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Category Archives: Craggin’ Classic

The 2016 Craggin’ Classic

It’s the middle of September, and that means it’s time for two things – migrating north for the Craggin’ Classic at the New River Gorge…and my kids getting sick.  Last year, it was a mysterious fever for Little Zu.  This year, it was a tummy bug that left its mark on several family members before heading elsewhere…but that’s probably all you need to know about that.

Mutiny 11d

Mutiny 11d

Anyway, by the time the event was underway, everyone was (mostly) okay, and our logistical plans (always the crux when climbing with kids) went off without a hitch.  The kids and I had headed up on Thursday afternoon, and managed to squeeze in a hike at Beauty Mountain before heading over to the Sponsor’s Dinner.  The first 10 minutes went well.  Then Little Zu took a digger to the face on the blacktop, leaving her with a giant fat lip and bloodied-up face as a souvenir.  The rest of the night pretty much went downhill from there, but by the next morning everyone was psyched and ready for a day of climbing and photos at the Lake with the rest of the Trango gang.

Yay climbing!

Yay climbing!

Our resident photog, Dan Brayack, had his eye on Mutiny 11d, a gorgeous arete that is easily recognizable even from the highway.  The only “catch” was the water level, since the first 10 feet of this route are submerged during high water.  Usually by mid-October the water is low enough to be climbable, so we were a little bit early.  As it turns out, however, the water was juuuuust low enough for us to sneak in and get some amazing pictures.  A foot higher and we would have been soaked.

My belayer and I rolled our capris up as high as we could, I clipped my climbing shoes to my sports bra, and we waded out across the thigh-high water to the arete.  Conveniently enough, one of the boulders at the base was sticking out of the water enough for us to drape the rope across.  We pre-clipped the first bolt, I put my climbing shoes on while dangling over the water, and away I went!  Climbing out over the water like that was a surreal experience, and the route itself was amazing.  Big moves to big holds down low, then a thin face crux heading to the anchors.

Somehow, despite my best efforts, my shoes had still gotten a little bit wet.  That combined with the flash-pump that comes from not warming up properly meant I pretty much went bolt to bolt first time up.  Luckily though, Dan wanted to shoot the route again from a different angle, and I was able to send fairly easily second go.  A BIG thank you goes out to Everett from La Sportiva for keeping the kids corralled back on the beach while I was climbing.  By the time I waded back across, Big C was “fishing” with a pole Everett had helped him procure using a stick and some string, and Little Zu was sitting contentedly in his lap with some gummy bears.  Three cheers for the village it takes to climb with kids!

Upper sequence on Hot n Bothered 11d (aka Six Dollars)

Upper sequence on Hot n Bothered 11d (aka Six Dollars)

We then moved down to Long Wall at the main area, where I got a chance to tick another classic 5.11 I’d been wanting to get on – Hot and Bothered 11d (aka 6 Dollars.)  This one took two goes as well.  Pretty sustained crimping, with some finishing moves that could easily botch a redpoint attempt.

A sweet little girl with her Daddy

A sweet little girl with her Daddy

By this point it was time to head back down to set up our booth for the event.  The CragDaddy rolled into town shortly after we got back, so I tagged out of kid duty and put my “athlete hat” on for the rest of the evening.  It’s always fun having conversation after conversation with other like-minded folks.  In fact, talking to random people is one of my favorite parts about doing events like these.  Catching the Reel Rock Film Tour was also a bonus.

SUP fun!

SUP fun!

Saturday brought even more heat and humidity than the day before (seriously, where is fall?!?)  My crew headed back to the lake.  The CragDaddy and I hopped on a few routes in the Coliseum, but our performances were far from noteworthy.  One highlight was an impromptu hangout with a SUP family from Ontario (the dad was competing in a whitewater SUP competition the following day.)  Big C scored multiple rides, and if he and I wanted a family SUP before…we sure as heck do now!  (#gearjunkies)

We attempted to get out Sunday morning, but got rained out after just a couple of pitches at Bridge Buttress.  As far as the weekend as a whole, I might not have gotten in as much climbing as I’d wanted, but what I did get on was classic.  And, I won’t lie, it felt good to get back into town at a reasonable hour on Sunday!  Thanks again to Dan for taking some awesome pics, and the rest of the team for a great event!

 

 

 

 

Related Images:

[See image gallery at cragmama.com]

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NRG Craggin’ Classic

Last weekend was the first official weekend of fall, and for climbers in the Southeast, that means it’s time for the Craggin’ Classic at the New River Gorge!  This NRG event is actually just one of a series of climbing festivals held across the country each fall.  The Craggin’ Classic Series (organized by the American Alpine Club), is a chance for climbers from all over to get together and play around on world class rock, all in the name of community, education, stewardship, and fundraising.

This was my 2nd time working this event for Trango/Tenaya (first time was back in 2012), and my first weekend long event since the 2013 Rendezvous back in the pre-Baby Z days.  Event weekends for me are always a chaotic blur of pure craziness.  As a climber, working these events is always a blast.  I mean, my job is to go to a great climbing destination, hang out and talk gear with all sorts of awesome folks, and usually walk away with some amazing photos of me doing what I love (courtesy of Dan Brayack) – seriously, what’s not to love about all of that?!?  But as a mom, these events also bring a whole lot of behind-the-scenes stress, usually surrounding mundane, but important, family logistics.

