From Casual Climber to Passionate Organizer of the Smith Rock Craggin' Classic—One Woman's Journey

August 15, 2017

Guest blogger Sarah Wolfe didn't learn to climb as a teenager, not even in her 20s. No, this passionate climber and organizer of the upcoming Smith Rock Craggin' Classic got hooked in her mid-30s when it clicked with her core values. 

Climbing: The Bigger Picture
by Sarah Wolfe

Community, Competency & Conservation — these are the tenets of American Alpine Club’s Craggin’ Classic Series, a series of six climbing events held at renowned climbing areas throughout the US. These are also central to the work I do, my values and what I want to impart on this world:  gathering people together to share, teaching and learning, and giving back to protect and care for our environment.

I started climbing later in life (at 34), introduced to it by a partner. After climbing for several years, I started instructing in 2012, initially just as a way to make some extra money, but in the end as something I became passionate about. I contributed volunteer hours for trail work, rebolting, guidebook development and program planning, and eventually, I was invited to sit on the Carolina Climbers Coalition board, where I worked for two years.

Sarah at Smith Rock

Sarah at Smith Rock

My first 23 years were spent in Arizona. I then moved to North Carolina, where I lived for another 23 years before moving here to Oregon in March of 2016. Since moving to Oregon, I’ve started teaching classes at our local climbing gym, hosting twice-annual climber potlucks and publishing a monthly climbing e-newsletter called Oregon Climbs.

But what brings it all back to my core is that I am now planning American Alpine Club’s Smith Rock Craggin’ Classic, a climbing event that hones in on Community, Competency, and Conservation through festivities, clinics and stewardship elements at one of the countries most renowned climbing destinations.

Being involved in this event brings so many of my past experiences and passions together, and in a place that holds so much beauty. I love the smells, the river, the stark walls of tuff, rhyolite and basalt, the vegetation, the wildlife. I feel honored to have this opportunity.


The Smith Rock Craggin’ Classic is heading into its 5th year and we are celebrating with a bang!  We have a 5-acre plot of land down the street from Smith Rock State Park where folks can park and camp for the weekend, as well as enjoy festivities, meals, games, slide shows, raffle, auction and meeting with old and new friends. And all of our climbing and art clinics will be taking place inside Smith Rock State Park. 

The lineup of guest athletes is impressive and includes:

·       Tommy Caldwell

·       Jonathan Siegrist

·       Jeremy Collins

·       Olivia Hsu

·       Graham Zimmerman

·       Max Tepfer

·       Dan Mirsky

·       Audrey Sniezek

·       Sam Elias

·       Paul McSorley

Handstand fun at the Smith Rock Craggin' Classic

Handstand fun at the Smith Rock Craggin' Classic

slide show Smith Rock Craggin' Classic

slide show Smith Rock Craggin' Classic

In addition to a host of sponsor and partner booths, we’ll also be featuring non-profit booths from throughout the Pacific Northwest. Funds raised at the event help fund American Alpine Club grants and programs, including the Live Your Dream Grant, which supports everyday climbers in pursuing their climbing dreams. Funds also help cover the overhead costs of the event.

I hope you’ll join us for what is sure to be an amazing weekend!