Spring 2021: The Season of Redemption!
With temps creeping up into the 90s on a regular basis down here in the Southeast, I think it’s safe to say that Spring is officially “sprung and done.” And with the first half of the year behind us, it’s a good time to look back and reflect on how the yearly goals are coming!
I started this year with 2 very specific goals, but as the months went by, my spring climbing season quickly turned into a season of redemption on past projects! After coming up short on both of my season long projects last fall (Logotherapy 13a and Pudd’s Pretty Dress 12d), my winter training was planned with these specific routes in mind. I hired Karly over at Project Direct, and she helped keep me on track working on what I NEEDED to work on rather than what I WANTED to work on 😉
But first, a winter highlight…
While much of January and February was spent in the weight room, there were enough sunny winter days for me to work, and eventually send, my first 5.12 trad climb, Boldfingers, out at Rumbling Bald. While low key trad used to be my jam pre-kiddos, tackling something of this difficulty stretched me way out of my comfort zone. There was a pro or go situation involving ballnutz, as well as accidentally kicking out my gear post crux. (Aside from that it was smooth sailing haha). Beta video: here.
New River Gorge
The weather cooperated enough for us to spend 5 weekends at the New this spring. Our typical m.o involved a grown-up projecting day on Saturday, and then a more family-oriented kid projecting/adult mileage day for my 11yo on Sunday. This ended up working out really well for the whole family, and kept everybody’s psych high all spring!
I hopped back on Logo right away on our first NRG trip of the season. From the outset, I was encouraged at how much better I felt in all of the body positions in the crux. Last fall, I was only able to do a couple of moves at a time in the crux, which meant I hadn’t even been able to get to the top without stick clipping my way thru the crux after repeated whippers. My first day back this spring, I managed to link the entire crux sequence, thereby clipping chains on lead sans stick clip for the first time. When we came back a couple of weekends later, my beta burn felt fantastic, and I smoothly sent next go (video here.)
After Logotherapy fell, it set off a domino effect. Aside from a quickie send of One Repetition Maximum 12b the day after Logo went, the theme for the next 2 months was hopping on routes that I’d previously given up on, and being pleasantly surprised at how much easier they now were with my increased strength and power courtesy of working with Project Direct!
Stealth n’ Magic 12d
This redemption send was an unchecked box for 2020. It had been sitting in the hopper since Fall of ’19, but the crux move at that time had been so low percentage that I had only been successful once during the 2 days I’d spent on it. It took 3 more days this spring, but I finally managed to hit the crux move from the ground on the final go of the weekend, and thankfully was able to take it to the top from there (video.) (Family highlight: My son sent his hardest route to date, Stim-o-Stam 11c, and CragDad sent Magnificent Pudcasso 12a all on this same day!)
One of the major things I worked on with Karly this winter/spring was generating power. This route, while considered an “entry level” 12 by some, had my number for a loooong time. The feet-cutting, bouldery moves over the roof were super intimidating to me, and despite trying it a handful of times over the years, I’d only ever made it to the top once. This spring I was out at Cotton Top on a family day while my 11yo son was working Cottonmouth 10a, and decided to hop on Psycho to see how it felt. The moves felt substantially easier than I’d remembered, and I ended up sending it 2nd go that day!
Linville Gorge and Hidden Valley
Once the weather heats up towards the end of May, our family likes to shift to slightly higher elevations of the NC mountains and Hidden Valley, VA. It allows us to get a few more try hard days in before the heat and humidity sends us back into the gym to get ready for fall.
Appalachian Spring 12b/c
So for Mother’s Day I dragged my crew down to Middle Hawksbill so I could work on a long time goal of mine to send the 5.12 wall. I had tried this mixed line for the first time last summer….straight outta quarantine with soft, summer pool skin and weak fingers. It did not go well. Aside from shredding my tips, I got shut down completely at the big iron cross move at the top. This time around, the crimpy razor blades felt much more doable, and the iron cross move went pretty quickly! One more line closer to ticking the wall! (Video here.)
It had been over a year since our family had been to Hidden Valley, and even longer since we’d been project shopping there. After seeing some beta videos of a couple of friends working this route, I decided to give Shaman a try. It had a powerful, intimidating boulder problem right off the ground, and a heinous slab traverse directly into a lock-off-y finish to the top. After 2 go’s on Day 1, I had maybe/barely/sort of done all the moves. The 2nd go on Day 2 was an unexpected one hang! Equally psyched on this area was my son, who was close on a neighboring route (Paleface 11b), so it wasn’t too difficult to convince the CragDad to head back there for Memorial Day weekend, rather than to the Red, which was the original plan. The weather tried hard to spoil our plans, but I sent first go of the day (after a wet shoe-related false start falling on the initial boulder problem.) Video here. And while my son wasn’t quite able to put his project down, he DID manage to hit the crux on lead (a dyno since he’s 4’9″), and send a different 11b the following day!
Pudd’s was a Dud…
You may have noticed that one of my goals is missing from this list…what happened to Pudd’s Pretty Dress? Well, to be honest I avoided it for a while. In addition to being physically hard, it’s so demanding mentally that I just didn’t feel up for it at the beginning of the season. While the crux moves on Logo were significantly more difficult than any of the hardest moves on Pudd’s, the rest of the climbing was a lot more laidback. Stealth n’ Magic was definitely a step up though, so after I pushed thru that one I felt ready to try Pudd’s again. And….it just didn’t go like I’d hoped. The individual moves felt fine, perhaps even a touch easier than I’d remembered, but my endurance did not feel anywhere close to where it needed to be, as I couldn’t recover as well in the rests the same way I had been able to by the end of last fall. The blazing sun on the upper third of the route probably didn’t help either. Unfortunately Endless Wall season is frustratingly short in the spring. But, excuses aside, it kinda makes sense – endurance tends to be one of my stronger assets, so we did not emphasize it in training this winter/spring. No worries. It will still be there in the fall, and I’ll have more time to prepare specifically for this route by the time it comes into season again!
So that’s the round up for spring! Bottom line – training your weaknesses works! Do it! And if you’re not sure how to go about it, hire someone to help you. (Or even if you DO have a good idea of how to go about it, but just want an extra, unbiased set of eyes on you for accountability!) As for my family and me, while we will be getting out to climb here and there, most of June will be spent spending time with extended family and…..a road trip to Texas to pick up our newest family adventure mobile (more on that to come 😉 ) What about everyone else – how did your spring go? Are you still in try hard mode, or ready to hit the gym for fall prep?