Summer solstice this year was quite unseasonable, although that might not have been the perfect word to describe it, given the near certainty of unpredictable weather here in Chicago. Nonetheless, what was supposed to be the first day of summer turned out quite cool, and a little wet. That worked out quite well for our plans actually. Eight of us drove down in two cars to Kentucky last Friday evening, for another much anticipated trip to the Red. Jeff and I rode in Julian and Sandra’s car, and we whiled the drive away with road trip games such as Smart Ass, What One Could Bring to the Moon, and the Spelling Game. In between, we refueled both the car and our stomach – the car with expensive gas, and our bellies with cheap but delicious diner grub from Waffle House.
We arrived at the cabin within minutes of Chuck’s entourage, a delightfully cozy wood cabin set in a quiet bit of forest with an attic, rock holds on one wall, and carabiners for hooks and hangers. We were immediately completely taken with the cabin (except for the minor detail that everyone had to share the one bathroom), and even more enthused when we realized that the climbing routes were literally just outside. No more hiking down steep graveled slopes and bushwhacking through bushes and cobwebs to find the routes ala Muir Valley.
In the morning, after a bit of a lie in, we eagerly trooped out to the wall where we proceeded to set up some routes: Dream of a Bee (5.8/5.8+; I wanted to lead it but got sketched out by the long run out from the last draw to the anchor), Cordelia (5.8/5.8+; I led it first before top roping it again to clean it), Wadcutter (5.9+/5.10a; the start was hard), Bandolier (5.11a/++; I didn’t even attempt this one, preferring to save my strength for something else that I might have more success in; Sandra’s next project to lead!), Reanimator (5.10b; I loved the start on this one since it looked super cool and much harder than it really was; was super impressed with Julian’s lead on this one), and Tourist Trap (5.9/5.9+; Sandra and Eugene led this one, and I was super tempted to try lead it too).
Chuck warming up on Cordelia
Eugene leading Wadcutter
Miguel attempting his first trad
Dave making short work of Bandolier
Sandra making the scary traverse on Tourist Trap
I loved the start of Reanimator
That evening, half of us made a run out to Miguel’s to get food (mmm, baked rice!) which we brought back to the cabin and hungrily wolfed down with lots of alcohol. Thanks to a certain Julian V.S., many of us sustained hangovers the next morning…
Our scary stash of alky
I felt pretty sore the next day, but psyched myself up to attempt the lead for Tourist Trap. Super glad I did it, although I essentially bypassed the first crux – a terrifying (on lead) traverse out to the arête). I only did one other climb Sunday, Rest Assured (5.10a; super fun and I want to lead it the next time I go out). Everyone was in good spirits too, having done some really cool ones: Lida and Jeff were super stoked by Rest Assured; Eugene brought Miguel out on a two pitch trad route at the Fortress; Julian climbed Bare Metal Teen (5.12a) on top rope; Sandra had a brilliant lead on Poopy Head (5.10c, scary lead with long run outs between each bolt); and Chuck gave his first real enthusiastic two thumbs up also on Poopy Head.
Emboldened by Dave’s long stick clip, I led Tourist Trap
Jeff was super happy at completing the fun Rest Assured
Sandra was inspirational on Poopy Head, a scary 5.10c
Finally, and reluctantly, we packed up and headed back to Miguel’s (more baked rice for me!) and a quick game of Trivia Pursuit (go team Mazda!), before we refueled up at Shell’s (more expensive gas for the car and delicious Mingua beef jerky for us folks). Played yet more car games on the return trip – the Alphabetical Country Game, and the Picnic Game (our list was up to 46 items!).
Great times, and looking forward to a reprisal (yes, I will definitely be back!).