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Monday, 1 September 2014

Overwhelming New Areas in the Fields


I'm always saying this, but as we've been wandering a bit more each year, we continue to find what seems like endless amounts of rock in the Fields. This year, the focus has primarily been on the areas in the eastern Fields. Last year, we started to travel out past Cave Dweller and were rewarded with some incredible lines/ areas (Serenity, Flowmotion, Danger Aretes, Dirt Burglar to name a few). We quickly realized this year that we had barely scratched the surface with last year's explorations.
 
For a good chunk of this season, we've been adding tons of lines in all directions in the eastern Fields and it's impossible right now for us to keep up with all the rock. We actually haven't even had a chance to find the end of the Fields to the south! I think what we've got going on in this part of the Fields will likely keep us busy for at least a couple more years, and this is only one of several untapped areas yet to be developed! As a guidebook author this is a bittersweet diagnosis. More problems and quality areas is great for the book, however, it's a TON more work and means the book is again going to take longer to get out as I wait for things to slow down even a little bit in the Fields. In then end, it's a pretty nice problem to have!
 
Here are some pics and videos of recent excursions...
 
Loic on the "A Room With a View" Project (Likely V10)

Me on the exit moves of "A Room With a View"

Jay on a great, new, overhanging fin project
 
Ryan on a fun face boulder we scrubbed up
 
A few of the lines on the face boulder Ryan and I scrubbed...
 

I can't remember for sure, but this one was about V4?


A silky smooth V0


Another fun face line
 
Me on End of the Line- V9 (a recent FA at the eastern edge of the Fields)
 

Me displaying horrible footwork and camerawork on the FA of a cool, compressiony V6-ish beside End of the Line
 
And we can't forget that we're still plucking beauties out of long-established areas. I can't remember if Brandon Fox (up from the US) has a name for this one yet, but here are Loic, Jay and Brandon crushing another great Dominator face line!

 
 
 
And the gals are getting after it on an awesome, new V6-ish face line below Dominator called "Masterbeta." Jess has been putting in terrific effort on this one and Staci has also become smitten with it.
 
Staci on Masterbeta
 
 
As always, if you'd like any info on Okanagan bouldering, feel free to email me (Andy) at okbouldering@gmail.com

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

The Beginnings of a Destination?

For those of you who may have spent a good amount of time in the Boulderfields this year, you'd likely recognize what's becoming a common theme. This year, more than any other in the past, the Fields (and the whole Okanagan bouldering scene for that matter) has seen a sizeable influx of traveling boulderers coming out to sample the goods. And the overall verdict... it's great!

This year, we've had people from all over the world come to see what all our fuss is about. We've had a bunch of people make trips from Alberta, Vancouver, Squamish, the Fraser Valley, Ontario and other spots across Canada. To add to the domestic flavor, we've had people from all over the US come up to give 'er a rip as well. California, Washington, Colorado, Massachusetts, Georgia, and a few other states have been represented here this year. Equally as interesting is the list of countries from which people have visited overseas. We've met people from Spain, the UK, Switzerland, and Germany, with the possibility of a well-known guy and his wife from the UK and another fella from South Africa on their way in a few days!

I'm loving the amount of people heading this way to see what we are lucky enough to climb everyday. We know that we're in the heyday of bouldering development right now in the Okanagan, but maybe we're also seeing the beginnings of the region becoming somewhat of a bouldering destination? The feedback we've gotten from most of the people traveling here is that the rock is great and that the Fields, especially, offer an outstanding amount of untapped potential. It's great to have confirmation of what we've been saying for years from some very traveled and well-respected boulderers.

A few of the people who've made the trip out this year have also shared their thoughts about what we've got going on here.

