Wednesday, 6 November 2013

RRG - Rad River Gorge

Well, work has been fairly manic since I got home so time to write bloggage has been limited – running to stand still would be an appropriate analogy for the first 10 days after i got home, but becoming single last week has given me some more free time...

Alex “kranko-the-klown” Barrows and I flew out to Kentucky and met Eddie and John there. I was full of chesty cough and recently prescribed antibiotics; not the most auspicious start to the trip, but after 5 hours of driving in our “Snoop-dawg” style white SUV we found our accommodation and crashed out. 

The home for a fortnight - Lago Linda's bunk-house - recommended
Kranko the klown
Our first day took us to Drive-By crag; temperatures were surprisingly warm for what the local climbers call the normally cooler month of “Send-tober” with 28° C and 90% humidity. After a 3 month lay-off John struggled with 12a/7a+’s and I got on the supposed soft touch 13b/8a “Dirty Smelly Hippies”.  A slopey, greasy crux felt far from soft in the sweaty conditions, but it was heartening to finish it off on my second go; things weren’t looking too shabby for the first day. (Naturally Alex and Eddie casually flashed where John and I had failed and flailed).

Thus begun a run of nearly-but-not-quite on-sight efforts, and skin-of-the-teeth 2nd go 13a/7c+ redpoints.  After a week of this, a double rest day was had to coincide with the Roctober festival and the busiest crags any of us had ever seen.

Feeling fresher from all the sitting around and playing basketball I had my closest encounter with a 13a/7c+ on-sight at The Darkside. “The Force” is slightly more bouldery than a typical RRG stamina fest, having a few tough moves low down on pockets before a more typical keep-on-trucking finish. My own effort ended oh so close to the chains, with a sting-in-the-tail (English 5c!?!) move spitting me off with forearm stamina gauge pointing at empty.

John low down on The Force, The Darkside.

Me on Elephant Man 13b/8a at The Darkside. I was too tired to finish off either of them that day - perfect excuse for a return trip!

In the dying days of the trip, a cold front came through and suddenly we started to appreciate why the RRG was known for its soft-touches. Come-back king John had gone from failing on 12a/7a+’s to doing Dirty Smelly Hippies second go in the crisper conditions. Alex and Eddie had both on-sighted 13c/8a+ and redpointed 8b+/14a in the massive amphitheatre of The Madness Cave, and I’d gotten stuck into a classic over-hanging arête called Kaleidoscope.

The day before we flew home I embarked on my first redpoint effort, only to be thwarted by a rogue patch of sunlight peaking through the trees and greasing up the crux scoop handhold. Last day jitters weren't helped by the free RedBull that had been given out during the Roctober fest; I had to go for a walk and give myself a stern talking to before trying again two hours later once the sun had finally relented.

Kaleidoscope - good line, eh?! (Errant patch of sunlight marks the crux - d'oh!)

Tired from the earlier effort and working the route the day before, I was now slapping where I should have been static, body sagging where the moves demanded body tension. Extra heel hooks and a dose of adrenaline from skipping a clip saw me through the crux and up to the chains to tick my third overseas 8a+.

Kranko-the-klown kranking the krux of Kaleidoscope (on-sight, 20min after my redpoint  for his 2nd 8a+ that day – lanky twat).

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