Birthday Challenge: 25 Pitches In A Day
Birthday Challenge: Something you do to challenge yourself physically and mentally to push your limits as you begin another trip around the sun. This challenge is self meditated, but is often performed with a group of friends to help you endure the suffering.
This year I decided to try and do 25 pitches in a day, for my 25th birthday. A "pitch" as I would define it, is one climb. If there was a multi pitch route but only done in a single pitch then it would only count as one pitch. Pitch length can vary from 30' to 120', it all depends on the route. So, I researched 25 climbs, got a few friends on board, and set out for the Red River Gorge.
After an easy nights rest, we awoke at 5:30am and had left the camp by 6am. A quick drive through dirt covered roads, a short jaunt past Miguel's and we were in the pull off for Global Village and Emerald City, the first crags of the day. My plan was to start on Whiteout at sunrise and finish on Tower Rock at sunset.
Whiteout went up without a hitch. The rock was solid, and I felt good leading it. As I toped out the sun started shining over the ridges and softly illuminated the valleys below. A quick clean and rappel down and we were off to our second climb of the day, The Shining.
The Shining is a 5.8+ finger crack that wants to spit you out before you even get in it. Which, is, the crux of the route, getting in the finger crack. I was silently hoping that Matt or Harry would want to lead it and I could just clean it after them.. To no avail.. They did however, give me as much encouragement as they could and told me I'd do great. It was a fight to get into the crack and it took hanging on gear a few times to get up it, but I'm glad I did it. It was an amazing climb. I'm actually looking forward to going back and trying it again, and maybe practicing some laps on it.
Over an hour was spent on the shining, working my way up to the top. We then hustled over to Father and Son, a moderate 5.7. Harry got to work on this one and put up the rope. I cleaned, rappelled down and we were onto Vision, #4. Vision was a really fun climb with great exposure and a fantastic 10' section of hand crack. From there Matt cleaned and set up a top rope on Jake's Flake.
Following Jake's Flake we headed over to Casual Viewing for a fun climb. This was the first time I had done any of these climbs. It was a fun experience to hit all of them at once. We left Casual Viewing at 12pm.. definitely slower than I had hoped, but was still positive we might be able to hit 20.
Our next wall we were going to was the Wall of Denial. We ended up stopping at the gas station for a quick break and then with the driving we ended up pulling up to the parking lot around 1:30 and left by 1:45. Shortly down the trail we ran into Payton and Luna, who were looking to join in and climb with us. 45 minutes of hiking later and we still thought we had about a mile or so to go. We had lost the trail and were all hot and sweaty. After talking it out, we decided to back track to a fantastic beach along the river for a swim, which also happened to include an afternoon nap.
Eventually we headed out. I still wanted to finish on top of Tower Rock for the sunset so we made the hike up the hill. We did a few laps on Africa before heading to Caver's Route. The sun was just over the ridges when Matt set off on lead. The light faded fast and Matt's headlamp just didn't cut it. He could barely see. When we decided it might be a better option for him to just come down he couldn't find any anchors. He kept climbing and ended up in the chimney. Luckily he was able to place a cam and simultaneously downclimb/lower off of that piece. We left the rope and cams there, so we could retrieve them as soon as the sun started to rise and we would have some daylight.
The next day we hiked up to Caver's Route and all of our gear was gone. In disbelief we headed home. Luckily for us, a local had grabbed the gear when he and his friend were doing a bunch of the classics during the night before his friend had to get on a plane and leave in the morning. He happily contacted me off of mountain project and we got all our gear back. Thank You G!
Overall, we did 7 different routes, and I climbed 9 pitches if you count the 2 extra laps on Africa. I think next year I have a few different ideas on how to get more climbs in. Regardless though, it was a fun day/weekend out with friends. Thanks to everyone that came out!