Spenser and Vikki from The RV Project visited for the Rock the Blocs fest this year and I previously shared their great blog from that visit already. But, they still have a video on the way from day 2 of the fest and if you want to have a look at the rest of their travels, check here...

http://rvproj.com/#sthash.OZYiUQFH.dpbs

If you missed their write up on the Fields here it is...

http://rvproj.com/2014/06/25/kelowna-the-boulderfields/#sthash.F0PlWglo.dpbs

Jason and Kristal recently made their way out from Ontario and despite their efforts to keep with other travel plans, they were hooked by the Fields and couldn't get away for about 2 weeks! In the process, they scrubbed up a bunch of new lines, climbed a load of the established beauties and helped a ton with one of our intense evenings of filming for Clayton's upcoming Okanagan bouldering film. Here's what they had to say about their time in the Fields...

http://ropeless.blogspot.ca/2014/08/the-boulderfields.html

If you made your way up to the Fields over the last few days, you'd also see that there is currently a crew here from the US, and they're sticking around for nearly a month! That's right, there is more than enough for them to just FA in that time! Brandon, Gabi and Ben have already added new lines to the Fields and we're excited that they've taken so much time out of their year of traveling to crush in the Okanagan. My guess is that they'll be putting out updates throughout their stay and you can check them out here...

http://www.justgoclimb.com/

In the end, I think it's great that the valley is getting so much bouldering attention from people outside the region. On the flip side, I also find it humorous that aside from the handful of people who have put up many of the lines in the Okanagan over the years, this year, traveling climbers have likely put up as many lines (or more) and had as many user days (or more) out bouldering as locals. I know that we're lucky to have lots of rock here, many people aren't interested in developing problems/ areas, and this is still a major sport-climbing region, but it's just funny how people from all over the world seem to be as excited or more excited than locals about what we have in our backyard. Take that as you will, but maybe take it as a challenge to get out and see what this heyday of Okanagan bouldering is all about!


Saturday, 16 August 2014

The Toughie Toughersons!!!

So, last night, Jay and I finally got down to doing something we've talked about for a while. We managed to put our collect brain power together (and believe it or not we can count fairly well when we need to) and figure out a pretty good estimate of how many established double digit lines can now be found in the Okanagan as well as how many V12+ projects are still awaiting ascents (that we know of, have attempted or have found- there are likely many more to come)!

Now some people might not give two poops about this and I completely understand. However, for some of you who read this, I'm hoping this serves as a bit of an invitation to head out this way and give some of these toughies a go. There are more than enough now throughout the Okanagan to keep most people busy for a while.

After careful, mind blowing calculations, we figure that there are now about 30-35 problems in the Okanagan Valley ranging from about V10-V11/12. Some of these will undoubtedly experience some grade correction (or maybe not much from what we've seen so far), but that's still a good chunk of double digit lines compared to just a few years back when I doubt the valley even had over 5-10? We've definitely been busy and with new double digit lines being added at a very quick pace and new rock being discovered daily, who knows where this number will be when the guidebook finally comes out?

Jay on the Nerf Roof Project. This one is tried, tested and true and it's hard to think it's easier than V13. Photo- Jess Zotto

Just as interesting to me is that fact that we also easily came up with a list of 15-20 projects that we figure will be at least V12 or above... and that's just the lines we've seen or tired (if you've been to the Boulderfields, you know how much rock is waiting to be found in there). Some of these lines are mega hard and will likely require an import to put them down... or maybe not if people wait too long to get here?

Me playing on the Ice Talons Low Project (This one has one ridiculously hard pull to start!)
 

All in all, that's at least 50 or so lines in the Okanagan right now that range from V10 to VSuper Duper Hard. I've been to a number of bouldering destinations where there aren't even close to that many hard testpieces to keep the crushers busy. I guess that means if you're looking for something new and tough, and maybe you want to throw down on some projects, you should give Okanagan bouldering a try?

If you'd like any info on these lines or any others in the Okanagan, please feel free to email me (Andy) at okbouldering@gmail.com

Lots of Newbies in the Fields

Lots of newbies doesn't refer to the amount of new climbers checking out the Fields lately, but more to the amount of new lines that have been put up again since the last post.
 
Lines are going up at a rate of 10-15 in total on some days and with the "discovery" of all the new rock past Serenity Amidst the Chaos, we won't even come close to tapping out that area of the Fields by the end of the season! Great rewards come to those who walk a little further!

Over the last few weeks, there have again been some terrific double digit lines added to the Fields. Last week, after 3 seasons of work, Jay managed to send both of his projects on the Lonesome Jubilee boulder. He started working these a couple years back and was quite happy to finally put them to rest. Both of these lines are super tough and they are made tougher by the fact that they are out past the Cereal Killer boulders and only dry up for a short part of the climbing season (maybe a month out of the year). Still, they are terrific lines and the right variation likely falls in the V11 range while the direct is probably V11+. Big props to Jay for adding these to the Fields. I guess that means that there are roughly 10 lines from V10 to VMega Project in a fairly short distance between the Scarface North and Cereal Killer/ Spinal Tap Boulders. Not to shabby!

