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Category Archives: Climbing Trip Reports

Sending Spree: Drew Ruana takes on The New

 

Wow. I can truly say that the New River Gorge was one of the most beautiful areas I’ve ever been to. I feel so blessed to have opportunities to visit special places like these. My dad had learned to climb at the New; he had always talked about it to me, telling me I needed to go there sometime with him. Until I actually went, it was hard to visualize just how stunning the area is- not just the climbing. The wildlife, the scenery, everything about this area is just beautiful. Day one back home, and I already can’t wait to go back.

 

Before I got here, I didn’t really have specific goals. I wanted to play around on some hard stuff, but when I got off the plane on the first day and got to the wall, all I wanted to do was climb. Climb climb climb. I decided that I would have a much more rewarding and fulfilling trip if I did more mileage- so I did that. I think I averaged around 9 pitches a day? Something like that. Most of them new routes, and in new areas. I managed to send 20 new 5.13 routes, and 4 5.14s in my 6 days of climbing there.

A couple of the routes I tried stood out to me. I know I’ll remember them for the rest of my life. One of them was Puppy Chow, 5.12c- I don’t think I’ve ever had as much fun climbing on a route as I did on that. If you’re in the area, get on the route. I don’t care how hard you do or don’t climb- it is 100,000,000% recommended. Also in that area is Mango Tango. This route is the most strikingly beautiful arete I’ve ever seen. It looks and climbs like pure artwork. Although a bit cryptic, figuring out the beta and sending was one of the most memorable climbs of my life.

The thing is that trips like these aren’t just about the climbing. They are made great by the people you’re with. Piper, Miriam, Quinn, and Laura were one of the best crews I’ve ever climbed with.

I met a bunch of my dad’s old climbing buddies, which was cool to see who he grew up with. The local vibes there are awesome – shoutout to pies and pints, the pizza and atmosphere is rad there.

Special thanks to Michael Williams for being the sickest guide/guru around. Can’t wait for another trip like this!

Here’s my ticklist for this trip:
5.14b
Still Life 2nd go
Journeyman 3rd go

5.14a
Mango Tango 2nd go
Sword of Damocles 4th go

5.13d
Natural Progression 2nd go

5.13c
The Project OS
In the Flat Field 2nd go
Satanic Verses 2nd go

5.13b/c
B.C. 2nd go

5.13b
The Racist 2nd go
The Pod FL
Crossing the Line OS
SR-71 OS
Against the Grain OS
White Lighting OS
Fuel Injector OS

5.13a
Quinsana plus FL
Apollo Reed OS
El Chapo FL
B-52 OS
Massacre OS
Skull Fuck Direct Finish OS
Mighty Dog FL
Next Time OS

Photos by Trevor Blanning

Video: Drew Ruana Establishes 14d at Smith Rock

On February 13, 2016, Drew Ruana made the first ascent of “Assassin” (14d). “Assassin” toppled the classic “Just Do It” (14c) and the unrepeated “Shock and Awe” (14c) as the toughest route at Smith Rock. The first ascent of the Aggro Gully linkup pushed Smith Rock’s highest grade upward for the first time in 13 years (the FA of “Shock and Awe” – still unrepeated).

Drew Ruana on the First Ascent of Assassin

Drew Ruana on the first ascent of Assassin (14d), Smith Rock’s hardest route.

Here’s a quick route synopsis and send footage from Drew:

Send Footage: Ethan Pringle on La Reina Mora (14d)

After a month-long battle of hope, frustration, failure, emotion, and eventual success, Ethan Pringle sent the Spanish test-piece, La Reina Mora (14d).

Ethan Pringle Spain from Facebook

 

“Well, I really couldn’t have imagined a better last day in Siurana. For the first time in over a week I felt only love instead of frustration and anger. With a wide open heart full of excitement and happiness, though not really caring how I did, I finally climbed to the top of La Reina Mora and clipped the anchor in a swell of emotion. It’s been a wild ride, and the process of projecting this climb and putting everything I had into it taught me more about life and compassion (especially for myself) than I could have thought possible…” – Ethan Pringle post-send

Ethan Pringle and La Reina Mora (5.14d) from The RV Project on Vimeo.

After sending La Reina Mora, Ethan went on to polish off his long-standing project and North America’s hardest sport route, Jumbo Love (15b).

Ethan Pringle Sends ‘Jumbo Love’ 15b

Yesterday, Trango and Tenaya athlete Ethan Pringle made the second ascent of ‘Jumbo Love’ (5.15b), North America’s hardest sport climb at Clark Mountain, California. Pringle has been working the route since the mid 2000’s and has spent much of the past two months on redpoint attempts.

IMG_0429

Jumbo Love was established by Chris Sharma in 2008. The aptly named route climbs from Clark’s third tier through a ~70ft 12d, the crux headwall boasting about 100ft of 40 degree overhanging bullet stone with a V11/12 crux, and then a ~70ft 13d headwall. The scale of the route is immense.

While projecting Jumbo Love, Ethan also sent notable Clark routes like ‘Jumbo Pumping Hate’ (5.14a) and ‘Jumbo Glass’ (5.14c).

Trango Product Manager Adam Sanders had this to say about the ascent: “The scale of this accomplishment for American rock climbing is huge, and I’m so thankful that Ethan stepped up and put in the effort to make the second ascent. This climb means a lot to me. I’ve been wishing for years that someone would commit to it, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. Congrats and much gratitude to Ethan!”

Rocktown!!

Its been almost a full year since I’ve been to Rocktown.  Mostly because  I blew my A-2 pulley on the problem Helicopter (V6) right in the middle of the season and by the time I was healed, it was out of season!

