Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Home for a Rest

The winter leg of our trip has come to an end, and we are now back in Ottawa. On our way back from the Red we made the usual stop at my parent's farm to relax for a few days, clean out the car, and enjoy some awesome home cooked meals. Of course we were put to a bit of work, and we were excited to have an excuse to rope up again, this time to cut some dead limbs from the trees in front of the house. Safety first!

The last four months were once again incredible, highlighted by return trips to some of our favorite destinations, and the discovery of some awesome new ones. We pushed our limits in pretty much all aspects of our climbing, and for the first time on these trips we actually did more trad (37 days) than bouldering (32 days). We even did 10 whole days of sport climbing! Towards the end we were definitely feeling the affects of accumulated fatigue, so it's been nice to take some time off to rest and recover.

It's also been awesome to see some of our friends back home, and hopefully the weather will cooperate enough to get at least a couple of local outdoor climbing days in. We'll hang around Ottawa for another week or two, dealing with some 'real life' stuff, before hitting the road again. We don't really have a concrete plan yet for the summer, but we'll figure it out. Check back in June to see where we are at. At the moment we're pretty content to spend some time enjoying the comforts of home.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Return to the Red - Part 2

We stayed at the Red for just over a week. Despite the forecast constantly calling for rain and thunderstorms (and them occasionally actually happening) we were able to climb pretty much every day. We were also joined by Matt and Kyla, more friends from Ottawa. One day we even managed to convice everyone to do some trad climbing!

Matt, Kristal and I all led Cheaper Than a Movie, 5.8, while Max, Kyla and Marita all followed it. Thanks to Marita and Max for the following pictures. Here I am leading the lower section.

And Kyla following the top half, which does a cool traverse under a large arching roof.

It was great to see everyone switch it up from the usual sport climbing they do, like Max here, working the moves of Kaleidescope, 5.13c.

Otherwise Kristal and I were still on the hunt for awesome cracks to climb. The occasional rain still kept us off many of them (cracks typically take a lot longer to dry out than face climbs) but we still managed to find some. Here is Kristal on the incredible overhanging finger crack Where Lizards Dare, 5.9+, one of the hardest '5.9's we've ever climbed. Thanks to Matt for the photo.

Our favourite route here, and one of the best pitches we've climbed in the last few months, was Arachnid, 5.8.  Here is Kristal racking up. Check out that awesome low angle hand crack!

Here she is getting ready to traverse under the imposing roof, which looks a lot more intimidating than it is.

And here's a shot of the top half of the route, which follows a short offwidth crack to easier climbing up top.  Awesome!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Return to the Red - Part 1

When we first left home last April, our first destination was the Red River Gorge in Kentucky. Back then living life on the road was shiny and new, I was terrified of trad climbing and we had no real clue what lay ahead of us.

A lot has changed since then, and even though our biggest improvement is probably in the time it takes us to pack the car, we were excited to come back and climb some classic trad routes that would have scared us away on our last visit.  It was also great to run into some friends from Ottawa who were also visiting.  Here are Max, Marita and Kristal hanging out by the fire.

The Red has about equal numbers of trad and sport routes, so we did a bit of both, as weather permitted.  We decided to warm up with a day of sport climbing.  Marita suffered through the cold and hung out at the top of one of the routes to take pictures of the rest of us.  Thanks Marita!

Here I am leading 5th Bolt Faith, 5.10c.

Max was climbing pretty hard.  Here he is during his awesome send of Jesus Wept, 5.12d.

Once it was dry enough we were in search of epic trad lines.  Here is Kristal leading what is probably the most popular trad route here, Rock Wars, 5.10a.  Thanks to the random climber we met who took these pictures.

Although most routes here are only one pitch, we were on the lookout for multi pitch routes to get on. It's always a little more satisfying when you actually climb to the top of something.  Here we are at the top of Fortress Wall, after climbing the easy 2 pitch classic, Bedtime for Bonzo, 5.6.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Manhattan Project

After our stay in Chattanooga, we decided to take a few days off and visit one of Kristal's old friends in the town of Oak Ridge, just outside of Knoxville. It was nice to relax and spend some quality time on the inside, enjoying such novelties as daily showers, unlimited internet and air conditioning.

Oak Ridge is renowned as being one of the production sites for the Manhattan Project, helping to develop the atomic bomb.  Here's The Guest House, closed down now, where such notable scientists as Openheimer and Fermi stayed during that time.

Sharon and Dave were excellent hosts, showing us all there was to see in the area. We spent a day hiking through the beautiful Frozen Head State Park.

We spent quite a while salamander hunting near the waterfalls.

Sharon is an ecologist, so the hike was quite informative, and we made several stops to check out many of the interesting plants and bugs.  It felt very much like being on a grade school field trip.

We also experienced some awesome southern cooking and had a fantastic visit.  Thanks guys!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Code Black

The last week has been interesting to say the least.  We happened to be camping outside of Chattanooga when the tornado storm system blew through.  Needless to say we didn't go climbing that day.

We waited out the first tornado warning sleeping blissfully unaware in our tent.  Thankfully all we saw of that one was a torrential downpour.  Once we got up and headed into town we realized what was going on.  Our quest to find a post office turned into a mini tour of the city, encountering many downed trees, closed roads and power outages.  By our fifth post office we finally found one with power.

We spent the rest of the day waiting out the subsequent tornado warnings in a grocery store, a Walmart, a Chinese restaurant and a McDonald's.  It all blew through by around 11pm, and were finally able to go comfortably go back and sleep in the tent.  Which managed to survive quite well despite the many downed branches and a nearby toppled tree.

We spent the next few days bouldering at our favourite golf course/boulder field, Stone Fort.  They apparently had a large Easter Egg hunt among the boulders over the Easter weekend.  It was fun to find the left over eggs, which all contained delicous candy, in the nooks and crannies of the boulders.

Despite the conditions not being as ideal as during our last visit, we still had a great time enjoying the huge variety of climbing.  Here I am working the moves of the amazing hard slab, Space, V8.

Kristal on the interesting and fun, Black Carpet, V4.

One of the more intimidating (and awesome) lines here is the tall, somewhat terrifying and aptly named, Tall Crack, V2.  Here is Kristal preparing for and climbing on it.