Recently, Pat also added Intricate Simplicity to the mix in the Fields. This one is hard to find, but is east of The Desk and Double Decker areas, amongst a ton of untapped rock. With beautiful holds and a tricky first move, it's a fun toughie. This line saw some attempts over the last year, but Pat managed to fire it off and it's likely in the V10 range. Well worth a look!

I also want to give a shout out to Miles Adamson and crew for their recent trip back to the Fields. Miles was our Rock the Blocs winner this year and I think he's really enjoyed his time in the Fields. He has a knack for the high stuff and he knows that there is a lot of it totally untouched here. While they were here, the boys put up several lines of great quality, but the icing on the cake was Miles' highball ascent of the overhang on Pika Wall. This is the closest piece of rock you come to in the Fields and the fact that it hadn't been highballed before speaks to the amount of unclimbed lines left in there. Miles climbed the overhang straight up, moving out left to the arĂȘte and the established sport line only after all the business on his line. I was lucky enough to watch this go down and if he keeps bringing this type of game back to the Fields, look out for what's to come! He called this line Purgatory and at about V9, it'll be a must do on any highballers list.

Miles on Purgatory. It's spicy!

Personally, after finishing up a couple of my goal projects for the year on the Driven wall and Serenity boulder, I worked my way further east with a couple of the other fellas to find what looks like well over 100 problems just past Serenity. It's a beautiful spot with a lot of great lines to be plucked. I've been like a kid in a candy store for the last few weeks, scrubbing and climbing a bunch of full value lines.

One of these was a very cool, steep, cave line that essentially compresses between a lip on the left and a series of great sidepulls for the right. I really enjoyed the climbing on this, but unfortunately, there just isn't an exit out of the cave. I love topping lines out, but this line just can't do it, so on this one you just have to enjoy the movement without the top-out. If you like steep, powerful climbing, this one's well worth a look. I figured it's about V10/11 and I called it Tried, Measured and Found Wanting.

In total, my guess is that this new area has already had about 30 new lines added and there are tons more to go! There are some of the best easy lines I've ever put up in this zone in addition to at least a couple very difficult projects. Oh wait, doesn't it seem like we say that about a lot of areas in the Fields? There's also a bit of a ladder battle going on in that zone right now as Ryan has been doing a ton of work to add to the Dirt Burglar area. He scrubs a bunch of lines, I steal the ladder back to put up some more past Serenity, then he grabs the ladder to add to his lines and so on and so on. It's a pretty fun little game and oh man does that ladder help get lines up quicker (thanks again to everyone who donated at Rock the Blocs this year)!

I know that we continue to put up new lines in areas throughout the Fields each year, even the long and well-established areas. Still, moving further east has really taken us back to a time (not so long ago) when we were developing entire new zones. I think this is one of the big future development areas in there and I'm excited to see where it leads. If you enjoy scrubbing and haven't had a look, get down there and check it out!

Finally, I've been lucky enough recently to be part of a couple cool things. First, a little while back, I was asked to do an interview with Global Okanagan about bouldering and the Boulderfields. It was a really fun couple hours showing off our playground and the sport. I was excited because a few years back, this would have never happened. But, with more people getting involved, the sport becoming more popular and The Fields getting much more exposure, people are taking notice of what's going on in our backyard. Here's what Global came up with from the day.

 http://globalnews.ca/news/1493301/kelowna-boulderfields-some-of-the-best-in-canada/

Also, one evening while putting up a few new lines, Clayton took some time to snap a few pics of me on another beauty. A little while later and Gripped had one of the shots on their FB page. A huge thanks to Clayton for putting his skills out there to promote bouldering in the region and to Gripped for all their support of Okanagan bouldering over the years.

The pic Clayton took of me on I've Got 99 Problems, but a Pinch Ain't One that Gripped shared

On that note, we're going to be filming hot and heavy over the next bunch of weeks in anticipation of Clayton's Okanagan bouldering film which will hopefully drop early next season! Let's just say there are close to 30 lines being filmed in the Fields alone, not including other areas in the Okanagan. This film will blow the lid off what we've had here for a long time!

