by: John Forestell
My favorite event of the year, and the one that got me into rock climbing in the first place. It really means so much to me to be able to give back to both the club and the event that changed my life so drastically. Climbing means everything for me, and to share that passion with new members and to show them the world that has entranced me and pushed me to places I would never have dreamed of before means everything to me. That’s why I love intro. (The party is pretty sweet too.)
I drove down to Skaha on the Friday instead of going to the doctors to get my foot x-rayed (only a small dislocated bone, it’s all snug in a climbing shoe, no problem right?) to get some climbing in personally before the inevitable hectic day that was going to occur on Saturday. I met up with Quentin, Evan and Will in the rainy parking lot and we headed off to the Doctors Wall (see? I still went to the doctor…) to climb terrain that wouldn’t be wet from the rain. It was a full day of climbing hard and falling big! Everyone was in project mode and we were all working out the final tweaks to our climbs hoping to put them together sometime soon. I managed to fall off my project on the final move twice this day, Salvation, was being a fickle bitch. Tired and worked we all headed off to sleep in our cars and vans looking forward to the next day.
Saturday morning we were back in the parking lot, but this time with full sunshine and beyond ridiculous outfits, a volunteer’s tradition for the event. I myself was wearing bright red tights, a Hawaiian t-shirt, and a leopard print bucket hat to bring it all together. Scotty arrived shortly after us and we began to doll out all the gear, figure out what walls everyone was going too and we set off to put up the ropes before the masses arrived.
I thought I had a heavy bag with two ropes, my sport climbing rack, and some water. Only to learn that Mike was hauling three ropes along with his extra gear. All the volunteers were giving their full effort and it was great to see! We got to our wall, Go Anywhere, around 930AM and got setting up all the top ropes. By around 1030AM we had 10 ropes up, all we needed was the new members now to get the show on the road!
Slowly people started trickling in from the hike, then more and more, then by the time I knew it we must have had over 75 people at our wall all looking at us with intrigue (not sure if was our weird clothing choices or really interested in learning about climbing). Lina, her trusted Safety Sally sign and I got to teaching everyone the ins and outs of what they needed to know for top roping, from putting on harnesses, stabbing the snowman to make your safety pretzel, to the standard belay technique, along with volunteers moving through the crowd to ensure everyone had it down everyone was quickly ready to get going on the wall.
From 1130AM-4PM not a single rope didn’t have someone climbing on it, even the intimidating crack climb always had a continuous line of people on it. The volunteers killed it, ensuring everyone was climbing safe and often giving great instruction (Aaron was giving 1 on 1 instructions to techniques as they were climbing) although some under dubious aliases (I’m still trying to figure out who this Chon guy was) gave sarcastic instruction (“Going up is generally how I would go about doing that next move, but that’s just me…”). Eventually the day was coming to an end and we got all our members to shuttle some of the gear back to the parking lot and on their way to the campsite for the night, while we took down the ropes. I personally was wanting to get in another burn on my project so I quickly scoured the few remaining, picked out Mike and Kelsey from the crowd and we disappeared back to Doctors Wall to hop on some climbs before the sunlight was gone.
The plan was to warm up before hoping back on Salvation as I hadn’t climbed anything to really warmup during the event, but I took one look at it and just had to get right back on it. By the crux my arms were on fire from the flashpump but I had somehow pulled through it and was on a resting jug looking at the redpoint anchor crux that had foiled me 3 times in the past few weeks. I managed to just barely clip the chains, but it finally went down! Clearly it was the power of bright red tights and leopard print hats that pushed me to the send. I lowered to the ground, beyond psyched on the day, and left straight for the liquor store to celebrate another successful intro!
As I got to the campground I couldn’t believe my eyes. It had never been this packed before, there must have been over 200 members at this year’s event! Everyone was in a great mood as the campfires were burning bright anddrinks were flowing. I’m positive many new friendships for life are made this night, I only need to look among my own friends to realize that. As the night went on the camaraderie continued, expert marshmallows were cooked, more drinks were flowing, van parties were bumping and the live music started going. Wild Son played two killer sets and everyone was dancing and singing well into the night, even a light drizzle couldn’t dampen our spirits as the night went on. I eventually passed out in my car around 2AM but I could hear the sounds of the party going on longer. Waking up to another day of sunshine, people started rolling out of their tents, cars, vans, tarps, and killed it with the whole cleanup. By the time I left the campground at 1030AM it was looking spotless and somehow we managed to keep our reputation intact for another year. Many people battled fiercely with their hangovers, while some of us somehow went to go battle with more climbs. I’m looking forward to more of the climbing trips with the club this year, to see who’s new and has got the climbing bug from intro!