Climbing in 2019: A (late) Personal Review

Warning: Lots of self indulgent, climbing specific, spray ahead. But it's (still) mid Covid, so being stoked about anything is a good thing, right? Bueller?I won't judge you for skipping this one; I'm just basking in my own greatness for 2000 words. With a little bit of self reflection mixed in. But just a little.Don't say you weren't warned.

218 Sport climbing pitches total (including onsights, flashes, redpoints)14 Boulder problems1 Mixed line98 days outside (including short, hour long sessions)First...5.12c* (Mighty Dog, April 14)5.12d (Branching Out, July 28)5.13a (Happy Endings, September 29)58 Climbs 5.12a and harder2019 was a good year. I climbed a lot, and I like climbing. Most importantly, at the beginning of 2020, I still liked climbing.
98 days of outdoor climbing feels like an insane amount. This number includes just an hour of traversing at Morrison, getting benighted because a rattlesnake blocked the quick way back to the car after a post-work climbing …

A Tale of Four Climbers

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the time for strength, it was the time for weakness, it was the weekend of healing, it was the weekend of degenerating, it was a reflection of times to come, it was a reflection of times past, it was the season of sending, it was the season of failing, it was the perfect temperature, it was raining--in short, this trip was so far like most trips, that some of its most boisterous spray lords insisted on it being received, for good or bad, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

Chris texted me five hours before we were going to drive down to the Red River Gorge together: he was sick and strongly considering staying in DC.

It's September, 2018. My 2000 Saturn with over 225,000 miles on it isn't the vehicle of choice for an eight drive from DC through the middle of nowhere to the middle of nowhere Slade, Kentucky. I hesitate: I don't want to drive 8 hour…

A Red River Halloween Day 8: A Quick Ride at Velo Crag

Lightning Rod Arete (5.10c): ★★★ (Although it may deserve a second chance)
(Climbs others hopped on):
Laterne Rouge (5.9+)
Dura-Ace (5.8+)
Ultegra (5.10a)

Today, we were leaving, even though we didn't want to. We were heading outside, even though we didn't want to. And we were climbing... even though we didn't want to?

Let me rewind.

Waking up this morning was difficult. Maybe we had a little bit too much whiskey, maybe we played a little too much Bang!, maybe we were a little spent from the night before. At 6:30 AM, the weather was definitely garbage: a thick blanket of fog enveloped our cabin. I always have a hard time getting up on these gray days; my body takes its cues from bright morning blue skies. No sun?

No getting out of bed.

Our requirements for the day were a short approach (we wanted to end up back in DC at a reasonable hour), dry conditions (fog was not good), and quality climbs (always!). I hate to admit it, but this was the first time I realized that I…

A Red River Halloween Day 7: Adults at the Playground

The Preacher's Daughter (5.11-): ★★★★
Guernica (5.11a): ★★★
Brief History of Climb (5.10b): ★★★★
Capture the Flag (5.11b): ★★
Monkey Bars (5.10a): ★★★★
Jungle Gym (5.10b): ★★
Balance Beam (5.11a): ★★★

I couldn't fall back asleep. I'm a light sleeper and David was snoring. Again. I'd already woken him up once already on this trip... only to realize that doing so means that two of us end up wrecked the next day. Plus, he's got a super power: he can fall back asleep. I can't. So I went into the living room and passed out on the couch.

When I awoke, the world was on fire. Sunshine spilled over everything, exploding red and yellow tree leaves through window portals into our living room. The fiery sunrise lit up the cabin like magic, beckoning me outside with mystic magnetism. I exited the front door, quietly creaked along the front porch, walked to cliff edge, and just stared. Yellow, orange, and red leaves fireworked against the pearly pink sunrise. The world was …

A Red River Halloween Day 6: Breaking Through

59" DrillBitch (5.10a) ★★★★
Bethel (5.10a) ★★★★
Spinner (5.10a) ★★★★
Mancala (5.10b) ★★★
Bathtub Mary (5.11a) ★★★★★
Bullfighter (5.12b) ★★★★★

Somewhere, deep dark down inside us, there's a being that knows everything about us. It knows when your terrified, it knows when happy. It knows what your feeling. It knows what your capable of. It knows what your not capable of. It knows what you've done. It knows your dreams. Or, in my case, it knows that you don't know your dreams. It knows how you acted and it knows how you will act. I think everybody has this being--it's everybody's inner reflection of them self, its what you think you are. But it's also the truth: it's what you are and it's what you think has happened and will happen. It's the truth as in it's sort of the baseline where everything you do comes from.

I think my inner being is very different than my outer being. I don't know if that's true for everybody; for 99% of the …

A Red River Halloween Day 5: Whiskey

Lexington Attractions/Stops:
Woodford Reserve: ★★★★★ (Classy. Good. Bourbon Balls.)
Bluegrass Distillers: ★★★★ (Friendly, informal, personal tours)
West Sixth Brewing: ★★★★★ (Chill ambience & Smithtown is next door)
Smithtown Seafood: ★★★★★ (I don't like fish but I love Buffalo Catfish Bites).

The sky was gray. Dreary gray. London gray. The sort of gray that exactly matches the forecasted rain. Ugh, gray.

It was Wednesday, our rest day. I'm don't recall if we had planned Wednesday to be our rest day or if nature had forced our hand. Either way, I wasn't complaining: we had just climbed for three days straight. Today was for relaxing and whiskey.

We did our best to plan as little of our day as possible, but the distilleries called our bluff. Most required advanced tickets. Zach was stoked on Woodford Reserve, I was stoked on going somewhere good, and Dave-O and David were stoked for any distillery tour. So, we picked the Woodford Reserve. Unbeknownst to me at the time w…