Red River Gorge October 2010 Trip Report
Day 0 (The Lost Day)
OMFG, Worst Service Ever. Never fly United Airlines if you have a choice. A wise girl scout once said “if you want to make God laugh, just make a plan”. I was off from work, packed, tucked, and sitting on the damn plane for half an hour. When the captain goes all like “not to worry folks we have a minor leak in the fuel line or maybe hydraulics but we should be able to depart in a few minutes”. Cut to an hour later and I paraphrase “this is your captain, I’m a dumb jackass, get off the plane and take all your bags”. Cue 100 angry passengers, 2 United agents, and the great four hour wait to speak to one them. Not cool. This guarantees I miss the connecting flight in Chicago and poor Mike is now stuck in Lexington when we should be setting camp at the Red. If you ever fuck a UA steward give it to them hard and at least for five hours. I got it from them bad. Rant Over.
5am flight to DFW. 7am flight to Lex. Success! Mike and I hit Wal-Mart for all the essentials: cereal, rice milk, tangerines, and a bottle of bourbon. We drive in and setup camp at Land of Arches. Happily my old friend Sabrina, from Pittsburgh, was there to greet us. With just a few hours left of light we decide to hit Roadside Crag for a quick warm-up on Trouble Clef 5.9-. This is a classic slab line for Sabrina and I, but Mike’s slab cherry gets popped and he takes it like a man. With darkness approaching we head back to camp to warm up with a nice campfire. Mike demonstrates his mad girl scout skills by starting a large campfire in under 20 seconds, the secret is gasoline. Sabrina proceeds to breakout a dangerous quantity of peanut butter cookies and we grab some PB+J’s for dinner. What happened then is hard to recall but I know we began to drink the bourbon under the guise that it provided warmth from the chilly night. To further that end we thought it wise to walk through the fire being happy little pyros with a large toy, thank God Merrell knows how to make a fire resistant shoe.
Day 2 (the Awesome day)
I woke from the cold the next morning feeling surprisingly spry yet stumbling slightly, shaky in my step. The Georgia crew, Alex and Paul, arrived sometime in the night and in true style I had absolutely no recollection of that. With Sabrina vomiting in the field, and some strange purple stains on my jeans, I figured out quickly that we got sloshed. Mike provided a few details, such as someone may or may not have crawled into a women’s tent and vomited there.
Either way coffee solves everything and so we bummed some hot water off of Paul after learning that Mike is only capable of large fires and not handling stoves, an excellent tidbit for the Austin Arson department. The St. Louis crew of Michael, Meli, Mary, and Christy were supposed to have shown up the night before but was still not accounted for. I feared that somewhere along the treacherous roads of Missouri a rogue biker gang of lesbians turned the men into castrati and kidnapped the women forcing them into a life of leather pants and bandannas. Turns out they camped in the back of the lot and we were too busy drinking to notice they rolled in, oops.
The morning consisted of climbing in the Muir Valley at the Bruise Brothers Wall. Mike and I got there first and led Little Viper 5.10b. Jungle Trundler’s 5.11a bouldery start and crack feature became Mike’s new favorite route at the RRG. The rest of Homo Climbtastic showed up and put up Hey There, Fancy Pants 5.10c as well.
We had an almost full Mo going on with St. Louis, Georgia, and the Ryan’s! The crag started out quite empty but was becoming quite crowded with breeders so we decided to switch crags to Roadside and meet up with Michigan crew which hadn’t shown up yet.
Roadside was a great time. Mike successfully led Ro Shampo his first 5.12a! Ro is my classic project, flashed once but sadly never confirmed; oddly Mike did not love it as much as I. Still if you had but one route to climb in the Red I’d vote Ro all the way.
My old friend Peter managed to find his way down from Chicago and climb Ro with us as well – not a 12 cherry for him but still his first time on the route. It was epic to see him progress so far since I left the frozen tundra of the north. All this time Jonathan was running around trying to find some nice climbs for his crew but Roadside is often busy and they settled on The Return of Chris Snyder 5.11d.
They were having a good go of it but it was getting dark and Jonathan asked if I’d clean it up. Now I was thinking this was gonna be a nice easy short 11 but no I look up and it’s 95ft tall and the climb hasn’t been finished. Sweet baby jebus. After getting some locking draws from Mike, I grab a headlamp from Jon and start up. Super fun easy moves, but sustained, very sustained. At the last couple bolts I switch the follow-up system I’m on to lead and finish the last few moves. While cleaning I learned that energizer headlamps are impossible to turn on with tired fingers and that I can tie a figure eight in the dark. Coming down through the open air 70ft off the ground, 20ft from the wall, in the dark was amazing, perhaps one of the best moments of the trip in my mind. For recovering gear and not falling on/killing my belayer I earn some free Miguel’s from Jonathan, super tasty Thanks!