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Another Busy Month in the Fields

I guess it's been about a month since any kind of update. That's largely due to getting back into the swing of things after Rock the Blocs and mainly just projecting like crazy. Still, it's been another busy development month in the Fields with new lines going up all over, and a good focus on a couple areas in particular.

To start things off, I figured I'd highlight a few of the recent tough FA's that we've managed over the last month or so. For a good chunk of that time, Jay was busy on the massive Distillery Boulder. This is a boulder in the Double Decker area with a large south face and it sits just west and below the classic Ripply Boulder. The south face that Jay put a ton of work into includes the previously climbed Newer and Stupider (V7) as well as a few other new beauties. One of these is a terrific compression style problem that climbs through some great holds and eventually tops out over the mini-roofs as for Newer and Stupider. It didn't take Jay long to put this one together and The Distillery (V10/11) was born. Not long after this, he also added another line on the same face, but slightly to the left. A little beta switch put this one to rest and I can't remember if Jay's named this line quite yet, but it comes in around V9/10. So, the south face of the Distillery Boulder went from having one lonely line over the years to having a bunch of awesome lines. Not to mention, there are still a number of link-ups and variations possible on that face.

At about the same time, I was getting busy on the Driven Wall, trying to put an old project to rest. For a couple years, we've been playing on the Driven Direct dyno off a small edge at the bottom of the wall. Being vertically and dyno challenged, I always found the move to be ridiculously hard. Then, at the beginning of the season, I realized that I could reach a sidepull out right and work into the line that way. Soon enough I was hooked and after a long battle with wet holds, skin tearing on the start edge, and overall difficulty, I finally managed to put it all together and add the direct to Driven Stand. The low moves felt very hard for me and adding them to the stand start of Driven makes for a tough finish. In the end I called it Livin' on the Edge and I'm not sure how hard this one is. I think it's the hardest line I've ever done and probably falls in the V11+ range (for the small person beta). I'm interested to see if someone taller or someone with better dyno skills will find the direct dyno beta easier or harder and be able to give a better idea of overall difficulty? Any takers?

After finally managing the send on Livin' on the Edge, I moved all my effort to the Serenity Boulder. The north face of this boulder is beautiful and littered with cool holds. Last year, Jay and Loic put up Heart of Darkness (V8) on the left side of the wall, while I put up Serenity Amidst the Chaos (V10/11) on the right side of the wall. All winter, I'd been wanting to get back to Serenity to see if a direct line would go, and if a connection between Heart of Darkness and Serenity would go. When I returned earlier this month, I quickly saw that both were possible. So, after a bit of work, I managed to send Chaos Amidst the Serenity (V9/10ish) last week. This one starts as for Serenity, but moves straight up the face through slots and edges to a tricky edge and sidepull below the lip.

Me on Chaos Amidst the Serenity (V9/10)
 
The big move to the very small edge on Chaos Amidst the Serenity

At the same time, I had been putting in a bit of work each day on the connection and earlier this week, I finally managed to put together the full line across the Serenity face. This one starts on Heart of Darkness and moves all the way across the boulder to finish as for Serenity Amidst the Chaos. This is a contender for the best problem I've ever climbed, let alone put up. I loved this thing! I called it Heart of Chaos and it's probably about V10/11. This line needs some action!

Setting up for the big move to the edge on Heart of Chaos
 
The terrific lock-off on Heart of Chaos

In addition to these great, new, tough lines a good amount of work has been happening all over the Fields. As I mentioned before, a couple areas in particular have seen some concentration. One is the Double Decker area. This is one of the spots already in the bouldering guide, but we sure didn't fill it up a ton when we started developing there. Jay recently added the Distillery lines, Braden and Jay added a beauty new V5 highball, I added a couple new easy lines and there is still a bunch more rock untouched in the Double Decker zone.

Another spot that's seen even more action is the Serenity area. This one's not in the book, but after even a quick look, you can tell this is the next BIG area in the Fields. When I walk around in there, I feel like I'm back 5 years ago when we ran around the Fields in any direction and could put up 20 lines a day! It's so great to see that we can still do that this many years later. Jay, Braden, Ryan, Bennett and I have all been busy out in the Serenity area and it shouldn't be tool long before it gets a bit concentrated.

