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Rock and Ice Photo Camp: Rifle, Colorado 2016

Taking Aim – Rifle Comes Into Focus At Our Annual Photo Camp

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Climbers have been pumping Rifle Mountain Park, Colorado, for some 30 years, and while the area, with its tick marks, grid-bolts, perma-draws, crowds, and dogs would be unrecognizable to the original route developers, there is one sweet, beautiful constant: world-class, kick-ass climbing.

The optimal way to experience Rifle is to dig in—no, really dig in—and try to send one of the 400 routes. This may take you weeks, months, or longer. Whichever 100-foot chunk of limestone you choose, you will get sucked into hacking it down to size by discovering the most precise, finicky beta (new kneebars are still being discovered on 20-year-old routes), then practicing those moves over and over and over again until, one day, you slay the beast. For some climbers, the Rifle process becomes so consuming they sacrifice jobs and relationships, and the limestone gash in Western Colorado becomes the only place they climb, or want to climb. It’s that good.

Meanwhile, nights are spent back at camp around fragrant bowls of quinoa and potent microbrews with all the other wounded, gluten-free gladiators who nurse torn fingertips and a particular type of full-body ache that you can’t really get at any other crag.

This June, some 18 photographers, from pros to novice, rendezvoused at Rifle. The mission? Capture America’s Great Crag in all its glory with photos that 30 years from now generations of yet unborn climbers will gaze on and see not just their favorite crag, but a bit of their own fanaticism.

A special thanks to adidas and Five Ten for their generous support of the photo shoot.

—Andrew Bisharat