October 23, 2013

Climbers to gather for festival in Oakdale

The second annual Oakdale Climbers Festival is expected to draw 400 to 600 people for talks and films this weekend.

This mostly flat town will play host this weekend to climbers who have taken on some of the world’s most daunting mountains.

The second annual Oakdale Climbers Festival will feature panel discussions, films and vendors over three days at Gene Bianchi Community Center. Tickets are $35.

The speakers, including climbing pioneers Royal Robbins of Modesto and Tom Frost of Oakdale, will focus this year on Yosemite National Park – a couple of hours up Highway120 from Oakdale.

There will be no actual climbing, co-chairwoman Ramona Howard said, but the memories on film and from the speakers will provide a glimpse into why these folks like to dangle from cliff faces.

“I can appreciate the enormity of what they do,” she said. “I figure if I enjoy it, other people might enjoy it.”

She expects 400 to 600 people for the festival, some from as far away as Europe, providing an offseason boost for the city’s hotels and restaurants.

The festival is sponsored by the Oakdale Tourism & Visitors Bureau and Yosemite Climbing Association with help from several partners.

It will kick off Friday evening with four films from the 1960s and 1970s – “Sentinel: The West Face,” “Fitzroy: First Ascent of the South Buttress,” “Free Climb” and “El Capitan.” Robbins and Frost will be on hand to discuss the films.

Saturday will feature 11 hours of discussion about the history of climbing. The speakers include Joe Fitschen, Eric Beck, Jim Bridwell, Tom Higgins, Peter Haan, Barry Bates, Jim Erickson, Steve Wunsch, Roger Breedlove, John Long, Dean Fidelman, Peter Mayfield and Alex Honnold.

Sunday is devoted to a discussion of Camp 4, a longtime base for climbers in Yosemite Valley, with Doug Robinson, Glen Denny, Frost, Chris Jones and Dick Duane.

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