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Category Archives: Butcher’s Branch

(FINALLY!) Back at the NRG

It only took us until the middle of June this year, but we FINALLY made it back up to one of our favorite places in the entire world this past weekend.  All spring it seemed we had one logistical issue after another – weather, partners, schedules, you name it.  The only other time we’ve gone this long without climbing at the New River Gorge was the year Little Zu was born, when we skipped spring/summer up there entirely and waited til fall.  But now all is right in the world.  It may be too little too late when it comes to enjoying “the season” up there, but at least we got one fix in before the summer heat and humidity takes over.  

Narcissus 12a

Considering the hot, sunny forecast, we opted to spend Day 1 at Summersville Lake.  Nothing like a gorgeous water backdrop that you can melt into at the end of the day!  We started our day getting some redemption on an area classic, Satisfaction Guaranteed 11a.  CragDaddy and I had both bailed off this route way back in 2010.  He was 50+ pounds heavier at the time, and I was just 5 months postpartum…but we had no issues with it on Saturday, and now we’re satisfied ;).

Kiddos playing pirates (and “shooting” passing boats with a “driftwood gun.”)

Next was Narcissus 12a.  I’d also been on this one before, back in 2012, though it was a bolt to bolt run that was nowhere close to a legitimate sending attempt.  This route is touted as a must-do for the grade, and after my recent successes on the steeps this spring, I was optmistic that it could go down in a day.  My first run, however, was not as smooth as planned, and I struggled more than I’d wanted to on a couple of sections.  My second run felt great – I was clean all the way up to the last deadpoint move.  

For me the line boils down to 3 hard sections – a long move off crimps, a choice between 2 boulder problems (one going left, one going right…I go right), and a big deadpoint off a small sidepull.  The finish is steep and pumpy, with giant, flat holds that SHOULD be good enough if you can just keep yourself together…but it’s by no means a sure thing, and I know at least one person that has whipped at the chains.  

Kaos 12c

My third go was shaky, potentialy because I tried out some new clipping beta for the 3rd bolt…something just didn’t feel right, and I fell moving into the boulder problem.  In the back of my mind I was thinking I perhaps had missed my “sending window,” but there was still plenty of time left in the day, so I hopped on it again.  I went back to my original clipping beta, and the lower moves flowed a lot better.  When I got to the deadpoint move, I made sure to get my right foot as high as it could go, and tossed for all I was worth…and it was enough!  The finish was uneventful, and I lowered off with a smile on my face, and a right forearm that continued to feel pumped for the next 12 hours.  

The rest of my day was spent in the water with the kiddos, while the rest of our crew finished up the day on the Long Wall.  Big shout out to Little Zu for hiking almost the entire way out of the crag…barefoot.  There were MANY hiking bears involved, but she powered through until the last downhill bit to the parking lot, where I carried her in my arms like a baby, and she went from hiking to sleeping in a matter of 300 feet.  

I’m not sure what’s going on here but it looks fun!

Day 2 dawned equally sunny and a smidge warmer even, so off to Kaymoor we went to find shade.  I hopped on Boing 10d, which is one of my favorites, then moved over to Control 12a.  CragDaddy had already sent Control on a previous trip last spring, so he decided to put in some work on Kaos 12c, and after a few burns, he was able to do all the moves and link the lower section.  I’d taken a couple of burns on Control once before (the same day CragDaddy had sent), so I was hopeful I’d be able to put it all together.  I took a run up to hang draws, and felt even better about my chances.  Then I proceeded to fall at the SAME FREAKIN’ MOVE on the next FOUR redpoint attempts.  Each story was the same – get through the opening bit, crimp hard on the traverse, get feet set for the crux move, lunge…..and fall.  Then hang for a few seconds, pull back on, and fire the move like it was no big deal.  For whatever reason, I just could NOT do that move on point!  

In hindsight, I think the problem can be blamed on “not enough NRG time” lately.  If you’ve been there, you know…the New requires so much more focus than the same grade at pretty much any other sport crag I’ve ever been to.  Each time I fell on Control, my crew and I noticed some sort of subtle nuance of body position that I was doing differently when I was coming in hot, versus trying the move off the hang.  Obviously, when you’re at your limit, every bit of technique helps no matter what crag you’re climbing at…but NRG is the only place where I consistently have to stay focused on so MANY minute details for the ENTIRE climb, as opposed to just one or two moves.  Nothing is a gimme at the New!  That said, I THINK I have the beta dialed down to the letter for next time on Control….that is, if I can get myself psyched to get on it again!  

Control 12a

The thing that I’ve learned about the New River Gorge is that it can be frustratingly unpredictable when it comes to doling out sends.  The day before, my efforts were rewarded on Narcissus.  The next day, not so much, despite putting in what felt like the same, if not MORE effort.  The great thing is that sending or not sending really has zero importance in the grand scheme of life.  😉

And with that said, I’m so thankful for his place, and I’m so glad we got a chance to go back before the heat got too ridiculous.  Hopefully the logistics will work out a little better for us in the fall, and we’ll be able to rack up some back to back trips during prime conditions.  But, until then, you can find us dividing our time between the gym and the pool for the next couple of weeks!  

