Amarillo by Mornin’
From Oklahoma City, we traversed some uninspiring country that manifested my preconceptions of the state. I fell asleep, and woke to trim, dry grasslands and mesquite trees. Texas. My state of origin.
I continue to be surprised by the depth of culture in these places typically mistaken to be barren of flavor. The Amarillo Rock Climbing House is an island in a sea of cattle, with short walls, but great bouldering. The addition of a free-standing boulder in the center of the gym adds so much to the experience- the steep wall is awesome, and routes are set for enjoyability, with no shoratge of “thinker” problems on the more vertical walls. I had a desperate mental battle onsighting a vertical v3 that finished with a long reach to a bad undercling and zero feet on a plywood wall, topped of by a chuck to the top.
The demo was busy, one of the best. The gym has made an anchor and an incubator for a climbing scene up here in the Texas Panhandle, and the crew is positive and psyched. The owners, Ryan and Gentry, have created a community out of basically nothing: the percentage of climbers in that night who began climbing when the gym opened was incredible.. They really filled a space that needed filling.
Keeping with the pursuit of local flavor, we hit a steakhouse after closing up shop for the night, and put down 12 oz. sirloins, baked potatoes, and beer. I think they dropped the cow out back when we ordered.. The night topped off with a visit to an awesome little bar that has all the flavors and personalities of the Texas I remember as a teenager: tattoos, beer cheap and cold, cigarettes (inside the bar! amazing!), pool tables, rusty tin signs of yesteryear.
Properly fuzzed for sleep, we headed back to the gym and bedded down on the big pads, fans blowing cool all around. The morning dawned like a fried egg, and we grabbed breakfast and perfect coffee at an awesome coffee joint, the 806 coffee + lounge.. It was so cool, I bought a t-shirt.
We’ve just crossed into New Mexico, and mesquite has given way to juniper. The air has cooled, and I’m looking forward to roasted green chiles.