Climbing affords us the opportunity to visit many places throughout country and even the world. I’ve certainly been very fortunate to climb in and visit many great areas, which can sometimes makes it hard to remember all the experiences. Even though it took place relatively close to the beginning of my climbing career, one of my fondest memories is from when I spent two weeks in Lander, WY during the summer of 2001. The visit happened to coincide with the annual International Climbers’ Festival held inLander and it was a really great time. Psyched climbers, beautiful crags, a great town and plenty of fun events.
Unfortunately, I haven’t been back to Lander since that summer, but the ICF continues its strong run with their annual event coming up July 11-15. This year’s festival features appearances from Royal Robbins, Kevin Jorgeson, Kate Rutherford and Jonathan Siegrist among others. If I weren’t 1,300 miles away and had actually climbed in the past 2 months I would be checking the festival out myself. But I am and I haven’t so I won’t be making it. Maybe next year??
As part of their promotional effort the ICF sent along this interview they did with local legend BJ Tilden1:
You recently sent Double Down, now the hardest route in Sinks Canyon at 5.14c. What is the history of the route; tell us how you came to work on it?
Double Down was an old project in the moss cave that was bolted by Todd Skinner in the late nineties. I always knew it was there and had tried it a little over the years but it just seemed too hard at the time. I did the straight up line a couple years ago and named it Dealer Calls. On the straight up line the crux is right at the beginning, maybe two moves in. Double Down adds a ten move V10 traverse that spits you out right at the Dealer Calls crux.
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Finally, after many attempts over the winter and many one-hangs I was able to put the whole thing together at the end of March. Once I learned to embrace and enjoy the savage nature of the climbing and the severity of the holds, the climbing turned out to be really good.
What other things are you been working on?
As far as future projects, I guess the main focus for the summer is my route on the Erratic at the Wild Iris. It is a beautiful line that i bolted ten years ago. It took a couple seasons to even start climbing on it seriously and then a few more years to unlock all of the moves.
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I got painfully close in 2005 falling off the last move and I have been trying it on and off ever since. Now it seems that it will go any day, but i have certainly thought that before. All I can do is try to keep a good attitude, be patient, and try for as long as it takes, or until I get to old to do the moves.
The International Climbers’ Festival is just around the corner, July 11-15—tell us about your experience with the festival?
I have attended 18 out of the 19 festivals. It is a time of year that I always look forward to. It is great to see all the old friends and enjoy all of the festivities. I think it is amazing that the community has been able to keep the festival going and growing for almost twenty years. It is a real testament to the place that inspires us and all the awesome people who call it home.
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Looking back at all those festivals, is there one that sticks out?
The one festival that stands out the most is the second annual, my first. the speaker was Jerry Moffat and he was extremely entertaining. I was also 15 years old, away from home, and glimpsing the world that would change my life.
What are you excited about for this year’s festival?
This year i am really looking forward to seeing Royal Robbins present a slide show. I have the utmost respect for him as a pioneer and visionary and i can’t wait to hear what he has to say. Also looking forward to the dyno comp and the crate stacking. See you all there!!
- As an aside, I met BJ during the 2001 ICF and it’s funny to recall him telling us about this mythical sounding limestone area north of Lander that was being developed at the time. The area? Ten Sleep of course. ↩
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