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Spring, then Winter, then Spring at the Red

So it’s been a loooooong time since I’ve written on this blog.  While I never write as often in the winter, usually I can at least put together a post or two, but apparently not this time around!  The intention was there.  We did some cool stuff worth writing about – skiing, snow tubing, hiking, a kid climbing day at Rocky Face, and even a daytrip date with CragDaddy to Rumbling Bald.  But that whole “time-to-write” thing kept eluding me.  However, with the beginning of spring season upon us, it’s time to find the time again.

Big C soaking up the sun at the Solar Collector

It’s only fair to warn you that this first trip report of spring will not be nearly as exciting as the last trip reports from fall, where I broke into a new number grade for the first time in 7 years.  Actually, compared to the high I felt then, this trip report is more than a little lackluster, perhaps downright boring.  In fact, this trip report is the kind of post that I sometimes am tempted to just skip out on altogether.  But the reality is, THIS kind of trip report is what happens the majority of the time for all of us.  Lots of try hard, lots of failure, and juuuust enough success to keep the stoke high enough on the psych-meter.  

That said, the first real climbing trip of the season can be summed up like this – it was spring, then it was winter, then it was spring again.  We knew going in that we would have 1 bad day sandwiched in between 2 good days.  We debated back and forth whether the long drive to Kentucky was worth it.  But after months of daydreaming about spring climbing, desperation won out and we went anyway, and of course, made the best of every situation presented to us.  

Day 1 was spent soaking up the sun at the aptly named Solar Collector wall in PMRP.  After training with Power Company Climbing all winter and seeing some pretty good gains in the gym, I was anxious to see how those gains would translate on real rock.  I tied in to Decline of Western Civilization 10a and promptly hang-dogged my way up it.  (To be fair, the rock was still REALLY cold….;) )  My next pitch was decidedly better – I flashed Mona Lisa Overdrive 11b.  Thank goodness for huecos!  Pitch #3 was Buddha Hole 11d.  No send, but I put in a really valiant flash attempt and fell just a couple of moves before hitting the 5.10 jugs.  I felt pretty trashed afterwards so I didn’t get on it again, but looking back, I wish I would have.  Perhaps decisions like that should not be made when your forearms are still hard as rocks…

From spring to winter…

After hiking around to check out the (ironically still shaded) Bright Side, we ended up back at Solar Collector, this time by the slabs on the right side.  I was really proud of myself for hanging on for the onsight of Butt Sweat and Tears, but was disappointed to find out it was only 11b, as it had felt a lot more intense than that to me.  Regardless of grade however, it was super fun, although it would probably get more action at the New than in it’s current location (perhaps that’s why I liked it so much!)  Everyone ended their day on Brambly Downslide 10a, including the Big CragKiddo!  While he’s been getting up some mid-10’s at the gym lately, this was by far his hardest outdoor climb to date.  He rested several times, but did all the moves.  Some of them were pretty hard and I was proud of him for sticking with it and not getting frustrated! 

We woke up the next day to snow, which the kids were super excited about.  The snow was forecasted to shift to a cold rain after lunch, so we bundled up and headed out for a snow hike.  Being the nature dorks that we are, we were delighted at all the animal tracks we were able to identify in the snow – deer, rabbit, raccoon, and even fox!  The rest of the day was passed with games, reading, and a trip to the Kentucky Reptile Zoo (if you are into reptiles, you should definitely make a point to visit some time!) 

Day 3 dawned cold but sunny, and we went to Muir Valley.  We spent the first part of the day over at the Inner Sanctum, where CragDaddy onsighted Psyberpunk 11c and I nabbed the flash.  Big C worked his way up Netizen Hacktivist 9+, proclaiming “This is so fun!” at least 4 or 5 times throughout the climb, then we moved over to the Sanctuary, where things started to fall apart a bit.  I got stomped on the opening moves of Immaculate Deception 11d, then came closer to a big flapper than the chains on Jesus Wept 12d.  We shifted around to the now-sunny Indy Wall, where I got draws up on Posse Whipped 12a, a very technical line I’d tried once several years ago.  The movement is very crimpy and sustained, with pretty terrible feet in the crux.  I think I would have had a good shot at it next go, but unfortunately it was getting pretty late in the day and we needed to get on the road, so I didn’t wait nearly long enough before tying in again.  I fell at the end of the crux when my hands got mixed up.  

Huecos make the route go…Mona Lisa Overdrive 11b

So two days of climbing and the best I had to show for it on paper was a couple of mid 11’s.  Again, kinda lackluster compared to the end of last fall.  However.  While I may not PHYSICALLY be where I want to be yet, I was in a really good place MENTALLY.  Many times I start out a new season feeling timid and scared to fall.  It takes me a while to ease in to “trying hard.” But this time around my head game felt great.  I moved confidently and without hesitation, even when my forearms were going numb, and took some good ole try hard falls.  And with the exception of the routes at the Sanctuary, I felt fairly strong…I just got PUMPED!  And I guess for a season opening trip to the Red, that shouldn’t come as a surprise.  

Now if only this rain would stop, we could get on with spring and start going to the New!

Netizen Hacktivist 9+

Related Images:

[See image gallery at cragmama.com]

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Spring(?!?) Break at the Red River Gorge

Hueco wackos enjoying themselves out at Left Flank.

Hueco wackos enjoying themselves out at Left Flank.

