Alpine Club of Canada

Winter Gazette 2013

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Community teams up for Flatrock Fest by Beth Spencer C limbing is almost always a team effort. It takes at least two people—one on either end of the rope. As climbers we ask a lot of our partners; we ask them to be there at a certain time, we ask them to stand around in the blazing sun (or blowing snow or pouring rain), hang out on the side of a cliff, to catch us when we fall. We build a community of support. A group of people who we can call on, who we know are as stoked as we are for an adventure on the rock. Organizing a climbing festival is not an adventure; it is more similar to a pain‑ ful hike up an excessively long scree slope with multiple false summits where the view is obscured by fog. It also occasion‑ ally rains. It is a lot of work and without keen partners it would be miserable. For the last two summers, the Alpine Club of Canada's Newfoundland & Labrador Section has organized a oneday climbing festival dubbed Flatrock Fest as a way of getting everyone together for a day on the rock, and of allowing new climbers to try climbing outdoors. It takes place in Flatrock, a coastal community 30 kilometres north of St. John's, and is the "classic" Newfoundland climbing area. It is not known for being beginner friendly. Most routes are hard and can be run out, with loose rocks and not great gear placements and the occasional seagull dropping in on top of you. The view across the bay, the boulders littering the ground underneath and the waves splashing metres into the air adds to the feeling of exposure. It is an amaz‑ ingly beautiful place to climb, but it can be nerve wracking even for experienced climbers, not to mention new or young climbers whose previous experience climbing is the rounded plastic of a gym. In order to make the festival accessible to all climbers, a crew of experienced climbers descends on Flatrock the night before, climbing everything, putting up as many top ropes as possible. Et voilà, an area which is usually inaccessible to a new climber suddenly becomes an area that feels like an outside gym. Along with the two-dozen top ropes, the festival also has a barbeque down at the crag, prizes from sponsors and several clinics. This year, this fun, informal day 22  Alpine Club of Canada Gazette Winter 2013 Long-time ACC member and event volunteer, David Bruneau, works on Yellow Fever at Mainface, Flatrock, Newfoundland. hoto by Greg Locke locke@straylight.ca p became my responsibility to organize. Prior to the event, I had been con‑ cerned about finding volunteers; for a climbing community that has roughly only 100 committed members on the island, I thought finding enough vol‑ unteers might be difficult. After all, our climbing community in Newfoundland is young; mostly a bunch of teens and 20-somethings, and our generation is known for its lack of civic responsibility, right? Wrong. I was fortunate; I had no shortage of stoked partners. Even though our climbing community is young, when you ask for help in Newfoundland it usually shows up and in a time of instant com‑ munication asking for help is easier than usual. A post on Facebook resulted in dozens of offers of help—people willing to help carry stuff down to the climb‑ ing area, friends willing to help set the ropes up, help belay and help look after registration. In the months prior to the event I had people help with designing posters, contacting sponsors, organizing first aid support, borrowing barbeques and endless other tasks that needed to be From left, Jaymee Pitcher, a participant in the Kids Climb program at Wallnuts Climbing Centre, ties in for her first outdoor climb, belayed by Rebecca Carolan, a ACC National Junior Climbing Team member. Volunteer Aaron Casey looks on. photo by Greg Locke

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