2014 Lander ICF

Monday, July 14, 2014

2014 Lander ICF

By Ian Achey

The Lander International Climber’s Festival turned 21 years old this year and quite possibly, had the best birthday party yet!  Situated in the small town of Lander, WY, the festival erupts upon a town that seems to have been otherwise forgotten by the rest of the world.  There is limited cell phone service; wireless Internet access is spotty, store hours are sporadic, and aside from some Harley Davidsons and enormous diesel trucks throttling down Main Street, the roads run quiet and crowds are hard to find.

Once you are settled in, however, it becomes immediately obvious that Lander, WY is a special place.  Whether you arrive in snakeskin boots and a ten-gallon hat, or a ball cap twisted sideways atop a head of green hair, the Lander community welcomes its visitors with open arms.  At the Lander bar you’ll see skaters slapping hands with cowboys and your server may have liberty spikes or chains around his or her neck.  Either way, expect friendly conversation, a genuine interest in your itinerary, and get ready for some of the most bullet limestone sport climbing this side of the Atlantic Ocean.

The ICF takes full advantage of the enthusiastic community and spreads its four days of festivities all across town.  After registering at the Wild Iris Mountain Sports gear store, Day 1 offers early evening presentations at one of Lander’s several small museums.  

On Day 2, participants can expect to be able to demo rock climbing shoes and get a chance to sample some of Wyoming’s amazing limestone for the first time.  Upon their return to town, an Art Crawl is organized allowing participants to drink their way through some amazing displays of creativity by both local talent and visiting artists.  Day 2 would not be complete, however, without the La Sportiva opening party, welcoming all festival participants to town at the Lander Bar.  The beer kegs flow freely (thanks to La Sportiva!) and live music (Patti Fiasco) runs well into the early morning hours of Day 3.

 

If you drank responsibly, Day 3 begins early and again offers participants the opportunity to demo rock climbing shoes and other equipment as well as sign up for professionally taught clinics by some of the sport’s superstars.  While some may elect to take advantage of the higher elevation the Wild Iris climbing area offers, others will enjoy a day of rock climbing at Sinks Canyon, another amazing location the Lander area has to offer.  Others still will find that The Opening Party took too much of a toll on their adjusting bodies and will elect to spend the morning patronizing some of Lander’s finest eateries.  The Middle Fork Restaurant is a fantastic place to begin the day and the Gannet Grill will put together a burger not soon forgotten.  If you’re feeling a bit classy, head to the Cowfish for a more eclectic menu and make sure not to miss the Mahi Mahi Fish Tacos from the pub menu.

After a morning of climbing (or recovering), the ICF’s vendor fair opens to the public.  Participants can stroll the grounds of City Park and visit with all of their favorite outdoor brands, receiving information about new products and filling their pockets with fresh swag.  Many activities take place during the vendor fair as well: crate stacking, rope coiling contests, arm wrestling and table climbing to name a few.  The vendor fair is capped by an epic dyno competition that will range from beginner climbers to sponsored pros as participants.  Prizes and awards are arranged for all who participate!

 

On Day 4 the Festival moves to the Wild Iris climbing area and once again, demo gear is offered to all participants.  An early morning trail race finishes in the same parking lot the climbers begin to occupy and a pancake breakfast is offered to begin the morning.  As soon as clinic rosters are organized, the crowds disperse into the woods and onto the renowned dolomite limestone cliff bands.

The festival concludes with an evening of “meet and greet” with some of the pros followed by a handful of keynote presentations by our sports past and current legends.  Alex Honnold and Paige Claassen both delivered excellent presentations while Jonathan Siegrist, Brittany Griffith and Kate Rutherford also had a strong presence throughout the event. 

One last party at the Lander Bar marked the official conclusion of the 2014 Lander International Climber’s Festival and left both participants and vendors alike assured that not only has the ICF been revived, it’s now of legal age and is ready to party for years to come!  A huge thank you to Mandy Pohja for organizing this fantastic event and all of the La Sportiva athletes for making this a memorable experience for everyone involved.

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