I've had a lot of feelings this spring/summer. It seems like everyone around me has moved, or is starting a new chapter in their life. I've seen friends on big adventures across the west, and getting after it in other parts of the world. It seems like a contradiction of my motto of "Chasing Layers" to say I haven't gone on an adventure this spring, but in reality, I just haven't flown anywhere to go explore some new part of the world. Instead, I've been staying local, putting a lot of money down on my student loans, visiting friends and making the most of hanging out in Kentucky.
I feel like it's interesting the days and moments you remember. Why do you remember vividly the day you snapped your hiking pole in Washington, or the time you sat on a cliff at Smith Rocks talking life with a good friend, but don't remember some of the bigger day to day events that really shape your life? If anything this spring/summer, I've been slowing down to really enjoy every moment rather than just the good ones.
A bunch of fun things did happen in the past few months, I went climbing at Seneca Rocks for the first time ever. We ended up doing a bunch of pitches and then got shaken off the wall in an afternoon thunderstorm. The talk around town that night was that there was a prediction for snow. With the rock already being drenched at 8pm, and a forecast for snow, we made the tough decision and drove back to the Red that night. The Red hadn't gotten any rain and was prime to climb. I think the drive, and sleeping in a random rest area in West Virginia killed us. We didn't climb but a few routes that day before we said we were too tired and headed back to Lexington.
A few weekends later we fired it up again and headed out to Dip wall. We did some fun fist/offwidth cracks ( I on-sighted another 9!) and a few smaller slabs cracks before we headed back covered in sweat. After a day of rest, Harry and I went out to try a new crag. We opted to head for Princess Wall. Princess Wall is one of those where you either have to down-climb 4-5th class terrain or rappel down in to the base. We opted to rappel. There were a bunch of intriguing cracks down there, however, most of them were wet, moss laden, and it looked like no one had climbed them in a while. It didn't stop us from getting up a few. We started on a really nice leaning 45 foot, 5.6 hand crack. We then jumped right into the deep end.
There is a really nice 5.9 thin hands to burly fingers looking route in a dihedral that we had scoped out. It had a somewhat interesting start and then I was up into the main crack. Besides, not being good at that crack width, the lichen was drenched and the crack was really wet.
"I get one hand in and am able to stem with my right foot off of some small ledges. Everything seems dirty and mossy. I take a step up with my left foot and SNAP!, that foothold pops off as I catch myself with my right foot and my hands in the crack. Sweat is pouring off of my forehead like a leaky sink faucet. Harry yells up encouragement as he can sense I'm struggling. "Hey man! You've got this!" I managed to jam my hand in just past the knuckles and squeeze. My hands look as if they've been covered in oil and then someone dumped a load of dirt on them. Just as I inch myself up I hesitantly reach as far as possible and place a .75 Camelot. I flag my left foot out wide and smear on what feels like featureless rock. There's just enough friction, and I inch my body up the right wall. My tape glove came off what seems like forever ago and I'm bleeding on the back of the hands. I make a big move to reach a jug. Just then my left foot slips and I fall, twisting my knee as I go, and as I get softly caught, it twists back into place when I come to a stop. I'm belching out, more from frustration than pain. I almost had the move. I push on the wall with my foot to see if I can put weight on it. I can, and start jugging my way up the rope to my last piece. A few more tries and I make the move, shove a number 3 Camelot into the crack and begin to think I'm home free. Just a few more moves. Exhausted, dirty and drenched in sweat, I reach the ratty old webbing after a sketchy, mossy top out. I build an anchor, clove in, and collapse in the moss on the small ledge."
I hauled Harry up, and we sat there for a second in the dirt on a small mossy ledge 80' up the wall. These are the moments I live for when climbing at the Red in the summer. These are the moments that really stick out in my head. Not the perfect day in October, but those hot sweaty fights in mid summer when the temperature is soaring and the humidity is so high you think you're breathing water.
So, lets talk about what's on the horizon. This weekend Matt and I are headed to do some multipitch rope work together to get everything dialed for Wyoming. We're headed into the Cirque of the Towers to attempt the traverse and to climb a bunch of stuff the end of this month. I've never been so scared looking at pictures before a trip like this before. Hopefully, when we get in there and on the rock all the fears will go away and we'll just enjoy the nice clean granite. After that, the fall is coming up pretty soon and with that comes the Rough Trail 50k. Then, it'll be ice season before we know it! I've already got some trips scheduled to do some ice climbing in some pretty rad places, so you'll have to stick around.
Happy Trails Y'all.