While I write this, thousands of files are being transferred in a rush as late payments skim the loan deadline; the dollars transferred determining admittance into my local community college. And, while I write this, new projects and searching for climbing fills my mind, pushing structured education out of thought. I am finding within my mixed lifestyle the best way to balance school and climbing is total devotion to each in its respect, denying any mixing between the two passions, the rigor and repetition of junior college courses being absolutely anathema to climbing’s electricity.
Winter Recess Climbing - Patrick Krieger
My hiatus from climbing ended without climax when I visited my home gym and realized all the pain I’ve been accustomed to was absent in my ring finger. After an easy day that weekend climbing at Mt. Gretna, I decided to enter The Brawl at New Jersey Rock Gym to wake up from my summer hibernation. I counted over half a year since I applied myself on a climbing wall, and my goal was set at entering finals. I ran into an old friend Brian Kim during qualifiers, and as fate played it he had set finals! I had been complacent with what I had sent up until then, although I had no guarantee that I would get in.
Driven, with the clock ticking down, I exerted my full effort in the shadow of my uncertainty and exhausted myself cleaning up my scorecard (which later turned out to be unnecessary). The stereo blew out under the carnage of a Skrillex song, leaving a packed gym silently looking on as I meekly eyed the final climb. I gave a heart-filled but depleted effort in which I overlooked a crucial crimp, falling to the pads barely halfway into the climb. The crowd had lost morale along with the music, and no valiant effort from my competitors even stirred a yawn. I managed a small round of laughter after telling the crowd I was pumped, retired behind the judges panel to thank my friend Brian, and proceeded to rally and cheer for my competitors. Andrew Kim, fellow FiveTen athlete, stole the competition with effortless onsights of all three problems!
I couldn’t imagine such a good turnout in my return! It only promoted a good outlook on climbing to reinvigorate my want to develop boulders. Me and Catherine have been pit crewing for my friend Ted’s Formula 500 team Rudolph Racing (www.f500challenge.com , and of course have slapped a 5.10 sticker on his car), and before working on his car this weekend we took a short trip to his backyard climbing area. Before the days of modern climbing gyms, Ted would go there with friends to whet his climbing against stout overhangs made of mica-schist. After touring routes with names displaying fealty to Duran Duran, he led me to what he earlier described as “…a small cave, maybe considerable for a highball boulder problem”. This, my friends was an understatement.
The cave in question turned out to be deadly overhanging. It was about fifty feet wide and topped at twenty-five, formed out of a hillside and over a boulder sloped down to the road. It held few established lines, but an amazing link up potential with what I could only describe in terms of cruxes of three boulder problems: The technical start of Flower Power in Hueco, into a stabbing iron cross a la King Lion in Arkansas, into the roof crimps of the Gunks’s Further into the Forbidden Forest. If followed straight out the roof it would end in a stout crack with large flakes, but the theoretical ascendant could work across the middle of the roof and finish on an overhang on the far left end of the boulder. Either line looked like candy to me, yet I dread the thought of one of the key crimps breaking. Unfortunately the roof took me by surprise and did not think to bring a camera! I will spy the line out again as soon as possible.
On a last note of development, I have recently been seeking out boulders in the far North of my state, and with the leaves down I plan to pursue a potential new area. I have managed few ascents, but am proud of what I have done, and will gladly post pictures if I stumble upon the motherlode! Included are a few pictures of a local cache of boulders.