Category Archives: Beauty Mountain

The Ruchert Motion 5.13a – Grand Finale at the NRG

This fall has featured some pretty goofy weather conditions.  October was hot, November was wet, and December is…perfect?!?  Our NRG season typically wraps up before Thanksgiving.  After that, the days are so short, with frigid mornings and evenings, and nighttime temps that drop below our enjoyable-camping-with-kids threshold.  It’s also not uncommon to contend with snow, so even a stray warm day can end up wet.  Not to mention the holidays are coming, and we want to focus on that!  But Thanksgiving  weekend brought fantastic weather we couldn’t pass up…and we both put good work in on The Ruchert Motion 13a.  And when we saw that the forecast was just as good for the following weekend, we had to go back and bring our try hard.

The press out move…thankful for every inch!

But the kink in our plans was poor CragDaddy, who rolled his ankle punting off a gym boulder problem just one move away from sending a sick new V13 in our backyard no one knows about and never will because it imploded back into earth upon CragDaddy’s impact. 😉 Thankfully the “incident” turned out to be just a minor sprain, and by the time the weekend rolled around, he was pain-free with just an annoying amount of swelling.  He could toprope all day long…but going “a muerte” on his project still didn’t seem wise.  So unfortunately for him (but very much appreciated by me), the only things he was able to bring to this NRG double bonus weekend were superior belay skills, encouraging pep talks, and camera management skills.   Actually, before you feel too sorry for him, he DID manage to sneak in some try hard on his toprope burns, and I’m confident that he’ll be ready for Ruchert Motion next spring.

But all joking aside, I am very grateful that CragDaddy was still up for making a trip that was undoubtedly more fun for me than it was for him.  I definitely owe him some “support services” time back out there this spring.  

And thankfully, I made it worth his while.  It took 4 go’s, but I finally put it down at the end of Day 1.  My confidence was a rollercoaster all day.  The first burn was a warm-up, and I yarded through all the hard moves – the opening move, a tipped out move in the middle that is hard on my wrist, and the entire crux.  There’s another kinda hard sequence after the crux but it’s not tweaky, so I went for it but came up a little short and took a fall on an extended right shoulder that did not feel great.  It hurt for a few minutes but then seemed fine (and left me thankful that I’ve been doing all those little stabilizing exercises on the regular!)  Once I clipped the chains, my fingers were a lot warmer and I rehearsed all the hard moves as I lowered.  

My favorite kidcrushers.

My 2nd burn felt awesome.  I made it all the way to the crux without too much difficulty. Things were actually going so well that I unknowingly got my left foot up higher than I had been, which threw off my balance at the end of the crux, and my right hand slipped off a split second before I could move it to the next hold.  After a quick hang, I finished it up, and lowered off feeling very optimistic.

But my 3rd go I didn’t even make it to the crux.  I fell in the reachy 11+ section on the move that is hard on my wrist.  This particular move has me completely pressed out to my fingertips, then making a desperate pop to a jug.  I played around with some different beta, and found a sequence that was a little higher percentage.  The only down side to the new beta was that it was harder on the skin, which at this point, was at a premium thanks to that sharp little hold I dry fired off of on my previous burn.  Rather than exfoliating my finger tip any more by trying the crux on a non-send burn, I opted to just come down rather than rehearse it again, since splitting a tip would mean game over for the day.  Confidence plummeted.  

Big C in action.

4th go.  The opening move, the one that thwarted me all but twice last weekend, continued to go well.  I winced as I cranked out the new beta for the press out move, but was relieved when I glanced down at my finger tip and didn’t see any blood.  There’s a great rest stance after that, and I stayed there a good long while.  I moved through the next moves smoothly, made the clip, and entered the crux traverse.  The holds are heinously small, so I went as quickly as I could.  I was red-lining as I got my feet up to make the big exit move to the jug, but I held on for all I was worth and stuck the hold!  

Exiting the crux

All that was left between me and the last 20 feet of 5.10 land was the kinda hard traverse I’d fell at the end of on my warm-up.  The move getting into this traverse is never smooth for me.  The holds are an easy reach for CragDaddy, but it’s very awkward for me to get both hands established on the traverse holds, so I have to smear my foot on a very slippery hold and do a weird move that we christened the “donkey kick.”  Every time I do it, I’m afraid that foot is going to blow off, but it never did…until this time!  Luckily, it was just after both hands were on, so I managed to hang on.

