Monthly Archives: April 2013
As I approach the climbs the smell of thick sweet crude oil reminds me of my location. The Red River Gorge area in Kentucky. The climbing is extensive with two new guidebooks loaded with sport and traditional routes and countless secret crags with more to be found. The locals are a friendly bunch of southerners welcoming us where ever we climb. The Red River is steep sandstone full of pockets, rails and huecos. The routes tend to be long with hefty run outs at the top, one must be ready to push onward above the last bolt to clip the chains.
Muir Valley area – sweet approaches to the climbs.
A favorite of Terry – Fire and Brimstone *****
Drive by Crag – with sports action all day long.
Getting started on a rain day – plenty of dry routes to be had.
Gung Ho, steep and pumpy – a project for me.
Sunny crags are rare in the deep woods of Kentucky.
We found some light at the Bruisebrothers Wall!
Great 5.10 routes on this wall.
Muir Valley is tricked out with crag beta, routes tags and rescue info. great area that well maintained by Rick and Liz Weber.
Awesome trip to the Red River – can’t wait till next fall.
The Man in the Mountain, or what remained of him, hung above me as I scraped my way up the climb. His absence reminded me of what many had said about the cliff: Cannon was an exfoliating onion periodically shedding its layers. I heard loose rocks in the near distance tumbling down, adding to the boulder field that stretched halfway to the bike path with rocks that previously comprised the cliff.
After pulling up to the ledge, completing the pitch, I rested my head against the rock and decided then and there that I was done. My climbing career was over. I quit.
Todd leading Pitch 1 Down east 2004
Unfortunately for me, I was only 150’ up a 1000’ climb. The physical retreat would not be so easy. There was no fixed anchor to use for a rappel. Ironically enough, the safest way off the cliff was up. My two partners stood below waiting for me to secure the rope and belay them up. I fiddled with some gear placements and clipped a fixed piton that I hoped was ok.
I quit several times more after that; I forget how many. The technical element of the climb was not the issue, for I had climbed “harder routes” with more challenging moves. The insecurity of grabbing a wobbling hold often rattled me, but today, the fear was especially strong. Though the fear dominated that day, I felt great satisfaction during sections of the climb when I had no choice but to push the fear aside and move from a secure position or off a ledge.
Todd on Pitch 2 – note the large rack of gear by his side!
We stood at the end of the final pitch and read the guidebook’s description: “Step left, face climb to a corner, then mantle to the top.” We had completed a mantle – pushing down with the palm of one’s hand like one would do when getting out of a pool – and looked up to see that we still had another few hundred feet of climbing above us. I cursed the author and wondered if this day would ever end.
Later, when we were safely hiking down, my friends teased me; in fact, they continue to tease me to this day. “When are we going back?” For years the question created uneasiness in my stomach, but it also reminded me of the physical and mental challenges I faced that day. Even though I wanted to retreat to the safety of the ground, I ventured upward until I reached the top. A few days later, we climbed at Crawford Notch on a route with the same technical grade; this time I took the crux pitch. Less affected by the difficulty of the moves and the sparseness of gear placements, I focused on the climbing, enjoyed the exposure, and savored the time with my friends.
Renowned climber and author John Long once wrote: An honest failure never haunts you because the body knows no shame. But if you let your mind defeat you, if you bail off because the “vibes” are weird and you let fear run away with itself, you have not truly failed, rather defaulted, and it will nag you like a tune till your dying day – or at least until you return and set things straight.
The passage struck a chord with me the moment I read it, and it has stayed with me to this day. It could be applied to so many climbing adventures, so many facets of life, in fact, but not “Down East.” This route was the exception: I would never want to climb it again. Then a few years back, I reflected upon my experience. I thought about the route and that day. I even wondered if I could lead the crux pitch. Though we did not “bail off,” and certainly not from a lack of wanting, I still hear that tune and want to “set things straight.”
In order to successfully climb the route, I will need more mileage on the rock so that I can regain the necessary strength and endurance. But unlike in previous years when the idea of climbing “Down East” scared me, I now look forward to the opportunity and the challenge…and to giving dear friends more fodder for laughter.
Sykes, Jon. Secrets of the Notch: A Guide to Rock and Ice Climbing on Cannon Cliff and the Crags of Franconia Notch. Huntington Graphics. 2001.
Long, John. Rock Jocks, Wall Rats, and Hang Dogs: Rock Climbing on the Edge of Reality. Fireside, 1994.
Todd Goodman MMG Guide
Right after my returned from the sunny and warm south west I was treated to a cold moist day on the Willys Slide. This was the beginning of a six day technical training session for a group of visiting PJ’s. Over the six days Alain Comeau lead this group through a series of train ups followed by practical sessions on the ice, the cliffs and over the rivers. I was along to assist and be the other set of eyes keeping the group on target with these new and highly technical skills.
A modified self arrest – note slider is picking up axe on the move.
Snow anchors – these should be the last of the season on Willys.
Ice bollard for rappels.
The twin rescue system in action.
Twin system on the top of Cathedral Ledge.
Getting started with the English Reeve system .
English Reeve system in action over the gorge.
Thanks to Alain and the men from the pararescue squad – it was a great week of learning with some additional fun hack sessions.
It’s Saturday April sixth and its still winter on Mt. Washington. The conditions today were cold to say the least. The temperature was 4 below zero with 65mph winds, bringing the wind-chill to 45 below zero. Yet it was sunny and the landscape was beautiful. It was a great day to be out despite the wind. Climbing late in the season like this we see the terrain in a whole new light. Things look different when the sun is higher in the sky.
Upon reaching the Lakes of the Clouds Hut, we decided that going for the summit of Washington was going to mean being exposed for to the wind for a while, and instead we decided to go for Mt. Monroe. A slightly shorter peak, that is closer to the hut, it meant less exposure to the wind. We made quick work of the summit, enjoying the sun and the wind. We were back down to the safety of the hut in no time with another summit to record.
All together, it was a great day in the hills.
Today the Team took a new direction in the Red Rock area – a session at the Kraft Boulders. Armed with two pads we warmed up at the Wake Up Wall and then sampled a few nearby classic boulder problems. Potato Chips was a steep one that tested Derek and Art’s crimps strength and the Poker Chips overhanging hand rail with left heel hooks was dispatched by Mark and Chris. Kraft is an amazing place full of all types of boulder problems.
Deivis traversing the warm up boulder.
Mark getting after one of the days high ball problems
Steve enjoying a well deserved rest after 5 days straight on the rock.
Here is a re-energized Steve with three great 5.9 runs on the Conundrum Crag routes.
Chris sending everything that comes his way – 5.10 tomorrow!
Elbow pain didn’t keep Adel down on this impressive attempt on the 45 degree wall.
Mark may have gotten a pump today?
Deivis working the complete loop traverse.
A Friendly Chuckwalla
Thanks to the team for a great day at the Kraft and Conundrum crag.
MMG Guides – Art And Derek