Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Red River Gorge Half Time Report

Days are blurring together and half the trip has passed while I feel as though I am still cruising along getting used to the style at ‘The Red’.  I have climbed a lot of routes although nothing particularly hard with my proudest send being my first epic route in the Madness Cave called ‘The Madness’. The Madness is a 120ft steep overhang graded at 5.13c (30) and considered hard for the grade. There are no moves that wouldn’t be found on a much easier route but the angle and endurance required is out of this world. It took me 6 shots and I felt the endurance in my fore arms build each time I tied in.  It is one of the coolest lines I have ever done.
Warm ups don't come any better than this. A 5.11d at Solar Collector crag. Photo Jack Masel.
In the late 90s a 17 year old Katie Brown onsighted a route to the left of The Madness called Omaha Beach. At that time it was the worlds hardest onsight by a female climber and weighed in at 5.13d (31). Ever since I have wanted to climb this route, which is now graded 5.14a (32), due to holds breaking over the years. I tried it the other day after sending The Madness, which I had been told wasn’t too much of a step below Omaha Beach, but found it to be incredibly difficult. Ill keep having shots at it although my belief that I have the ability to do the route has taken a hit.
Jack working on Paradise Lost 5.13a at the Purgatory crag.
While visiting a lot of crags and trying hard routes (project shopping) I have also been slowly working on my onsight ability. This mainly has to do with fitness as the routes are generally easy to read. Onsighting is either incredibly rewarding or frustrating, depending on whether you succeed or not. So far I have onsighted up to 5.13a (28), haven’t tried many 5.13bs, and am nowhere near 5.13c.

Just to add a bit of perspective I belayed a young (18?) American guy named Sean Bailey on a route I had a quick go at called Gods own stone (5.14a/32). It was his hardest onsight ever and he followed it up with Omaha Beach a few days later. He has also done three or so 5.14c (34) routes all in a week and a half here and all taking only a few shots. The new generation of climbers around the world are crushing and making a mockery of what used to be considered difficult. It is humbling and a little bit frustrating leaving me wondering what I could have done to be anywhere near that good. I love the struggle of trying hard though and embracing the successes and failures. It feels good to focus on performance/numbers for a while and not worry about run outs or forced bivvy’s.
Me flashing The Force 5.13a at The Dark Side crag.
Other than climbing I have been having a blast hanging out in the amazing autumn surroundings of Kentucky. The leaves are all turning red and there has been a great crew of people around. Jack and Rick are here also throwing themselves at the wall and another friend from back home, Roman, will turn up soon. It’s Halloween on the 31st, which is a big deal here, and there is a dress up party at the Pizza restaurant/campsite we are staying at. The second half of the trip is full of promise and I can’t wait to see what routes I can pull myself up!

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