It looks like the end of the season in The Red has arrived much sooner than I would have liked. With temperatures in the thirties and fresh snow on the ground, it looks like a good time to move to a new destination.
My last few climbing days have certainly been a test of my cold tolerance. Sunday was balmy with a high 29˚. Climbing in the sun was manageable but, not surprisingly, difficult. After attempting to warm up on an easier climb, I decided to hop on Pure Imagination, a long and crimpy classic 14c. Once I got past the initial freezing and warmed up my fingers and body a bit, I was able to make some pretty decent links much to my surprise. This was only my second time on the route and, ironically, my first try was on the hottest day of my trip. After two pitches in below freezing weather, it was time to call it a day. I’m excited at the prospect of trying that route in even slightly better conditions because it seems very possible in the near future…until this happened:
Rather than throwing myself at projects, I decided to enjoy some easier climbing for my last couple climbing days. First up was Gene Wilder, a low-angle, super technical, balancy, and runout 13a at the Chocolate Factory sector. My visiting friend Tory had put a couple days into this climb so I had all the beta figured out from watching her try it. This type of climbing is certainly my anti-style so I was a little hesitant to try it. However, Tory was ready to send so I thought it would be a nice gesture to hang the draws. I am just so brave and humble. The climb went surprising well and I was able to flash it. With the send in the air, Tory crushed. It is always cool to see people excel at a style that you struggle with. Next up, we made out way over to The Lode where I made a half-assed flash attempt on Omaha Beach (14a) and Tory pulled in a double send day by taking down Heart Shaped Box (12c).
On our final climbing day, we made our way over to the Sanctuary in Muir Valley. This area is a very different style from what I have grown accustomed to in the other regions of the gorge. Most of the climbs in this sector consist of low-angle boulder problems separated by good rests. Tory was able to make an impressive second try send of Triple Sec (12d), while I managed to flash/onsight Jesus Wept, Triple Sec, and Peach Frog (all 12d). It was a fun change of pace from project mode, and it was a great way to end this leg of the trip.
Now that it is time to move on, there are certain things that I will miss about life in Kentucky, and certain things that I will be more than happy to leave behind.
Things I will miss
Routes – Throughout this trip I collected a large number of almost-sends. But here are the routes that I will miss the most:
Lucifer: I think I put the most time into this one but kept falling on the redpoint crux. This route is all about precision. This style is particularly challenging for me because like to be able to make small mistakes and recover throughout the route. However, for Lucifer, you have to be on point pretty much from the ground, with little time to find your groove before you get into the business. This from the ground focus is definitely something I need to work on.
Pure Imagination: Similar to Lucifer, Pure Imagination is hard from the start, however, the crux section is slightly less precise. Furthermore, there are rest scattered throughout the rest of the route so there is time and space to makes small mistakes and recover for them. Much more my style.
Golden Ticket: I only had a chance to try this one once, but I was extremely impressed by the quality of the rock and movement. The route involves a series of powerful, yet balancy, boulders separated by good rests with the hardest section just before the anchors. The fact that Adam Ondra onsighted this blows my mind.
Lago Linda Crew – Over the past month many people have rolled through Linda’s some sticking around for only a few days and others for a few months. It is amazing to see so many people come to such a random part of the world for the same purpose: to climb some cool looking rocks. Weird right? Anyways, there is an amazing sense of community in the sport of climbing, and I look forward to seeing some familiar faces that I have met here in The Red at other destinations around the country and around the world.
Redneck Life – Some aspects of life in Kentucky just make you smile. Here are some things that when you see them, you always think to yourself “Wow. That is just so Kentucky.”
Bullet holes in signs. The rule is if you shoot a stop sign while you are driving, you don’t actually need to stop.
People with two first names. Great names like Bobbi Lynn, Jim Tom, or Dixie Don will be missed. My Kentucky name is Mikey Dean. What’s yours?
Things that I will not miss
Kentucky weather. There have certainly been some amazing climbing days here, but I’m definitely leaving here a little frustrated. A guy in a restaurant told me that if you don’t like the weather in Kentucky, just wait five minutes.
Dogs walking in the middle of the road. For some reason, everyone who owns a dog just lets them roam around in the streets all day. I bet if you Google street view Beattyville Kentucky, you’re bound to see at least one dog standing in the middle of the road.
The dust. The Red River Gorge is one of the dirtiest climbing areas I have ever been to.
People smoking indoors. Gross.
Things I have Learned:
1) You can’t climb at your limit all of the time
2) Endurance is more about your ability to recover on bad holds and climb while pumped rather than your ability to prevent the onset of pump.
3) Your car is way easier to find in a parking lot if you have a roof box.
4) Its good to get your ass kicked every once and a while
5) Climbing one style for a long time makes you an all around weaker climber.
This has certainly been a season filled with plenty of frustration. Nevertheless, this has been a great first leg of the trip and I am excited to start bouldering!