Considering that the last time we climbed at the Red was when I was 11 weeks preggo and under a self-imposed toprope restriction, it was great to finally get back there, and this time on the sharp end! We headed up on Thursday afternoon to meet our crew of climbing partners at Lago Linda’s. The weather forecast was not good. In fact, it was downright bad. But I’m so thankful we didn’t let a few rain drops get in the way of our having a good time!
Obviously with a large posse of climbers with varying abilities, no two people had the same tick list, but here’s what I hopped on…
Day 1 ~ Bruise Brothers and Sunnyside Crags at Muir Valley
Little Viper (5.10b)
Jungle Trundler (5.11a) – A harder move down below (I’d recommend a stick clip), then one more tricky sequence moving over a bulge…all in all this felt a little soft for the grade.
Hey There Fancy Pants (5.10c) - Really fun layback sequences – pumpy and fairly sustained, to me it felt harder than the previous route…
At this point the wall started swarming with people, so we hiked over to Sunnyside, which was a bit crowded at first, but after an hour or so, thinned out until we were the only folks there!
Weed-Eater (5.11b) - An tall, intimidating line that starts with some technical moves on big pockets, and finishes up with a series of 3 giant ledges (throw a right heel hook, crank, rest, repeat…). Everything is a jug until you hit the crux crimpers moving from the last bolt to the shutts. Glancing at it I figured there was no way I could hang on to send something that long at that grade, but the rests in between moves towards the top allowed me to hang on.
Kokopelli’s Dream (5.9) – A really aesthetic line that ascended a detached pillar underneath the giant roof. Technical slab climbing at its finest – pretty spicy for the grade!
Dingo the Gringo (5.10c) – Crux was the burly yet technical crack sequence through the first two bolts – then it backed off to much easier slabby terrain.
Machete (5.10b) – Super fun jug-hauling on similar (but easier and shorter) terrain as the 11b. A great way to end the day!
Day 2 ~ Roadside Crag
A highlight of my day here was running into Eric Horst along with his wife and 2 kids, Cameron (10) and Jon (8). Steve and I have read some of Eric’s books, and often listen to his podcasts on the way to the crag. We’d met him a couple of times at the New before, but it was really neat to watch this climbing family from my perspective as a (relatively) new mom. I enjoyed catching a glimpse of the “next phase,” and it made me really excited about sharing a rope with Cragbaby on future climbing trips a few years down the road. The boys were down to business and totally focused when climbing (and I do mean CRUSHING – I saw Cameron flash 5.12c…), but when they were off the rock, they were just two normal boys, stacking rocks and building forts, running around with endless energy!
Crazy Fingers (5.10c) – One of my favorites on the weekend! Lots of long moves to great pockets. Relentlessly pumpy – 2 or 3 times I thought I was fizzling out only to find a hero jug that let me get enough juice back to finish the send.
Up Yonder (5.11b) - The only route all weekend that wasn’t new to me. I fell at the crux, so I pulled the rope and led it again, but I still botched my hands, so no redpoint on this yet. I was hoping to hop on it again towards the end of the day, but it never freed up again.
Just Duet (5.10d) - A very un-Red-like route – a balancey, thin slab with a fantastic view!
Day 3 ~ Bruise Brothers at Muir Valley
The weather had us back at Bruise Bros, but this time we hit up the tall routes on the right side of the wall that had been too crowded to get on before.
Workin’ for the Weekend (5.10c) - A tricky, reachy crux around the 3rd bolt led to more moderate climbing above, where it started DUMPING rain on us. Thankfully the route stayed dry for the most part, but kudos to Miriam for the treading water belay while I finished up!
Return of the Manimal (5.10d) - Had to fight off the pump for the onsight on this one – the steep crux had two gigantic moves between jugs about halfway up. The rest of the route was a lot easier until the awkward finishing moves pulling up and onto a ledge.
Critters on the Cliff (5.11a) - A committing crux sequence on small holds, but the rest of this route felt soft – a lot easier than “Manimal.”
Rat Stew (5.10a) - The bottom slab was soaking wet, but nothing a stick clip couldn’t protect!
Day 4 – The Zoo
Jailbird (5.10d) - Heinous microcrimps down low and 5.9-ish climbing after that…I think the grade must have been “averaged” b/c those microcrimps were WAY too small for 10d! An exercise in patience unlocking the sequence - thankfully there was a ledge I could keep downclimbing to to rest my fingers.
Monkey in the Middle (5.11b) - 90 feet of steep Red pockets and huecos! Not usually my style but I had a blast monkeying around on it! Felt solid up until bolt 7, where I noticed what appeared to be the last bolt WAY farther away then I felt comfortable with considering how pumped I was, so I decided to play it safe and rest. I was disappointed when I started climbing again and noticed an additional bolt not listed in the guide that had been just out of sight on top of a small bulge…had I known that I wouldn’t have hung. Oh well, better safe than sorry. I probably would have peeled off pulling up and over the last bulge to the shutts anyway, because that was tough enough even after the rest.
On Beyond Zebra! (5.11c) - Definitely my hardest onsight to date! My whole goal was to just get up bolt to bolt, but I kept breathing and got into a rhythm and before I knew it, I was at the top! I never would have made it had there not been two no hands rests evenly spaced throughout the route, a ledge I could literally lay down on, and a stance where I could lean into the wall. There wasn’t really a definitive crux, aside from hanging on long enough to figure out which pockets were good enough to use.
Again, I’m so glad that we didn’t let the rain scare us away, because it ended up being a wonderful trip! I was pleased to start making some headway in my hit list for 2011. Part of goal #7 had been to make it to the Red this year, so that one is obviously checked off (although we are already talking about heading up there again this fall). I also got tons of mileage on overhanging rock (goal #6), and I must say – this steep stuff is starting to grow on me a little bit! While I still felt more confident on the handful of vertical face climbs we did, I enjoyed myself immensely on the stereotypical pocketed jug-hauls that the Red River Gorge is known for. I didn’t have a chance to get my trad on at all this weekend (goal #8), but with so much seepage, the safer bet seemed to be monkeying around on the steeps. I felt really strong this weekend, both physically and mentally. I was both shocked and delighted to have onsighted all but two of the routes I did, especially considering that the majority of routes were not what I would consider to be my “style.”
The last time we were at the Red it had rained a good bit, but nothing compared to this. We had super soaker showers at least once every day except for the last day, and a whopper of a thunderstorm Friday night. At a lot of other crags you’d be stuck with a few token roof-capped routes to wait in line for along with everyone else that happened to be in the area that day – unless you like climbing wet rock or can climb 5.hard. But not at the Red! Yeah of course it was pretty crowded in the rain-friendly areas, but a holiday weekend always has the potential for swarms of people, and I’m sure that the soggy forecast scared a lot of folks away – so all the rain may have in fact worked to our advantage! I doubt we would have gotten that much more climbing done had we been rain-free. We got to meet a lot of cool folks from all over the country, folks who I hope we’ll cross paths with again soon! It’s a good thing this trip was so fun, because with us moving into our new house (finally!) this fix might have to last us until the middle of May when the New River Rendezvous comes around again! Thanks to Norbert, Manuela, Bennett, Miriam, Jean, Doris, Greg, and Ryan for all the catches, Cragbaby duty, pictures (click here for more), and of course laughs and great stories!