I'm afraid to look at the date on my last post... I know it's been awhile. Let's just say I had to prioritize some things, and climbing, working on my house and spending time with family won out over blogging. I had good intentions. I kept saying, "I'll blog when it rains." Thing is, it never freakin' rained. We've had unusually clear days here in Cincy, which gives me great hope for the upcoming fall.
But it rained today, so here I am. Fresh off the annual trip to Lander, Wyoming, and 2 days from beginning a new training cycle. I feel stronger and more fit than I ever have at this time of year, but before we get down to business as usual, I suppose I should give you all a quick update on where I've been and how the spring season went.
"Dracula '04" 13b Photo by Taylor Frohmiller.
Following my early spring rant, the weather decided to cooperate, and we ended up with a pretty good season of crag hopping after all. I had already bailed on "God's Own Stone" because of the heat and my skin not holding up, and shifted gears into mini-projecting. First up - and first down - was "Dracula '04", a brilliant, hard 13b at Purgatory that is the epitome of power endurance. Steep, varied, and unrelenting, it may have been my favorite send of the year.
After "Dracula" I headed back to the Darkside to have a go at my old nemesis, "Swingline". I quickly found myself in a familiar position... falling at the final hard move. I had never worked the route with anyone, and while watching Ettiene Seppecher work out the high, subtle crux section, I saw him use a different, possibly better, foot sequence than I had been using. After falling yet again, I gave the new beta a shot, and the move was suddenly much easier! Not one to lie down, "Swingline" nevertheless kept me from the chains. I held the final move for a second, but just never reeled it in. I might have been disappointed had it just gone easily. It's at the top of the list for the fall, no question.
"Dracula". Photo by Taylor Frohmiller.
While spending most of the day falling at the top of "Swingline", I was worried I might end up losing fitness for other routes, so ends of days were used to check out lines I had overlooked. After a full day at Darkside, I narrowly missed an onsight of "Racer X" (12d), sending easily 2nd go. A week later, after falling 4 times from the top of "Swingline", I managed to take down "Second Nature" (13a) in two tries. My fitness wasn't failing, but "Swingline" was wearing my skin thin, so again, I shifted gears back to mini projects.
I'd heard the hype about a hard 13b called "Cat's Demise", and while it wasn't on my list, I decided to go have a look. After my first excursion up the route, I was convinced that the hype was warranted. An amazing line of pinches and powerful moves leads to a great rest, followed by a V6ish boulder problem that revolves around a TINY sidepull crimp. I didn't even see the chains that go.
After stickclipping through the top on my next go, and figuring out where the moves went, I lowered having only stuck the move once. Third go I made it through the 13a intro to the rest, and was spit off by the crimp. My skin was about one layer from ripping open, and I knew I couldn't pull on that crimp more than another time or two, so I made the decision to lower rather than work the move. On my 4th go everything went perfectly, and my skin held up just enough to let me pull through to the chains.
My list dwindling and fitness running high, I headed with my friend Jerry to Drive By, figuring I could take reconnaissance burns on a few harder routes there. "Supercharger" (13d) is a compression route I had tried once before, falling alot before finally making the top. This time around, while bolt-to-bolting, I never fell. My power, for this late in the season, was much higher than ever before. "Supercharger" definitely makes the list for the fall season. Also a route I had played on once before, "The Nothing" (14a), follows an obvious natural weakness through a steep wall to a sit-down ledge, followed by a fun compression 13b section to the chains. Unfortunately, the 20 feet before the ledge is choss, and the bottom boulder problem is crazy hard, so it gets almost no love. On my first foray last year I wasn't even close to doing the bottom. This year I came oh so close, falling one move short several times. Need more power!
Jerry was working on a new 13a called "Pimp Juice", and convinced me that I should try to flash it. Having never flashed the grade before, I was tempted to wait for better conditions, to feel more fit, to get more beta, blah blah blah. Ultimately, I went for it, got perfect beta from Jerry, fought as hard as I ever have, and sent!
Hot and rainy days took us back to the Darkside so Taylor could try and finish up "Elephant Man". Running out of options at the wall, I went back up a route I had dismissed as too sharp a few seasons ago. "Big Burley" (13b) is one of the least loved on the wall, and while it is sharp, the finishing boulder problem may be the best on the wall. After a few goes and one GIANT fall from the last move, I stuck the soaking wet finishing jug and clipped chains.
The last few weeks of the season were spent craghopping from sport projects to teaching Taylor how to lead trad. My last day of the season I visited "Welcome To Ole Kentuck" (13a), a hand and finger crack that I'd never put any real effort into. My one day on it ended having done all the moves, worked out the gear, and realizing that crack climbing only gets easier when you're strong on sport. Another one for the fall list.
July, and time to head west. The trip this year was short, having spent much of it in South Dakota meeting Annalissa's entire family. While we only got to climb one afternoon in S.D., it was fun seeing Annalissa push through her fears and making the 2nd ascent of a little V3 arete I'd found.
On to Lander, with only 4 full days in town, and a lot more than just climbing to do. I knew I was going to have to break out old man tactics to get anything done.
Day 1: Go to Sinks early with Annalissa. Two warmups and hang draws on "Nirvana"(13a). Go back to town and wait for the crew (Becca, Jeff, Taylor, and Sarah) to arrive. Once they arrive, head back to Sinks with 2 1/2 hours of daylight left. No warmup. Send "Nirvana" first try (2nd overall). One down.
Day 2: 4th of July Parade. Head to Sinks in the early afternoon. Warmup by hanging draws on "Samsara" (13b). Send "Samsara" 2nd go, with possibly the hardest fight I've ever fought.
"Full Circle". Photo by Taylor Fromiller.
Day 3: Wild Iris! Work on the bottom boulder problem of "Atomic Stetson" (13c). Fight the urge to climb to the top... it's hard and will destroy you for tomorrow.
Day 4: Knowing that "Stetson" will take more than 1 more day, I warm up on "Hot Tamale Baby" (12a) as a beta run and brush session for Sarah and Jeff, who are working on it. I then hang draws on a powerful roof called "Full Circle" (13a). 2nd go puts the sun in my eyes at the crux finishing throw, and I fail.
Day 5: We have to be back to town around noon to head for Denver, but we all have unfinished business at the Iris. Jeff sends "Hot Tamale Baby" for his first 12, and Sarah makes the train official with another send, her third 12 of the season. My fifth day on, and luckily I hit all the pockets perfectly, and clip chains on "Full Circle" for my third 13 in 5 days. Time to head home.
Photo by Taylor Frohmiller
Monday starts a new training cycle. I'm psyched. Hope you are. I know some of you have already started.
The Power Company is back to business. I'll be back soon, rain or shine.