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Four wheeling is different things to different people. Some think 4 wheeling is a gentle drive on dirt roads in the forest, others like to dash down sandy arroyos or climb huge sand dunes. But to the participants of the First Annual "BFG Rockcrawling Championship", it's hammering their most prized possession (their 4 wheelers) into huge boulders and rock waterfalls, just so that you can claim the title, "King of the Rocks".
The contestant list reads like a Who's Who of 4 wheeling, Rod Pepper, Harold Off, Jim Peterson, Sonny Honeger, John Curries, and Shannon Campbell, are just some of the participants. Even non-wheelers could tell by looking at the Las Cruces Hilton's parking lot that something big was happening.
The action started as the contestants split up into two groups. One group headed west to the "Trail Course", Apache Canyon (also know as Tabasco Twister). The other group headed north to the "Canyon Course", the famous Broad Canyon. Most of the Broad Canyon group felt lucky to draw this trail. Broad Canyon is a boulder filled canyon, but not the hardest canyon to drive, or at least that is what they thought at the time. What they found was a seven-stage course over huge boulders, bigger rock walls, off camber ledges and generally the hardest rockcrawling that most had ever seen. Some stages were so hard that a lot of the contestants just took one look and went around (taking the maximum 10 points). But by the end of the day, almost every stage had been done conquered by at least one team.
Tabasco Twister wasn't much easier, minutes after starting, teams started using their only allowed "Time Out" of the day. Reports of broken axles, destroyed lockers, torn tires increased as new teams ran the first stag. The second stage was the easiest, but one jeep still broke three axles and a locker. All seven stags had different challenges and each claimed more medal.
Saturday the groups switched to run the canyon they had not run. Each group did better on the second day's canyon than the first. Practice is everything in big time rockcrawling.
The top 12 teams; (a tie made it a Bakers Dozen), went on to run on Sundays trip into Patzcuaros Revenge (known locally as "Pet-squirrels Revenge"). Stage one was over Shark's Tooth. StageTwo through "The Nemesis 1", the third stage was climbing "Nemesis Two". Stages four and five were two more waterfalls. Finally Stage 6 was a large waterfall with a big mud puddle at the base.
When all was said and done only Jeeps finished the day, with Jeff Waggoner of Nebraska finishing first place with the least points. But in my book, anybody that had enough guts to try to run this event was a winner. Excellent driving, good sportsmanship and a willingness to help each other showed the high caliber of the contestants.
About the author:
Lance drives a 1982 CJ-7 with ARB lockers, front and rear, automatic, 4:1 transfer case and a 258 motor. Lance has spent the last 20 years four-wheeling, with the last 5 years concentrated on rockcrawling. He is also a past President of the Las Cruces Four Wheel Drive Club and has been a member of the Board of Directors. Lance spends much of his time leading trails for the SWFWDA Winter Quarterly's in Las Cruces, and has wheeled in Moab, Farmington, Chokecherry Canyon, and all over Colorado and New Mexico.