Friday night marked the kickoff of the UT Outdoor Program’s 10th annual All-Access Outdoor Festival, a weekend of education, friendly competition and service in the great outdoors.
Many would argue that UT sits in a utopia for outdoor recreation, and UTOP uses its outdoor festival to raise awareness of the opportunities right outside every student’s backdoor.
“The outdoor community here is growing so immensely,” Benjamin Darnell, UTOP program director, said. “In our 10th year we really wanted to kind of focus on the community.”
The festivities began on Friday with the Telluride Mountainfilm Festival. Scores of outdoor enthusiasts gathered in the auditorium of the University Center to view films that ranged in genre from adventure documentaries to human-interest pieces.
The film festival is based in Telluride, Colo., and each year it takes some of its films on the road.
“It’s awesome that Mountainfilm came to our campus,” Matthew Guenther, freshman in environmental science, said. “It was really cool to see all of the videos.”
The films shown on Friday had an air of challenge, and many in the audience were inspired to take up some new hobbies.
“I just want to ... drop out of school now,” Guenther laughed.
The excitement continued on Saturday with UTOP’s Crankin’ for Access Bouldering Competition. UT hosted individual climbers as well as climbing clubs and teams from southeastern colleges.
“We’re part of what’s called the CCS, or the Collegiate Climbing Series, so other universities are now coming to this competition,” Darnell said.
The climbing competition was the main event of the weekend, drawing crowds of both experienced and beginning climbers.
“There are four divisions: beginner, intermediate, advanced and open, and within each division there are six people who place, three in men’s and three in women’s in each category,” Darnell said. “It’s just a day of climbing and gaining points, and whoever ends up with the most wins.”