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New River Gorge, Journeyman - Ben Spannuth

 
New River Gorge, Journeyman - Ben Spannuth
New River Gorge, Journeyman - Ben Spannuth
New River Gorge, Journeyman - Ben Spannuth
New River Gorge, Journeyman - Ben Spannuth
New River Gorge, Journeyman - Ben Spannuth
 
November 23, 2012 - 
 

The New River Gorge probably has the most palpable climbing history of any area I’ve been to in the US.  I haven’t been to Smith but more so than most areas the NRG is littered with routes put up before I had started climbing and even has several from before I was born.  Typically, this time period is known for its nails hard vertical and slightly overhanging routes, what I like to call slabs, but the NRG certainly has climbs of a wide variety of styles.  I’ve only seen a handful of the walls but each section of cliff seems to create a different type of hold and movement that almost makes you feel like you’re traveling to a new area and have to settle into its style.

The Meadow has the mega classic arete, Mango Tango, put up by Scott Franklin when I was a year old.  I’ve only made it out there one day but in my book it’s a must do.  It’s only been repeated a handful of times due to a powerful and technical section in the middle of the route that will take some figuring out.

At Summersville Lake inside the steep Colosseum Still Life and the Dihedral Project caught my eye.  Still Life is a classic that builds through amazing edges to a fantastic gaston boulder problem that I was very happy to finish off in a few tries this year after it felt impossible a few years ago.  The Dihedral Project branches off Porter Jarrard’s Apollo Reed fairly early on to give some independent climbing before going through the largest feature on the wall.  Since it was unclear which of three possible ways to tackle the dihedral would go the equipper, Brian McCray in 1997?, didn’t put in anchors.  After figuring out a way I thought would work for me I added some chains thanks to NRAC and punched through the finicky boulder on what's now Journeyman.  It was a great learning process of finding the easiest method though a cryptic section of rock with dozens of holds and multiple ways to climb it. Its difficulty and breakdown ended up being similar to that of Still Life.  More photos and video soon.

Beauty Mountain has a short and very slightly overhanging wall that is covered in amazing vertical edges and is home to Mike William’s unrepeated  Picket Fence.  Very few of the hand and foot holds on this route are downpulling which creates some incredibly interesting moves.  He put in some solid work and hooked me up with the perfect beta to finish it off without having to take its runout crux whip.

The Cirque is certainly the most stunning wall I’ve seen here and is part of the reason the New gets a "big holds, big moves" rap.  Here are few photos of Steve Hong “getting rad” (Jordon Griffler) on Proper Soul.

The walls and styles go on and on, but I’m not saying anything new...

"I think the New River Gorge, if it has not yet arrived there, will someday be the premier sport climbing area in the country.  It will have more sport climbs, and extremely varied sport climbs, more so than any other area in the country." Doug Reed early 1990s

More from the New soon.

More photos at benspannuth.lt11.com

 

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