Most folks are talking about climbing season being OVER. And as far as “climbing” season, it is over for me, but that means the kick-off for BOULDERING season! With snow and sketchy weather, I may get maybe one or two more climbing days at the NRG or RRG, but I am not counting on it.
I took 4 more climbing days over the front half of Thanksgiving holiday with the Energy Rock Gym crew here in Charleston to the Red River Gorge. We got a cabin – which was nice!
|Photo Matt Jones|
Far different from the entire fall (it was pretty hot) we picked routes in the sun! Our first day, we climbed at Solar Collector and the Bright Side. I had not climbed at the Bright Side – a newer crag at the Red, but had definitely spent time staring across the valley at it from the Darkside. Aptly named, the Bright Side sits in the sun most of the day (the latter in the day, the more of the cliff is in the sun.) Routes here are typical Red River Gorge steep slug fests and the routes are quite awesome.
I warmed up on “Crown of Thorns” 5.11c, which is now definitely one of my favorite routes at the red! The route is fairly continuous, though there are several “small hold” sections which with my lock-off strengths and reach, I was able to skip.
Next I set my sites on “Golden Brown” 5.12a. I think this one gets 3 stars in the book, but upon climbing the route, I immediately added a 4th. I guess the first half of the route climbs some boring and easy slab, but the headwall is impeccable rock! The crux itself is a series of awesome holds separated by long reachs and is fairly run out (you couldn’t stop to clip.)
After that, I decided to try and onsite Bush League 5.12c. I can definitely use some 12c onsites for my 8a scorecard. ;) I was really happy to put this one together on the onsite, doing all the moves correctly my first go. Someone was nice enough to tick all the good holds and not tick any bad holds! This climb felt a lot like a “motherlode” route – with a difficult opening boulder problem (first ?3 bolts) to a good rest, then it kicked back to the typical Red River Gorge “don’t get pumped.” I didn’t!
|Bush Leauge 5.12c|
I tried a couple of the other routes on that wall, but got shut down pretty thoroughly!
|Blood Bath – 5.12c.|
I was pleasantly surprised to see the "Chatt Steel" by Micah Gentry and Cody Averbeck - Rockery Press, a new publishing company out of Chattanooga. Being a book publisher myself, its always a pleasure to see new, good looking books. There are definitely books out there that just make me want to weep with terrible layouts and bad photos, but I was really impressed with the Chat Steel book. The book holds to the current industrial standard of good topo photos and descriptive ... well descriptions. One of my biggest pet peeves in a book is single line, non-informative descriptions. "Chatt Steel" makes it very clear for a person who has never climbed at the area "that being me" to figure out where the heck the route starts and where it goes!
I'm mostly impressed with the size and scope of the book. It covers an impressive amount of areas with an excellent amount of detail. The only negative thing I can nit-pitch is that the cover paper could be heavier quality, but that's about it!
So for me - a good guidebook has to make me psyched to climb at an area? Success? Yes! Lots of good to awesome action images and topo images that really give a good nature of the climbing at each of the areas.
I can't wait to see their second book "Chatt Brass" or "Chatt Trad"!!
To best support the authors and publishers, buy your book here:
Here are several sample pages:
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|
Today was the next day’s our trip and that i was super psyched to test “Planet from the Apes” again.  My previous session, I’d exercised the majority of the moves coupled with a higher point by touching although not adhering the ultimate crimp.  At first, I’d quite a hard time around the problem today.  I handled to really make it to my high point several occasions, as well as the existence of me, couldn’t stick the final crimper.
|Planet from the Apes (V7).  Photo Aaron Parlier.|
I’d Aaron and Vera assist me, stacking pads and so i could try the final move after a number of different beta goes, I determine clutch beta!  I stored dead pointing towards the crimper and my ft cut.  I just could not keep my ft on.  Well, I wasn’t really punching far for that edge and recognized that the top boulder was just about 5 more inches (easily stickable) though I wasn’t sure how good it had been.
