About two months ago I went on a bouldering trip with Jake List and Aaron Nietzel to Horseshoe Canyon Ranch, in Jasper, Arkansas. Jake and I had both been there a couple years previous. We had had an excellent time and were looking forward to going back. Leading up to our trip we had some superb climbing weather in New England. Not only were we blessed with this great weather, but we were also all pysched. We all managed to climb Spectacle Illusion (V11) in Groton, NH and I climbed two V12's (a grade I hadn't done before this fall) in the couple months prior to leaving.
Our Can Sauce - December in the Ozarks - Brian Bittner
Since our last visit to HCR a couple of years ago I had wanted to go back to do Chunk Up The Deuce (V12) and try Loved By Few, Hated By Many (V12/13). I told myself if I was able to do Chunk and a couple other hard problems during the trip I would be happy. However, if Loved By Few was the only problem I did in the three weeks we were there, I would be even happier. It had been a couple of years and fortunate for us, we had gotten stronger than we realized.
In just four days of climbing Jake and I both had completed Loved By Few, Hated By Many (V12 for us), Chunk Up The Deuce (V12), and One Inch Pinch (V12). The rest of the trip went well. We ticked off a number of other problems through a mix of good and bad weather. Jake was able to add a significantly harder start to Bloody Knuckles and Aaron came agonizingly close on Anti-Hero. Just as important as the climbs we did, was the fun time we had. Between horse poo fights, jumping in the freezing cold pool at night, hanging with fun guys and doing that other thing involving horse poo in a paper bag on a porch which we will not admit to, it was a pretty well-rounded trip.
Towards the end, my shoulder was beginning to ache a bit and I was ready to head home. Next time around I plan to spend more time strengthening my shoulder and climbing more often leading up to the trip. That said, it felt great to come back after not climbing for a few months and see such large improvements in a sport I've been doing for over half my life. Stay strong, but more importantly, stay healthy!