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…
Today’s the day! The big day of the trip! And big days start with… breakfast! What? Bacon and eggs? That’s crazy!
But you know what? We’re cool kids, and we can do what we want. So we break with all tradition and have bacon and eggs and coffee for breakfast. Just like the last three days, because it’s awesome.
The goal for the day is to go back to where we went on Monday, but to use our new knowledge to set up more routes now that the whole crew had been gathered. The forecast looked good, the sky looked pretty clear, and we were energetic and ready to go.
We started in pretty quickly – taking two cars meant that packing and unpacking was actually really quick, even with six peoples worth of gear, so we found ourselves setting up routes rather impressively quickly…
- Butterfly Flake, 5.7, Lead – I did this one at least twice, and it was definitely worth doing multiple times. Fun, powerful, and just slightly sketchy due to the fact that you’re climbing a massive, detached flake of rock that probably weighs something around a hundred tons.
- Shady Lady, 5.7, Lead – Cindy (from Monday) had recommended this route rather intensely… which makes sense, since she set the route herself in years past. I found it to be really fun, but a little weepy and wet thanks to the constant rain.
- Layback and Enjoy it, 5.10d, TR – Ohh my lord I loved this route. The first crux was gloriously, horribly, evilly hard, and I don’t think I honestly did it cleanly. But I did do it… mostly by going around the hard bit. The second crux went super cleanly though, since I love laybacks. And, interestingly, this route had a pretty big one.
- The Decameron, 5.10b, TR – This route is the test piece for the area, and it was evil. I didn’t complete it, I’ll fully and honestly admit. The crux is a terrifying traverse over open space, followed by a super thin move. As Daniel said, “Move onto the really bad sloper, then match your hands on the bad sloper, and then move to the worse sloper above. Then jump”.
Now, the original forecast for the day was bright and sunny all day… but of course this was the New River Gorge, and weather reports are really not super accurate. None of us were particularly surprised then, when we checked the weather at noon and found that a storm was quickly bearing down on us.
Thankfully, it was still a ways out, so we had time before we had to run out. But climbing always takes longer than expected, and soon enough I was trying to rush up The Decameron to pull it down and hopefully avoid a repetition of our earlier, soaking wet adventure at Sandstonia. I’ll be fully honest with you all here, dear readers; I got my butt handed to me by that route. The earlier 5.10d was easier for me, and I kept getting thrown off the crux move of The Decameron.
But I’m not a good loser, and I refused to leave any gear at the top of that climb… or worse, call Daniel over to clean it for me. So I swung over to a slightly easier line, climbed up, and then swung back onto the main route a bit above the crux portion. Because I’m smaht that way. Wicked Smaht.
I had the route cleaned, and we could head out. The walk was quick, and soon enough we were heading toward WalMart for boat shoes for everyone.
Wait, boat shoes?
Yup. Boat shoes.
Not everyone is as obsessed with climbing as I am, as it turns out, and so everyone else decided that they should do something other than scrambling up rocks while wearing strange shoes. Instead, they wanted to splash over submerged rocks, also while wearing strange (but strange in a different way) shoes.
They didn’t own those new strange shoes yet, though. So we had to go to Walmart to buy them.
If it isn’t apparent, the summary of the above is: “Everyone else wanted to to whitewater rafting, but needed water shoes. So we bought them at Walmart”.
We also got some food, since we needed it. That turned out to be a mistake, since we were all quite hungry, and shopping while hungry is a bad idea. But we persevered, and finally found ourselves at home, making dinner.
And by that, I mean “we went to an ice cream shop called Fat Eddies, and ate amazing ice cream and I also ate a corn dog which I dipped in the afforementioned ice cream because this is America and I can do crazy things like that if I want to especially when I’m over hungry from climbing and then herding cats in Walmart who are also hungry”
Dinner was awesome. Daniel and Erin make chicken foccatia, and it’s delicious.
We all hung out, and I soaked in the hot tub for a while, which was awesome.
Then a well fed sleep.