First I'll start off with a quick introduction. My name is Mark Evans (photographed below in my Chapul shirt) and I am one of Chapul's brand ambassadors. I've been actively pursuing climbing for the past 15 years and have been occasionally establishing new climbing routes for the past 5 years. I also enjoy backcountry skiing and split boarding, as well as pretty much anything that involves activity in the outdoors. I'm also an aspiring photographer, but most of all I am very passionate about food, sustainability, and taking action to preserve our environment. So it makes sense why I am so psyched about having the support of such an amazingly revolutionary company like Chapul!!
Last week, I had the pleasure of attending my first climbing festival; the International Climbers Fest in Lander, Wyoming. Not knowing what to expect, I was pleasantly surprised by the wonderful people, great climbing, and all around good times! Here are a few highlights from my trip.
The biggest thing that comes to mind was the People! Every person I came in contact with was genuine, motivated, open minded and very pleasant. Everyone, from the average Joe climber to world-class professional athletes, to event organizers and magazine editors, everyone was on the same page. We all just wanted to have fun pursuing our passions! My usual m.o. at the crag is the "cricket guy" because I'm constantly spreading the word about delicious, sustainable protein! This festival was no different. I came armed with bars to sample and revolutionary ideas for those willing to listen. I found that more than usual, everyone I interacted with was open, willing, and psyched about Chapul! Saturday morning's breakfast at Wild Iris (a climbing area near Lander) was no different. We had arranged for me to be sampling bars and dropping knowledge to all the festival goers as they lined up for their free breakfast before the daily clinics started. And not only was I supposed to sample, I was supposed to do a Facebook Live broadcast! To be completely honest, I was a bit intimidated about doing a LIVE broadcast, as I have never done anything like that before... but it actually worked out great!! Everyone was so psyched on the bars and the idea of sustainable insect protein, that I kept forgetting that I was doing a LIVE broadcast!! (Check the Chapul Facebook page to watch for yourself : Chapul Revolution) All in all, it was really great to be surrounded by such amazing, like minded people!! Good friends, old and new, really make a difference!
Another thing I was surprised and delighted by at this festival was the multitude of learning to be had. The Climbers Fest is known for having dozens of climbing clinics available each day, with the purchase of a ticket. Everything from climbing basics, to mental aspect training, to self-rescue. Due to my photography background, I chose to attend the Climbing Magazine Photo Clinic. It was lead by Julie Ellison, the editor for Climbing Magazine, who was very humble, approachable, and had great insight and advice. In addition to Julie, there were a couple of professional photographers who helped, as well as professional climber Matt Segal. It felt surprisingly comfortable climbing with, shooting, and learning from such famous, influential people. I was able to learn a few tricks about how to set up a climbing shoot, as well as ways to jug (ascend) a fixed line more efficiently. By the end of the day, all participants had learned a thing or two about climbing photography, the industry, and I think we all got some good shots! I definitely learned more, and had more fun, than I could have expected!
I can't finish this blog without touching base on the world class climbing in Lander. After all, that is the real reason we all attended this thing! The majority of the rock climbs in the area are short, bolt protected sport climbs, on beautiful white Dolomite limestone. The rock is filled with pockets ranging in size from huge jugs to tiny pockets you can only fit one finger in! The rock also has a unique scalloped texture much like wet spackle. As well as every range of difficulty from easy low angle slabs to some of the hardest overhanging routes in the country. Due to its higher elevation and high concentration of classic climbs, most festival goers headed to the climbing area Wild Iris, about 20 miles south of town. Wild Iris is home to many limestone walls spread out over a beautiful ridge with aspens, pines, wildflower meadows, and spectacular views! There is also climbing on sandstone, limestone, and granite located in Sink's Canyon, just minutes from town. Lander is also very close to the Wind River Range, which is home to many many big, classic, alpine granite climbs on the peaks that create the continental divide. Whatever the season, your motivation, or skill level, there is something for you to climb in Lander. Anyway, I hope to see you all at next year's International Climbers Festival.