 

Related Images:

[See image gallery at cragmama.com]

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A Family Sunday “SEND-day” at Kaymoor

Happy child in the dirt.

Happy child in the dirt.

Our good luck with good climbing conditions has fortunately continued into late spring (which probably means we’ll be smothered by a hot blanket of humidity any day now.)  And while 80’s may not be ideal sending temps, the weather felt darn near perfect for June in the Southeast…so off to the New we went!

We decided to climb in the shade at Kaymoor on Day 1.  Steve was psyched to work Lost Souls (5.12a), and I figured it was probably about time for me to give that one another try.  I’d been on it several times before Baby Zu (most notably of which was during the NRG Craggin’ Classic back in 2012 for some Trango photos), and it never went particularly well.

For those not familiar with this classic, it’s one of those that gets the grade based on linking the sum of its parts rather than individual moves.  There are 3 cruxes, all of which are giant jug to jug tosses.  Very straightforward, and the very definition of power endurance.  It’s a very common “first 5.12″ since none of the individual moves are that “hard” compared to other similarly graded routes in the area (ie, anything Endless Wall.)  So if you are a tall climber that loves gymnastic movement, get out there ASAP for an easy send!  If you are vertically-challenged and/or lean towards more technical climbs…you should still get on it because it’s awesome!  (But bring your “try hard” pants and be ready to launch!)

Happy, dirty, child #2

Happy child in the hammock.

The Crag-Daddy (Steve) went up first and managed a one-hang even while hanging draws, so things were looking pretty good for him.  My first run, however, was dismal.  I started hanging before the 1st bolt, and struggled on just about every move.  My performance was so ridiculously bad that I almost didn’t get on it again.  However, of late I’ve been surprising myself on the 2nd go, so I thought I’d give it at least one more burn.

Steve made it through all 3 cruxes on his second go!  And also his 3rd and 4th go…unfortunately the pump factor kept spitting him off literally one move away from the no hands rest at the end of the traverse!  My 2nd go was decidedly better than the 1st – I did the 1st crux clean, and the 2nd and 3rd cruxes only took a couple of tries.  My 3rd go was even more progress – just one fall each at the 2nd and 3rd cruxes.

I was definitely in better spirits by that point, but still unsure whether I had a send in me or not.  I had crazy shortie beta for the 2nd crux, and I had never been able to link it with ANY of the previous moves, let alone coming in hot on a redpoint run.  Steve convinced me to give it one more try,, and I shocked myself with an almost send!  I made it clean all the way through to the last toss.  I had the distance…but my arms were so pumped that I couldn’t open my hand in time to latch the jug, and I ended up bashing my knuckles into the wall (FYI we refer to that phenomenon as “T-Rexing…”).

Flying feet on big move #1

Flying feet on big move #1

I was disappointed I didn’t send, but thrilled to know that my beta was solid.  It was the first time I actually believed that the route could go at the current fitness level I was at, rather than always thinking “Come back when you’re stronger.”  But lucky for us the whole crew had unfinished business at Kaymoor, so it was a no-brainer to come back the next day.

I did everything I could think of that night to maximize recovery – good food, lots of water, Arm-aid, finger acupressure, yoga, and as much sleep as I could muster in a tent with a 15 month old that hates sleeping.

Shortie undercling beta for Big Move #2

Shortie undercling beta for Big Move #2

Sunday dawned a little bit warmer, but the rock still felt surprisingly crisp.  Steve was up first and sailed through the first three cruxes yet again…but YET AGAIN fell inches before the rest!  I was feeling good, but not at all like a send was a sure thing, as any of the cruxes could easily spit me off if I didn’t execute them perfectly. But thankfully my first go of the day was my last – my beta worked, and the send was mine!  (And Steve sent next go as well, which made for a happy ride home for the whole family.)

One big, happy family!

One big, happy family!

After Lost Souls, there was still plenty of time left to climb, so I rounded out my day with Hardcore Female Thrash (5.11c) and Boing (5.10d).  Hardcore Female Thrash is a one move wonder that moves up a very cool dihedral feature (took 2 tries for the send), and Boing is a high-steppin’ slab climb.  Both are fantastic lines that are definitely worth hopping on if you find yourself in the area.

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A 5.12 for Mother’s Day (and a bunch of other awesome stuff…)

The build-up to this weekend at the New was admittedly a bit chaotic.  But despite last-minute partner bailing, a forgotten ankle brace, and a moody weather forecast, this Mother’s Day ended up being the best yet!  I had two goals in mind – to send as many hard .11′s as I could, and to get redemption on a 5.12 project from last summer… Day 1 Routes (Butcher’s Branch and Seven-Eleven Wall): The Greenpiece (5.10b):  I’d only been to Butcher’s Branch one other time, and it was almost exactly 4 years ago.  I remember having an epic almost-onsight of this route…Read the rest of this entry →

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