Tuesday, November 25

Chatt Town

Weather and climate is one of the most powerful forces on Earth, without a doubt. We can prepare ourselves but inevitably there is no changing the temperature, the humidity, the winds, the rain. It is sincerely humbling, and also so very influential - especially for us climbers - or anyone whose life or pursuits are primarily outside. Aside from the pure excitement of travel, the volatility of weather is a huge deciding factor that drew me into a nomadic life.

When I'm on the road climbing I exercise this power frequently. Sometimes my plans change in an instant. I love this freedom. To some extent I think this freedom is necessary for continued motivation. I've mentioned this in the past many times, but it's difficult for me to imagine climbing in just one place, or just one state.. or just one country for that matter. On the move... just the way I like it. 

I only ended up climbing in West Virginia for one day. The forecast looked quite grim and instead of waiting around (like I had done for the previous month or so up North) I decided to cut loose and head South to Tennessee. Chattanooga is something of the last line for the eastern climbing scene. If all else fails, Chatt town will likely still be good. And this was very much true of last week. 

I had never climbed in Tennessee, and so much like the rest of my trip, it was so exciting to see new crags and get an outstanding tour of this Eastern climbing mecca. My homeboy Blake Cash hooked up an inspired jaunt through some of the better zones in the area. And despite some subfreezing temps (literally, temperatures below 32 on most days) we made it happen and I even did some sending. Chatt climbing is characterized in large part by mini crags, exhibiting a dozen or 2 dozen routes on mostly exceptional sandstone. Maybe not quite the quality of rock in the New River Gorge but much harder than the hollers of Kentucky. Generally the cliffs are near vertical with imposing roofs. The rock is very featured, which in part accounts for the relatively low density of hard climbing, but also creates some memorable jug hauls and a plethora of pitches in the 5.12 and easy 5.13 range. It seems like a winter dream land for the 12+/13- climber.

Little River Canyon and the Concave is an impressive area. Super super steep climbing on sculpted beautiful sandstone. Many pumpy bastards on this wall. A great little crag.... 

It was primarily a volume visit for me, and a chance to test the Tennessee waters - looking ahead to a potential longer return. I had a great time. I got a nice little taste of everything. From some awesome traditional gems at T-Wall to some burly roof sport cragging down at Little River Canyon. Because of some sensitive land and access issues I will have to keep some of my sending a secret, but in short I got away with a couple 5.14s and a good handful of 5.13 flashes and redpoints. It was a great way to end a long road trip. Some of my favorites were Psycho Path 13b, Chaca Chaca 5.13, The Way 5.13, Showboaters 5.13 and Southern Comfort 14a.

Now I've completed the journey, making the full circle, arriving back in Colorado for a week with family and friends. I'll be giving my mind and body a short break from the climbing life next week before I dive into a long winter of training. I'm looking forward to the next adventure...