August, 2015 the Rendezvous International Canyoning (RIC) was held once again but this time around it was in the small country town of Ouray, Colorado, USA. Over 100 canyoners from all over the world flew and drove in to explore canyons in the San Juan Mountains.
Ouray chosen for the RIC as it has several points that need to accommodate an international meeting. The first being the high concentration of canyons in the near town. Canyons where the flow is consistent even middle of summer, and equipment fixed to International standards. As well as the canyons, the tourism infrastructure quality and an emergency service in the mountains is extremely well established. Ouray is often called little Switzerland Colorado, a valley covered by pine forests, surrounded by ridges and summits perched at over 3400 m. Their are a number of waterfalls that surround the city and is host to the international ice climbing festival every year.
The canyons in Ouray are quite different from other areas in America or Europe. With some canyons having quite large drops and some with long hikes in, the geology of the area is simple amazing with the multifaceted rocks. From deep red to green with veins of quartz and other mixed it was quite spectacular and an experience to see.
During the RIC this year there was 2 Technical Workshops that focused on techniques that have been developed independently of each other.
The first Technical Workshop focused on the discovery and use special techniques used to explore slot of canyons of Utah, Arizona. During the day participants were able to discover, test, and discuss methods used to descend waterfalls without fixed anchors. Techniques on natural anchoring, deadman anchors and retrievable anchors such as the fiddlestick and virtual fiddlestick (using rope only). As well as these techniques, advanced anchors such as the Sandtrap or Watertrap were shown as well. Both these types of anchors are unique to the Utah slot canyons and are highly successful when used correctly.
The second Technical Workshop brought together more than thirty people to learn European techniques. The instructors who presented the French expertise and various techniques using single rope or double, with a system in anchoring and fixing lines as well as manipulation from below securing the last man. This workshop ended with discussion around the Valdotain Tresse. A very good turn out and a lot of new techniques for all.
Both Technical Workshops were a real success with everyone and highlighted the importance between different technical training and learning information in canyoning. It is good to look forward to new technical workshops in the future.
As well the RIC, The IAAC held their yearly meeting. All the country representatives were present for the 2nd time in Ouray. 2016 will be the year of promotion and IAAC development with the setting of up communication tools new partners. The IAAC has validated two new members: Colombia and Ecuador. With next year, we hopefully have more new country members.
To wrap everything off we had the final meal and lucky gift lottery with all proceeds going to the Ouray Mountain Rescue Group. With quite a lot of equipment, bags, ropes and other items, everyone was snapping up tickets by the handfuls! A great evening of food, drink friends and fun.
A big special thanks to RIC, Ouray Canyoning Festival, Coalition of American Canyoneers and everyone else who made the event successful. It was another good year and a good time to catch up with everyone once again. Looking forward to the next RIC in Azores in 2016.