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Simply Read Remembered - Jen Vennon

Simply Read Remembered - Jen Vennon
February 26, 2012 - 

The photo issue of Rock and Ice will be landing in your mailboxes shortly. The photo issue is always my favorite and this year’s does not disappoint.

To my surprise there is a full-page, black and white, photo of me towards the end of the photo section. The caption says the photo was taken on Apocalypse in Rifle, CO. This particular shot however, was actually taken on Simply Read, the route two left of Apocalypse. I know this, because it’s a route I’ll never forget, a route that challenged me for two seasons before finally, and unexpectedly, coming together late in the summer of 2010.


Simply Read is a 5.13d with two distinct boulder problem cruxes. The first one starts the second you pull onto the rock. It ’s a powerful V8 boulder problem that culminated, for me, in an all out dyno off of miserable crimpers. I am not a boulderer and I’m more or less terrible at dynos. So this boulder problem gave me some trouble, to say the least. It didn’t help that every time I fell on the dyno I came crashing into my belayer who just barely kept me off the ground.

Above the first crux is a steep section of climbing followed by a knee-bar “rest”. The top crux is no joke and requires some very tricky body positions. For many this is the hardest part of the climb, but for me this part was significantly easier than the opening boulder problem.

I started working on Simply Read in the Fall of ’09 failed to send before the harshness of winter made climbing in Rifle impossible. That route tormented me all winter. I dreamt about day and night.

When spring came and the canyon thawed I jumped right back on Simply Read. I immediately realized that perhaps skiing all winter instead of climbing may not have been the way to go if I ever wanted to send this route.

By mid summer I’d managed to get the route dialed back in, but I could never stick the dyno at the end of the first crux. I also could never manage to one hang the route. I’d tried many times, but getting through the top crux pumped was proving more of a challenge than I’d expected.

Then one fateful day in August it all came together. My boyfriend was down canyon bolting a new route, so I had to find another belayer. Luckily there’s always someone at the project wall that’ll swap belays. I didn’t want to think about whether or not this guy was going to be able to simultaneously keep me from kicking him in the head and off the ground if I fell on the dyno. I’d taken that fall so many times with Andrew that it had almost stopped being scary. But with a new belayer, YIKES.

Perhaps that little extra bit of fear was just what I needed, because I climbed through the first crux and stuck the dyno for the first and only time. I knew that I may never get through those moves again, so I got really focused and managed to finish the route.

The photo in the new issue of Rock and Ice is a picture of me sticking that dyno. It was not taken on the send, but the photographer David Clifford, did an amazing job of capturing the moment when my face relaxed because I knew I wasn’t about to come crashing into the belayer.

It’s amazing how a photograph can bring back such vivid memories of a move I’ll never forget.


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