Thursday, March 29, 2012

This One's For the Bobcat

I found myself more centered last weekend at the New River Gorge than I was on my prior outing.  I was rested, and not so thirsting for beer as I am sometimes at the end of the week.  I felt simply glad to climb--not overly eager, and fretting over details.  This would be a good weekend.

Saturday morning at Endless Wall, Alex won our customary rock flip and started us on Discombobulated.  Apart from fingery holds at the second and third bolt, the difficulties were punctuated enough for the route to serve as a decent warm up.

Next came Aesthetica.  I was pleased with my flow, and lack of hesitation on the aesthetic long moves, but it wasn't enough to win the onsight.  I took a fall at the crux.  Then, high stepping to a two-finger pocket, I skipped the big hueco out left, and climbed the second half to the chains.  Alex flashed the route.

Winning the second rock flip, for Mig Squadron, Alex racked and hiked the starting layback flake to a good stance preceding a blank traverse.  He inspected the diminutive holds, committed, toes smedging on glints in the sandstone, but ultimately fell in a slight pendulum.  Second try, he negotiated the thin part to an awkward stance, high stepped, and gained a moderate dihedral to the finish.  Informed by Alex's ascent, I cruised the route.  How great to cruise 11a on gear.  The training must be working.

Monday, March 5, 2012

DC Tribute: Earth Treks Rockville

Climbers are keenly aware of the best places to live to support their life style.  There's Boulder in Colorado with it's many crags and 14'ners; Southern California with it's fair weather and sun-drenched granite; and Salt Lake City, UT with its backyard of desert walls.  However, beyond these obvious climbing centers, there are many unsung locales that harbor all of the basic ingredients, just on a smaller scale.  Some make up for that scale with other, less obvious ingredients--ingredients that combine in unexpected, yet fortuitous ways.  It's like arugula on pizza.  With a squeeze of lemon, and a compliment of prosciutto, you have an unexpected masterpiece.  That's DC.  Its vertical assets are modest, but the way they combine is exquisite.

This will be the first post of many that will identify and honor DC's finest ingredients.

1. Earth Trek's Rockville

When they opened the expansion this new year, I felt how I imagine you would feel if your company went public and you became a millionaire over night.    ET Rockville is now the largest climbing gym in the country, and 20% larger than the 2nd largest.  The expansion offers the Gnarwall, which overhangs as far as it is tall; the Death Star, a floating planet of a top-out boulder; the Reactor Wall, which looks is like climbing the outside of a cooling tower; 5 cracks (yes, I'm including the off-width curtain slot in the new birthday area); an upgraded work out room; and a yoga room.  The gym single-handedly quashed this military brat's impulse to move every few years.

Just a corner of the new gym.
Here's to the route-setters: to Skilla for his bounty of quality, flowing routes; to Dickey for his damning cruxes; and JK for finding ways to make large holds utterly useless.

Here's to the Roadies and Road instructors who would all have bright futures in alpinism given their predilection for suffering.  I'm with you, but enough plank already.

Here's to the staff who wear their calves on their forearms, and campus more naturally than they walk.

Here's to the kids on the climbing team who hike my projects mid adolescent hormonal spew of gossip, texts, and posturing; who remind me that I could barely do a pullup at that age; who make me wish I found climbing much, much earlier.

Here's to the members who make the place feel like a second home.  I'm constantly impressed by how hard you pull after a full day of keeping government secrets, and saving the world.  That's right.  I'm on to you.  I know you're all spooks.

Earth Treks Rockville