Monday December 1, 2008
Another season of climbing at the Red River Gorge
has come to an end. This is the 3rd fall I've come
to climb here and it's the first year I've come
where I didn't have time to really enjoy all it has
to offer. Despite efforts to keep my fitness up, I
found I still had to acclimate. This trip, I had to
fight freezing temperatures as well. Because my time
here was so short, I climbed every possible
day–including one day where it snowed and the
temperatures never reached freezing (optimistically
high of like -3C, or 25F) and another where it was
pouring down rain and the walls were condensing.
The first few days I tried to climb were painful.
The fingers numbed, my forearms hurt and it was
difficult to loosen up and just climb. I had no
sense of recovery. Climbing seemed futile, but
seeing and hearing people sending left and
right kept my hopes up. Hot rocks, hand
warmers, runs, and mental stamina helped to overcome
the cold but still my only solace was knowing
if/when the temperatures were less freezing, I'd
think it was heaven by comparison.
The temperatures did turn for the better, or at
least the sun was coming out creating the illusion
of warmth. I did not waste time. Clear skies and
barely 5C/41F, it was time to climb! I was psyched
and teamed up with some people at camp. We were the
first at the warmups (avoiding the crowds was nice).
However, by the time I was done warming up, the
cliffs were packed. I wanted to climb in the sun as
much as possible so I looked for climbs in the sun
that would be fun and not crowded.
I had heard of this climb 'Swahili Slang' a 12c that
climbs unlike most climbs at the Red. Not being in
onsite shape I thought I was mad for going for it,
but as it turned out, I made it just fine to the
upper crux. I tried that move several times, always
falling short of the hold. My bicep was so taxed
from the efforts that I blew the onsite. Even off
the hang, I was short a few inches. I walked away.
When we arrived there was someone on the climb and
when i was climbing there were people waiting. This
did not seem promising for getting too many tries in
Julie went over to get on Snooker but the queue on
that was long (at least 6 or 7 deep when she
arrived). I felt bad having taken time on Swahili
and possibly setting her back in the queue. Then, I
noticed every climb, obscure or not had ropes up on
it. It was a tough day to project or get any peace
from dogs or people. I left Julie and her friend,
Nick, to battle their way
onto their projects and went in search of other friends
climbing at the Buckeye Buttress.
To my surprise the Stain wall was overflowing with
people, too. The only line free was 'Golden Touch'
so I got on it. The crux and the upper section were
hard but I thought I had beta that would work.
Another climber, Shannon, got on it and shared some
of his beta. I wasn't sure which beta I would go
for since with neither of them did I stick the crux
move. Shannon stuck the move easily but fell
higher up on the route. I watched him send it his
2nd go and left the crag psyched for my next
opportunity on it.
I spent the next 2 days working in Columbus and
eagerly awaiting Mike's return from Greece. Our
first day back at the Red, we went straight to the Motherlode. Kenny was no longer psyched on 'Transworld'
and Mike was tired with jetlag so it turned out it
was just me climbing there. This worked to my
advantage because it meant I had another chance to
get on 'Golden Touch.' Now, the weather was
warmer and I wondered how greasy the holds would be.
I thought I would have to pull harder and wondered
if the suggested taping of the finger would help
prevent me from puncturing my skin. Turned out the
tape prevented me from feeling the hold and I lost
my leverage with that finger. I fell. I took the
tape off, stuck the move, lowered and sent the
climb. I didn't tape it when I tried it last and the
holds didn't tear my fingers (I only tried it 3
times) so I guess the lesson learned here is
that I shouldn't change things up as a precaution.
I was feeling really good (4 freezing days of trying
to climb followed by 2 rest days and finally a
warmer day of actual climbing) so when we got to the
Dark Side for Kenny, I thought I'd give Elephant Man
another go. Big mistake. I didn't link much of it
and it felt sick hard. I thought I'd take the day as
a stretch out day and try for the next day since
Kenny wanted to come back then. With Kenny being so
close on both 'Golden Boy' and 'Swingline' I didn't
protest to returning. I'm psyched when people send
their projects and without any other project but
'Elephant Man,' it seemed to make sense to go
there–even though I suspected EM wasn't going down
By the end of the trip, Kenny didn't send 'Golden
Boy' or 'Swingline' and I didn't send 'Elephant
Man.' I didn't even get my old highpoint, but I came
close; and the last day I was on it, I gave 4 good
burns and had already linked from the 4th to the
top. I knew I was close, but I wouldn't have time to
test that. I was psyched at the progress and now I
want to come back for it!
It's tough leaving the Red when I feel like I
haven't scratched the surface of what I want to do.
Soon I will be
back at my desk but the memories of this trip will
stay with me. I'll be looking forward to the time
when I can return!
in Columbus, I was psyched to see my first Canucks
hockey game, complete with a fist fight on the ice!
The Canucks lost, but I was excited to see familiar
names playing. It was the first time I'd seen the
Sedin brothers and Mattias Ohlund–names I knew from
previous seasons. It was unfortunate that I didn't
recognize more…the team changed dramatically after
the last season. But, I think I'm more of a fan of
radio hockey than live hockey in an arena. It might
be me getting older but I found the atmosphere
really over the top. If you could take most, if not
all of that away, I think I'd be a bigger fan.