I also wanted to give a huge shout out to the work the local gals are doing in the Fields this year! In particular Staci, Jess and Manuela. Between these 3 ladies, a bunch of solid lines have seen what I'm almost positive are their first female ascents. Lines such as Full Chub, Surf's Up, The Desk, Pinball Wizard and Peek a Poo have all seen an ascent or two from these lady crushers and I'm super excited to see how they can continue to push their limits in the Okanagan! I have no doubt that it won't be long before they start cranking off some of the solid V7 and V8 projects in the valley.

Staci on Surf's Up
 
I've also been busy spending all that lovely donation cash that people so generously provided at Rock the Blocs. So far, we now have a couple aluminum ladders in the Fields and Cougar Canyon, a bunch of new tools (shovels, pick axes, rake) to help with trail projects, a ton of scrub brushes and tools in the hands of prolific local developers, and I've been hard at work getting close to 50 new signs ready to help people get to some of the new bouldering zones not in the Boulderfields guidebook. Thanks again to everyone who helped support Okanagan bouldering development!


I apologize for the lack of photos/ video. I've been flying solo a lot lately and the camera is busy collecting dust. As always, if you need any info on Okanagan bouldering feel free to email me at okbouldering@gmail.com

A Couple Rock the Blocs Videos

It's again been a little while since a bit of an update, and soon enough a good Boulderfields update is on the way. In the meantime, here are a couple cool videos that came out of the Rock the Blocs festival this year.

The first is an all aerial edit put together by Ian Holmes. It provides a very unique perspective of the Fields. I thought it was great.




The second video is from Miles Adamson (Men's open winner at RTB) and shows him highballing a couple old trad/ sport lines in the Fields on day 2 of the fest. While he doesn't finish the beautiful second line (Pretty Face) on the video, he went back later that day to seal the deal.


2 New Highballs - Kelowna from Miles Adamson on Vimeo.

Thanks a ton to Ian and Miles for putting work into these. Enjoy!

Monday, 30 June 2014

ROCK THE BLOCS Recap

 Before I get started, a big shout out to Caillum at Preserved Light Photography for all these images. Thanks buddy!
 

The big day has come and gone and we've managed to recover. All I can say is that Rock the Blocs 2014 was a MASSIVE success! It far surpassed last year's festival and left us itching for next year. The vibe and energy were electric and it was terrific to see so many new faces bouldering in the Okanagan!

A whole lot of peeps this year!

 
All in all, we had over 130 people attend Rock the Blocs on Saturday with about 100 of them being competitors. That pretty much doubled last year's attendance! Not only that, but there was a great mix of people out this year. We had multiple national team/ world cup competitors, last year's Tour de Bloc National Champion, Spenser and Vikki from The RV Project (all the way from California), as well as strong contingents from Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, Squamish, Calgary, and of course, the Okanagan. The Okanagan has never seen such an influx of climbers specifically here to boulder. It was a treat!

 
Quentin on one of the several terrific Surf highballs

Saturday went very well with competitors heading out around 10am and returning around 5pm. It was amazing to see so many people enjoying lines from V0 to VReally Hard. The Nerf Roof even saw some serious action and proved that it is still VReally Hard! Seeing so many people bouldering and having fun in the Fields really makes us happy because it validates a lot of the work we've done over the years and we love sharing the amazingness of the Fields with a larger, yet still ethically/ environmentally conscious user group. Overall, it seemed like almost everyone was having a blast and some people even had a tough time leaving the Fields for the wrap-up/ prizes.

Nikita getting pogo on Axel Rose
 
Spenser crushing the overhang on Surf Arete
 
Ryan moving into the business on Surf Arete
 
Thanks to Loic, Greer and Co. a new drop in trail was also roughed in on Saturday. This new trail now starts just past the fence (on the way to the Bigglesworth Boulders) and will hopefully act as a more user-friendly alternative to the steep, at times slippery drop-in that leads to the Southeast Trail and F1/ Surf areas. With so many more people coming into the Fields now, we figured a bit easier access would be nice. A huge thanks to the fellas for putting the time in on this! Get on this trail if you get a chance and help pound it in.

