Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Resting is good, it is very, very good. Today is our second day off and we've realized it should have been our third. We've been hitting pretty hard lately, climbing every two days then taking one day off. It looks good on paper, in a five day period we're climbing four. That's the kind of thinking we had in Lander, "if only we could climb all week long and just take one day off"! It doesn't really work that way unfortunately. We are TRASHED! This place is so much more physical than other areas. Given the fact that we're coming at this endeavor with no training and very little prior exercise, it's taking it's toll on our bodies. Lindsay's finger is much better, it's still a little stiff in the a.m. but that's about it (whew!....we call that dodging a bullet). The last two days on we climbed as much as we could, over twenty pitches combined (a pitch is the length of one climb, typically here about 100 feet). Unfortunately we don't have any hard sends to show for it, Lin is TERRIBLY close on a .13a and .13b, and I do stress the word TERRIBLY. I....well....I haven't done much, I've been onsighting a bunch of really good hard .12's but fail to get psyched on projects here. To climb at a hard grade (5.13+ or better) here, you need to possess massive endurance. All the harder routes here are mega pump challenges, a type of climbing that I'm just not good at.

This week we're going to get agro though and start digging in and fighting a little harder. We've buffered our diet to accommodate a more rigorous schedule, we have a new rope (thank you Miguel for the swingin' deal), and we're ready to start ticking boxes! The weather is a concern as it has been very cold lately. As I look outside at our $1 dollar thermometer it shows a balmy 37 degrees with cloudy skies and occasional mist. The cold here sucks. I take back all the things I said about Wyoming being cold and crappy. At least in Wyoming it isn't wet and cold. When we check the weather in the morning before we head out, we pay as much attention to the humidity and the dew point as we do the temperature. If the ambient gets down to the same number as the dew point, the moisture starts to condense. The walls here suck up all that water and then the walls literally weep. It's a bizarre and radical phenomenon but alas it puts the kibosh on climbing for at least a day, maybe more depending on the forecast. Today we're right at the border line, if it gets any colder, we're hosed. Tomorrow is supposed to be better, all the way up to 51! Looks like we'll be heading for some of those sunny crags.

We've been hanging out with some fun kids from Knoxville on the weekends though. It's amazing how many people come for those two days, the other morning, I walked out the door and a snoring gentleman had set up his bivy sack right under our towels and airing laundry. Not because he liked our downy fresh linens, no, the campground was just that full. Anyway, our new friends from Knoxville come up each Friday night, we have a HUGE dinner in which everyone throws in a large dish of whatever and then we climb on the weekdays together. It's a bit like home, we eat big, drink big, climb a little, and heckle and joke each other off of climbs we have well under control. I think we'll bring some of my famous Ramen Surprise this week, oh yeah that reminds me, we have a costume party to go to this weekend. We went to the costume store in Lexington yesterday, we could have had a lot of fun with some of the outfits but we needed to keep the costumes within the "kid appropriate" range. So ultimately we'll be going as Fred and Daphne from Scooby Doo. The outfits are hideous and if we go anywhere near an open flame, we're toast. It should be a lot of fun. Pictures to follow!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Rest Day Activities...

So Linda has opened up the Cafe for us today to just hang out in. It's great! It's a mild 65 degrees outside but it feels COLD due to the last week of high 80's. As I look around, people are occupying themselves with various rest day ventures. Business dealings, thank you notes, anatomy and physiology research, blogging (that would be me), campground sign printing, cooking, tea drinking, general climbing gossip, and Linda is shouting on the phone (she's loud...all the time)! Resting today was an absolute necessity due to the serious nature of our climbing yesterday.

We hit up two crags, the Shady Grove and Bronaugh Wall, both of which stay dry in a downpour (which it did yesterday). Adam Avery, my wonderful beer sponsor, finally arrived in Kentucky and climbed with us and we hit it hard! We only did five pitches but since it was our second day on they felt hard. We did a .12b called Far From God after warming up, brilliant. For me it was the pivotal route, I onsighted all the way to the top, hung out on a jug, rested, and realized "if this thing was 80 feet longer, I'd be fine). My two weeks are up and I finally feet good! Just to prove it to myself, we went to the other wall and I saddled up to a stout little .12c called Belly of the Beast (it wasn't really little, more like 90 feet) with the intention of onsighting it as well (for all the non climbers, an onsight is when you ascend a route without falling, but have absolutely no knowledge whatsoever of the climbing, essentially the hardest type of ascent). Threw it down like a pair of dirty socks!

We've got nothing but gorgeous weather ahead of us for the next five days, guess we'll have to learn to enjoy this darned perfect weather!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Holler Robbery

We had a very interesting climbing experience yesterday. We could tell once we left the ground on our warm ups that it was a high gravity day (for all the non-climbers, a high gravity day is an as of yet undocumented phenomenon in which all persons climbing in any given geographical region, unexplainable become much much heavier. It probably doesn't really exist but some days you just feel really damned heavy)! I took two runs on Snooker, a super fun .13a in the Motherlode. True to Leif form, I hung, bobbled, clawed, and fell my way up the route on my first go. My second go was infinitely better, surprising even me when I battled my way to the rest just before the anchors. I was tired but knew I had just enough to get to the chains, fighting as hard as I have in a while, I gave one final burst of energy, placed my feet and launched for the finishing jug.... I didn't catch it however, my right foot broke and sent me hurtling out away from the wall screaming f*@$^r"! I was robbed. Climbers say that all the time when they're so close to victory and then fail, but most of the time it's just an excuse for lack of stamina or poor route knowledge. No, not this time, I was truly robbed. I had it in the bag and it was TAKEN from me. Now I'm not bitter, oh no, I'm just fine and dandy with the whole stinking mess. Lindsay had a less than thrilling go on one of her projects to the left of Snooker called 8 Ball. We hung our heads and ran for the car thinking another cliff might be a wise option.

