Before I left I managed to get 'Waka Flocka' 14b done, sharing a rope with my friend Emily Harrington as she comes closer and closer to success on this bouldery route. I had climbed 'Waka Flocka Flame' just weeks before, but it was a worthy challenge none-the-less. With a few short days on front range I somehow packed my life into the Toyota, spent a day shooting with photographer Celin Serbo on a photo/video project for Backpacker Magazine, spent time with the Family and even got out for one last long night in the city. Friday I started my annual pilgrimage to America's South-East, home to two of the Nation's greatest sport climbing destinations; The Red River Gorge and The New River Gorge. I'll be residing in this part of the country until conditions force my exit.
This is my third year in a row in Kentucky, and it's definitely starting to feel like something of a home away from home. The smells, the landscape and simply the feel of the gorge is extremely reminiscent. I love this place, and I'll be coming here as long as I'm climbing.
I entered this fall with a very clear goal in mind; I want to apply myself and be challenged. I'm ambitious to make the next breakthrough in my climbing and there is certainly no better place or season than here and now. Naturally, I've also accepted that by it's very definition, when we push ourselves success is never guaranteed-- in-fact failure is the only certainty. I could carry on spending my time climbing on routes I'm relatively certain I can/will do - but there is very little opportunity for growth. Bring on the next level!
Dan takes a breather on 'Straight Outta Campton' 5.13a/b
I've had a specific project on my mind since I first tried it last year. A beautiful line that homeboy Brad Weaver bolted a few years back titled, 'The Vader Project'. It takes a stunning blank section of wall to the left of the classic 'Return of Darth Moll' 13b at the Darkside. I was able to stick clip my way up it last year and spotted just enough grips to potentially make a free climb. So far this year I've been able to play around on the route a couple days. I added a bolt and chains, thoroughly cleaned it, and replaced the aging draws. It's beginning to look like a rock climb. That being said, I'm still unsure if it will actually go... I've done all but two moves that will hopefully feel much better in cooler temps (the last few days have been humid and warm). It features a collection of insane boulder problems, two of which are well in the v-double digit range, with the lower boulder problem likely being the hardest I've ever tried on a rope. Resistance climbing lays in between, with a few opportunities for rest that save the route from being potentially impossible. It ends with a wild dyno to slap the very top of the cliff. It's amazing. It's definitely the next level that I'm looking for.... hopefully, it goes... Resting the skin and then I'm back at it tomorrow.