Alex and I returned to the New River Gorge last weekend, this time attached to a crew of five experienced and talented climbers from the DC area. We arrived at the crag, Area 51, Saturday morning, and proceeded to dispatch more hard climbs than I've witnessed being climbed in such a short period. The company both daunted and inspired me.
There was one climb I thought stood above the rest. It was a perfect dihedral perched upon a massive overhang--a line called Replicant. The route caught Andre's eye too, and he went for it without delay. Past a thin and crumbly start, large whipper potential at the roof, and well into the smooth corner and tips crack crux, Andre took a fall. Undetterred, he finished the line, rested, then quickly red pointed.
The leftward traverse to gain the hanging corner looked dicey. Your last protection is well behind, and below you, and the thirty foot ride would have you swinging backwards, uncomfortably close to the rock. But having watched Andre, and ruminating on it, I thought I just might be able to piece it together.
I climbed in a state of total focus, and stole every possible stance where I could regain strength. Safely beyond the roof, I entered the crux dihedral, but I couldn't get my finger tips to dig into the pencil-width crack. I edged on that damning feedback loop where you pull harder on the muscles that are losing feeling, but then eased my grip, and transferred weight to my feet. The stream of blood in my forearms trickled back to life. I'd have but a moment once my forearms recovered to finish the section before my toes gave out. I leaned to the right on my finger tips, stepped up, and smeared hard on the left wall with my right foot, then the left. Jamming my right shoulder into the wall, I stabilized, removed both hands from the crack, reset them higher, and pulled to a bridged stance. Gradually the crack opened to accept more of my hand. Gradually it dawned on me that I would pull this off. What a great feeling.
Here's a photosynth with the photos I took of Andre's on-sight go. It captures the first half of the climb up to the roof.