When we started planning our spring break trip to the Red a couple of months ago, we decided to reserve a cabin in lieu of camping, just because the weather can be a bit of a toss up this time of year.  Turns out that was a pretty good decision, because 4 days straight of high’s in the 40’s mixed with clouds, rain, and even a little bit of snow is not my idea of fun family camping.  To be perfectly honest, it’s not exactly my idea of fun family climbing either…but we decided to go for it anyway…and I’m really glad we did!

For starters, the weather ended up not being quite as mean as initially forecasted…temps were still pretty low for every day but Sunday (our last day, of course!), but instead of constant precipitation and clouds, we escaped with just a few passing showers and flurries, and just enough sunshine to keep the rock warm.

Day 1:

LEFT FLANK:  Everyone’s objective for the day was Mercy the Huff 12b.  We probably should NOT have warmed up on Fast Food Christians 10a…the slab was cold, and the opening moves were damp and a little tweaky.  Considering the too-little-too-late power endurance I was coming in with, I wasn’t terribly optimistic about the send.  I felt pretty good on the moves, however, and had a good bolt to bolt run on my first attempt.  My second go I came up juuuuust short of the clipping hold at the 4th bolt, but linked clean until there and for several bolts after.  No one else from our crew sent either, but we all agreed it was a good start to the long weekend.

Steve on his way up Mercy the Huff 12b

Steve on his way up Mercy the Huff 12b

Day 2:

SOLARIUM:  This place is my new favorite crag in Muir Valley for sure, and possibly in the entire gorge!  Loads of tall, aesthetic lines, most of which are littered with huecos to perch in and enjoy the views (while your forearms slowly deflate back to their original size!)  I started my day out on Air Ride Equipped 11a, which I probably would have enjoyed more had my hands not felt frozen and numb.  Next I hopped on Banshee 11c…and shoulda (coulda woulda) had the onsight, had I not completely missed the fingerlock in the back of the second hueco.  Womp womp.  I pulled the rope and sent it fairly easily second go.

Since the draws were already up, I decided to try my hand on Magnum Opus 12a, a long line that packs a short, but powerful punch at the beginning.  I figured out the crux beta fairly quickly, but I think putting it together would have taken more time than I wanted to spend at a new area.

Enjoying the jugland on the upper section of Banshee 11c

Enjoying the jugland on the upper section of Banshee 11c

Day 3:

With temps not getting out of the 30’s until late in the day, and 15-20 mph winds in cloudy skies, our family decided a rest day might be in order.  We stopped by to hang out with a fellow climbing family that had coincidentally arrived on an extended 3 month trip just days before, and then in the afternoon Big C and I went to the Kentucky Reptile Zoo as part of the Snake Study we are doing in his homeschooling right now.  I can’t say enough how cool this place was – first off, it has one of the largest collections of venomous snakes in the entire world.  We got a very personalized tour of all of their snakes on exhibit, and even got to watch some angry cobras getting their venom extracted!  My little nature geek was in heaven.

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We rounded out our day on a scouting hike to Funk Rock City, to check out Orange Juice 12c, a route that has been on my bucket list to try since I first laid eyes on it in 2012.  Unlike many routes at the Red, this one does NOT do well in the rain, and the forecast had kept us away until this point.  Also, the hike is long, and includes a stream crossing which can be a little temperamental depending on water levels.  We thought a rest day was a good chance to see how 6 year old legs would handle both the hike and the stream.  He crossed the stream like a champ (except for when he came back to “help Mommy” and fell in…), but the hike was still a 45 minute slog one way.  That combined with the fact that it was 30 minutes from our cabin in the OPPOSITE direction from our house meant it was not ideal for our last day when we have a 7 hour drive ahead of us.  So OJ got put on the backburner…again.  One of these days I’ll get to it.

 

My three favorites!

My three favorites!

Day 4:

SOLARIUM/GREAT ARCH:  Instead, we opted for Muir Valley again…it was half the hike, and on the way out.  Plus we’d had so much fun there the previous day!  This time I warmed up on Black Powder 10b, a rather non-descript line with a couple of surprisingly burly moves down low.

The CragDaddy had his sights set on Beef Stick 12a, and his hard work earned him his second ever 5.12 onsight!  He lowered pronouncing it “reachy, but I think you’ll be able to get your feet up.”  I figured I had nothing to lose so I tied in.  It WAS reachy…but I WAS able to get my feet up, and I was very psyched to nab the flash!  The climbing was very odd, and very un-Red like (which is probably why Steve and I both did so well on it…)  There were 3 distinct cruxes, each separated by pretty good rests, and all involving some sort of scrappy rockover/mantle maneuver.  The moves were a lot more committing than they were hard.

High-stepping along the black streak of Beef Stick 12a.

High-stepping along the black streak of Beef Stick 12a.

I ended my day on something I should have tried far earlier – Galunlati 12b.  What a fantastic line – technical face climbing on terrain that doesn’t feel very steep until you lower off and see how far back you are.  I regrettably only got one crack at it, and after taking 10 minutes to hang the 4th draw (darn those reachy clips!), realized that another flash was not in the cards for the day.  Had I gotten on it on our first Solarium day (as opposed to Magnum Opus), I’m pretty sure I would have been able to link it 2nd or 3rd go, but I guess it’ll have to wait for the next trip.

Speaking of next trips…usually we only make it to the Red twice a year – once in spring and once in fall.  But the kiddos have been doing great in the car recently so we may (fingers crossed!) be able to eek out one more Red trip in early May (hopefully before the weather gets too hot!)  Next weekend though, it’s back to the NRG, where I am hoping the weather will cooperate long enough for me to excise my revenge on Jesus and Tequila!!!

 

 

 

 

Related Images:

[See image gallery at cragmama.com]

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