Well, in the pad stacks, I stuck it and recognized I hit gold.  Not only maybe it was a great sloper, however it were built with a nice divot inside it!!!!!  I am excited.  I wasn’t confident that the issue would go today, however i understood (the very first time onto it) which i could get it done.  I rested about 15-20 minutes after which following a feet skitter in the beginning, handled to transmit it!!!!! I had been so excited!!!!  I beach whaled the topout (standard beta) then went to the top boulder and sitting lower for some time to savor an ideal view and also the perfect temps.
|Vera Varmbumm on Two Finger Variation V9 – New Joes.|
The past two weekends, I climbed local – here at the New River Gorge. Its been cooler, though still humid. Lots of sweat and manky feeling holds, but at least it wasn’t horrible hot. I think that we are just around the corner from the perfect climbing season.
|Matt Fanning at the Knee-Bar Crux of “Cage Match” 5.12c|
Yesterday, climbing with Jim Woodruff, I was fed awesome beta for “Cage Match” 5.12c, an aptly named intimidatingly steep and powerful crack/jug haul. The climbing starts right off with a difficult crux after the initial slab section. The difficult sidepull and undercling windmill section leads to a couple bolts of pure jug pulling, culminating with the crux move, a knee-bar scum/cletus-funk rattly pull-in move to a decent jug (hard to get.)
|Matt Fanning on the 11c run-out crux portion of Cage Match “5.12c”|
From there, you need to establish and then gain a good ledge jug (chances are, you’re going to cut feet and hope to not blow it.) From here, you go into a butt and knee-jam cave rest section. Super clausterfobic…then there’s another intimidating, blind move off decent jams and holds (though awkward feet) to another jug. From there, its run-out 11c crack climbing to the anchor!!! Good stuff.
I did not send it on my first go, though did manage to do all the moves (except the first hard one) pretty much first go that I tried hard enough (at lot of it was feeling balances, scums etc which I was trying to work out.)
I can’t wait to get back on the route, hopefully this Saturday. Sunday and Monday, we are climbing at Coopers Rock!
I bolted another route and think that I am going to bolt another…but I’m not going to say anything about those until I send them!
They say that life goes fast, but for me, especially on climbing trips, time goes incredibly slow. Only a week ago, I was climbing at Ten Sleep Canyon in Wyoming. But heck….that seems like forever ago! Not only were the temps better at Ten Sleep last week (opposed to the first two weeks of July), but the bugs were a lot better (more like non-existant) and there were less people!!
My whole drive back, I was thinking about going to the “Other Place” at the Meadow at the New River Gorge and cleaning up a couple of sport routes there and adding one or possible two new routes (and a link-up maybe too.) So, after 26 hours in the car, I came home, took a shower, charged the drill batteries and then drove to the Meadow. I arrived to meet a group of my friends at like 9pm and convinced my one friend Neal (it wasn’t that hard) to accompany me up to the top of the “Area 51″ cliff so I could fix a bolt on a project I have over there.
We sorta got lost in the woods, but after a failed rap and ascend, I managed to find the top of the route. I fixed the crux bolt, which though safe, was drilled crooked and was spinning madly. Drilling and bolting in roofs really sucks, but I got a good solid bolt.
The next morning, I went up and did a warm-up burn at Area 51, then headed over to the “Other Place” and bolt a new route to the right of “Depth Charge.” Its a classic New River route. Big moves between good holds through a small roof which leads to a PISS-HARD slab move. DARNIT! I was really hoping it would be like a mid-11 but I think its going to be at least 12c or 12d, though I was pretty beat up from bolting it and the conditions (compared to out west) were hot and miserable.
I added a bolt to the route “DD” – a classic, but frightening 5.10a and also fixed the anchor on “Pooh’s Thought Spot” 5.11b which was the first route I developed at the Meadow. The original anchor was way out of the way of the route and silly, so with some help from some pittsburgh climbers, I moved the anchor to a much better spot.