The only other issue came in 5.10 land when I thought CragDaddy was short roping me, but it turned out to be my tail knot stuck in the bottom biner of the quickdraw.  ?!?  Never had that happen, never heard of it happening, but thankfully it was an easy fix. 

And…woohoo!  A perfect end to a fabulous fall climbing season!  Actually to be accurate, it wasn’t quite the end yet.  We climbed the next day too – CragKiddo got a chance to crush at the Meadow, and I got a chance for revenge on Stretch Armstrong 12a, the route I’d chickened out on the previous week.  CragDaddy looked longingly at Team Machine 12a, the route he’d “toprope sent” the previous week, but decided not to risk a lead fall, especially on that particular line, as its scary even with two good feet.

It’s pretty difficult to get good pictures when it’s just us and the kids, but CragDaddy did manage to set our camera up in a nearby tree to get some video footage.  Full disclosure, it’s not great – in order to get the whole route we had to shoot vertically.  And I climb painfully slow so it’s not exciting at all.  But it at least captures the moves and rad-ness of the line.  The zoomed in crux shots were taken on the sending go, but the rest of the footage is from other burns throughout the day.  We put it to music to make it less boring and also drown out the kids talking a little bit.  If you’d like to check it out, go here.  (And please excuse the try hard sounds on the opening move…)

I hope everyone had a great climbing season, and since it’ll probably be pretty quiet on the blog around here until after the new year, I’d like to wish everyone a very happy holiday season!  See you in 2018 and thanks for reading! 🙂



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NRG at Thanksgiving

Did your post-Thanksgiving plans include shop til you drop or #optoutside?  As you might have guessed, ours involved the latter.  The forecast was beautiful for the early part of last weekend, so we squeezed in a quick visit to our favorite east coast climbing destination for a half day Friday and full day Saturday.  

Reachy 11+ section on Ruchert Motion 13a

All we had time for on Friday afternoon was a couple of pitches each at Bridge Buttress, and despite our best efforts, we just couldn’t pull anything together.  I tackled an old nemesis of mine – Stretch Armstrong 12a, while CragDaddy tried his hand at Team Machine, also 12a.  I’d been on Stretch before a handful of times, but never felt close to sending it.  The route is very appropriately named, and my crazy beta was far too desperate to link on point.  This time however, I was able to work out a slightly different sequence that felt a lot more doable.  It was very committing, and felt every bit of 12b/c, but it seemed like it would work.  Unfortunately, when my turn was up again, I just couldn’t get the job done.  The kids started arguing, the sun never quite came around so my hands got really cold, one kid started crying, I wasted a lot of energy trying to remember a sequence down low, other kid starts crying, and so on and so forth.  By the time I got to the crux, my head was far too distracted to commit to the moves.  I hung, then did the moves first try.  Ugh.  

The 1st world problem woes continued with CragDaddy’s turn on Team Machine.  Due to fading light, cranky kids, and several scary sections, he opted to toprope rather than lead it.  The crux had taken him forever on round 1, and he figured it was still so low percentage he might as well toprope it…but of course he did it clean, earning him the dreaded “toprope-send.”  Womp womp.  

CragDaddy, aka “toprope toughguy”

But despite the fruitlessness of our Friday endeavors, everyone woke up Saturday in good spirits, ready for the main event.  For over a year, we’d been eyeing The Ruchert Motion 13a out at Beauty Mountain.  With newfound confidence from our last couple of trips to Hidden Valley, I was ready to give it a whirl.  Conditions were darn near perfect – low 40’s in the morning, low 50’s by afternoon, plenty of sun at the base of the cliff for the kids to “bask” in.  (During the morning hours, they laid around on the rocks pretending to be king cobras waking up from hibernation.)  

My first run, however, was far from perfect, and I was actually pretty discouraged.  In hindsight, it probably would have made more sense to warm-up on something else first, but psych was high so we jumped right in, knowing it would take us a while to get the draws in. The Mountain Project entry describing the first few bolts as “reachy 11+” also played heavily into our decision to skip a proper warm-up…but that description proved to be wildly inaccurate, at least for CragDaddy and me.  

