Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Mt. Charleston - Labor Day Weekend

First off, I hope everyone reading this post had a fun weekend climbing or otherwise. I remember during my undergrad years in Chicago Labor Day weekend was the unofficial kick off to the Red River Gorge fall season. While I look back on those crazy 14 hour round trip weekend drives fondly I can't say I miss them.

Luckily the Mt. Charleston cave is only a short drive and a steep hike away, with plenty of worthwhile lines from V5 on up. Friday Lib and I hiked up on an active rest day for a sweat and a short session. I still needed to refine some micro beta for the project line in the cave, and after a lot of spinning around and sorting through a sea of limestone cobbles I managed to work something out that I thought could work.

The next day Lib and I met up with Isaac and his buddy Jeff for a longer session up at the cave. Hiking up we were fortunate enough to get a little cloud cover, but even with the shade that hike doesn't seem to get any easier.

Thirty-some minutes later we were hanging out in the cave, sweat soaked shirts cool in the light breeze. As for the climbing it was one of the most successful group experiences I've been around. The motivation was high, and it wasn't long before Isaac kicked off the send train with a smooth ascent of Happy Trail V9.*

From there the energy only got better with Lib and Jeff both making quick work of a long V5 that climbs out the deepest part of the cave which Lib dubbed Split Ends. Her send also confirmed the first female cave ascent, and therefore throwing out the possibility of calling it the Man Cave.

Having fallen on a few solid attempts on the project (including one after the crux) I thought I might be the one to spoil the group send, but the psych was too high, and before I realized that I had pulled off the ground I was setting up for the exit sequence and letting out a rebel yell as I scraped and thrutched to the top.

This line is by far the hardest first ascent I have been lucky enough to nab, and even though it's a link up the movement is so much fun, and really that's what the cave boils down to at the end of the day. Sticking with the body hair theme** I named the problem Unibrow (because it links two eyebrows of course) and suggested a grade of V11. As for the grade it may or may not stay, but it felt appropriate compared to the harder lines in the cave (Harder than Crown and Brazilian) but it's a different climb so I guess we'll have to wait and see. What really matters is that everyone finished something and walked away with that sending smile plastered on their face as we hiked out by headlamp.


*Isaac's weekend spree didn't stop there. Keep an eye on his blog for more info and photos coming soon.

**Shave Cave anyone?

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