I’ve been in Rifle, Colorado for the past two weeks(ish). It was a spur of the moment thing. Joe Gifford found out that Owen Graham, Kyle Francis, and Brendan Mitchell were going to Rifle after nationals, so we decided to meet them up there. After clearing everything with our parents Joe and I left for Rifle. Since we really didn’t have any plans we were missing all the camping essentials such as a tent or cooking stuff. Luckily I have a huge family network in Denver which was on the way and they were happy to help out. So we set off on our 1300 mile drive.
I think we made good time, but I’m not sure how long it should take since I have never driven that far before. After visiting family and picking up camping stuff we met up with the Rifle crew. I was excited because not only was this the first time I have been to Rifle since I was eleven, this was the first time I got to climb with these guys outside a comp.
The first day Brendan and I climbed in the Arsenal and everyone else went to Zulu. I found out that I was unaccustomed to climbing on limestone. It takes me a couple days to trust my feet due to the polish factor. Even with my fear of poping off everything I ended up flashing Pump-O-Rama which a great climb. I also got on Spray-A-Thon which is also a dope climb. However I didn’t end up sending until the second day. After climbing on sandstone and at the Red Rifle is a huge change. The Red is simple climbing. Pull a bunch of similar moves and hope you’re not too pumped to clip the chains. Rifle is way more gymnastic. None of the holds pull down wards and body position is key. This kind of climbing is super fun.
I ended up meeting up with Jimmy Webb and he told me a bunch of good climbs to get on one of which was Lungfish. I got on Lungfish and was shut down. He made it sound way easier that it was. I guess there is a reason it is 5.14b. We also talked about stuff back in the Tennessee area. He was getting me psyched to get back to where I just came from.
Anyway, back to Rifle. One of the best climbs I did was Huge. It is a great route with cool movement and great flow. It has two cruxes, a low and a high. I thought the low was the harder of the two, but the high could definitely spit you off. Huge is also my fist 5.13d. It may be soft, but I’ll take it.
Joe was super psyched on Zulu and spent most of his time on it. I say it was time well spent because after falling on the last crux a couple times he sent the thing. He got me psyched on it, so I started working on it. At first I wasn’t sure about it, but the more I tried it the better it got. I took a solid six goes before I had the beta wired after which I started putting out send burns. After falling on the first crux more times than I want to count I finally got past it. I was so excited that I skipped a bump hold I normally go to and blew off. I felt like an idiot. But I got back on it ready to send. Then I blew off the top crux. The day was coming to an end and my body was sore to the bones, but I decided to give it one last burn just for fun. I was shocked when I got past the low crux. After resting roughly forever I kept on climbing. I pulled the middle crux and made it to the last rest just before the chains. I didn’t waste any time. Got a few shakes in and fired to the top. My hand hit the chains just before I grabbed to finishing jug, the most satisfying sound I have ever heard. After five days of work I sent my first 5.14, the hardest send of my life.
On our last day I decided to get on Fluff boy on my uncles advice. I fell a lot on my first run, but figured out most of the beta. My second run was much better and I sent on my third go. I definitely suggest this problem. As the day was coming to a close I jumped on The Crew just to try it out. I pulled all the moves which are all amazing, but it is for sure a step up from Zulu. I think I could send, but it will have to be next trip.
P.S. We never took any photos of us climbing, we posed for a couple just before leaving for blogging purposes.