"Not all those who wander are lost"

New 2

Truly great friends are hard to find, difficult to leave, and impossible to forget.

-Unknown

 

Tuesday (7/5) Daryl and I headed to Fern Point of Endless wall.  We warmed up on a 10b that proved to be quite tricky then continued on to the main attraction: S’more Energy (5.11c).  It had been suggested and was highly rated in the guide book.  It turned out to be a great climb that included all kinds of climbing.  I started out up a small arête to a difficult reachy section that lead into a small crack with some layback moves that ended in a full arm span reach to a jug.  After a hands free rest on a bicycle seat, pulling a roof without seeing any of the holds, and a traverse using a wobbly loose chalkstone I made it to the slab face that was the crux.  It proved awkward and provided no holds at the crux.  After barely missing a good hold that would have given me the onsight I figured out the proper move: Use a quarter-pad crimp with the left hand and a one finger half pad gaston with the right to stand up on a high foot and grab the good sloper.  Once I had figured out the sequence I red-pointed it without any problem my second time.

We headed down the wall to find another good climb that had been suggested but before we got there spotted the Idol Point Arete (5.12b).  Especially considering I was trying to get a 12, it was just too good looking to pass up.  I made it through most of the climb no problem but got completely shut down by the crux.  After several tries I figured out what I needed to do but just didn’t have the energy anymore so I lowered off and Daryl gave it a shot.  He didn’t have any better luck.  My second try I got up to the same spot but still had trouble with the crux.  After several tries I finally got the moves to work:  I slotted my left hand into a small crack (extremely painful one for my pinky), got a high left foot and bumped my hand up the sloped edge of the crack above until I could move my left hand up more, grab a good hold with my right, and rock over onto my left foot.  The crux alone was enough to exhaust me without the rest of the climb or the beating sun but I was determined not to leave my gear on the route.  Of course, with my amazing skills and luck I reached up into a good crack to rest after the crux and my fingers met a familiar buzz.  I pulled my hand out as fast as I could and it was immediately followed my two wasps.  “Watch me” I called out in the usual way if I were doing a hard section where I might fall, “I might jump.”  I’m sure it confused Daryl, but I wasn’t too interested in getting stung by the swarming wasps.  Luckily they didn’t sting me although they did fly up and down my route for a minute as if to tell me it’s theirs.  I finished out the climb on some fairly difficult moves (or maybe I was just so pumped) on an overhanging face.  Tired and beaten we headed back to Roger’s.

(The trail back)

 

After the all the thrashing my body had taken over the last couple days I finally decided to take a real rest day not just climb easier.  It was a difficult thing for me to do but I managed to keep myself from climbing for the entire day.  I spent the day getting groceries, writing, and all those fun things that needed to be done.

 

Thursday I headed to the lake with a big group of Roger’s regulars.  It was back to normal, but after my rest day I seemed to be climbing worse than before.  After some warm ups we headed to the Coliseum where the routes are hard 12’s and 13’s.  I tried the “easiest” route there which was a 12b.  I just didn’t have the energy to pull through all of the good jugs on the overhang and couldn’t even get the crux.  My second burn on it didn’t go much better.  Since everyone else had been trying it I got on Apollo Reed (5.13a) too and good only a hand full of bolts before not being able to continue (even after hangdogging).

(Alex on Apollo)

 

It rained Thursday night so Friday was a slow morning waiting for the crags to dry.  Eventually Evelyne, Sophie, and I headed down to Kaymoor to try our luck.  After greasy rock on the warm up Sophie decided it was a good time to take a rest day and headed back.  Unwilling to give in despite the rain drops that begun to come down Evelyne and I headed over to try Thunderstruck (5.12b) which should be out of the rain.  By the time we got there it was pouring so we hung out under an overhang until it eased up and we could climb.  As predicted the climb was out of the rain, but the belay definitely wasn’t.  We alternated burns on the climb while it wasn’t raining with hanging out under the crag and singing along to 80’s and 90’s songs on my ipod when it rained.  A few burns later our luck ran out though and the rain didn’t stop.  Giving up we headed out and each climbed it once more in the rain, collected my gear, and bailed back to Roger’s soaking wet, but happy with the day.

