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The Inaugural Joe’s Valley Bouldering Festival

By December 17, 20154 Comments

We over here at RV Project HQ (currently: Spenser’s Parents House, Berkeley, CA) are still beaming after an amazing weekend at the inaugural Joe’s Valley Bouldering Festival. It’s been a crazy couple weeks since the Fest, but now that we’ve got fast internet and cell phone reception, it’s time for a recap. I feel like there’s so much to talk about that it’s hard to figure out where to start. To me, the primary goal of this festival was said best by Steven Jeffery,


Even with the crappy audio, you can probably understand that we wanted to get climbers and local community members together, to just hang out together. And maybe we’d understand each other a bit better because, let’s be honest, us climbers don’t have much contact with the people of Orangeville or Castle Dale (except for the brief stops for sustenance – donuts & coffee – at the Food Ranch).

The festival was based around bringing together bouldering, history, and community to highlight what makes Joe’s Valley such a special destination for climbers. Why in the heck do we love climbing those little rocks so much?! In the days leading up to the festival, the excitement from the local community felt pervasive. Firewood was delivered directly to our campsites, the Food Ranch made stickers specially for the event – the whole town seemed to be talking about this festival.

This is primarily a photo essay of what made the Fest special for me – to check out the schedule in its entirety head over to the Joe’s Valley Fest websiteAll photos copyright of the RV Project unless otherwise noted.

Just another perfect day in Joe's Valley

Just another perfect day in Joe’s Valley…

...just a little chilly out here.

…with maybe a tad too much nip in the air.

Snoopy says, "Get over here!"

Snoopy says, “Get over here!”

Sign says, "Camp over here!"

Sign says, “Camp over here!”

DAY 1 | Thanksgiving Potluck


Only a small part of the feat.

Only a small part of the feast – a fried turkey, bacon mashed potatoes, green beans, brussel sprouts, and Zack’s famous stuffing. Not pictured: 2 more turkeys and a ham. Photo: Katie Boué


Kate capturing the moment. There’s that glazed ham I was telling you about! 🙂 Why yes, the ham was also fried. Photo: Katie Boué

The town gave us climbers full use of the Emery County rec center, and the kitchen in the building next door. Normally cooking over, or next to, a campfire is preferred but it was amazing to have an indoor place to cook and eat since it was below freezing. Dinner was preceded and followed by a huge bonfire in the yard.


DAY 2 | Breakfast, Yoga, VanLife Panel & Cowboy Games


Did you know there’s an organic cafe in Huntington? Located inside a floral shop, Gordon’s Garden Cafe is as delightful as it is delicious. It also triples as a greenhouse, so you’re guaranteed to get fresh veggies in your meal. For those like me, they have tasty gluten-free options too. (Basically, the existence of this place makes me go woo-hoo!) They provided a delicious breakfast on Friday morning, followed by a rejuvenating session of yoga led by Hannah Pierce.

After a frigid night of sleep, this yoga session saved my day. I walked in barely coherent with a painfully tense back, and walked out with energy.

After a frigid night of sleep, this yoga session saved my day. I walked in barely coherent with a painfully tense back, and walked out with minimal pain and amplified energy [note my backwards tree pose, proof that I was not with it that morning].

In the afternoon, Katie Boué of The Morning Fresh and yours truly hosted a #VanLife panel at the Food Ranch (naturally).  (Yea, I know we don’t live in a van, but we didn’t make the schedule and no one really cares.) With the weather and minimal marketing, we all thought it was going to be us and one other person. I picked up a six-pack downstairs and meandered to the meeting room. I was amazed, the room was full! Six beers was not going to cut it – I quickly ran down to get another set. The conversation was lively and it just felt good to be in a room of like-minded peers. About half-way through, Jordan Leonard, the Economic Development Director for Emery County, and Rich Horsley, an Emery County native, walked in.


What makes Joe’s Valley a destination for rock climbers? What do y’all need from us?


They asked of the entire group. The answers did not contain any surprises for the rest of the room:


Toilet, Water, Coffee, Showers.

The Food Ranch plus showers would be perfect.

The free camping is nice.


That was really cool moment. As traveling rock climbers, we often feel like outsiders in the communities we visit. This made us feel like our voice mattered, and that Emery County cares about our needs. They like us, they really like us. At that point, the festival felt like a success to me. But, then…



…it was time for the Cowboy Games!


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Climbers and locals getting ready for sheep roping!

JVBF Rodeo05LR

Melanie. Ready to rock.

So, how did this climber end up on a hide in the dirt? Hide races, of course!

So, how did this climber end up covered in dirt? Hide races, of course!

A cowboy comes racing towards you, a hide tied to the back of his horse. This right here is perfect technique! You're racing for time, so you don't want the cowboy to slow down - you want to race towards him.

This right here is perfect technique! You’re gunning for best time, so as the cowboy comes racing towards you, you want to run to catch up to him.

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Then pounce on the hide, hold on tight and prepare for lift off!

Letting out a ROAR definitely helps.

Letting out a ROAR definitely helps.

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This local girl knew EXACTLY what she was doing! She’s probably the only one who did not end up with a mouth full of dirt.

They even caught identical chickens during the chicken run...

They even caught identical chickens during the chicken run…

And for a dose of cute, I present to you – The Sheep Run:


Needless to say, it was a riotous good time and next year, it’ll be bigger!

DAY 3 | Breakfast Pizza, Climbing & Legends/Lore


IMG_0897 IMG_0896

Another delicious breakfast, this time provided by Fatty’s Pizza and the Food Ranch. Which equals breakfast pizza and donuts, a combination that probably helped us get through a frosty day of climbing. Breakfast photos taken from Emery Telecom News website.

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Spenser.SaturdayClimbing.14 Spenser.SaturdayClimbing.07





The goal was to take some daring locals out climbing, but it was just too cold for anyone from town to come out. It did not get above 30ºF the entire day, so only the truly twisted were huddling around heaters and chasing the sun to keep warm. 😉 Next year we’ll show them what rock climbing’s all about!

What locals did join in for was the Climber Games that evening. Crate stacking is a true test of concentration! Click on any photo to view the full-size version.



Last but definitely not least was the Legends & Lore of Joe’s Valley talk by Rich Horsley and Steven Jeffery. This was nothing short of AWESOME. Rich, who has lived in Emery County his entire life, did a great job educating us climbers about the history of Emery County, focusing on the coal mining that has been the main source of income in the area for generations. Steven closed by talking about our history in Joe’s Valley, and encouraging climbers and the people of Emery County to work together. This whole rock climbing thing is turning out to be mutually beneficial… 🙂

As we were cleaning up the rec center on Sunday, I found myself saying,

I can’t believe we pulled it off.

We had only 2 months to plan, and weather was predicted to be even worse than it was. I was initially shocked by the turn-out from climbers and community members, how fun the events around town were, and the quality of people that showed up. But, after I actually thought about it I realized this was a bound to be a success. We had two unstoppably passionate and motivated women at the heel – Adriana Chimaras, a Salt Lake City climber, and Amanda Leonard, a volunteer from Emery County. And these ladies rallied two communities together that previously had passed each other by. Cheers to them and the rest of the planning committee for all their hard work, to the towns of Orangeville and Castle Dale for hosting, and to all our sponsors for making the weekend possible!

We are absolutely going to have another festival next year. Plan is for sometime in October – keep up with the Joe’s Valley Facebook Page, Instagram or Website for updates!


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