One of the morning hot spots
 
Loic and Andrej on the seldom attempted No Guts, No Glory
 
 
When all was said and done, we finished up the day with a poop-load of prizes to hand out. Thanks to all our amazing sponsors, we had a ton of draw prizes, raffles, and of course, category winner prizes. On that note, the big crushers of the day in each category were...

Men
Open- Miles Adamson
Intermediate- Joel White
Beginner- Edgar Klein

Women
Open- Staci White
Intermediate- Jess Zotto
Beginner- Jaycee Janier

A huge congrats to the category winners and all competitors for getting after it!


Jess repping for the ladies on Dangleberries

Spenser pulling hard on Dangleau
 

Now, of special note is also the total amount raised from the raffle items and pig roast. In total, we managed to raise over $550 which all goes right back into bouldering development in the Okanagan. I want to say a big thanks to everyone who chipped in for the raffle and pig roast. This money will directly benefit the bouldering scene here.

I also want to say a MASSIVE thanks to Tim Duncan who provided us with the pig roast. I'm not sure if people realize this, but Tim donated absolutely everything for the pig roast so that we could raise money. This guy is a champ! The cost to Tim was more than what we were able to raise and he was just super psyched to be able to help us continue to develop the region. Then, within a day or so after the fest, Tim was ready with a bunch of wood to donate to us for projects. Tim is a perfect example of why I love the climbing community in the Okanagan. What a crew we have here! If you get a chance, give Tim a big hug and thank him for his help at the fest. You're the man, Tim!

Youngest competitor this year?

Calculating the scores

Prizes comin' in hot

Day 2 of Rock the Blocs looked similar to last year. We had grand plans of more trail projects and possible clinics, but on day 2, people just seem to want to climb... and I can't blame them. I figure there must have been at least 60 people still in the Fields on Sunday, and they were throwing down! That's almost as many people as last year's fest just on day 2!

I was able to get in on the action on Sunday, and what a day we had! It was a FA kinda day. By the time I finally got into the Fields, I managed to meet up with a bunch of yocals just in time to see Ryan Williams FA a beauty new line on the Venom wall just below Dominator. Not a bad start to the day, eh? Shortly after this, we made our way down to the wall formerly known as Aaron's Highball. Within a few minutes, Ryan and Andrej had sent the beautiful face on this boulder and Peek a Poo (V6) was born. This is an instant classic and well worth a look. Soon after, Manuela, Loic, and Spenser all found their way up this beauty.

Ryan on the new Venom wall line

While this was all happening, I made my way up to a boulder just north of the Venom wall. It had seen a few attempts a couple weeks prior and I thought I'd give the awesome face a rip. With a bit of tricky beta, I found my way to the top with Loic closely behind. The moves on this one are terrific and the rock is high quality. So, that was the birth of Masterbeta (V6/7), the third amazing FA of the day.

Shortly after this, Loic, Jay and Andrej all compressed their way up another new quality line just below the Ripply Boulder. This one starts with some great power/ compression climbing and has a highball finish over a couple tenuous mini-roofs, all while pulling on cool holds. That FA was number four for the day and was called Newer and Stupider (V7). After this, the rest of the crew continued crushing their way through the Fields while I headed home.

As I mentioned above, we were lucky enough to have The RV Project (Spenser and Vikki) here with us this year and they even did some filming of all this madness on Sunday. It was so amazing to have them visit what we think is some great bouldering here in the Okanagan, and in turn, they stoked the flame of the locals while they were here. If you get a chance, check them out at http://rvproj.com/#sthash.4ACen5Xg.dpbs and check out their blog about the Fields at http://rvproj.com/2014/06/25/kelowna-the-boulderfields/#sthash.fRQ635ib.dpbs. Also stay tuned for their video of day 2 at Rock the Blocs! They are doing awesome work! Thanks so much for joining us Spenser and Vikki!

Not a bad view on the way down from the Fields, eh?

In the end, I just want to say a big thanks to everyone who came out and made Rock the Blocs so much fun again this year. I'd also like to again thank our sponsors (True Outdoors, Beyond the Crux, Flashed, Grandwall Skin Repair, Gripped, Redpoint Holds, and FrE Clothing) for all their support. Finally, I'd like to thank Jay, Loic, Aaron, Bennett, Ryan, and anyone else I'm forgetting for all their help with the fest.

I can't wait to see everyone back at it next year! See you then.