Thursday I made the five and a half hour drive back to Fayettville WV to spend another weekend in the New River Gorge. During my last trip, I was gifted with low temps and low humidity. This trip was the quite the opposite. June 21st was the summer solstice and conditions reflected it.
We got into Fayettville late on Thursday, had some dinner and decided to make a plan for Friday. The forecast looked grim with rain in the afternoon and highs in the 90’s. Our plan would be to spend the day at Summersville lake. Its been awhile since I had been to the lake as its 20min outside of the gorge and gets crowded during the weekends. Rightfully so, the lake boasts climbing of all grades 5.9 - 5.14b not to mention the fact that while in the coliseum, you can climb all day in the shade and take a swim when things start to get too hot. Its a beautiful place to climb.
We lucked out being that it was a friday morning the crowds had not descended onto Summersville yet. We shared the entire crag with a handful of climbers and found ourselves spending most of the day completely alone. After the mid-day summer storm rolled through we were literally the only climbers in the entire place. In 15years that is a first at Summersville. We hammered out 11 or 12 pitches that day including classics like Apollo Read, World at War and many others.
World at War is one of my favorites at the lake. Its vertical with a very bouldery crux around the 3rd or 4th bolt. A big move will get you to some jugs and fun climbing to the top. It is directly next to two other great climbs, under the milky way to the left and another 11ish climb to the right that is just as fun to climb. All three are worthy of your time if ever you find yourself at the lake looking for something to do. We stayed late and hiked out that evening in the dark.
Saturday morning we woke to the news that Meinhold would be rolling back into town for another shot at sending Still Life. Still Life is a proud line that ascends the far right side of the coliseum. The climb is three separate boulder problems with a crux finishing move to gain access to the anchors. I had gotten on it the day before to work out my beta and it has two tough moves for me. The first is low at the third clip. You move off of two underclings that are good but have to reach big to a crimp bucket with your left hand. Its a move that I am not consistent on. I am at full extent to reach the left hand hold and its gonna be tough on red point to not slip up on that move. After that you have a crimpy, bouldery section of moderate climbing. V4ish climbing gains access to a rest jug and starts the business. From the jugs at the steepest part of the climb to the top is a v9ish boulder problem. It involves heel hooks, crimps and slopers and a shouldery move to a good edge. Its a great climb and we wanted to see it go down.
Instead of heel hooks and foot witchcraft, Stephen has some crazy tall guy dyno beta to the start of the v9 crux. I have never seen anyone try jumping to the sloper on still life before, subtleties like these is what makes climbing so cool plus it looks bad ass when he sticks it. He was so close to the send on saturday, coming as close as you can get, falling at the last bolt. Alas, no one walked away with the coveted send Saturday. Still life is one I will be looking forward to this fall when temps cool off.
Our last day in town Pat and I had a training day. We woke up early and started what was to be a 12 mile run. The run went up and down through the gorge and culminated with a series of 830+ steps up the side of the Kaymore mines. If anyone has been to the Kaymore mines they know what I am talking about. We stopped at butchers branch (Kaymore crag) and cleaned up 10 pitches of climbing and finished with the rest of the run from butchers branch to Pat’s house. From start to finish it took us roughly 5 hours at a moderate pace. On our way out of town we stopped for a swim and I decided to run two more pitches to even up at 12pitches, 12miles, a solid dozen. The goal being the bakers dozen, 13miles, 13pitches of 13+ climbing.