This Halloween weekend will see the return of the in-person Moab Craggin’ Classic event, which brings together rock climbers for clinics, films, games, prizes and more among Moab’s iconic and beloved climbing areas.
2021 is the fifth year that the American Alpine Club, which puts on the series in seven locations, is holding an event in Moab. Last year, the organization mitigated COVID-19 concerns by hosting the event virtually.
“It ended up being the largest fully virtual climbing event in world history!” said Heidi McDowell, advancement director of events and strategic partnerships for the American Alpine Club. The organization is excited to be bringing the event back in real life, and will be hosting for the first time from the ACT campground on the south end of Moab. McDowell explained that the campground offers the space needed for camping, events, and vendors.
“The Craggin’ Classics are like little pop up communities for the weekend. We climb together, hang out together, camp together, and give back together!” she said.
The festival kicks off with a party on Friday evening, including a bar stocked with beer from the Moab Brewery, a raffle, games, presentations and prizes. The main event sponsor is CAMP USA. About 20 other vendors will contribute prizes throughout the festival, as well as offer demo products for climbers to try out.
Friday night’s gathering includes a presentation from Leave No Trace and another from a pair of climbers who devised a madcap caper seeking the scariest moderate routes in Red Rock Canyon, a popular climbing destination. There will also be a screening of Graham Zimmerman’s film about his adventure on Link Sar, a high peak in Pakistan. A Q&A with Zimmerman will follow.
Stand-up comedian Mike Largent will perform. Indian Creek climbers may recognize Largent and his mobile stage from the Beef Basin parking area. If you miss Largent at the Craggin’ Classic, he’ll return to Beef Basin on October weekends with climbing-themed jokes and skits.
Saturday will be packed with clinics. After a caffeine boost from coffee provided by the event, participants can check out demo gear and meet up with instructors and classmates for clinics like Intro to Desert Bouldering, The Art of the Project, Crack Climbing 101, or Multi-Pitch Efficiency and Tower Climbing. There are clinics for climbers of all ability levels. There are 11 clinics in all; new offerings this year include Rock Rescue for Climbers and Intro to Offwidth.
“The clinics are an amazing piece of the event,” said Malorie Irvin, event coordinator for the Craggin’ Classic. McDowell agreed, saying “the clinics are awesome!”
McDowell also said she’s excited for the festival’s first-ever Climb United meet-up. It’s a free event intended to bring people together to talk about inclusivity in outdoor recreation, and participation from BIPOC, LGBTQ+, adaptive, and plus-size climbers and allies is especially encouraged. That event will also take place on Saturday. The following day, another meet-up is titled “Resilience with the Climbing Grief Fund.” It’s hosted by a mental health professional, and addresses grief and its connection to the climbing world.
More parties and raffles ensue on Saturday evening, as well as a Halloween costume contest. On Sunday morning, after coffee and yoga, participants will contribute to a stewardship project chosen by the Friends of Indian Creek, a local climbing advocacy group. As of Oct. 14, the project had not been selected, but McDowell said the organization’s goal is to leave the targeted crag better than they found it.
As of Oct. 12, there are about 30 spots left out of the 200 total tickets available. To attend, participants must provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or negative test results for COVID-19 received no more than 48 hours before the event. Masks are strongly recommended for indoor spaces or crowded outdoor spaces at the event.
McDowell noted that 100% of event proceeds go back into the local community to support the American Alpine Club’s work protecting wild places, educating climbers, and building community. She said they’d love to see more locals attend the event. For more information, visit americanalpineclub.org/moab-craggin-classic.
What: Moab Craggin’ Classic
When: Friday, Oct. 29 through Sunday. Oct. 31
Where: Headquarters at the ACT Campground (1536 Mill Creek Drive)
Cost: $45 for a weekend pass; $125 for weekend pass+clinic
Info: americanalpineclub.org/moab-craggin-classic or the AAC Moab Craggin’ Classic Facebook page