 

Saturday (7/9) I headed to the Honeymooner’s section of Endless wall with the Canadians and Chris, another Roger’s seasonal.  We warmed up on a pair of fun 5.11s then moved over to a pair of 5.12b’s that were highly rated in the guide book.  What the guide book didn’t mention was that one of them is severely sandbagged so it’s more like 5.12b/13a.  Chris wasn’t too interested in the 12s and headed out, but over the next couple hour two more joined up with us.  One of the 12’s was close to being do-able for me, but the crux…so basically I couldn’t do it at all.  The crux required popping from a rail to a really high and not very good side-pull crimp; it was just more than I could do.  We burned ourselves out on the routes before headed home for the night.

 

Sadly the time had come for me to depart from the New River Gorge.  I had been telling myself and everyone else that I was leaving Sunday and I knew if I didn’t stick to it then I would never leave.  Of course, I wasn’t about to give up a day of climbing, so I headed off for one more day with Sophie and Evelyne.  Our destination was the Seven 11 wall of Kaymoor, named for the number of 5.11 climbs, but of course the ratings were fixed leaving only 6 now.  We warmed up on a fun 5.10d and made our way to what we really came for: three side by side 11c’s.  The first was a tall arête climb named Scenic Adult.

I started on a tall block and reached over to a detached flake on the wall.  It was an “in your face” climb immediately with some hard moves over a small overhang and up a slab face.  Half way up the climb came the technical crux.  With holds becoming worse I traversed around the arête.  I broken crack system lie above me.  I read what I needed to do and tried it, but had spent so much time figuring it out that I didn’t have the energy.  My second attempt proved more successful.  I reached up to a insecure not quite two finger finger-lock and reached high to a crimp.  The crux was hardly over though.  It was several more moves to get my left hand to a side-pull, my right to an insecure hand jam, and finally throw up big to a rail before I could clip and finish the crux.  Unfortunately, although it wasn’t as technically hard, the next moves proved troublesome traversing the good holds with no more energy.  Although it has been 11 days since the climb, I still remember every move through the crux as vividly as if I were just finishing the climb.  Best yet, after the traverse was a full mantel.  From there it was relatively easy slab and a bit more pumping through overhanging jugs to the anchor.  It was one of the best and most diverse climbs I have ever done.  Sadly my second burn proved better, but the pump got to me after I made it through the crux and I didn’t get the redpoint.

Next was Tony the Tiger.  Both the guide book and other climbers had given it high praise so I was eager to try it.  It was a fun climb, but was far too inconsistent for me to really love it.  The beginning had a tricky slab traverse that was not so tricky with the right beta.  After that it was easy going all the way to the very top which held one very hard move to get into the insecure clipping position for the anchor.  Good, but Scenic Adult already stole my heart.  I looked at my watch.  It was already an hour after I had hoped to leave.  I sadly said my goodbyes to Sophie and Evelyne and jogged back to Roger’s and my packed car waiting to take off.

 

After New England and West Virginia top climbs are:

  1. Scenic Adult (5.11c), Seven-11 Wall, Kaymoor, New River Gorge.  A beautiful line with a great variety of climbing styles, consistently hard, with fun airy moves.  Requires a combination of strength, endurance, technique, and accepting insecurity.  Climbing community at the New is awesome and I couldn’t ask for better people to climb with than the two awesome French-Canadians.
  2. Out of the Bag (5.11d), Rico Suave Buttress, Kaymoor, New River Gorge.  Bold line up the center of the buttress.  100% my style using crimps, slab, and long reaches.  Fun times and people and the New.

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