Another brilliant day in Kentucky. Coffee and good friends in the morning followed by a short drive to the crag just long enough to get through a couple hype tracks and to reflect on your key beta. A quick approach through fallen leaves and an occasional mud puddle to the base of a daunting wall of chalk and quickdraws. Warming up can come to feel like a chore. It's not the quality of the routes- they are outstanding- it's how f*ckin stoked you are to pull hard. With so many inspiring, difficult routes all around us, it's a wonder we even warm up at all.
On Thursday we warmed up at the drive-by crag, on one of the Red's best 5.12s, 'Check Your Grip'. I can't get enough of this classic. It was warm, but Paige and Andy had just arrived and we were all fired up to get after it. The night before I chatted with my buddy Joe Kinder and he got me all stoked up to take a swing at his new route 'Southern Smoke' 5.14c, that lies beside 'Ultra Perm' 13d and actually shares the same crux finish. Right off a rest day, I was feeling very good although the sun was beaming on the route pretty hard. On my sample burn I negotiated through the bottom well and got an idea for what to expect in the Ultra Perm crux, eventually making it to the anchors. After a good rest, the route was in the shade, and I was (kinda) prepared for a good second go. I managed to pull through the bottom and into the Ultra Perm crux, but my beta was all jacked and terribly inefficient.. I was stoked on the progress though, so I made sure to get my beta figured out for the top. Southern Smoke is pure fitness, with no moves harder than probably V6, but in contrast to 50 Words, the crux lies at the top- in the steepest section of the 90 ft. climb. The crux of Ultra Perm (and Southern Smoke) is hard, and there are fairly desperate moves at the VERY top. Fitness.. fitness is the key, which thankfully I had brought to the Red, and after over a week of climbing here, I was feeling in some of the best fitness of my life. On my third attempt, I felt poorly through the bottom, but managed to get to the double draw on Ultra Perm for a rest. Deep breathing and aggressive resting techniques gave me some relief and more importantly, I could feel that I really wanted it. I pushed through the crux and found myself matching two bad crimps near the chains, with a big move, lots of lactic acid and a fatiguing body between me and the send. I freakin' screamed, and tried extremely hard, and sent. I was totally shocked, and I imagine so were those climbing at the Bob Marley- after my brave heart style scream, surely someone thought I had died or something.. far from it- I was stoked out of my mind! Definitely giving a shout to Joe Kid on this route- a brilliant addition to the Red, thanks for the effort man, proud to do the 3rd ascent! Andy wanted to shoot Paige on Ultra Perm, so I ran up it, this time trying so hard I couldn't even manage to make a scream, and made the top to pull up a static rope. Wicked day.
On Friday we were tired, and the heat was overwhelming, so we took it easy (er). We wound up at Gold Coast in the morning and I took another lap on the amazing 'Golden Boy' while Paige sampled the cliff and Andy shot some pics. We made our way to the Purgatory in the afternoon, just in time for South East Asian type temperatures and humidity... I was excited to do the plethora of high quality 13b at this wall, including 'Paradise Lost', 'The Castle Has Fallen' and 'Dracula'. All tired and beat I was very stoked to onsight Paradise and Dracula- taking two efforts on The Castle. I needed a shower, and a rest day. Back to the house to kick back with some wine and bullshit the night away- typical at the Red.
Yesterday we would have been smart to take a rest day, seeing in that we were both hurting and the rain was coming down HARD, but we were too stoked. I had yet to touch the Madness Cave, and was hoping to save it for a day fresh off a rest, but it was just about our only option on such a rainy day. We warmed up on another of the Red's best 12s 'Chainsaw Massacre' 12a, amazing climb.. Over in the Madness Cave a huge waterfall was ripping off the top of the formation, spewing water into the cold air like a humidifier. Thankfully it did not taint the steep-as-hell routes and the temps were cold enough that the humidity did not matter. In-fact I would say it was one of the best friction days yet- moisture and sandstone actually work together quite well. I popped my Madness cherry on an amazing route, 'Pushing Up Daisies' 13c onsight. Whoa.. This wall is ugly by Red River standards, but the length and steepness of the climbs is other-worldly. So much fun to climb.. Paige onsighted a 12d on the right side to top off her warm up and I scurried around to find some beta for 'Omaha Beach' 14a. Giving a really good flash attempt at this route was one of my primary goals at the Red.. local badass Andrew Gearing hooked me up with the spray down, although I definitely lost track mid-way through. I tried to be very smart about my climbing and take my attempt very seriously. I was breathing from the get-go and managing pump at every opportunity. I got through the steepness without issue and felt very prepared for the crux nearing the top. I tossed out the knee-scum beta when I saw the opportunity for a heel-hook and continued through the headwall crimps, still climbing very carefully even right below the anchors- I wanted to be super calculated. It paid off. VERY excited to have flashed this amazing climb. Definitely one of my proudest achievements of the trip; you only get one flash attempt and I really wanted it. I carried on with onsights of 'The Madness' 13c and 'BOHICA' 13b, eventually failing at redline above the chains of BOHICA- such a rad day, couldn't be more stoked on the day and excited on a rest day. OH not to mention that Paige pulled a super proud onsight on 'Flour Power' 13b. Wicked, very stoked for her.
Halloween night, last night, we broke some shit with a sledge hammer, had some wine and kicked back- Kentucky style. Now I'm updating the site while everyone else is slaving in the living room painting- I guess I should be helping out..
My trip is winding down.. this is my last rest day before a couple more climbing days and the inevitable heinous drive back. My next update will most likely be from home, back in beautiful Colorado, with a cup a coffee by my side and snow (?) outside my window- sounds alright for sure, but I'm still ambitious even in my last few days here.
Photos: MAD PROPS to Andrew Burr!! The Gold Coast, Rest days.. Kentucky Style..