A West Virginia adventure – Spring Break in the New River Gorge, 2018
Saturday, 26-May, through Saturday, 02-June, 2018
“Life is old there, older than the trees. Younger than the mountains, blowing like a breeze. Country roads, take me home… to the place, I belong! West Virginia, Mountain momma… take me home, country roads.”
I’m pretty sure that the first real spring break I ever had was with Daniel, years ago, when we drove down to the New River Gorge to climb, and attend the New River Rendezvous. Since that year, we’ve done our best to always link up and go on some glorious climbing trip on or around Memorial Day. This year was a tough one, with Sarah breaking her leg, but she insisted that I go anyways, and let her live vicariously through me as she convalesed at home. I’d already cleared the week as vacation with my boss, even before I was hired for the project, so I was free and clear for a throwback adventure…
Sunday dawned sometime before I woke up.
The dawn wasn’t what woke me up, obviously. I was sleeping like a log after the flying and driving the way before, and had no intention of waking up easily.
Thankfully, Daniel likes eggs for breakfast. And, while he doesn’t personally like bacon, he knows that the rest of us very much appreciate a few slices with breakfast. What woke me up was the smell; bacon and eggs, frying up as people bustled about.
Side thing that I appreciate about Daniel – he does breakfast. Not a large or heavy one, but a few eggs and a cup of a beverage. And he’s insistent on it. Ohh, we’re running late? Nope, doesn’t matter. I’m making eggs. Ohh, we planned on leaving 45min ago? Yeah, that’s nice. Here’s a plate of eggs. Eat it.
Our target of the day had been planned out the evening before – Our rental was right near Summersville Lake, so that was our starting point. Specifically, a section of wall between the Narcissus Cave, and the Orange Oswald section. It was somewhere Daniel and I had climbed before, so we figured that it would make for a good first day; something familiar, but also close to the house to minimize driving time.
I was pleasantly surprised just how much of the hike in, and the walls that we stopped at, I remembered from previous trips. It was like walking back into a memory… but without the creepy connotations or unhappy changes that we inevitably run into.
Once we set up camp, we got right to work ripping up the few climbs that were unoccupied. I mean, it was Memorial Day Weekend, so what do you expect? Empty walls? Hah!
- Locumba, 5.10a, TR – not in the guidebook, but a recently bolted route. Daniel set it up thinking that it was a 5.8… and the rest of us paid the price. It was enjoyable though, definitely so, even if it did burn a lot of energy right early on.
- That Eight, 5.7, Lead – this was a fun first-lead for the week. Simple and pleasant.
- Jeffs Bunny Hop, 5.8, TR – Honestly, kind of a forgettable route. It was definitely fun, but I can’t really say I remember much about it.
- Sniff the Drill, 5.8, TR – Same as the above. Enjoyable, but I couldn’t give you any beta for it.
- Narcissus Direct Start, 5.12d, TR – yeah, no. I didn’t actually legitimately climb this. It’s better to say that I flailed around on it like a gutted first sprinkled with soy. Daniel had led the first five bolts of Narcissus, an “easier” 5.12a, and I was trying to follow him up. But I couldn’t do the start of Narcissus… so I had him basically haul me up the direct line, ’till I got to the easy bouldering section. Yup. Strong climber right here. Mmhmm.
One downside to this week? Rain. The forecast that we looked at in the weeks prior had been getting wetter and wetter… and now that we were here, it looked like the theme would be sunny mornings followed by rainy afternoons. This afternoon was the trend setter – as we were hanging out in the Narcissus Cave (yeah, it’s an actual cave. Neat, huh?) it started pouring on us. But remember – cave. So… nice and dry. We even met some super strong climbers, and got to watch them rip out some brutal routes… not sure which, but it was either a 5.12d, or a 5.13b. Either way – cool to watch.
The hike out was quick and painless – the rain kept falling, but thankfully it stayed at the cooling drizzle, instead of ever evolving into the drenching downpour that West Virginia sometimes throws at us. Once at the car we headed North to the grocery store, with everyone planning out their meals for the week.
Our plan was that each person/group would take one evening, and then we’d do two evenings eating out at restaurants. My dinner would be Monday night, so I bought all the various bits while everyone else searched out the ingredients for their own meals. I wasn’t super convinced at first… but honestly, this was a surprisingly efficient way to do a group grocery run… I think we were in and out in less than 45min!
The rest of the evening was filled with fajitas a-la Brian, relaxing and hanging out, sitting in the hot tub, and doing my first evening call with Sarah. A good start to the adventure.