Sore all over this morning, and I was loathe to get out of bed what felt like barely after I’d just climbed in. But the weekend down at the Red River Gorge in Kentucky was a blast, and worth all the little scrapes I’ve sustained on my hands. It was by far the best climbing weather I’ve had too – nice and warm during the day, but not scorching-ly so, and cool enough at night that I was snug in my 10-degree F bag. It was the Red River Gorge’s Climbers’ Reunion or something this weekend too, so there were quite a fair number of people around. Including our group of 7, we met up with more random groups of people from Chicago that we sometimes climb with or see at the gym. One thing I love about climbing is the sense of community – the Red’s touted to have one of the best sport climbs in North America, so most climbers in the Midwest (and all the way from Canada!) make the trek there pretty regularly. Since almost everyone camps out at Miguel’s, where they serve really delicious baked rice and pizza, and breakfasts at this diner down the road, you start to recognize faces. Or even if you don’t, you just start randomly talking to the people sitting next to you anyway because you already have a common topic to talk about. And as there’s nowhere else really to hang out in the evenings, people mingle around, trading hair-raising climbing stories – tales of 20-foot whippers are always popular, heh.
Route-wise, I climbed a fair number of routes – 8 on Saturday and 6 on Sunday, including 2 routes which I led and 3 routes which I cleaned. I always break out into sweat when cleaning. Doesn’t help that I hear all these stories about people falling to their deaths while cleaning because either they fail to tie in properly or their belayers mistakenly take them off belay. In a way, I guess leading is safer because if you make a mistake, you just fall to the next draw assuming your belayer’s paying attention. But I was more than happy to have Claus, Michael and Pauline set up the routes and then try clean them afterwards… As Pauline said, I have to work on my head. The thought of ripping through the air just turns my legs to jelly though I know technically speaking, I should have no difficulty setting up routes that are a notch or two below my climbing level.
I have to say though, while I’m happy for her that she’s graduating and moving to the west coast, I’ll really miss climbing with Pauline. It’s not everyday that you get to find an awesome climbing buddy to climb with regularly, especially one who is climbing and progressing at the same level and pace. But I guess the upshot will be that I’ll have another additional place to go to climb next year – maybe we could finally pull off our much anticipated wine-and-climb trip!
It might be time for me to look into buying my own rope and gear too…