Sunday, October 28, 2012

backyard crag

While Eric is back on the road and doing sweet things like climbing Devil's Tower in Wyoming and living at The Red in Kentucky, I'm back in a chair at a desk. Fortunately, I've taken full advantage of autumn in the Appalachians by biking, hiking and climbing through this most perfect of seasons. The air is cool and dry, the leaves absolutely explode with color and energy is in the air. One of the best parts has been the discovery of my own personal outdoor training gym. My neighbor, a very cool man by the name of George, has a set of boulders in his backyard that possess a number of pretty fun boulder problems. They don't sport the classic quality of routes up at Coopers Rock, but for being 100 feet from my door it's surprisingly good. George is a traveler and a doctor. He's been all over working with Doctors Without Borders as well as other NGOs. Currently, he's in Syria doing medical work - I can't imagine leaving the tranquil fall in West Virginia for war-torn Syria, but I have great respect for him. He's also a climber - he drilled a bolt into the top of a large boulder right off his back deck so he can self-belay and top rope it. He's really enjoyed my eye for spotting boulder problems that he never would have contemplated.

my backyard - fall in wv
Currently, I've sent eight fun routes and have eyed up a few more that are way above my ability - but it's something to work towards. My best accomplishment was finally topping out a highball problem that took me three weeks to figure out. I'll consider it my greatest and only true first ascent - I was extremely stoked to send it clean. It's definitely made me stronger and has improved my technique quite well. Now that the leaves are off the trees, the relentless overcast and grim forests look like they are ready to succumb to the cold grip of winter. With a few great weekends remaining, climbing season will come to a close, save the occasional 60 degree winter day we always have in the Mid-Atlantic. With one last big trip to the Red planned for mid November, I'm crushing as much as I can at my backyard crag to stay strong for next spring.

Here's the sequence for the highball that took my several weeks to get beta dialed in:

Mike McDonald on a nice face climb:

Monday, October 8, 2012

ropetrip reboot

Like Mitt Romney's campaign, the ropetrip got a little stale. So what do you do when what you're doing isn't working? You say you're gonna reboot it and be magically given a fresh slate. Now while I didn't throw 47% of you under the bus, I neglected to keep up on what's going on post-trip. Part of the reason we came home is because we really love fall in West Virginia. What we still believe is the best sandstone in the country at the Red River Gorge in Kentucky and the New River Gorge in West-by-God is mere hours away. We also have some pretty decent bouldering at Coopers Rock State Forest and some secret local spots that remain low-impact. My neighbor has a rather cool set of boulders right behind his house, and has given me free reign over developing whatever I want to. So far I've eyed up 6 or 7 decent routes that make this place my own personal outdoor training gym. Eric is back on the road, visiting a friend in Kansas then heading down to post up at the Red in Kentucky. While he's down there, some friends from Motown are going to join me for a 4-5 day trip. This weekend we're hitting the New again, and get to take whips on a brand spankin' new Sterling Rope. So while we're not exploring new territory, we're soaking up the best of what our favorite season has to offer in the always-inviting Appalachians.