Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Final Trip

Last weekend I headed down to Horseshoe Canyone Ranch with the KURC for my fianl trip ever with these kids. It's a most giant bummer for myself to have to leave this club or rock crushing stone bandits, but apparently life has to move on.

We started the weekend on Thursday night with a Jeep full of kids who climb harder than me (the ego took a hit on that one) and partied hard until we reached HCR around 5:00 in the morning. From then we threw up some tents and slept until 11am. And then the quartet of Lesage, Spalding, Surface and I went sendin'.

This is what our campfires look life, don't be too jealous

Friday: We went craggin' at the Prophecy Wall and it was good. Got warm on a .10b and moved over to a giant roof line titled "Taliban Soup." The Soup is a hard .11D that not only requires some serious rock-reading skills but also some serious burl to pull the roof. I got hung up on a balancey, lie back in the middle of the route after not trusting the beta that was being shouted from the dirt. So it didn't go clean, but it did go and after getting shut down on Flying Elvis just a few weeks before it felt good to pull some overhangs.

After we left Prophecy we built a giant tent fort at the campground in preparation for the impending storm and went back to send town over at the north 40. Racked up some biners and ticked off another .10 over there and then went to town on Sonny Jim with Andrew Spalding, an .11b with a neat roof. Almost, almost, almost had the onsight, and damn it would have felt good to say I did it. But once again my rock reading skills proved to be the downfall for the send. Hung once and cleaned up the roof.

Saturday: Some more creatures from the north joined us just in time to watch an Arkansas tsunami wash over the Canyon. Once the sun came out we headed to the aptly named "Goat Cave" for some super overhung climbing and what I can only imagine was the only dry climbing to be found that morning. The goats were there when we arrived, hiding from the wet but they quickly dispersed as the clouds moved away. The bottom of the cave was covered in inedible cocoa pebbles and it smelled like a petting zoo (to us city boys). Regardless of the smell, the climbs were a straight burl-fest. Start overhung and climb out of a cave, that was pretty much the name of the game for everything there.

Sunday: My hands were worked, my head ached from partying too hard in the barn the night before and my balance wasn't the best in the world. Regardless if this was to be my last trip with the club I wanted to go out the same way I came in, on top of Orange Crush. To all the climbers reading this, yes I know it's a cliche to talk about this line and how rad it is but stfu. It's the tallest climb at the Ranch by far, it's a 4 star climb, it's rated so I can lead it clean and still have a ridiculous amount of fun and it has the best view of the Canyon of any crag at that place. So yes it was gorgeous, yes it was well within my limits, yes the bolts were a little too closely spaced together and yes if I climbed it at sunset I would "like totally tell you how totally gorgeous it was." I have that view on top of that rock to forever couple with the memory of my last club trip and that is something I can most definitely live with.

So here's to pushing your personal limits, sending harder than planned, the canyon, the views and those dang creatures of the Arkansas craggin' scene.

Freefallin: The tale of the weekend of the 16th

Friday: I quit early from the coffee shop and raced down to the LRT to demo some Trek bikes. Rode some pretty rad squishy things. I hauled ass on a Trek Top Fuel, cruised on the Superfly 100 and hucked as much gnar as I could for the LRT on a Rumblefish. All of them were rad. I won't write a novel about the experience since I don't have the background in suspension or bikes that aren't my own to write even remotely a well thought out experience.

Saturday: Hopped on the road bike and headed out by myself. Probably the first solo road ride I have enjoyed doing in quite some time. Lawrence to Perry Lake to Clinton Lake by the day's end, all in a breezy 5mph crosswind.

Suit up!

SUNDAY, SUNDAY, SUNDAY! I jumped the heck out of a plane. It was the most rad experience of my life by far. It was kind of the culmination of every adrenaline rush I have ever chased in my life. I liken it to going full throttle on my motorcycle straight up in the air, jumping off, taking a 5000 foot whipper and then sitting on top of a giant route trying to catch your breath.

I was pretty nervous going into the day seeing as I had a good 9 months of anticipation building up inside of me. Once the flight suit was on and I watched my altimeter climb as I sat on the metal floor of a tiny plane shaking at speed the nervousness disappeared and a calm set in, the closest I can liken it to is sitting at the base of a very runout project and knowing you can do it but knowing it's going to hurt if you don't do it right.

The minute I hucked out the door of the plane all of those feelings disappeared. I was in freefall for 30 seconds and it was the most serene 30 seconds of my life. Some people talk about getting tunnel vision when they free fall, some people say their brain blacks out, mine did the opposite. I felt a very acute awareness of my surroundings, I was cruising at 130mph through the air, looking around in awe with life, calm and happier than I think I have ever been in my life. I firmly believe that I could spend the next 50 years as a buddhist monk and I would never achieve the serenity that washed over me the second I gained composure after tumbling out of that plane.

So here's to the weekend. Long live long rides, carbon wonder bikes and jumping from way up.

Party at Graceland

The first weekend of April I made my return trip to Cave Creek in Arkansas. The club took down a smaller group of kids to send hard and that is what we did. I had my sights set on a severely overhanging 5.12a named "Flying Elvis." I've been eye-f*cking this line for almost 9 months now, it is honestly one of the boldest and most beautiful lines I have ever seen AR. I got the chance to top-rope it a titch on the March trip but couldn't work the crux side pull, so this line got deep into my brain. The minute I got to Cave Creek I warmed up and went straight to Elvis. I had redpointed this thing at least a dozen times in my dreams the month leading up to tying into the sharp-end at the base of this climb, but alas those dreams did not become a reality. I flailed at the crux for probably a half hour before resigning myself to come back and try it later that day.

Flying off Elvis' Crux

Little did I know that the rest of the day would be spent with Brian Lesage climbing things that are just at or past my limit. After pulling through a .10d and then following up the most technical .11D I have ever seen in my life I was so exhausted that I could not climb a 5.10A on top-rope and felt like a soccer short, shoe renting, plastic pulling squid.

The next morning I returned to Elvis and pulled through the crux moves but my body was just too worked to clip the following bolt and move onto the juggy finish. Elvis got me good but at least I know that I got his number now.