You know, just bassssking around at the crag.

After flailing around for about 15 minutes, I skipped the opening moves and THEN climbed through a couple of bolts worth of what I could see described as reachy 11+.  Then came the crux, and my first attempts were dismal.  I stick-clipped my way through, then flailed through the next sequence that, while easier than the crux, was still pretty hard.  The last 20 feet was really fun 5.10 climbing (the kind that makes for a great, actual warm-up), but by the time I got to the top I was more exhausted than warmed up, and lowered straight down without trying any of the moves again.  

CragDaddy’s experience was similar, and when he got down, we took a nice long break to eat leftover pizza and “bask” with our King Cobra children.  The kids then moved to a different game involving catching “crabs” on an island boulder stranded in a sea of leaves, so at CragDaddy’s encouragement, I took the opportunity to have second go on Ruchert.  This run was decidedly better.  I still couldn’t touch the first move, but my fingers were a lot more warmed up by this point, and and I WAS able to do the crux moves. 



I was feeling very encouraged after my 3rd burn, especially when I actually was able to do the first move when I tried it again on the way down!  My 4th go, however, was the best yet – I only hung in two spots!  (And it should have been just one, but I botched a foot in one of the reachy moves before the crux.)  When I got to the crux I was pretty tired and starting to get a little sloppy with my feet, but I managed to get through it after a few tries, and was then able to shake out enough post-crux to finish the climb clean.  

The weather was forecasted to be drastically colder and cloudier on Sunday, so we headed back home Saturday night.  Judging by how wrecked my arms felt when I tried to rake leaves the next day, it was the best decision!  But that said…it feels awesome to have something “in the hopper” at the New again!  So many times I feel like I have such a love/hate relationship with the New because of all the times I get shut down on long moves.  But this one is gonna go down!  And hopefully sooner rather than later! Fingers crossed for this weekend, because if it doesn’t go down Saturday or Sunday, I’m gonna have to wait til spring!  


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Humidity + Humility = Reality at the New River Gorge

This weekend marked our first climbing trip back on the east coast since our big Wyoming adventure (summed up here, here, here, and here.)  And while it felt good to be back on familiar stone, the CragDaddy and I both took a giant dose of humble pie (served dripping in humidity!)

Getting out of my comfort zone on Psychowrangler 12a

Getting out of my comfort zone on Psychowrangler 12a

You know we’re going to get pummeled at the New this weekend, right?” I’d joked to Steve last week.  After a week of rest and a couple of bouldering sessions at the gym, we were still talking about the glory days of our vacation, where both of us had climbed harder than we’d ever expected – hitting personal climbing milestones left and right.  But while we came into the weekend feeling strong and confident, I had a sneaking suspicion that we were in for a rude awakening…

Me thinking that at Ten Sleep I never had to lock off this hard (MENSA 11d)

Me thinking that at Ten Sleep I never had to lock off this hard (MENSA 11d)

On our first day we climbed (or attempted to, anyway) at Kaymoor (White Wall), which I’d only been to one other time.  The hike is not terribly long, but by the time we got there, we were all drenched in sweat…welcome back to summer in the South.  We’d had a few fall-ish days after we’d first gotten back from Wyoming, but apparently that had only been a tease, because conditions were pretty darn terrible this weekend.  I sent the warm-up (Almost Heaven 10b)…and that was it.  In fact, that was the only route that I even got to the top of without pulling on a draw.

Day 2 was a lot better.  We climbed at Beauty Mountain, and I ticked off a pair of classic routes that had been on my list for quite some time – MENSA 11d and Disturbance 11d.  I’d actually been on both once before back in 2012, but had only toproped them, as that trip had been my first since breaking my ankle 8 weeks previously.  Both feature technical face climbing with long reaches between good holds.  The reaches on MENSA involve typical NRG lock-off strength, whereas the crux on Disturbance requires delicate foot placement with a little dose of aggro (ie, get your feet absurdly high and huck for it!)

