Ah... the beloved rest day. Kentucky rest days are straight country livin' and, in my opinion, damn satisfying. Last Wednesday I indulged in a thoroughly Kentucky rest day with a few simple goals: shoot guns, buy used furniture, kick back, drink some beer. I can proudly say that I succeeded on all accounts, thanks in large part to the ever-supportive and heavily armed local, Kentucky Joe.
I've had some other successes since my last rest day as well. Last Thursday I headed out for one last day of full-on media with the Arcteryx crew to the Bob Marley Crag. The day was generally humbling, which began with me failing on a 'warm up' called 'Dogleg' 12a. Being 5 foot 5 and sending this route as a warm up do not seem to mix well - anyone who knows this route knows what I'm talking about (although I've heard Mike Doyle, also small, managed an ascent- very proud!!). With my tail between my legs, I wandered around the corner to the next objective, '50 Words for Pump' 14c. My first attempt was in full sun, and was characterized by repeated falls from the crux, being extremely pumped, splitting my finger, and desperately grabbing non-holds as I barely managed to hang my draws on this beast of a route. My next go was better, and I was able to get through the crux to the rest above, but a few bolts below the top I was pumped to a level unimaginable and still unsure of my sequence.. I'm Off!! Big falls on this ridiculously steep and long route.. Third and final burn of the day I punted all over, over-gripped and tired, I lowered to the dirt a bit uncertain but inspired.
While 'Lucifer' was almost perfectly my style, '50 Words' could be the antithesis- steep, thuggish, slopers, nothing bites (everything requires a proper squeeze). Back at the house, Kentucky Joe mentioned that he thought there were some trick rests on the route, including a possible knee-bar. Hmm.. after some additional research I had a few fresh ideas. Friday it was dumping rain and the air was saturated, but the temps were generally cool. We found the Bob Marley to be mostly dry and totally climbable - stoked. First burn I fell from the crux, but it thankfully gave me an opportunity to suss out key resting beta, including a knee bar to clip an otherwise strenuous bolt up high. The rain made for an empty crag and pleasant background noise of the soft rain drops on the changing leaves. Second go of the day I climbed through the crux via the try hard technique and took my time recovering at the first rest. With my beta now mostly sussed I fought through the steepening mid-section to the knee-bar and final clip in the business. Exiting the knee-bar felt hard, but at this point I was way too stoked to allow a fall. The finish was moist, but thankfully very easy to the top (I have a stupid habit of not venturing all the way to the chains while working a route, leaving a sometimes adventurous finish on the red-point). Highly stoked, I slapped the chains and then took a victory whip, realizing the fault of my actions once on the ground, 'Shit dude! those are my draws up there..'. See what happens when you get too excited? I had to dog my way up the route again and then cleaning off my draws was quite possibly more difficult than the actual climb. It was not enough to kill my stoked though.. very excited on the send.
Saturday the rain was still hanging around but the day looked more promising. My boy Ben Randolph had gotten into town on Thursday night and the two of us made a plan to check out the privately owned Muir Valley. After some enjoyable albeit short warm ups at the Indy Wall we headed over the Sanctuary. This amazing crag is stacked with quality, and unfortunately on Saturday it was also packed with humanity (we counted 23 people). I was inspired to sample the whole crag and began with an incredible, technical face climb called 'Cherry Red' 14a that features a ladder of sharp crimps to a stout boulder problem through pockets and dimples. This route was terribly dirty, but after some cleaning it was back to awesome. I sent third go. I carried on down the line and was able to onsight the incredible steep jug ladder, 'Peace Frog' 12d, the sustained and awesome 'Prometheus Unbound' 13a, the ultra classic and varied 'Jesus Wept' 12d and the reachy and aesthetic 'Triple Sec' 13a. What an amazing crag!! Everything was good- not too many places you can say this for. Ben had a ball too, and is quickly getting into Red River shape to crush, almost accidentally sending 'Peace Frog' at the end of the day.
Now we are chillin' at the house. I'm taking pulls straight from the peanut butter jar and Ben is reading National Geographic, the others are cranking cereal and we are all bullshitting.. rest day.. We are going to head into town soon and re-up our grocery situation, and who knows maybe cook up some moonshine or something.. keeping it real. I've had an amazing week out here climbing and to think that I've got another week and then some is super motivating. The Red is everything they say it is, ya'll Kentucky folk are lucky.
Photos of '50 Words for Pump' courtesy of Brian Goldstone / ARCTERYX