Thursday, November 5

K'tucky to C'rado

Keep your lug nuts on lock down! We learned this the hard way about 50 miles past Louisville, ballin' on HWY64 when suddenly loud noises and a drastic change in my Subaru's handling forced a speedy pull-over. 'Must be a flat tire..' No, much better- three of the lug nut studs on my back wheel had sheered off, one was easily loosened by hand and the other was the reason why we were not in a Hospital. 9pm, no idea where we were, hmmm. Solution? iPhone-Tow Truck- Corydon- Holiday Inn Express- Folgers and a mini-muffin- Big O Tire- BooYA!!! Back on the road with a healthy portion of I-70 ahead of us.. if I hadn't been returning from a truly inspiring, ridiculously awesome trip to the best rock climbing area in the United States.. I might have been bummed.

Before all that wheel-almost-falling-off jazz, we finished the trip off right. Monday we headed back to the Motherlode. Paige had some things to do and I had been saving one last route in the cave.. 'Transworld Depravity' 14a. I wanted to be well rested and feeling maximum fitness for a proper flash attempt at this 120 foot beast of a route. I had heard rumors of reachy crux moves and of hard for the grade pump after a bouldery mid-section. At the end of the best two weeks of climbing I'd ever had, I wanted nothing more than to grit my teeth on this test-piece and clip some chains, or desperately fall tryin'. Peter Kamitses was there to offer up some crux beta and cheer me on- super nice dude. I took my attempt very seriously, as I did with Omaha Beach. I managed pump at every opportunity and tried to climb very accurately when entering the cruxes. I tried to be confident with my movement and choose my holds wisely. I've never been a good flash/on-sight climber, and going to the Red this was something I really wanted to work on. Entering the final crux moves I felt fatigued but capable. I ran into a little bit of wetness where I was hoping to put my feet which made me hesitate right in the business, but I felt a growing sense of urgency and decided to use dry, albeit kinda worse feet options. Shortly after I was facing a tricky exit move above a final rest that turned out to be much harder (and more reachy) than I expected, but at this point I really wanted it, and knew that I could not allow myself to fall. A few edging / lock-off moves above there and I was clipping chains- unbelievably stoked. Feeling heavily satisfied, I celebrated by offering my belay slave services to Paige. Which she used to fire 'Snooker' 13a and '40 Ounces' 13a onsight, as well as dispatched 'Skin Boat'13a. I cranked up '40 Ounces' as well and did a couple awesome routes over right; 'Team Wilson', 'Tuna Town' and 'Leave it to Beavis' (all 12d) to wrap up.

Flashing Transworld was a huge achievement for me. Mainly because I knew it would offer a challenge- I would have to really want it to do it- it was not coming easily. I celebrated my last night in the Red with a few glasses of wine and a tortilla pizza, hanging at Andy Mann and Keith Ladzinski's place surrounded by great people.. feeling very excited about such an excellent trip, while also realizing how much I would undoubtably miss this place.

On Tuesday we heading into the Gorge proper and to the Military Wall. I was highly inspired by the beauty of the burl there- both 'Nagypapa' 13d (how do you pronounce this?!) and 'The Legend' 13b. Warming up we quickly realized the honesty of the grades out here. I gave a good effort to onsight Nagypapa, but fell just below the anchors on a tricky sequence that took me a moment to figure out, completing this incredible line of uncharacteristic slopers and crimps 2nd go- one of my favorites of the trip. Next door, Paige was figuring out beta on the stunning 'Legend'. This powerful route is nothing of what you might expect out here- and fully worth an effort... redefines the definition of Red River 13b... Paige offered beta and I managed a flash. A few more warm downs and some good-byes and we were out. On the road and headed west, at least for a little while before the whole wheel-almost-falling-off event.

I'm sitting here, back in beautiful Colorado, flipping through photos from the trip and already missing the house, the mud pits, colorful leaves, cheep beer and the incredible walls- the Red River Gorge is a very special place that I'm very happy to have experienced.. Much thanks to all of those who have slaved to keep such a place accessible and developed. I am already planning an extended return trip, and I'm bringing my BOSCH!

Photo: ANDREW BURR - me kickin it before the biz on the Gold Coast.
Still Image of my flash on 'Transworld' captured from an upcoming ARCTERYX video featuring myself on a bunch of climbs in the Red!! stay tuned.. complements Scott Milton / ARCTERYX. Lastly- fall colors.. the RED in RED. complements Brian Goldstone / ARCTERYX.