Mountaineering Fest set for 15th year in Keene Valley

KEENE VALLEY - While the annual Adirondack International Mountaineering Festival has remained small over the past 15 years, its reputation continues to grow.

"What has grown is the notoriety of the event," Vinny McClelland of the Mountaineer in Keene Valley said. "It's an event that is now known across the nation and it attracts climbers from all over the northeast as well as from Colorado, California and Hawaii."

The 15th annual Mountaineering Festival is set to take place starting Friday, Jan. 14 and run through Monday morning, Jan. 17, giving climbing enthusiasts the change to meet and climb with world-renown climbers and instructors.

"We purposefully keep things small because when you are taking people out for the clinics, you want them to have a good experience and to get a chance to know their instructor," McClelland said. "Some of these people are world famous in what they do, and it gives people the chance to get to know them and what drives them."

McClelland added that, as with years past, the event is not only about mountaineering, but also about giving back to the community of Keene and Keene Valley.

"It's a charity event that is a great way to support some local venues, like the school and the fire departments," he said.

The 2011 event will kick off Friday night, Jan. 14, with a slide show by Freddie Wilkinson at Keene Central School at 8 p.m.

"Wilkinson is one of the finest alpinists in the world and will take us on his most recent climbing expeditions and talk about his recently published book 'One Mountain Thousand Summits,' which he will be signing after his presentation," McClelland said. "The book is about the tragedy and trials that are faced on K-2."

During the morning hours starting Saturday, there are a number of clinics that will take place in numerous mountaineering areas and skills. While most classes are now full. McClelland said that there were a hand full of clinics on Sunday morning and Monday morning that have openings.

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