Tuesday, April 26
Thursday, April 14
Thursday, April 7
Golden Direct takes the dramatic center line out of the Cathedral. It begins with a pleasant 11+ and a decent shake before firing immediately into a bouldery and run-out 13b, which meets with 'Golden' at a poor rest. From here the route enters a long power endurance section, highlighted by big, sequential moves and another thrilling run-out. This section finishes with a difficult seeping undercling clip and another poor rest. From here the rock quality improves to near perfection as you enter a stout boulder problem on tufas and bullet grey limestone featuring small pitches and pockets - ending with a desperate slap to a awkward ledge. Another crappy rest here before a final boulder problem finishing with an awesome and dramatic lunge for the summit of the cave. The route is truly incredible! It's exhausting to climb and brilliant to look at.
a mammoth of a pitch
My first couple days on Golden Direct were barely linking bolt to bolt - sussing beta but also enduring serious fatigue on this mega steep pitch. This past weekend, in crap conditions, I could barely grab draws as I crawled my way up the route to figure out the tricky finishing boulder problems. With zero expectation I surprised myself on Tuesday by falling off a tufa pinch move close to the end of the route, and finishing the day with a solid one hang. Yesterday I returned ambitious but again without expectation.. in some nearly perfect conditions I made my way to the finishing boulder problems, muscling my way through a dicey clip off a seeping undercling. With beta countlessly recited in my head I entered the crux prepared to use full effort and move after move later I was jumping for the lip of the cave and clipping chains.. pumped and psyched! The route took me 9 or 10 tries total. I finished the day with a flash on 'The Cross' 13c, a killer climb on the Wailing Wall.
My experience on this route could not differ more from my recent experience on 'Necessary Evil'. Necessary was a complete mind game for me that never felt remotely guaranteed. The fickle conditions, precise and subtle movement made redpointing mentally exhausting and at times super frustrating... eventually I had to abandon all expectation and accept the fact that I would (hopefully) send at some point so I just needed to keep trying until I did. As for Golden Direct, my success came before I ever had an opportunity to get stressed or anxious about it. It was more physically exhausting, but mentally it came as something of a gift... and I'll happily take it after how hard I worked to succeed at the VRG. It's a golden truth (no pun intended) that sometimes victory is almost handed to us, and other times we have battle for it... ahhhh don't you just LOVE rock climbing!? (seriously though, it's freaking awesome isn't it?!) I fought hard on my redpoint for this beast but I'd still have to say that in my limited experience, it definitely sits at the soft side of 9a. Huge thanks to Joey Kinder for all his hard work establishing routes out here. Much respect!! I'm SUPER excited about this send and stoked to make the best of my remaining time in Vegas!
Friday, April 1
Somebody once told me that this city was hot... and at 92 degrees on the first of April, I believe 'em. Luckily I'm on a rest day and comfortably leaning back in the far corner of the air conditioned Sahara West Library. I need a little break from the sun after an eventful week of climbing and exploring..
Before this intensive heat set in, I thankfully managed to get a little more low elevation climbing finished. End of last week I finally got a chance to get a taste of the Trophy Wall at Red Rock. In some unpleasant wind, we got out for a good day and I went home smiling after polishing off the wall. It features some area classics like the namesake and super steep 'Trophy' 5.12, the RRG reminiscent 'Pet Shop Boys' 12d, 'Twilight of a Champion' 13a and the wicked hard three move 'Shark Walk' 13a, among others. I also got to finish off the Secret 13 with 'Where is My Mind' 13c - this varied, bouldery and beautiful line takes the cake as my favorite route at Red Rock.
Joel Love enjoys a 'sandwich eating ledge' rest on Trophy
brilliant 12a on Trophy. MANN PHOTO
Rad climbing on Bill Ramsy's 'Where is My Mind' MANN PHOTO
Last weekend I finally got back to the VRG to revisit the incredible 'Horse Latitudes' 14a. This was the final route that I set out to climb at the VRG, and much like the rest of my experience climbing there, it was not easy. Sunday I put this Randy Leavitt test-piece to rest, and followed with the obscure, but awesome 'Deliverance' 13a and lapped 'Joe's Six Pack' 13a and 'F-Dude' 14a one more time for good measure... saying my goodbyes to the VRG.
Horse Latitudes. Awesome. MANN PHOTO
...Above all it was a challenge for me to climb there, and I felt like every route required effort, in a way that I hadn't encountered at any other cliff. Nothing was given to me: every flash or onsight attempt ended just feet from the anchors, every redpoint required more attempts than I would normally expect and nearly every climbing day was highlighted with some degree of frustration. I LOVE the VRG.. seriously... it's one of my favorite crags, and likely some of the best limestone in America - but I will always remember my time there as something of a struggle - something that every climber encounters from time to time. It's times like this that we grow as not only athletes, but as people. Stoked to be done!
This week I made my way to the Mesquite area, ambitious to get into some higher altitude and climb on new cliffs. I revisited the Cathedral / Wailing wall for the first time in 3 years - still taken aback by it's quality. I hung my draws on the massive 'Golden Direct' 14+ and started sussing beta and making some good links. The line takes the center of the Cathedral, and climbs through thuggy, powerful terrain for it's entirety. It'll be a good challenge for me and I'm psyched to get back! I've got my fingers crossed that a seeping key hold dries out soon...
the MAN. the RIG.
I was joined by fellow Arcteryx athlete and climbing legend Scott Milton for the last couple days to try and capture some video clips around the area. We made the mistake of trekking out to the magnificent Phalanx of Will in some heinous heat - it's not in the shade if you were wondering. I had always wanted to have a look at this unique and remote feature though, and I was stoked to get a few pitches in. Highlights were a stellar 5.11 crack on it's South-East face, and the thrilling 'Fossil of a Man' 13c arete. It's a really cool feature that's worth a day - but I would highly recommend going with a friend who knows the way.
We also had a look at the Blank Wall, or Sunset Alley - home to Joe Kinder's brand new 'Tiger Blood'. I enjoyed some long 5.12 warm ups, and thoroughly enjoyed onsighting the amazing 'Movin On Up' 5.13c - featuring a super bizarre overhanging chert ladder. I onsighted a rad 13b called 'Pig Face' on some rifle-esc white limestone, and finished the day epicing on a short and heinous little 13a.. name unknown? I also jumped on 'Tiger Blood' to get a taste. It begins with a tough little 12a, to a mega rest, and then fires abruptly into a savage boulder problem on gnarly little holds.. there is a shake in the middle, and the top exhibits more bullet rock and a few more burly moves. It'll be worth some effort if I have time to get back to it. Nice job Joey!!
Good luck to everyone in SCS Nationals today! I would not want to be competing with the women's field.. some crazy strong ladies are psyched and fit to dominate.