Day 3 (The cold day)
Brr. Cold. Fuck that shit. In utter irony the coldest climbing day is done in Purgatory. Yup, Pendergrass, I donated like 10 bucks when I was dirt poor in college so I feel like I own a small piece of this place. Anyhow we began on the shaded wall 100ft from the one in full sun. While I’m half asleep from too weak coffee someone sets up The Gimp 5.10a and Jumbo Shrimp 5.10a. I was an ass ignoring everyone and basking in the sun while eying Hellraiser 5.12c. After Alex sketches out on the Gimp he hops on Hellraiser only to face the sick reachy sloper of defeat, I decided against trying the route. Some guys, who smell distinctly of weed, come by to play with Hellraiser so we head back toward the St. Louis crew.
Alex starts on Jumbo Shrimp, in boots, and halfway up goes slightly off route pulling off a small chunk of the wall, Christy who is belaying is wisely wearing her helmet; Alex was cool about it and hung onto it before throwing it safely into the woods. Meli braves the route only to be faced by the comedic stylings of Mary Tang and takes a catch.
Needing new toys Michael, Paul, Mike, Meli, and I head to the Playground and work on some fun slab routes. Michael and I lead Slide 5.9 and Tire Swing 5.10a, respectively. Meli works on Slide which is very reachy for shorties, but pulls through the crux. Tire Swing has a great bouldery start and some hard to read traversing which made it feel tougher than 10a.
Alex, Christy, and Mary Tang spent a little extra time in Purgatory for their wicked ways and pulled on some elevens including Christy’s project Special Boy? 5.11c. Mary Tang took a sweet whipper on this one.
After Playground the rest of went over to the Gallery to check out a route for Paul called 27 Years of Climbing a five star 5.8. Paul, Michael, and Meli hit that one which I’ve done in the past and know to be super fun. Mike and I put up a Brief History of Time and since I was feeling great I gave it a second go. With a little convincing we got Michael and Meli on it and they seemed stoked after finishing it up. Paul vows to get on that one next time.
After a full day of climbing we head over to Miguel’s to hang out but damn was it crowded. You’d think they had a drag queen showdown or something. The main lot was full, the overflow lot was full, and side of the street parking was full for a good 100 yards. Nevertheless our fabulous selves wrangle a table indoors and enjoy good company.
Roadside once again, cause St. Louis needs a quick exit. We worked on Dragonslayer 5.10d and Crazyfingers 5.10c. Now depending on who you ask the grades are exchangeable. I found Dragonslayer to be way easier than Crazyfingers and of course I’m right and the guidebook should change, is all I’m saying..
Anyhow to earn our sponsorship status from Beta Clothing Designs, Alex and I stripped down to our skivvies and donned the bright red highly breathable boxers that Beta sent us. Alex led Crazyfingers in the boxers and I took my clothes off for Ro Shampo.
I managed a one-hang on Ro Shampo. While Alex and I were at Ro, Mary and Paul attempted a trad crack but bailed when they realized they ran out of fisting gear, I mean fist size gear. It was approaching mid-afternoon and the St. Louis MOs had to be on the road. We said our goodbyes and headed to some warm-down climbs. Mike and Paul worked on Altered Scale 5.9+ while I went and did my business in the woods for the first time, rather relaxing I must say, I highly recommend everyone give it a go. After losing about a pound I felt good enough to attempt Way Up Yonder 5.12a. After pulling the 5.11b bottom Up Yonder I began Way Up Yonder. Got four clips up and feeling like a scrotum I said fuck it and bailed, thank God for project draws. It went from a fun pockety climb to a slopy overhanging bullshit. F that. Alex played on it for a bit and then we hit Miguel’s for some tasty stomach hurting pizza, yummy. While there Alex showed everyone the fine art of rimming an Ale81 bottle, skills he attests not to use, but clearly well practiced.
Back at camp we washed down, ate way too much jerky, and discussed the best gay slang terms to have the servers at Miguel’s yell out around camp when bringing out your pizza. My personal favorite is “daddy”, can’t you imagine it “I’m looking for daddy, I got a hot big one for daddy”… Speaking of daddies we also discussed the fine art of projecting a cock, cause some sends take some time and practice…
Alex and Paul roll out despite having a perfect day of climbing available. Weak sauce. So Mike and I hit military wall, sadly where Jonathan Elyea (pronounced L-E-A), was the day before, totally didn’t get enough climbing with our Michigan crew.
We had flights in the afternoon so we hit just two climbs. Fuzzy Undercling 5.11b and Possum Lips 5.10d.Fuzzy was nasty, the ground erosion is making the boulder start even harder, not cool. Possum Lips though was awesome. This route was a piece of cake for Mike (god-damned tall people) but for me the crux was a feet on tiny pebbles, hands on super thin crimps dyno to a horn. Great fluid movement but hurt like a bitch. Super technical, love it. The crag was quickly filling with breeders so we headed out to pack and hit the airport bar for a beer. A great trip ended. Didn’t get to hang with everyone long enough, only one option: Bishop….