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!  

The next day, we climbed there again.  The outside temperature was 30 degreees for the high, but in the sun at the solar collector, it was simply glorious!   T-shirt while climbing, puffy while belaying…perfect!  I was happy to snap up the Siegrist route “Space Junk” 5.12c.  With the cold temps, the “crux crimpers” felt like 11+….or maybe it was because of my hangboard workout this summer?  Anyways I was really happy to do that one.  I did hang an extended trad draw on the crux bolt and then clipped up as I climbed through.
Our last two days, we climbed at Bob Marley.  I had previously set my sites on “Blood Bath” 5.12c.  I threw a bit of a wobbler on this one.  My first day, I put ?6 goes into the route, easily sending the route through the roof, only to blow off not being able to hold the “cut feet” move at the lip.  Ok.  Let me describe the route so you know what that means.
The entire Bob Marley cave centers around a ?10 foot near horizontal roof about 40 feet off the ground.  Typical to the other routes, “Blood Bath” starts off with a surprisingly difficult climb through mostly vertical “for the red” moves between good to decent holds to the roof.  A good shake at the roof leads to some pretty beta-intensive climbing through the mostly blank, but pocketed roof.  I had worked out feet to get both hands at the lip of the roof easily, but had trouble with my feet cutting (super-maning off).  Finally my friend David Statler helped me out with some foot beta and – using a hand-toe took match managed to do the move static keeping my feet.  This one was probably one of my proudest sends for the year.  It took me probably 10 tries over two days not counting another half a dozen tries over the years.
Blood Bath – 5.12c.
With that and a single day of climbing at the New River Gorge, the “Local Climbing” season came to an end.  Oh and I flashed my first 13a – Lavender Days.  Yeah!  Figured I’d throw that in at the end.