Sorry this post was so late- I’ve been away and trying to get pictures together for the post. Anyway, the summer’s really been flying by for me so far…I can’t believe it’s already almost August. I know people say this a lot, but it really does feel like the other day I was just leaving to go to the Red River Gorge in Kentucky. My summer plans always come together really last minute, so the way everything ended up happening was pretty normal to me. During the weekend of divisionals, I got a text from my friend Emily. Up until then, Emily, my friend Michaela Kiersch (also a Five Ten athlete), and I were planning on going to the red at some point during June, but weren’t really sure if it was going to happen. Then, during divisionals, Emily sent me that text, which said that we had a ride and the trip was a go…and we were leaving in three days! I was really psyched- I got home from the comp, and immediately started packing. That Wednesday morning, I flew into Chicago to meet up with Michaela and Emily for the night, and the next morning we started the seven hour drive to Kentucky. We made pretty good time on the drive, especially with the traffic, and got into Miguel’s pizza shop and climber campground around 9:30. We set up camp and ordered food, and after sitting in the car, not having eaten for a few hours, and not having been to the red in a year, that pizza was one of the best things I have ever eaten.
During the next few days, I fell into a pretty straightforward routine: get up pretty early, eat breakfast, pack up, then go climbing with Michaela, Emily, and a lot of the locals I got to know from being there for so long. We got on a lot of stuff, some at areas I’ve never been to and some at the Motherlode (the default crag for a lot of people at the red), which was fun and also really good training for nationals in July. The red is probably the best training ground in the country for nationals; the comp is usually held at Stone Summit in Atlanta, GA, where the routes are usually between 50 and 60 ft long. At the red, the routes range from 40 to 130 ft long, and are almost all at least slightly overhung. Basically, the perfect place to build endurance. Every year before the comp, I run into several kids I know from all across the country that are there to train for nationals. During that first week, I mostly got on 12s and tried to do them as quickly as possible. Some of the climbs I got on were Bettavul Pipeline (12a, flash), Far From God (12b, onsight), Resurrection (12c, 2nd try), Tuna Town (12d, 2nd try), Jesus Wept (12d, 2nd try), and Harvest, a 12d that I managed to flash. My friend Dru, a local, gave me great beta on it, and I was really psyched to flash it. Besides those, I got on 8 Ball, a hard 12d that my friend Katie was helping me with, and Convicted (13a). Both were really fun with great movement, and I really enjoyed working them. In addition, everyone was sending hard. Michaela crushed the Madness (13c) pretty quickly, Emily sent Check Your Grip (12a) on our first day, Dru ran up Skin Boat for his first 13, and Katie sent Snooker, a 13a.
After a week climbing with everyone, I met up with Team PRG from Philly to climb with them for a week and a half until nationals, then for a week after nationals. It was the same routine as before, just some new people- climbing most of the time and messing around on our rest days. We went to a swimming hole, tie-dyed shirts, and I made one of the worst decisions of my life and did the quart-of-coffee-cream challenge (I actually didn’t throw up!) I had a great time, and managed to send both Convicted and 8 Ball that week! I was really happy…I got Convicted first. I put in four burns on it my second day on, and then we came back the next morning and I sent my first go of the day! It even felt easy for me- I wasn’t pumped at all when I clipped the chains. 8 Ball was a little different…I felt like I was going to fall on every move for the last three or four bolts, especially at the last easy deadpoint to the massive clipping jug. Either way though, I sent and I was happy. Besides that, I wasn’t the only one climbing well…my friend Sol was walking almost everything he got on in the 13b range, Jesse managed to flash two 13s (Hoofmaker and 40 oz of Justice) in one day, Gabby and Leilani were both doing 12s pretty consistently, Jacob sent Blue-Eyed Honkey Jesus pretty quickly, Steve did The Force as his first 13, and Brooke sent Wild Yet Tasty and Check Your Grip (both 12a). Everyone was crushing by the time we packed up the vans and made the six hour drive to Atlanta.
Nationals did not go as well as I would have liked. I felt great in qualifiers, and was in a 14-way tie for first going into semis. Unfortunately my foot slipped in semis, which put me in 15th place and knocked me out of finals. I’m a little annoyed about it, but that slip will definitely be motivation for me to train hard for next nationals and bouldering season. Also, Jesse, Sol, and Michaela all qualified for the U.S. national team, and will be competing in Singapore at the IFSC Youth World Cup!
After nationals, we headed back to the red for a last week. It was basically the same as before. I managed to send the Force (13a), which was an old project of mine, and we also went and did No Place Like Home (11c), which is one of the most beautiful and picturesque routes I’ve ever been on. We drove home last Sunday, and I’m not sure what I’m doing for the rest of the summer. I’m sure it’ll work out well, and that trip to the red was some of the best time of my life. Thanks to everyone who made the trip possible, especially to Five Ten. Their shoes lasted the entire time down in Kentucky while I sent some of the hardest routes I’ve ever done, and the support is more than I could have hoped for.
Photos: Philadelphia Rock Gyms