Every year I am lucky enough to get to do a tour of some of the greatest climbing in North America as I make the trek from Texas to Kentucky to visit family for the holidays. I make a point to take extra time off of work so I can climb at some of my favorite destinations, mostly around Chattanooga. 2013 has been a rough year for me climbing-wise. I started the year off great by sending my first V5 outside (Zen, Roger's Park, Belton, TX) but soon after I ruptured a pulley in my left hand leaving me unable to climb for FIVE MONTHS! I only started climbing again last August, so when my annual winter trip rolled around, I was really unsure how it would go.
Great Things Happen, When You Don't Expect - Adam Leedy
Since I recovered from the injury and started climbing again, I've been really frustrated by how slowly I've been coming back. I went into my winter trip planning to just have fun climbing moderates and building fitness. I didn't even leave home with a tick list.
The trip started off really fun. In spite of some bad weather, I was able to hook up with my old friend and climbing partner Cliff for some sport climbing at the Obed. I haven't been sport climbing at all this year, but it was a blast to get on some tall steep climbs and get pumped out of my brain with one of my best friends.
After a few days off for family time, I headed back to the Obed. This time to go bouldering at Lilly Boulders. I've always wanted to go there, and I figured that since I had no tick list on this trip, I should use the time to explore new areas. Lilly was AWESOME! I only got in one day of climbing there due to rain, but the problems I did were fantastic. I also surprised myself by onsighting the classic V4 Hemlock Arete and sending two V5's there, Slam Dunk and Obedia. Obedia was one of the coolest boulder problems I've done. 20 feet of horizontal climbing barely three feet off the ground to big jugs out an arete. I highly recommend it. At the end of that day my psyche was through the roof. I wasn't expecting to send any 5s on this trip, much less two in one day.
In an attempt to further explore some new terrain, I spent the following three days at Rocktown, GA. Wow is that place amazing! Steep sandstone jugs are the name of the game there and most of the problems have super challenging slopey mantle top-outs. The rock is beautiful and the movement spectacular. While there I decided to have a feel of Sherman Photo Route (V7) just because it is a very famous problem at Rocktown. Sherman Photo is an awesome problem but some of the thin holds were causing me finger pain and I knew it was a bit over my head in terms of difficulty. I now have a solid goal for next years trip! I settled in and started working Nose Candy (V6) which is directly left of Sherman Photo. It is a very different problem starting with a couple of big jugs and moving into several moves on slopey crimps to a final BIG move to the lip. I worked out the beta pretty quickly buy was wasn't able to send it that day.
The next day, on my third day on, and the day before my planned rest day, I decided to take it easy and tick off a bunch of four star V2-V4s. This really got me stoked. The only thing better than sending a bunch of classic problems, is sending your project. In my super stoked mindset, I walked by Nose Candy and decided I should give it a go or two. I watched a guy do the problem with slightly different beta to do the big move at the end (where I kept falling). He was using a smaller, more painful full crimp about six inches left of the really nice edge I was using. I tried this once but the tiny crimp just felt soooooo painful. After trying my original sequence a few more times to no avail, I decided to actually try his beta. Pulling onto that teeny tiny crimp and lunging off of it hurt A LOT but I stuck the move first try. So it came down to me just committing to the pain for a brief moment to do the move.
So I sat down, mentally committed to suffering the pain for just the short moment it would take to do the move, said outloud to myself "okay Adam, just actually try this time", and pulled on. Several moves later I was at the top of my FIRST V6! I couldn't believe it!
I finished off the day by getting on Golden Showers (V5) which is considered to be the best problem at Rocktown by most people. It was beautiful and I was able to dispatch it smoothly second go. WOW! I left Austin thinking I'd be climbing V4 for two weeks, and somehow in one day I sent my first V6 and a super classic V5. This was AMAZING!
After a rest day I spent the last two days of my trip at Little Rock City, also known as Stone Fort. Day one was great fun with an onsight of Art of the Vogi (V4) and several other multi-star problems. Day 2 proved to be an awesome day as well. I started the morning by finally shutting down Super Mario. Mario is a super classic V4 that spit me off time and time again last year. I never sent it on my last trip, which was pretty frustrating. This time around I sent it first go while I was still warming up. Honestly, at this point, I could have gone back to Texas happy. First V6. Several V4 onsights. Several V5s. It had been so much more productive than I ever expected.
Then I ran into my friends Tyler and Geordan from Austin. They were headed to "Face In the Crowd" which is a very classic V7. I thought V7 was out of my league but figuring I was pretty happy with my trip, I decided there was no better way to finish it than by spending some time on something legitimately hard. We got some beta from a couple of other guys and Tyler and Geordan dispatched it quickly. I gave it several goes and worked out every move but I was unable to link it. So we moved on.
Two hours later, we were hiking out and I decided I should give Face in the Crowd one final shot before saying goodbye to my beloved southern sandstone to return to Texas. After several attempts, I was frustrated and tired and wanted to give up but Tyler, being the psyche machine that he is, kept me going. He wanted me to send it more than I wanted to, I think. Finally, it was late, and I sat down to take off my shoes. As Tyler and Geordan exited the cave something weird happened. I don't know what exactly, but something shifted in my mind. I had to try ONE LAST TIME. I let them walk away. Maybe I just needed some alone time with this problem? I don't know. But I pulled on and as I latched the pinch on the second move, I knew it was over. I had never felt that smooth on the opening moves before. If I didn't send it this time, I just wasn't meant to. The next move was the crux for me. Releasing a very spread out left foot. I ALWAYS fell trying to move it. I let out a primal roar as I moved my left toe on to the next hold. Something about that roar just made it happen. Maybe it tightened my core just enough? Maybe it just came out because I was actually trying for once.
I WAS GOING TO SEND! I kept my cool. I executed the last few moves with beautiful perfection and celebrated victoriously at the top of my FIRST V7! I looked down to see that Tyler had snuck back into the cave when he heard me trying hard and got to witness the send.
This trip was amazing. After five months of injury, and months of feeling frustrated due to slow recovery, I managed to send my first V6 AND my first V7 within the same week! It's amazing how sometimes when you least expect it great things can happen.
I can't thank Tyler enough for keeping me motivated to send this rig when my psyche was waining. It was an awesome experience and I can't wait to see what 2014 has in store for me this year!