Sunday, November 30, 2008

Rain, Dead Jellyfish, Stromboli, a.k.a. The Usual

I'm writing this from my uncle Ron's super plush leather recliner (it slides too). We've enjoyed the last few days in North Carolina doing nothing but eating and drinking, mostly eating. We left Kentucky almost a week ago, reluctantly I might add. On our last climbing day, I finished off my "easy" project BOHICA .13b and headed to Kaleidoscope .13c, only to fall on the finishing move and taking a HUGE fall. It was heart breaking but not as heart breaking as the weather. We spent the early part of the week in Raleigh with Lindsay's brother and his family. We had a blast being reintroduced television, central heating, and carpet. Thu, Vance's wife, cooked us some amazing meals while our nieces, Vivian and Natalie, reminded us how weird we are and helped us regain some sense of modern society.

Yesterday and today found us further south in Sunset Beach at my aunt and uncle's place right near the beach. We packed in a ton of firsts today including the ocean, dead sharks and jellyfish, a live alligator, a cheap beach store, and a huge Stromboli feed tonight for dinner. Tomorrow, we'll hook back up to "Gwendoline the Ivory Palace" (aka the Scamp) and point her west to Chattanooga and hopefully, dry rock. The rain has continued to follow us and it's giving us a serious case of the piss-offs. The extended forecast is looking good for the next couple of weeks before we head to Costa Rica. With any luck we'll enjoy our final weeks of rope climbing in the sun with nice crispy temps. Or we may muck it out in the rain, either way we're climbing!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Moving On...

I titled this post Moving On... for a reason, a couple of reasons really. To keep with the theme of this blog I'll start with the basics. Lin and I are moving on from the Red, the weather is starting to get increasingly unreliable. The forecast for the next two weeks is rain, snow, and cold. Today was the most perfect day of the trip though. Blue skies, zero clouds, sun, and 50 degrees. Perfect. On Wednesday we're heading for North Carolina to spend Thanksgiving with Lindsay's brother and his family. We're really looking forward to seeing them and to some down time. We have mixed feelings about leaving - we finally feel strong and hard routes are feeling easier and easier. It's time we see new crags, meet new people, and experience new things though.

A couple of nights ago, our dear friend took her own life in back in Lander. We are at a loss for words. A vibrant and beautiful person, she was always smiling and laughing, the first to tell you how happy she was for you in whatever seemed to be going on in your life. It's so hard to know what happened to lead to this outcome. We can only hope that she has found peace wherever she may be. Leslie felt that it was her time to move on to something else, we can only hope it's a better place than where she felt she was. For all of us left behind, we're left with questions that will never be answered, the hardest part of all, knowing full well that we must all move on too.

Life is curious...just about the time we think we have "a good bead on things", we're reminded, sometimes violently, that we don't. Leslie left this world a better place, impacting so many people in so many wonderful ways that words cannot describe. Like my mother always used to say, "be at your station". I never took too much heed of this phrase but I'm starting to grasp it a little firmer nowadays. We must all take advantage of every moment given to us, because in the end, we all have to move on...

In Loving Memory of Leslie Paul - You Will Be Missed

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Bad Weather

We're cowering back in the camper right now, we tried to climb today but DAMN was it cold! We are still in Kentucky at the moment, though we fled to Tennessee for a few days at the beginning of the week. It was gorgeous down there, sunny, warm, new routes! As we were sitting around eating dinner, our friend Bentley looked at his fancy phone and told us that the weather was clearing in Kentucky and that it looked good for a few days. We pondered over a drink or two what might be the best option. We packed up and came back up north. This morning, at 7:00 the sun was shining brightly and I couldn't help but think "alright, we made a good decision." I shouldn't have spoken so soon. True to form it hasn't rained or snowed on us like it did this past weekend, but the high today was 30 degrees. Now 30 and sun is fine, sure it's a bit chilly at the belay but it's do-able. Today however, was not 30 and sun, it was 30 and sun-for-five-minutes-then-clouds-then-a-peek-of-sun-then-nothing-but-clouds....then some wind. The route I'm trying to finish up is well within my abilities, I've one hung it twice now after only five tries. The crux hold is a shallow, sloping pocket that must be taken just so in order to do the next move. If taken correctly, the move doesn't feel hard at all, just another link in the chain. But if the pocket is taken poorly or incorrectly, well then, the following move is totally hit or miss. Today if felt great, up until the sun went away and the rock got downright frigid. I took the pocket quickly due to the numbness in my hand, didn't get it quite right, and fell mid move again. Drat. If anyone reading this has any warm weather, even just a degree or two, that you aren't using, could you send it here a.s.a.p.? The whole of the Red River Gorge would thank you greatly! I have to go soak my hands in boiling water now....until next time....

