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#MDW: Valdez Rock Climbing Festival

May 28, 2015

As Memorial Day Weekend approached, we found that The Stews had procrastinated again and had no plans to speak of. Luckily, we know some cool people who told us about a Rock Climbing Festival happening in Valdez (a 5-6 hour drive from Anchorage). So Matt & I loaded up the dogs in our car, and met our friends Betsy and Cody in downtown Valdez on Friday night.

We spent a great weekend in a beautiful town meeting really awesome people. I was blown away by what a chill, friendly, and supportive group of people these rock climbers were. People were more than happy to lend you a harness, lend you some shoes, or belay you or shout out where to put the placement of your foot.

Here’s what all we did at the festival:

  • Had an amazing 2-mile hike to the Worthington Glacier to climb some Crags on the Sunny Side Wall.
  • Betsy had her first ever rock climbing experience!
  • Climbed at the Valdez Glacier Campground Wall, on a damp day while drinking delicious craft beer
  • Attended a Saturday night party at the Valdez Visitor Center that had door prizes (Matt won a new Buff, I won a new nalgene!), food, beer, and screen printing of the festival logo
  • Attended a festival Bonfire complete with a spaghetti feed
  • Witnessed a snowball fight at said bonfire AT THE END OF MAY
  • Got approximately 100 mosquito bites
  • Left with two happy and worn out dogs

More climbing happened on Monday, but the festival ran on ‘Alaska Climber Time’ which meant that no times were ever really set, and if anyone eluded to a time, they were always about an hour off.

They’re planning on making this an annual event, and I for one want to go back. To Valdez. Right now actually. Typing this is making me wish I would have tried to get a little bit higher on my last climb.

Below are some of our favourite photos from the event (several courtesy of Betsy and her amazing photog skills!

Some of the weekend's climbers at the Visitor Center Reception Party

Some of the weekend’s climbers at the Visitor Center Reception Party


Betsy on her first ever climb at the Sunny Side Wall at the Worthington Glacier Crag


Emily at the Worthington Glacier Sunny Side Wall



This is probably my favourite picture from the whole weekend. Everytime Matt came down from climbing, Moose greeted him with jumps and licks.


That view though…






Cody at the Worthington Glacier Sunny Side Wall

The Worthington Glacier in all it's glory

The Worthington Glacier in all it’s glory


Emily climbing at the Valdez Glacier Campground Wall


Sasha, Moose, & a keg of beer at the Sunday climbing wall


At the reception and the bonfire, you could bring items of clothes to have screen printed with the festival’s logo


The bonfire night was amazing – a huge fire with good food and cool people. A snowball fight even broke out, with some unmelted snow that was sitting in the shade of a tree.

Bridal Veil Falls in Thompson Pass

Bridal Veil Falls in Thompson Pass



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