My favorite shot of the weekend - finishing up P2 of The Prowesse

My favorite shot of the weekend – finishing up P2 of The Prowesse 5.9R

Fortunately Steve and I have learned a lot from past events and are able to sort through most issues before they arise.  We’d secured extra climbing partners so that Steve and the kids could do their own thing while I was off galavanting around with Trango, and managed to find a crag that was suitable both for Trango’s photo goals as well as Steve and his “village” – which meant I could hike back and forth to check in with Baby Z a couple times during the day to nurse.  A friend of mine even let me borrow his car for the day (which could actually end up being it’s own separate post entitled, “Dirt Road Adventures with a Stick Shift and No Power Steering,” but I’ll leave that for another day.)   Somehow, though, despite our best-laid plans, it seems like there’s always an unforeseen glitch that sends everything into a tailspin.  This time around it involved the poorly-timed eruption of 2 canine teeth and a mysterious fever, both of which turned Baby Z into a clingy hot mess that wanted to be attached to mommy 24/7.

Brenna working her way up P1.

Brenna working her way up P1.

But in sickness and in health, this show had to go on, so on Friday afternoon we dutifully headed north in a van loaded down with kids, climbing gear, and demo shoes.  After a feverish night of enduro-nursing and restlessness, I headed to the AAC Campground for shoe demos while Steve and the kiddos headed to Endless Wall with our “village.”  I met up with them mid-morning and warmed up on The Upheaval 5.9, a great slab route that deservedly gets tons of traffic.  I was psyched to watch my boy dominate Totally Clips 5.8…well, maybe “dominate” is a stretch, but he did get to the top pretty quickly, where he lingered at the anchors for several minutes enjoying the view.  Upon reaching the ground, he proudly announced that he “used two quickdraws as holds because it was easier.”  I have no idea where he’s seen that before because neither Steve nor I have EVER done that (that’s written in sarcastic font in case you couldn’t tell.)  With everything going on, we unfortunately didn’t get a picture of it, but I’m pretty certain he’d be up for doing it again next time.

Girl power :)

Girl power 🙂

Around lunch I got the call to meet my Trango peeps back down at Fern Point for a photo session on The Prowess 5.9 R.  I’ve only done a handful of the trad lines at Endless Wall, so I was psyched to try it (although admittedly a little anxious about the “R” part.)  The route actually begins on Freaky Stylee 5.12a and traverses across Stim-o-Stam 5.11c to the blunt arete.  This initial section is the part that warrants the R rating – the climbing is pretty easy, but gear is sparse, and difficult to protect for both the leader as well as the second.  (I guess one alternative would be to boulder up through the Stim-o-Stam start – a little less sketchy for your second, but also much harder moves.)  Once around the corner, the route tiptoes up the slab to the Stim-o-Stam anchors.  We split the route into two pitches so that Dan could get some “girl power” shots for Trango’s sister company, Stonewear Designs.  The finish was easier (5.6 ish) and marvelously exposed.  The only thing that could have made the view any more gorgeous would have been a backdrop of fall color!

Big C driving his cars over his "NRG Bridge"

Big C driving his cars over his “NRG Bridge”

After Brenna and I tromped barefoot across the top to the ladders and back down to our stuff (read: bring your hiking shoes!), we all headed over to Diamond Point, where I was able to reunite with the fam.  Baby Zu seemed to be feeling better than she had the night before, but was still not interested in doing much besides snuggling.  We played pass the baby while all taking turns on Fine Motor Control 12a.  This line is often overlooked, but actually has a lot of nice, varied movement all the way to the top.  (Don’t forget to bring a brush, there were a few sections that were pretty dirty.)  The business is powerful, bouldery, and right off the ground until the 3rd bolt.  The rest of the climbing backs off some as the bolts get farther and farther apart, and culminates with one final stay awake move several feet above the last bolt.  My first time up I got pummeled.  The moves down low are all really long, and it took a lot of creativity (and trial and error) for me to make the reaches.  I also may or may not have called for the stick clip at the top due to an inability to commit to the 5.10 finishing move.  My second go went far better – a one-hang, with my only fall coming at the end of the boulder problem start.  Not a send, but a good note to end the day on.

New favorite crag-tivity - Generric legos from the Target dollar bin!

New favorite crag-tivity – Generric legos from the Target dollar bin!

The evening festivities involved a dyno comp, hangboard contest, and general merriment and shenanigans.  By evening Baby Zu was feeling a bit better, and I was able to enjoy myself guilt-free once the kiddos were off to bed (thanks to the CragDaddy for holding down the fort!)

The next morning brought iffy looking weather, but a happy Baby Zu that was firing on all cylinders once again.  Aside from trying to fit the Trango tent in my van later on that day, I had no other “work” duties, so we headed back to Endless Wall again.  And this time, after warming up on Euronation (10b version), Fine Motor Control went down without a fight.  Must’ve been a combination of cooler temps and lower stress levels; my beta felt rock solid the whole way up.

We didn’t crawl into bed until late Sunday night…too late for a school night (yes, we have to worry about that now!)  But a slightly more chaotic than usual Monday morning was definitely a fair trade-off for our first family adventure of the fall.  Many thanks to Trango for being so flexible with the Lineberry family circus, and thanks to Dan Brayack for letting me post his awesome pictures up here!  And a thousand and one thanks to the village of friends that helped us get through the weekend unscathed!

 

Related Images:

[See image gallery at cragmama.com]

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