Well, my spring break came and went just like any other year, and I’d have to say it was definitely one of the better ones. After three days of playing extreme catch-up at school because of nationals, I was so psyched for a solid ten days of climbing at one of my favorite places in the world: the Red River Gorge. Given that bouldering season had just ended for me, the red was pretty much the perfect place to go to get myself motivated, as well as somewhat in shape for the next few months of sport climbing. I couldn’t wait to fly down that Friday and get back to Miguel’s again for some great climbing in good temperatures. Unfortunately, I didn’t fly out that Friday night. Because the weather in the Northeast can’t seem to get it together this year, what with the hurricanes and 60 degree days in January, we ended up getting a few inches of snow on the first day of my “spring” break (ironic, huh?). As a result, they had to cancel my flight out, but they put me on another one that left the next morning, so I flew in to Louisville and met my friend Katie there, and finally got down to the red around mid-afternoon that Saturday.
The weather when I got down to Miguel’s Pizza and Climb Shop was absolutely perfect. It was about 55 degrees and sunny at 4 pm, and despite needing food and to set up camp, I was really tempted to go out and try and bum a ride to some crag (I didn’t care which). I restrained myself though, and hung out with Katie at the shop as the other climbers started to trickle back in from the crags. Apparently I was right and the weather made for a great climbing day, given that my friends Kai and Jon both sent their first 5.14s that day (Kai sent Omaha Beach at age 13 and Jon sent God’s Own Stone at age 10, making them both some of the youngest little crushers to send 5.14!) and Five Ten athlete Michaela Kiersch also made serious progress on Omaha. That night I worked out some plans to go climbing with my friend Marcus and a few of his buddies from school, and then went back to my tent and just barely managed to get to sleep.
We got a late start the next morning, which worked great because of daylight saving’s time. It would start to get warm out during the late morning, and then stay nice out until 6:30 or 7 pm. We headed out around 11 am, and decided to go to a crag in the Sore Heel area of the red called Purgatory. We ran into the Hörst family there, and decided to get on a classic route called Paradise Lost (5.13a). Paradise is probably one of the best routes to get on immediately after training for bouldering for the last several months. It is basically two hard, extremely fun boulder problems separated by a no-hands rest. I had tried it once or twice over the summer, but it was in 103-degree heat and made I absolutely no progress on it then. This time however, I got on it when there was actually friction, and on my first run on it, I managed to get above the last bolt! I was pretty surprised, especially when I sent the route in only two more tries. I was just trying to get in decent shape from the trip- I had absolutely no expectations for sending anything hard while I was there.
Our next couple of climbing days, my friends Sam, Lisa and I went to the Motherlode, where I began working on a climb called Cut Throat (5.13b). It’s a really cool climb, with a bouldery beginning to sustained, fun climbing after. I felt good on the route, especially once I found better beta for the beginning section, but due to being exhausted and cold, I had no luck. Our next day was supposed to be gorgeous- 60 degrees, sunny, the whole deal. We drove out to Drive-By, however, and it became pretty obvious that the weatherman screwed up. It was cold and cloudy, and not particularly inspiring. However, my friend Lisa convinced me that I should get on this line called Easy Rider, even though it’s super long. She was right; the line is long, but it’s made up of a few boulder problems spaced out with huge rests in between. It was a great climb, and I managed to send it second try, which made it the fastest that I’ve sent a 5.13! I was really psyched for that.
The next day, for some reason, turned out to be gorgeous- 60 and sunny. Looks like the weatherman was half right after all. We went to the Chocolate Factory, where we all did some moderates, and then got on a bouldery 5.12c called the Dainty Butterfly. I managed to flash it, and then considered going down to the lode to put in a burn on Cut Throat, but I was just too trashed from so much climbing. Unfortunately it rained on our last day, but I had a really good trip overall, so I wasn’t too disappointed. Until then, back to training and comps…who knows, maybe a bit more endurance would be pretty helpful down there. Hopefully I’ll be back soon to try and finish that route up. Once again, a huge thanks to anyone who gave me a ride or catch last week, as well as to 5.10 for their amazing shoes and support! My dragons are the best shoes out there for that awesome kind of steep climbing.