Before I get too caught up in the rain and how excited my body is to rest I'll rewind to where I left off last week. After enjoying a rad birthday weekend in Estes Park I took off, straight over trail ridge to the Western Slope, eager to spend a few days attacking the canyon. Last year I spied homeboy Joey Kinder hanging on a rope, sinking metal in the Wicked Cave, up a less than inspiring line to the left of The Crew. As you can likely tell, I was a bit of a sceptic, but rumors of a sick, hard new route in the Wicked Cave roused my interest - then, a few weeks ago I saw photos of said route with crusher Matty Hong making a proud F.A. Whoa! this route actually looked killer - clean rock and cool holds. I was stoked to have a go. So I busted ass over to Rifle for a few days last week, eager to give 'Bad Girls Club' 14d an effort.
Jesse on the classic Pump-O-Rama
The climb begins up a chossy zone (as do all of the Wicked Cave routes) with some hard movement through a variety of holds. Around the 6th bolt you're met with your first rest - the best on the route. You've just climbed a solid 13c to here, and the route only gets harder. Out of the rest a long resistance section through dramatically improving rock takes you to a second, less beneficial resting spot, a roof towers above you. Enter the steepest section of the route with a few quick moves and fire through cryptic knee-bars, pinches, crimps and everything else. A long series of moves gets you through this relatively short section, ending with a super powerful undercling sequence, and a heartbreaker finish.
I was expecting to really struggle on Bad Girls Club - I have never really shined at Rifle, and the style is neither my best or my favorite - however, this route turned out to be mostly resistance with a bit of power endurance. It actually suited me quite well, and shockingly, on my second day I desperately linked to the top of the route. Day three I fell literally on the final move - going to the clipping jug for the chains. Unfortunately, at this point I was A) exhausted! B) needed to head to the front range for a few things, so I drove eastward, dreaming of the Bad Girls Club. I went to the dentist, saw some friends, did laundry, talked on the radio with the incredible Anna Stohr, Kilian Fischhuber, Cody Roth and Chuck Fryberger (I'll post the interview when it becomes available), and just 36 hours later, was heading back up I-70 to Rifle.
I warmed up and immediately went gunning for BGC, knee-pads duct taped on, Solutions strapped up, beta all fresh and rehearsed in my mind. 3 rests, nearly a hundred moves and 17 bolts later, I was clipping chains. Very pleased. First and foremost, Joey Kinder deserves a shout out - he put in tons of effort on this thing, cleaning it up, equipping it and giving it love. (sorry I doubted you man! this is a RAD addition, and a worthy Colorado test-piece). Secondly, Matty Hong - a really impressive effort... Matty has become a true king of this style, having done almost every hard route in the canyon, psyched for you man!
Joey working out his route, Bad Girls Club!
I've grown a lot as a climber in the last year (since I did my first 9a), and my experience in the 14+ range this year has been empowering, but also very confusing. I did BGC on my 8th try - much faster than my other 9a's, and almost twice as fast as I did Necessary Evil 14c earlier this year. I'm beginning to speculate that 'your number of attempts' is really a flawed standard for judging difficulty. Grades are everywhere, and differ for every climber, at every crag. I think the best we can do is try to keep consistency within areas, remain honest, and also expect to get shut down, and kick ass from time to time. On that note, I'd like to repeat a few other hard routes in the canyon before I feel confident to defend or deny BGC at 14d.
Wicked Cave.... Planet X is in the foreground... BGC in the background
I finished my Labor Day weekend by doing a cool Steve Hong addition called, 'Planet X' 14 a/b second try, and starting my journey on the burly, bouldery and long route called, 'The Crew' 14c. VERY excited to REST! .... and then psyched to get back... yeah!