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Apologies for not writing sooner, but the communication links here at Linda's have been rather wonky the last couple weeks. Lots of peoples phones have ceased working properly and the Internet is a constant struggle. Today it seems up to snuff so hopefully I can get this typed up before it all crashes again. The last two weeks has seen the weather change dramatically for us. Previously it's been mild, dry, and sunny with temperatures ranging in the mid to upper sixties. Lately, however; it's been cold with highs in the forties and low fifties with lots of rain, mist, fog, and the dreaded condensation. We tried to go to the crags today, as you can tell, we're NOT climbing at the moment. When we first got to the Motherlode and asked how conditions were, our friend Dario said "the Undertow is dripping...the cave, SOAKED..." We promptly tucked our tails and ran for a different wall, one we thought might by dry due to it's higher position on the ridge, it was moist to the touch as well, DAMN!

The weather doesn't look like it's going to improve that much so I guess we'll just have to make due for the next two weeks. We've both got routes that we really want to do before we leave, routes that we're both VERY close on. My last try on BOHICA in the Madness Cave was a battle of epic proportions. My first try (history: Six years ago I climbed on this route twice, both times climbing with the aid of a small, green laser pointer. My friends who were well versed in the routes movement sat at the base and pointed to the easiest sequence of grips all the way up, as I was climbing i.e. I didn't have to remember ANY of the climbing.) this trip, I flew up the route. BOHICA is NOT my style of climbing at all, there are no real difficult moves, just lots and lots of sustained climbing with little opportunity for rest. My last go on the route, I was climbing like the rock was flypaper and I had wings. I was at the top, staring at the finishing clip, in a matter of a few minutes, I was on top of the world! BUT (notice the capital letters) I didn't complete my ascent. I was so pumped, I couldn't clip. Literally I was so tired that I couldn't let go for three seconds with one hand to put the rope through the anchors. I dug deeper than I ever have before and I TRIED to clip. What happened instead was that I fell roughly 60-70 feet with tons of extra rope out. The fall itself was fun, it's an odd feeling to be in the air that long, but once I came to rest on the end of the rope, the shock, dismay, and overall feeling of failure washed over me. I left the crag with my head hung low :(.

Lindsay has been trying a notoriously difficult route called Golden Touch, right near BOHICA. Her first day on the route, she very quickly deciphered the crux moves and it looked like victory was at hand. As all climbers know however, each route has what we call a "redpoint crux", though not necessarily the hardest moves, they are the moves that seem most difficult on the redpoint or "clean ascent" try. My guess is at this point that Lin has fallen from the redpoint crux of Golden Touch at least a dozen times, only falling at the hardest moves once or twice. Normally this would spur a climber on to try harder, dig a little deeper, in the case of Golden Touch, not so much. The crux hold is an edge, not much wider than a quarter is thick. If you think I'm exaggerating, you can Google the route name and look at what previous climbers have said about it. In grabbing this hold relatively low in the route, over and over and over again, my wife's lovely hands have been reduced to hamburger. We'd been prepping for this route all weekend long, climbing only routes that wouldn't hurt her already fragile skin. When we got there yesterday, she looked strong on the warm ups. I was set to belay her on the actual climb and then take some photos, it was all just perfect. Then...on the redpoint attempt...she filleted...notice I didn't say sliced...her finger tip. The session was over.

Being so close on these routes (and others also) makes all the in climate weather that much more frustrating. We were talking with our friend Brendon the other night and we all agreed that when you're on the road, time doesn't matter. Week days and weekends don't exist any more, they're just days. Climbing days aren't that important either because you have SO many of them...UNTIL you hit the two week period. That's the two week period before you know you're leaving what ever area you're at. We are IN that two week period and we're having to sacrifice valuable days, valuable tries, waiting for good weather. With any luck, we'll have three or four more "good" days before we leave for North Carolina. We should both have very good chances of doing the routes we want to in that time frame. If we fail in that task, you all my have to start sending X-mas cards to Site 14 Lago Linda Place! Be well all of you, hopefully winter's icy grip hasn't tightened yet and you are all still out enjoying some of natures greatest gifts. Adios!