After my dismal performance the day before, it felt good to remember how to rock climb again and I put MENSA down first go, although it felt a lot harder than I was expecting.  Disturbance didn’t come quite as quickly, as I really had to dial in my footwork and timing for the big deadpoint move.  But after a lot of flailing around beta refinement on my first go, I felt strong and solid on my second try, and sent fairly easily.  (Meanwhile Big C was throwing himself at the slab boulder at the base…and FINALLY sent it with a pretty sweet slab dyno!  We got it on video, so click here to see it.)

Yup, the New is reachier than Ten Sleep...Disturbance 11d

Yup, the New is reachier than Ten Sleep…Disturbance 11d

It was a treat to get a 3rd day at the New, as we usually take the opportunity to hit farther-away crags on holiday weekends.  Our crew decided to go to Cottontop, which to be perfectly honest, was not my first choice.  The most obvious route for me to tackle next is Psychowrangler 12a, which requires a skill set that is the complete opposite of mine.  It’s steep, powerful, and super badass…and also super intimidating.  Last fall I’d shocked myself by actually making it to the top…then I came in with guns blazing right before we left for Wyoming and got shut down at the first bolt.  The move is big, and getting higher feet is really awkward, but it’s from a good hold to a great hold, so most people just jump for it, or even campus.  I am horrible at both of those things (although I must admit I’m starting to enjoy some of my campus workouts!)  The CragDaddy urged me to try again, citing bad conditions as the reason I couldn’t get anywhere on it last time.  But once again, no dice.  I get all tied in and ready to roll and….DENIED!

Ninja obstacles at the crag.

Ninja obstacles at the crag.

After taking a much-needed break to play Batman with Big C, I took a walk with the guidebook, hoping to find something appealing that I hadn’t seen before.  There are several 11+/12- routes on the left side of the cliff that I never hear anyone talk about, although most of them get 2 stars in the guidebook.  The one that looked the best to me was Cotton the Act 11d, so I gave it a whirl. Things were going well initially – a couple hard moves to a good stance, then a long reach to another good rest, wandering back and forth across the bolt line.  But then up towards the top I got stymied by a (you guessed it) long reach at the crux.  No matter how many different ways I positioned myself, I just could not hit the right hand crimp that initiates the rest of the crux sequence.  I tried skipping the hold.  I tried going left and going right.  Nothing worked.  Finally i used the nylon jug (aka quickdraw) to get out to it, then fired the rest of the route to the top.  The route was awesome, but my frustrations continued.

I wasn’t going to try it again, but CragDaddy (once again), encouraged me to try it again.  On his onsight attempt, he’d discovered a tiny, shallow pocket out left that he’d been unable to use, but thought my little fingers might like it better than the long reach out right.  And sure enough, they did!  I could easily get 2 fingers stacked in it with a thumb wrap.  Cranking on that hold with a high right foot enabled me to get to the next clipping hold from the opposite direction everyone else had come from.  After I got it worked out, CragDaddy and I did back to back sending go’s while Baby Zu took an insanely long crag nap.

CragDaddy taking a run up Psychowrangler 12a

CragDaddy taking a run up Psychowrangler 12a

By this point in the day a lot of our crew had already left to head home, but CragDaddy wanted to try Psychowrangler…and convinced me to try it one last time.  Neither of us was anywhere close to sending…but I FREAKIN’ MADE IT PAST THAT FIRST MOVE!  Turns out I’d remembered my beta completely wrong (ie, get right foot up and flag left, as opposed to left foot up and flag right!)  Once I executed the correct way, it was like finding the missing piece to the puzzle, and it felt easy!  (AND we got it on video so that I won’t forget it next time we’re at Cottontop…which will probably be sooner rather than later, since now CragDaddy and I both have a nice project waiting for us there!)

THIS is my beta for the first move...someone remind me if I forget!!!

THIS is my beta for the first move…someone remind me if I forget!!!

So while the word “pummeled” may have been a bit strong, our trip definitely reminded me that grades are a lot stiffer at the New than they are in other places!  (My “12a effort” out in Ten Sleep felt remarkably similar to my “11d effort” at the New…)  And the handful of colored leaves I saw along the trail on the way out reminded me that while it may still be muggy summer conditions here in the South, those fall sending temps are just a few short weeks away.  And then our options will be “Endless” – both literally and figuratively, as I’ve got a mighty long to-do list once it becomes Endless Wall season!




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