Saturday, March 17, 2012

"Winter" Recap

   Well Winter didn't really happen, did it? I'm not complaining by any means. Last year heavy snow and ice kept me off Looking Glass for the better part of Fall and Winter. I think my relationship at the time suffered greatly due to my inability to climb on my projects. So this year I got to experience 6 months of Fall ( single) and I took full advantage of it! The sharp end had my full attention. I went bouldering a grand total of 5 times. I did manage to bag the first ascent of "The Sabbath" V8 at the North-side boulders and that is about the height of my bouldering pursuits for 2012.
FA of "The Sabbath" V8

   I went to the SunWall for the first time ever this season. I immediately fell in love after my first day! I decided that my intro to the Sun Wall should be Le Pump 5.11.  A classic overhanging mixed line with wonderful slopers and crimps. I walked away with an on-sight and from that point i was hooked. I met up with my friend Camden Clements to do a 3 day crash course on the SunWall. I wanted to walk in the footsteps of  Looking Glass legend Jeep Gaskin and all his bold friends who climbed these routes when I was still in diapers. We opened the 3 days with an easy but classic line, "Tits and Beer" 5.9 aka "the world's hardest 5.8", which has been known to cause more than  a few epics. The route climbs a great hand crack into trade mark Sun Wall bulges. The route went quickly and was really fun. We topped out the 3rd pitch psyched to get another classic in as we still had plenty of time left in the day. We spent the next 2 hours simul-climbing around 5.5 slab trying to locate the rap station to take us back to the ground. Camden was shirt-less since it had be nearly 70 degrees while we were climbing but as is typical in Pisgah, the temperature had dropped nearly 30 degrees in the matter of a few hours. Neither of us had headlamps so we made the call to bail from our own gear. I left two bomber cams and we headed for the ground.
Le Pump 5.11

      We came back the next day to get my cams and continue our exploration of the Sun Wall. We got a late start and after our "ordeal" the previous day we decided to just tackle one easy objective, " Climb Nick Danger and find those damn rap anchors". We had a great rhythm and cruised through "Nick Danger" 5.10. What a great route! It starts with exposed run out face climbing into overhanging jugs and then finishes in a great water groove system. We topped out and found the anchors with ease. It was a crisp, blue sky day and the sun was setting on us as we listened to music and yelled hello to our friends on the South Side. We both realized that its times like this that made us fall in love with climbing in the first place. It was also a stark contrast to my bitching and moaning the day before as I scrambled around wet rock, unprotected looking for anchors in chilling wind and darkness.

SunWall base camp

     We ended the day with a session of bouldering at Brevard Rock Gym followed by beer and pizza. The next day would be Camden's last day with me in Brevard before he headed to Charleston for some R and R. We woke up early, by the way early for us is around 10am, and headed back to tackle our main objective, "The Odyssey". The Odyssey is 120 feet of splitter 5.9 hand crack and the top is guarded by a delicate yet physical 5.11 crux pitch and 5.10 water groove. We were psyched and felt confident.... until we got to the wall and realized the wind was clocking in around 30 mph on the exposed face above. Like I said before, the weather here is....interesting to say the least.
Camden fighting the 30mph winds.

 We opted to stay low to the ground and do some single pitch classics. My friend Sarah Gaskin ( daughter of the legendary Jeep Gaskin) and Harrison Shull ( author of Selected Climbs of North Carolina) were just leaving the crag area as we arrived.We stopped and chatted a bit. I joked with Harrison about his description of the anchor location and admitted it was just my poor route finding and not his description that led to our "epic". They told us the wind gusts almost knocked them off the wall a few times so we felt great about deciding not to climb 3 pitches up into high winds. They left to work "Mainline Express" and we set about cragging on the Sun Wall. We spent the majority of the day chasing our gear around the apron slabs as the wind would just pick it up and throw it 100 yards without warning. We did manage to get 3 pitches in and  I walked away with on-sights of "Out to Lunch" 5.10d and "Black Out"5.10+ and Camden decided to skip 5.10 trad all together and go for a burn on "Le Pump" 5.11. He fell once at the crux and immediately pulled back to his high point and fired to the top. I was stoked and proud to say the least. We ended the day with a little simul-climbing on easy terrain, took in one last sunset and then said our goodbyes over a beer.

Camden and I topping out our last pitch of the day.

         The rest of my so called Winter was full of climbing and promoting my awesome sponsors. I spent time getting humbled at the Hanging Chain Wall of Rumbling Bald, on-sighted some hard trad lines, helped promote Brevard Rock Gym's biggest comp to date, did a photo shoot with Dan Brayack and......started developing Pisgah's first overhanging crag with my friends Nathan Brown, Davis King and Bennet Anderson!!! My projects and life in general have been put on hold since I found this new area. I've become completely obsessed. With my friend Nathan Brown's guidance, I've been learning the art of establishing lines ground up and top down. Its been amazing to be able to express my art on a blank canvas. I've never been so tired in all my life. "Sending is the easy part", Nathan tells me, referring to the hours of hard physical labor required to establish a new line. I've waited my entire life for an opportunity like this and I'm so excited to develop this area and present it as a gift to the local climbing community. I think it will bring balance to the climbing in Pisgah. We will have overhanging power endurance, mind control trad, steep cracks, hard aid, hard bouldering and moderate to scary slabs. But I've said too much. Its still a secret at the moment. The public debut  will be soon, I promise. I'm not one that believes in hoarding awesome climbing all to myself. I'll have videos and articles to tell the whole story and showcase this little gift very soon but until then this is all you get! :)
FA of "Crown Royal" 5.12+
After a long day of HARD work.

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