captured the spirit of the event not only with the very loud-spokenl crowd, but with the announcer bribing large strong climbing men to try on women’s halter tops and capris in order to get bigger raffle prizes.
Hill’s media presentation encompassed 30 years of climbing captured on slides and video. The mixing of the formats was smooth and edited cleanly. Hill narrated as viewers witnessed her early years in California, then Europe time, to the first free ascent of the Nose on El Cap, and even a recent trip to Cuba with her husband and ten-month-old son Owen. One of the most interesting segments was her free ascent of the Leaning Tower in Yosemite with Katie Brown; it took place only weeks ago.
The ICF has been so down-to-earth and the furthest thing from pretentious, with people chilling in the grass watching the Dyno comp, climbing regardless of the molten temps, and big tough men demonstrating their skills by throwing plungers and fitting into women’s clothing.