It was nice to go there and just climb, instead of being worried about my guidebook checklist.  Of course, I always take lots of photos on trips; this comes second nature to me and for the most part, does not infere with my climbing.

A little over a year ago, a gym opened here in charleston, the Energy Rock Gym http://www.energyrockgym.com/ which has been one of the single best things that has happened in my life here in charleston.  I’ve definitely lost a lot of weight and gotten significantly stronger, which is nice!  We have a really awesome crew of boulders now and 3 of them joined me for our trip:  David Statler (who owns the gym), Matt Jones and Dustin Canterbury.  We met up with our now BFF Jenny Siegrist who lives in Chattanooga.

Our first day, we started at the back and worked our way forward, warming up at the Hueco Simulator area and doing the classics there, including all the Mario Variants (V3-4), Belly Button V3, Making Waves V1, and Ripple V2. Then we hit the comet boulder and worked a few of those problems, including the 4-star classic, Comet Arete V1 and Standard Variation V5.  I didn’t get to do “Standard Variation” because I hit my knee pretty bad on the start of it.  ‘DOH!

Next, we spent time on both the Idiot Roof V6 and Helicopter V6, before heading over to the dugout, where we tried Splashback V6 and Tunnel Vision V6.  By then, I was pretty beat up and my shoulder hurt (I’ve been having a little trouble in my right shoulder for a few months now.)  We finished the day at the Scoop area, climbing all the Scoop variations; I had never been on the Anti Scoop before (V4) and LOVED it!!  What a good problem, though it is not as impressive as the Scoop feature.

My second day was tragic.  I totally left my shoes back at Jenny’s house and was FORCED to climb in Mad Rock shoes :(.  It was horrible.  And I saved all the techy slab projects for day 2.  (These being Campus Punks V5 and Blue V6.)  I did make considerable progress on another of my projects, Little Bad Boulder V5, though I feel like I need to gain some specific sloper power before sending this (or get a real pair of shoes on my feet darnit!)

We spent some time warming up at the Campus Punks area, where I did the classic Slabs there (V0s) and two problems in the Wedge corridor.  I did “Paint Can” V2 in my 5-toe shoes, then we hit up the bads, where I failed to send “Little Bad Boulder” though both David and Dustin did.

Next we spent considerable time at “Blue” where, once again, having butterball shoes made the problem almost impossible for me!! ugh!!  I’ll get back to that thing for sure.

We finished up the day climbing at the Crock Block Area.  I was pretty spent myself, and we were definitely working the thing in the dark, so no sends…..I’ve already done the problem (Center Crock Block V5) so I wasn’t really trying that hard!

Jenny Siegrist – Inspired by an Idiot V6.

David Statler – Soap on a Rope – V4.

David Statler – Soap on a Rope – V4

David Statler – Pocket Rocket – V4

Dustin Canterbury – Pocket Rocket – V4

Matt Jones – Pocket Rocket – V4

Dustin Canterbury – Paint Can – V2

David Statler – Blue – V6

Dustin Canterbury – Blue – V6

Matt Jones – Police Brutality – V5

Don’t ask….

Kelly Cordes: Head-Bashing 101

Kelly's Bloody Face

Kelly Cordes after his fall.

We all love Kelly Cordes. After all, he’s one of the few climbers out there who can keep up with me in the coveted “Tough To Kill” category. He’s also about as badass as you can get in the highly competitive “Alpine Badass” category. We all got a wake-up call when he and Josh Wharton dropped their rack on the third pitch of a 7,400′ route they were attempting on Great Trango Tower and decided to keep going! Brief story here, and a great write up you can download from the American Alpine Journal, here.

In the meantime, Kelly was climbing a sport route a few days ago, fell, flipped over and whacked his head a good one. Check out the pics below (NSFW). I heard about it when he emailed me with the attached photos and asked if I could hook him up with one of our helmets. I couldn’t resist, so Kelly now sports a shiny new Skull Cap.

Here’s his email:

————————————————————-

hey mal, how are ya? hope all’s great there.

leave it to me to make the safest climbing possible — overhanging
sport climbing — as dangerous as possible. was at wizard’s gate
yesterday, feeling good, just onsighted a super steep 12a without
getting pumped (that stuff normally pumps me out), and then jumped on
a 13a — knowing we’d tag-team it, flail up it, work on it. anyway, at
the steepest part i pitched off, and my body was fairly horizontal but
i think my foot stayed on the hold just a little longer, thus
launching me into a back flip, and somehow along the way the rope spun
me and i swung back into the wall head-first. smashed my head and
face, blood dripping into space, gnarly. fortunately my neck is fine
and i didn’t fracture my skull. really, i felt fine. lowered, put a
sweatshirt on my head, and walked out, freaking people out on the
trail, and thought about just going to the bar — fuck it. went to the
ER first, good thing — 13 staples in my head and 14 stitches in my
face and mouth. just what i need — i just got uglier.

has me reconsidering wearing a helmet even on good rock on steep sport
climbs. granted, it’s super random and rare for this to happen, but a
super light helmet might be worth my wearing. it probably wouldn’t
have saved my face, but…

anyway, blake says he loves the Skull Cap, and it looks as light and
low-profile as they come. wondering if i might be able to score a pro
deal on one? probably color blue — anything but black, i guess (too
hot). seems i have a lot of gray/silver things already, too. but
whatever. if it might work out, color would be the least of my
worries. lemme know if ya get a chance.

—————————————

Kelly, post up some pics when you get them and, uh, climb safe.

Mal

This is what 13 head-staples look like.

On the way to the bar... via the ER

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