I have spent much time sitting and debating how to start this post, also what to leave in and leave out. After much thought and reflection into why post an online climbing blog I came to a decision. I write a climbing blog to share thoughts, experiences, and situations for other climbers to read about, and sometimes this offers new and different perspectives into climbing and topics surrounding it. This blog posting will be about some amazing climbing, making new friends, and riding a fine line between hanging my dirty laundry out and writing about a topic that many of us struggle with… Relationships and rock climbing.
Friday January 25 I woke up and saw a Jurassic shift in the weather. I had a T Wall trip planned for the following weekend to celebrate my 30th birthday instead of heading out of town. This new weather shift had me thinking I would just hang around Carrboro ( where I live ), gym climb and celebrate my birthday instead of going to Tennessee. The weather in Chattanooga, TN for the weekend of the 25 looked great. I took a few extra days off work so I could extend the trip, talked with Joy, and once I got the go ahead I took off for the T Wall with the plan of climbing Saturday through Monday.
All day Friday North Carolina was slammed with an ice storm that caused the most severe road conditions I have seen since living in NC. This seems like a perfect time to venture out for a 7 hour drive to TN, especially since the blower motor that runs the heat in my car is currently broken ( said no one ever ). This was one of those times I really had to look into myself and figure out how much I love rock climbing. It had to be a whole lot to get me to sign up for no heat, 25 degree temps, looking through a peep hole in the ice on my front windshield, and a 7 hour game of slip and slide on the freeway. The drive turned from 7 hours to about 9 putting me in Chattanooga at about 1:30 a.m. Saturday morning. I had to be up at 7 a.m. to get ready to meet my partners to go climb, this sleep deprivation just adds to the experience.
I met Eddie and Clowie at whole foods in Chattanooga at 8 a.m. Saturday morning, we decided to go to Little River Canyon in Alabama to get on some steep overhanging sandstone that would no doubt be dry, the idea was to give the T Wall a day to dry out. Listening to Eddie tell me stories about this steep over hanging sandstone paradise for the hour drive south had me shaking with excitement. We climbed at the Grey Wall all day with some great local climbers from the area. The climbing was steep, with long moves, endurance oriented, and awesome! I was immediately drawn to a line up the steepest part of the wall Called ” Rumble ” 5.12B or C? I have been doing a lot of bouldering lately trying to build strength to climb harder routes. I was able to feel that right away as I attempted to onsight “Rumble ” Every move felt controllable, however there was fire building up in my forearms that was causing my hands to open no matter how big the holds. After doing a little hanging and blowing the onsight I clipped the anchors and felt I had the beta to send the route and should be able to link it all together next try.
I took a break for 30 minutes and tried the route again. I was able to cruise through about 3/4 of the route and I felt very in control, until I got a sequence that I addressed wrong and hit a really bad hold that took everything I had in me just hold onto long enough to switch my hands and feet around to attempt to fix this error. I was able to back out of it correct it and clip, however, in doing this I became so much pumped I fell on the next move blowing the send. This route was a great reality check for me of what I need to train and with out a doubt had me feeling really nervous about having the endurance to send a route I had been dreaming of at the T Wall the next day.
” Mrs. Socrates ” 5.12- at the T Wall is a southern sandstone gem that had my full attention. Eddie myself and Clowie arrived at the T Wall early Sunday morning to cold temps and dry stone. Eddie told me about a great warm up I was very interested in doing. ” Stepping Stone ” 5.10- is about as classic as it gets for the grade, If you climb in the 5.10 grade it is a must do! A low crux leads to an amazing 100 foot pitch with exposed movement up a beautiful sandstone arete. My muscles felt surprisingly well given the previous day. I felt limber, strong, hydrated, and ready to attack ” Mrs. Socrates ” head on with my try hard face, physically that is. Mentally I was suffering from a little bit of friction that I felt on the phone the night before with my soon to be Ex-Fiance. I was able to conjure up enough positive though and good feelings to rack up and throw down the onsight attempt despite my less than par mental status.
