Friday, March 27, 2009

Red Rock Rendezvous 2009

This was my first year joining all the AAIers at Rendezvous, and I didn’t know quite what to expect other than some hopefully sunny weather and a chance to see all our guides in one spot (a rare occasion given that they are guides!). But what I found out is that I can't wait to get back there next spring. Red Rock Rendezvous (RRR) is a huge 3-day climbing festival put together by Mountain Gear with the support of a bunch of sponsors – including the American Alpine Institute. AAI’s responsibility during the event is to plan for and provide guides for all the clinics that are run for the festival participants.

All the AAI Guides

AAI guides and athletes on stage for the opening ceremonies

On the first day of the festival, Friday, all the attending climbers are in clinics focused on teaching basic climbing skills – learning climbing commands, rappelling, the use of different gear, knot tying, belaying, hand and feet placement and general climbing techniques. One of the reasons RRR is so amazing is this first day. There are not many events in the world that teach people who have never stepped into a harness how to climb on their own.

Festival participants enjoy a water break during Friday's clinic with Andy Bourne

Viren, an AAI guide, relaxing in the sun on the Friday clinic

On the second and third days, Saturday and Sunday, the clinics ranged from rock rescue to crack climbing to slacklining to wilderness first aid. The majority of the clinics were run by AAI guides and professional athletes such as Sonnie Trotter, Micah Dash, and Katie Brown. Many of the clinics took place on the festival grounds (especially as the weather turned to rain on Sunday), but most were out in the Red Rock canyons. The canyons are breathtaking this time of year - everything is green and vibrant, there is water in the creeks, and wildlife (birds, rabbits, burros) to be seen.

Participants in a course on wilderness navigation - note the mild confusion on everyone's faces as they learn to use a compass to navigate the wilds of the RRR festival grounds . . .

A burro - I can't tell you how excited I was to see this little guy!

A few rain clouds approach on Sunday

It is a great opportunity for everyone involved – the festival participants, the sponsors, professional athletes, and our guides – it gives folks a chance to make connections with peers in the climbing world and for the athletes and guides, it’s a great chance to teach new climbers safe and effective climbing techniques.

AAI guide Andy Bourne teaching belay techniques out in Calico Basin

My role (I normally work as one of the program coordinators in the office) was to hang out at the AAI booth and talk to festival participants about what AAI does and who we are, and how we’re involved with RRR. Although I didn’t get to attend any of the clinics (next year I’ll make it happen!), I did get to do some personal climbing before and after.

The AAI booth - come and see me here next year!

Laura and Richard hanging out in the booth

Because we had 20 of our guides in one spot, we ran a few trainings for our guide staff. As I’m still a pretty new climber myself, I got to be the ‘client’ in Thursday’s training, which was super fun. We all climbed Algae on Parade, a four-pitch route in the First Creek area. On Monday, I climbed in the Calico Basin area - and tried out some of the routes detailed in Jason Martin's new book, Fun Climbs Red Rock.

Jason Martin, AAI guide and program coordinator, signing a copy of his new book, Fun Climbs Red Rock

Here I am starting up the first pitch of Algae on Parade

Ben and Forest discuss the finer points of guide training half-way up the route

Can you see the rainbow? The rain never seems to stick around too long in the desert . . .
Can't wait for next year!

-- Ruth Hennings


Tim Connelly said...

you should perhaps get Andy to stop eating and to perhaps suck that thing in when photgraphers about!!!!!

Zeth said...

great to see someone got a photo of that thing. i was on my way out...