We ended up at the Gallery, a normally popular area but with the big Rocktober Fest this weekend, all the climbers were at the Motherlode watching the nations hardest athletes do battle on the Undertow wall. What happened at the Gallery was unexpected too. Lindsay took three runs on a severely overhanging crack called Break the Scene. That little beauty checks in at .12b, not THAT tough but in hindsight, I did it once, lowered and said "thank God I never have to do that again". Lindsay too fell at the anchors, twice, going for the chains. She waited quietly for about an hour and said "I think I'll have another go...", who was I to argue? She hiked it, crushed, dispatched, just plain ole' flew up the thing. It was inspiring. Which caused me to try the .13b to it's left and after begging to be shot from the pain in my forearms due to said 5.13, feeling the urge to go back up Break the Scene. It took me ten minutes to untie my knot when I got down. In the end, we each did six pitches, which here is like, 600 feet of climbing (we're used to six pitches equaling 300 feet of climbing). We came home exhausted and beaten, Lindsay chalking one up for team Wyoming, the rock still winning in the greater scheme though.

To quench our sorrows (and our thirsts) we drank margaritas last night...we drank a shit load of margaritas! It's noon now and my head is finally starting to feel better; eggs, bacon, potatoes, and water with Emergen-C in it are on the menu. We may see if we can't find a nap or two this afternoon. Tomorrow, we'll head back out into the fray, given that our skin and muscles are ready to be worked over again. Tuesday marks our second week here, by a mutual Red River Gorge climbing belief held by most everyone, two weeks is the break in "magic number" period. Meaning that after two weeks of climbing here, you become much stronger. We'll see....

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Ticks, Produce, & The Quest For More Power...

Ticks. Do I really need to say anything else? The wildlife here in KY is so much different from anything back west. That's really a large part of why I love it here so much, all the different smells, sounds, and sights. But the plants all seem to be harmful in some way and the insects look like they're from Borneo. Which brings me back to the ticks. Lindsay found this TINY little black bug on Amico the other night. "Is that a tick, I think it's a tick" she said. Being the foremost expert on everything outdoors I casually replied, "of course it's not a tick, it's WAY too small". Yet again I was wrong. The ticks here are small, very, very small. And there are many of them, I stress the word many. I think all told we found about 25 on Amico. Turns out they don't like people much and after a few doses of doggy bug dope they'll be all but a memory. Doesn't change the fact that they're still nasty little bastards.

On the upside of life here, we found some really kick ass produce today at the Kroger in Richmond. Nice large Avocados, big Sweet Potatoes, and the best part, they have a running tally of how many products are organic. The grocery stores all try to out-do each other on the count of organic goods...Ah Bliss. I suppose the high quality victuals comes from the insanely fertile soil in the area, hence all the "hollows" one shouldn't go exploring due to the high probability of stumbling upon a ripe cannabis crop. It's common-place here I guess, in Wyoming we have oil, here they have pot, go figure.

We rested today, getting groceries, doing laundry, and resting our aching, aching bodies. We climbed at an area called the Midnight Surf, a new area in the Muir Valley. All the routes are labeled with four or five stars, the highest acclaim a guidebook can give a route. Typically I'm sceptical of those kinds of walls, the chances that ALL the routes are really that good are slim. The Surf though...exceeded all our expectations. Imagine the easiest 5.8 jug haul you've ever been on, now cock it back to 45 degrees and extend it to 110 feet. We had a blast, got pumped out of our minds though. Pumped stupid, to the point where when we lowered to the ground it was hard to form full sentences. We did manage to send a route, just one though. Getting strong here is hard, and takes time. All in all though, enjoyable, and we're making progress, slow but steady. Our new digs make it easy to recover so maybe if the monsoon misses us tomorrow, we'll have another stab at it. Until then...

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Home Sweet Home...

So we're here in Kentucky, with what may be the slowest e-mail connection known to man, I can send a message to the building where the router is at, run to the building, and arrive there before my message does. Okay, maybe it's not quite that bad but it IS slow. That seems to be the only down side of our new digs. We relocated from Miguels on night three. Now we love Miguel, what a great guy! He remembered us and told us to set up shop and help ourselves to whatever we needed. There were these Canadians though... Damned Canadians, always so damned friendly and helpful... They told us about this hidden oasis called Lago Linda's. We'd both heard of this place in the past but I always remembered what people had said about it, "it's a retirement home dude". We decided to check it out after our first day here. It's as close to paradise as you can get in Lee County Kentucky. It's a retired horse farm, 410 acres of beautifully groomed fields and paths, turned climber friendly campground. All the amenities too, big, clean bathrooms, free Wi-Fi, full hookups at all camp sites (water, electric), oh yeah and a nice big lake with boats and fish and frogs and everything! It's awesome.

The real downer is that we've gotten to know the grounds REALLY well. I came down with a nasty sinus/head cold a few days ago and we've been doing more chillin' than climbin'. Tomorrow looks promising though, I'm definitely on the mend and the weather is looking gorgeous. Thus far we've only checked out reletively new crags (at least to us anyway). These smaller, less travelled hollows seem to be the real deal. Drive By, The Gallery, Muir Valley, all really great walls with loads of super fun routes. There have been 300 plus routes put up since the last guide came out and even our new guide book is outdated. We've been supplimenting it each day from www.redriverclimbing.com which has been a God-send. And true to form, the routes here are still steeper than anything back home and still pack all the fun pumpy goodness they did before. Tomorrow we head for the Midnight Surf wall to check out what are being called "instant classics" by all who've done them. Jug, throw, jug, throw, etc, etc, etc. Was getting back in shape always this hard?
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