I could locate the crux of ” Mrs. Socrates ” from the ground and was able to develop an attack plan. As I started up the climb I felt aggressive and powerful towards the movements I was being challenged with. I made my way through some easy sections right to to Crux of the beast set some gear and went. A hard lock off with some high feet brought me to a long move to a finger lock that led to a few jams right into a great rest. While resting I plugged a piece and stared up at the beautiful crack that loomed above me. I jammed my way up this sandstone splitter classic move after classic move setting perfect cams the whole way. As I was reaching the end of the crack I could feel the crack becoming more challenging and I knew I needed to skip trying to put a piece in and just punch it for the next rest section visible from where I was. I was about 5 feet about my last piece when I decided to punch it for a stretch of harder climbing and not worry about protection. Being as far away from the deck as I was falling a long ways on a great piece just did not have me that worried, plus blowing my onsight because I pumped out over protecting the climb was not on my to do list that day. I moved further and further above my piece pumping harder and harder move after move. I could feel the tunnel vision setting in the more I pumped up the crack and started misreading moves. I could barley hold on at this point, throwing for the final hold at the top of the crack caused all four points of contact connecting me to the rock to be removed. This part of my life is called falling on gear, I fell long enough to understand what was going as by the time I was just passing my piece. I also noticed that I was going to hit a tree before I stopped. I am happy that the branches I hit were small and did not really do any bodily damage.
After pulling my way back up to my piece and planning a re attack of the section that just shut me down I quickly found my way to the anchors. What an amazing climb, without a doubt one of the best 5.12s I have ever done. This near onsight attempt had me feeling much better than the humble pie I was eating the day before at LRG. I top roped the route shortly after to clean my gear and was able to send it straight trough without falling. I was coming back to the T Wall the next day with a different partner and knew if I got the chance to get back on ” Mrs. Socrates ” I could send it. Eddie myself and clowie made the best of a cold rainy ending to the day by finishing up on ” Finger Locking Good ” a great 5.10 Pitch. We left the T Wall cold, hungry, and in conquest of pizza. Eddie had just the local spot with a great Indy atmosphere and wonderful thin crust pizza.
The next day I met up with a Chattanooga local James Arnold who turned out to be a very knowledgeable and friendly partner. This made me happy because for any of you who have met up with a stranger off mountain project it can go the total opposite way. Mountain project is like the craigslist of climbing. Tons of creepers but every now and again you find something worth while. James and I spent the day talking and sharing stories about climbing all over the United States. He belayed me on a great warm up that set the pace for the day. ” Hidden Assets ” 5.10- provided a perfect warm up for me with perfect stone, a tree I was able to sling for pro, and the bullet hard standstone corner climbing we all have come to love at the T Wall. I quickly found myself standing under ” Mrs Socrates ” with the correct pieces hanging from my harness in a specific order on a specific side of my harness that would help ensure my success. I was able to control the movement up ” Mrs. Socrates ” with confidence as I quickly burnt through the crux and right up the crack that stole my onsight the day before. Sending this route was felt great as I was trying my hardest to not think about the conversation I had with my now Ex Fiance on the phone the night before. I was able to ignore the feelings long enough to onsight some more great T Wall lines, share some more stories with James, and enjoy the perfect weather.
I left Chattanooga Monday at 5 p.m., the whole drive back to NC I reflected on the now single nature of my relationship status. I though a lot about how hard climbing can be on a relationship. I am sure many of you out there can understand exactly what I am talking about. At the end of the day I think the decision that was made for me and mine to go separate ways was for the best. That’s all I am going to say about that. In the future when I meet women or have one interested in me ( god help them ) I just want to hang a sign around my neck that reads
YOU WANT NOTHING TO DO WITH ME
1. I leave all the time
2. I don’t like women who wear make up or dress like a member of society
3. I am obsessed with rocks
4. I live like a homeless man
5. I don’t like romantic comedy’s
Who could want to sign up for that? I mean really…
I love you all thanks for reading…