The American Alpine Club hosts a yearly event series across some of Americas most famous climbing destinations called the Craggin’ Classic, and this past weekend I was lucky to attend the Smith Rock Craggin’ Classic. This years events took place over October 1st – 3rd with perfect fall weather at the park. These events serve as the largest fundraiser for American Alpine Club all year, but also serve as a chance to bring the climbing community together to support each other and the amazing organizations that make climbing possible. Craggin’ classics host climbing clinics by professional climbers and local guides, community events such as yoga and climbers clean up, and in classic style bring us presentations by some of the hardest climbers in the country.


I spent my morning of the 1st working in The Mountain shop, and after a few hours of sharing the stoke with my coworkers and customers I was ready to head south. I hopped in my trusty hatchback and headed over Mount Hood towards Terrebonne. We were able to quickly get ourselves checked in and picked up our swag bags and vendor punch cards. We hustled over to the camping field next to the Climbers Bivuac and quickly set up our tents. After milling about for a while, we headed into the vender village for the evening’s social events. Fridays events included a Q&A with Graham Zimmerman and an exclusive viewing of Link Sar documentary. Incredible documentary that’s to be released soon, but for a preview of the events read through the 2020 AAJ article. Events continued with a showing of Reel Rock to keep the stoke high. After a night of movies about climbing we were even more excited to hit the rock in the morning.



The 2nd started bright and early with climber’s yoga with Redpoint Climbers supply and burrito supplied by Climbers for Christ. There are a variety of clinics available to climbers including gym to crag, intro to single pitch climbing, intro to multipitch climbing, mentality in climbing, and a host of other climbing topics. I chose to pursue the mentality and mental health clinic to work on my fear of falling after a ground fall over a year ago, and my girlfriend Ruth chose the Intro to multipitch. My clinic was hosted by Nate Pierce a professional climber with La Sportiva and Gabe from Chockstone Guides. We started the day with introductions and trust exercises. These exercises involved being tied to each other a guiding the others who’ve been blindfolded through obstacles and helped illustrate how critical trust is in the climbing relationship. We the circled back around with a pen and paper to write out some of the issues that lead us to choose this course. For many of the others it was the same as me, a fear of falling, others though were just breaking into the sport or had been climbing for some time and looking for another way to improve their headspace. The group quickly started talking through our issues with Gabe and Nate provide some amazing commentary and suggestions to all of us. As the afternoon heat marched in we shuttled down to the crooked river and made a b-line to meet the shade at the Christian Brothers area next to Asterisk Pass. We set up several ropes and began working on overcoming our issues on the wall. Nate and Gabe again came through with very thoughtful and helpful suggestions. Having had several hours on the rock we decided to wrap up and head back for the social hours before the evenings guests showed up.

I quickly called Ruth to check on her clinic as she did the into to multi-pitch climbing. We reunited at the vender village for dinner and to catch up on each other’s day. I opted for the falafel and scored the last one! We started wandering tent to tent trying to complete our vender punch card for raffle prizes. My first stop was the Scarpa booth to see if Scarpa NA will be bringing the Maestro Alpine rock shoe to the US, and unfortunately I’ll have to source one from our friends across the pond. We also visited Sterling ropes, Metolius, Wild Country, Rhino Skin, and our local friends at Portland Mountain Rescue. I got myself signed up for a rebolting clinic with the High Desert Climbers Alliance. The sun was finally setting and we settled into an evening of presentations.

First up was climbing legend Tommy Caldwell! He started by taking us through some of his most interesting climbing trips and explaining various access issues. This was a prelude to an introduction to his new Hill to Crag program where he takes small groups of law makers and conservation officials climbing so they can experience the magic of climbing firsthand. A great reminder that we are privileged to have the great access we currently do, especially at Smith Rock, and that we should all be taking steps to protect these outdoor spaces. Next up was Jordan Cannon with a film screening of the film Free as Can Be and a Q&A session. What an incredible story of partnership and determination by 2 incredible climbers. Jordan was nice enough to stick around and answer questions about the film, his partner Mark Hudon, or his recent ascents in Yosemite including Golden Gate(5.13a VI) all free in a single day. After the presentations we got together one last time with our new friends from the clinics and made plans for tomorrow before crawling into bed.  


Sunday the 3rd we woke up to chilly predawn temps. Ruth got coffee and I got hopped in with a group stretching before setting out to the park. Redpoint climbing supplied a simple breakfast that morning so we stopped there before packing. Limber and full we shouldered our bags and made a b-line towards Super Slab as the sun started to peek into the valley. We were the first ones there, but boy was it cold! I started up the first pitch wishing desperately that I had placed a handwarmer in my chalk bag. I plugged gear, smeared, and occasionally jammed my way up to a nice belay ledge. Ruth came up and was eager to get on the sharp end. She cruised the traverse and started up the big 3rd pitch slab. Making it look easy she was at the top and I was on my way to meet her. We rappelled down taking a break on the ledge to take in the view over the crooked river one last time. One last rap saw us on the ground and back into comfortable shoes. We hustled up the canyon and back to our car for the long ride back. This took a little longer than expected as we kept running into friends we made that week!   

This was our first trip to Smith Rock for the fall and winter season and boy did it set a high bar! Time to spend a winter practicing the skills we learned with all the new friends we made. If you’re interested in the Craggin’ Classic series AAC members get a discount on tickets and early updates.