Thursday, December 22, 2011

Climbing Lately

Recently, I've been a bit delinquent in posting up anything remotely resembling trip reports, despite (or perhaps because of?) the decent volume of climbing I've been doing.  So, here's my latest adventures:

Early in November, I headed to Sand Rock, Alabama with the intent to put up a new trad line that is potentially a first ascent.  This is quite debatable since Sand Rock has largely been "climbed out" and has a varied and considerable history, meaning that any line that can be climbed has probably been climbed at one point or another.  Therefore, when Sam Latone and I first scouted 60 feet of beautiful, compact sandstone, we were excited but skeptical.  To date, however, no locals or old-timers have been able to tell me of a previous ascent of that particular section of rock, located opposite "Dreamscape" and around the corner from "Wall of Horns."  If you're reading this, and you have any beta on the route's history, then by all means please let me know.

The opening moves on "Pardon Our Progress"
Susan and I joined a very sick Sam Latone and Stephanie Ballard for the project.  After a discussion about where exactly the line should go (there is no continuous crack system to follow), Sam scrambled to the top of the cliff and rappelled down the line to clean off debris and any loose rock.  The route, called "Pardon Our Progress," goes at 5.11 on trad gear.  I fell once on the first ascent and have not had the opportunity to go back, so it has yet to see a clean lead.  However, it is a beautiful line and well worth doing.

In the first crux on "Pardon Our Progress"
At Fort Bluff in Huntsville. Credit: Maggie Beck
A couple weeks ago, Sam Latone and I again set off to climb together, this time joining Sam England and his wife Maggie at a crag near Huntsville.  Most notable here for me was a redpoint in a day of a line called "Double Huck" (5.12a).  Also noteworthy, I ripped out a piece of gear on lead for the first time when I fell attempting to onsight "The Stranger" (5.11+).  I had placed a bomber #4 camalot followed by a less-than-bomber 0.5 camalot a few feet above, right below the crux.  I knew the piece was not great, but it made me feel a bit better to have it there at the time.  When I blew the crux sequence, there was the initial fall, a slight catch, a loud "pop," another fall and catch, and I found myself hanging off the #4 with the 0.5 dangling on the rope in front of my harness.  All future attempts at the crux made use of the #4, resulting in nice clean falls, but I did not get the send.

Garrett on the second pitch ledge of "Cloudy Day"
Last week, my younger brother Garrett came to visit for a few days.  He wanted to climb some multipitch, so we headed to Steele, Alabama for some more sandstone shenanigans.  We climbed the super-fun 2 to 3 pitch 5.9 "Cloudy Day."  Garrett also put a couple more trad leads under his belt, cruising up the short but sweet "Exit Stage Right" (5.7).

This past weekend featured a trip to Little River Canyon and the Tennessee Wall with Tyler Upchurch and Josh Raborn.  We split town early Saturday morning, three of us and a good deal of gear crammed into Susan's Ford Fiesta, and headed to the Crazy House crag.  It was Josh and Tyler's first experience navigating the untamed, occasionally sketchy, and always difficult sport climbs there, but they both had some proud sends for the day on a handful of hard 5.11 lines.  I was just happy to be out getting a good forearm pump.

Tyler Upchurch on "Rocktoberfest" (5.11c)
That evening we drove up to Chattanooga and met up with our friends Stephanie and Hunter at the Tennessee Wall, sharing some pesto mac and cheese and Fat Tires around the camp fire as we shivered into the night.  The next morning it was up to the gloriously sun-drenched cliff line, where I was stoked to onsight "March Hare" (5.10a) as well as repeat a handful of other classic lines.

Finally, Tuesday night, Chris Latham and I had a dry tooling demo at First Ave Rocks bouldering gym in Birmingham.  We talked to a few people about Peregrine Climbing Guides' upcoming New Hampshire ice climbing trip, introduced a few more people to ice tools, and generally had a good time.  It has definitely definitely been a strong run of climbing in the last two months, which is good, because the last thing I did before leaving First Ave Tuesday night was partially tear the A4 pulley in my left index finger, so no more climbing for at least 2 or 3 weeks.  More on that later, though.

1 comment:

  1. I don't know what most of the climbing jargon means but it looks like you had a great time!