Well regardless of the details I was antsy. My October was ticking by (with a trip to Asia coming up on November 7) and as I tirelessly checked the news it seemed like a resolution to the government shutdown wasn't at all close at hand. So, rather than waiting around I rolled with the punches and headed eastward to seize the closing window on my autumn season.
I've been wanting to visit the New River Gorge for several years but I always got sucked into the Red, and realistically, it's just so damn far away from the West. Well I finally made it, and just as I expected, I'm blown away. Naturally I'm bummed that I'll be missing the Dawn Wall push this season, but I have confidence in my friends out there and I'll be following along just like the rest of the world. Ironically I was actually in Washington DC on the very day that Yosemite reopened, I planned to stand in front of the Capital with a cardboard sign reading 'Free the Dawn Wall!' but I guess just my presence was enough.
Definitely saddened to be absent for the mission on El Cap, but it would be a lie to say that I'm not stoked to be here also - it's not that often anymore that I get to see entirely-new-to-me zones with this much quality. The NRG is truly world class.
Bullet hard textured sandstone featuring edges and ledges, slopey crimps and the occasional pocket. Beautiful streaks, striking aretes and features in a rad setting just outside of a pretty rad little town. There is an enormous list of classic routes, gear and sport, for almost everyone's ability level. Nice people, good scene. I can see why people love it here.
The first week or so that I arrived was still every ounce of summer in my opinion although locals were diligent in telling me that, 'dude, it gets MUCH worse'. Well hats off to you people, seriously, because those were some of the worst conditions I've ever climbed in. Locals here climb at their limit in the summer months.... I am convinced that these people have some kind of genetic mutation because they are also drawn to wear puffy coats when the temperatures dip below a baltic 71ºF, meanwhile I am still bathing in my own sweat and rattling off complaints faster than my partners can even respond.
Needless to say, I took it down a notch for my first several climbing days here. Which was something of a blessing in disguise because I got to sample some of the area classics that I may have skipped over otherwise. 'Travisty' 13b/c, the mega steep 'Apollo Reed' 13a, 'Dial 911' 13a, the world class 'Quinsasa Plus' 13a and stunning arete climb 'Satanic Verses' 13c, 'Pocket Route' 13a, the start to 'Trebuchet' 13b and the underrated 'Xanth' 13b, 'New World Order' 12a, 'Bullet the New Sky' 12b and 'Add Lib' 12d all stood out to me. But it was still muggy and hot, so I left. Visited DC, saw some rad stuff, and came back to shockingly better temps.
|Air and Space Museum. So rad.
|Another kind of Astronaut -- Scott Franklin. Every ounce as American as walking on the moon.
In the new New River Gorge I was amazed at what was possible. Beloved friction had returned! I did a Mike Williams classic, 'Picket Fence' 14a/b that was amazing and checked out his also mega 'Coal Train' 14a - stoked to get back to that one. The best day yet was at the Meadow where I managed the 1988 All American Classic, 'Mango Tango' - one of the first 5.14s in the country thanks to Scott Franklin and remains one of the best. The neighboring 'Fruity Pants' 12d is without question one of the best sport routes in the nation, and 'Puppy Chow' 12c is... well... just do it.
Over the last 2 days I belayed Mikey as he continued his new routing mission at the New, with 3 new trad routes - the raddest being his new .13a R, 'Color Blind' which I did as well. A really cool vision on his part and a cool addition to the Central Endless.
Lastly, I just posted a new Gear Review on the ripper MSR Reactor Stove and there's a really cool new Five Questions with my buddy Steve Bechtel. Enjoy!