Last summer Steve and I won a day of private guiding at Seneca in a raffle during the “Playing for the Payoff” comp at the Triangle Rock Club, a fundraising effort to help buy the property of Laurel Knob in Western North Carolina. This past weekend we decided to cash in on our prize. What a great introduction to a new area! Our guide was Arthur Kearns, affectionately known as “ACK”, whom we had met last year at the New River Rendezvous. He gave us the grand tour, and put us on a variety of climbs to help us get a feel for the rock and style of climbing there.
Day 1 Climbs ~
Triple S – 5.8+
The Prune – 5.7 (first 2 pitches only)
Back to the Front – 5.9
Pollux – 5.10a
Day 2 ~We kept the grades low today, but the exposure high! Today was a fabulous example of how easy climbing can still be really fun. We enjoyed spectacular scenery all day, and got to sign the summit register for the second day in a row!
Old Ladies Route – 5.2 (3 pitches)
East Face to Gunsight – 5.0
Gunsight to South Peak Direct – 5.5 (2 pitches)
Day 3 ~ Since we had a long drive ahead of us, we had only one route on our tick list for the morning – a mega classic that always has a line. We got up really early to break down camp, and found ourselves first at the base of the route – another party showed up when I was about 15 feet off the deck, so we were glad we had gotten up so early!
Ecstasy – 5.7 (3 pitches)
This route was SPECTACULAR! I’m so thankful that everyone at the Gendarme encouraged us to get on it. I will say that although there were no moves harder than 5.7, it was very steep and sustained for the grade – add in all the exposure and the traverse, and it made for a very heady lead. If 5.7 was my limit, I probably would have been pretty sketched on this route!
This trip did wonders for my confidence on gear. I didn’t have any trouble finding placements or building anchors, even though the routefinding got a little tricky at some points. I’m at the point now where getting a solid piece in feels ALMOST as secure as clipping into a bolt.