I love my life so much sometimes. Especially so on climbing trips. To me, these trips stretch time almost to infinite. Its only been what…5 climbing days (and 0 rest days) so far out here and I forget that I have like a normal life, a mortgage, a real job…a lawn to cut. I really love it.
The climbing here has been great!! The conditions have been a bit cooler than my last trip out here about a month ago and I’ve been losing weight and climbing well! The first day, the elevation hit both Matt and I pretty hard, but I feel great now.
My last trip, I was going around trying to onsight all the classic routes, but this trip, I’ve been focusing more on projecting or working “harder” routes. The grades here tend to be all over the place; some 12ds feel like 12as and some 12bs feel like 13as! Its kinda nuts, but all good climbing!
Some routes that have really stood out for me are “Happiness in Slavery” 5.12b which would be 12b at just about any crag in america (at least.) Insect 5.12d ditto for Happiness. That thing is hard!
I feel good that I can consistently onsight or flash 12a here (depending on whether Matt or I go first) and happy to clean up on those, but I’m starting to run out of classics at that grade! I’m definitely going to come back here again next summer, so I’ve been sampling a lot of the 12+s to see which I like and which are worth putting the time in.
|Godfather 2 5.11a|
|Godfather 2 5.11a|
|5.12a on Godfather Boulder|
It hasn’t really hit me yet, but I’m leaving tonight after work for a week trip to Ten Sleep Canyon in Wyoming!!
I liked it soooo much that I managed to put together another week vacation out there! Its about 26 hours of actual driving which is about 30 hours in the car based on passed experiences. Its a new drive for me though. The last time I went out (a month ago), I had to stop in Denver both ways, so we drove the Kansas RT 70 route.
This time, we’re driving the best route according to Google Earth which takes me through TWO NEW STATES FOR ME!! Minnesota and North Dakota!
Summer has been going well for me, as stated in a couple blogs ago. I’ve been losing weight, more due to healthier eating, though I have been climbing.
My last trip to Ten Sleep focused on onsighting or second-going routes….to get a good feel for the area and at that, I was successful. I am not sure, this trip, if I want to project some harder stuff or continue to sample the easy 5.12s…..I will be trying to blog daily on the trip.
Trango has always been a company that brings out innovative climbing equipment. Their best example in my opinion is the Squid, an “outside the box” stick clipping device which I LOVE. The Cinch is another example of an “outside the box” belay device. Being an avid boulderer, I’ve been taping tooth brushes to sticks for years, though when Trango introduced the “Beta Stick” I knew that once again, Trango had filled a need for me. I think every gym needs at least one of these and any serious boulderer definitely needs to get one of these!
Though the Beta Stick is both a stick-clip and brush device, I prefer the Squid for clipping, though the Beta Stick is an incredible extendable brush. The Beta Stick comes with the standard machine-gun brush that most boulderers use, however, I have modified a boar’s hair brush for mine so I can switch between the two.
I used a little bit of tape on the tip of mine to stiffen it up a bit (I am a really vigorous brusher!)
The extended brush is great for working new problems. With the brush, you can “feel” how good an unreachable edge or pocket is, also, its really good for cleaning nasty and otherwise unreachable holds.
At the gym, the Beta Stick is convenient; instead of bouldering up another problem to brush a hold, you can brush it from the ground!
I love mine!
Its been a Hooooooot summer. A hot and humid summer. I’ve been climbing, but not really as much as “on” season since my trip out to Ten Sleep Canyon in Wyoming. I climbed a few days a Coopers Rock and have been doing some gym climbing since the Energy Rock Gym in Charleston is ACed.
Its been raining pretty much every day here, which has kept things steamy and I have been working a lot, mostly SCUBA diving doing underwater bridge inspection which was quite fun!
I did climb two weekends ago at Grayson Highlands! What a good summer crag!! I went from slimy hot summer climbing to nice fall-feeling, low humidity and decent temps climbing! I’m getting ready to leave Thursday for another week at Ten Sleep Canyon since I liked it so much!