Sarah Wolfe Took Notes at This Year's Smith Rock Craggin' Classic


September 23, 2019

Guest blogger Sarah Wolfe didn't learn to climb as a teenager, not even in her 20s. The passionate climber and organizer of the American Alpine Club’s Smith Rock Craggin' Classic and founder of the popular Oregon Climbs e-news got hooked in her mid-30s when it clicked with her core values. Read more about Sarah in "Climbing: The Bigger Picture”.

We asked Sarah to try to sum up this year’s American Alpine Club Smith Rock Craggin’ Classic, one of a series of 3-day climbing festivals that happen all over the country—”a celebration of all things climbing: community, learning, and giving back to the crag.” It was a tough assignment, given all that went on. Header image by Sienna Fitzpatrick.


2019: Another Big Year for the Smith Rock Craggin’ Classic
by Sarah Wolfe

Sarah Wolfe, Smith Rock Craggin’ Classic Organizer and founder of Oregon Climbs e-news.

Sarah Wolfe, Smith Rock Craggin’ Classic Organizer and founder of Oregon Climbs e-news.

Phew! Where do I begin? Well, first off, the Smith Rock Craggin' Classic sold out for the third year in a row! The word is definitely out that the Craggin’ is “the country's only nationally-touring, grassroots climbing festival.” And for us in the Pacific Northwest, Smith Rock is the prime location to host such an event.

Power Trio - the event team.  Photo by Sienna Fitzpatrick.

Power Trio - the event team. Photo by Sienna Fitzpatrick.

Special this year were guest presentations by Tommy Caldwell, adaptive climbers Maureen Beck and Jim Ewing, Jeff Smoot and Alan Watts, and the Slackrobats. Tommy Caldwell discussed his speed record on The Nose with Alex Honnold, Maureen Beck and Jim Ewing did a Q&A after a showing of their short film, ADAPTIVE, about their first adaptive ascent of Lotus Flower Tower in Alaska. Jeff Smoot and Alan Watts did a Q&A after Smoot's slide show based on his book, Hangdog Days, about first ascents in the park back in the ‘80s and ‘90s.

Beck and Ewing also headed up an adaptive climbing clinic with Oregon Adaptive Sports, who displayed many adaptive pieces of equipment at their booth and demonstrated how they are used.

OAS Adaptive Climbing clinic w/Maureen Beck and Jim Ewing.  Photo by Janelle Dransfield.

OAS Adaptive Climbing clinic w/Maureen Beck and Jim Ewing. Photo by Janelle Dransfield.

OAS Adaptive Climbing clinic w/Maureen Beck and Jim Ewing.  Photo by Janelle Dransfield.

OAS Adaptive Climbing clinic w/Maureen Beck and Jim Ewing. Photo by Janelle Dransfield.

Also new this year was a workshop on Grief & Trauma, inviting anyone to join a circle to discuss personal experiences of loss, whether in climbing or not, to explore how they have affected each person, then to explore ways each of us might be able to cope with and move through these experiences.

Though we do stewardship every year as part of the Craggin' Classic, this and last year were extra special, working on projects around making Smith Rock State Park more accessible - last year, we worked on ADA camping sites at The Bivy, and this year, we worked on accessibility in the RV parking area, as well as building retaining walls in the climbing area.

Volunteers working with the park and High Desert Climbers Alliance on making the park more accessible.  Photo by Sienna Fitzpatrick.

Volunteers working with the park and High Desert Climbers Alliance on making the park more accessible. Photo by Sienna Fitzpatrick.

Stewardship with Smith Rock State Park, High Desert Climbers Alliance and volunteers.  Photo by Sienna Fitzpatrick.

Stewardship with Smith Rock State Park, High Desert Climbers Alliance and volunteers. Photo by Sienna Fitzpatrick.

And Alan Watts, for the second year in a row, did his “Climbing History Tours” of the park, talking about different climbing areas, the routes he developed, and stories from the last 25+ years of climbing at Smith Rock State Park.

Alan Watts Smith Rock Craggin' Classic Climbing History Tour.  Photo by Amy Sue Matthews .  Read more.

Alan Watts Smith Rock Craggin' Classic Climbing History Tour. Photo by Amy Sue Matthews. Read more.

Alan Watts Smith Rock Craggin' Classic Climbing History Tour.  Photo by Amy Sue Matthews.   Read more.

Alan Watts Smith Rock Craggin' Classic Climbing History Tour. Photo by Amy Sue Matthews. Read more.

Alan Watts Smith Rock Craggin' Classic Climbing History Tour.  Photo by Amy Sue Matthews.   Read more.

Alan Watts Smith Rock Craggin' Classic Climbing History Tour. Photo by Amy Sue Matthews. Read more.

Along with all this, we featured games, a silent auction, raffle, and more to raise funds for American Alpine Club's grants, conservation, policy efforts, educational endeavors, etc.

Mini rope rug making activity.  Photo by Janelle Dransfield.

Mini rope rug making activity. Photo by Janelle Dransfield.

Corey Rich photo of Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson on the Dawn Wall at the silent auction.  Photo by Janelle Dransfield.

Corey Rich photo of Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson on the Dawn Wall at the silent auction. Photo by Janelle Dransfield.

Thanks to all those that supported, volunteered for, attended or otherwise involved themselves with this year's event. A true team effort, and I'm excited about next year's 2020 event!

Sarah Wolfe, Event Organizer
Smith Rock Craggin' Classic
September 13-15, 2019