Pulling out of Maple Canyon after four amazing months of Pipe Dreaming, I felt unfulfilled regarding my personal success, and yet, incredibly psyched for Maggie. She had succeeded enough for the both of us in the canyon of cobbles, aka, Chobbleville. The final exhilarating moment came with only three days left before our planned departure to the Red River Gorge. Maggie easily floated up Pipedream (14a) as if it were a walk in the park. It was an inspirational moment. Her tally of hard redpoints this past summer was impressive, to say the least. I’m proud to spray about her Pipe Dream tic list: Diggler (13a), Don’t Mess With Texas (13c), Wyoming Sheep Shagger (13d), The Long Present (13c), and Pipedream (14a).
My summer didn’t quite go as planned, but that’s the way life rolls sometimes. I was tested and left wanting. My first setback came with the loss of my Father early during our stay in Maple. My second setback came with my return from a week in Michigan I fought with the overwhelming heat of summer in central Utah. With hindsight 20/20, I realize that I should have rested more, which is hard to do when you’re an old-school head banger. I fell just short of my goal to do 5.14 at age 60, which left me feeling somewhat unfulfilled. Luckily, I’m adaptable and now have a goal of 5.14 at 61. I did manage to add a few new ticks to my ever growing list, and finagle a couple of neat repeats. Here’s my tally of Pipe Dream accomplishments this summer: Rodeo Clown (13b), Team Rex (13b) – FA (Take One for the Team to Rodeo Clown link), Sol Rex (13b) – FA (Solstice to Rodeo Clown link), Rucksack Rodeo (13c), Ego Boost (13d) – repeat from 2006, Mexican Rodeo (13d) – repeat from 2006.
Now we’re here in the Red River Gorge getting massively pumped! My first glimpse of the Red came via the pages of a Red River Gorge Select climbing guide, written by Porter Jarrard. It was a thin pamphlet filled with black and white photos and an abridged list of classic lines in the Red. The image that inspired me the most was of an ant-sized climber, barely visible, on the massively tall mega steep Undertow Wall. Porter’s photograph was compelling enough to cause me to quit my profitable profession as a land surveyor, stuff my customized Chevy Astro Van with climbing gear and head to the Red. It was the fall of 1999 and I wasn’t disappointed. I swiftly became an addict of the steep red sandstone. I’ve since made repeated trips to the Red where, as most of you know from “our story”, I met Maggie at the end of a successful Petzl RocTrip in the fall of 2007. In 2008, we met again in the Red and decided to keep in touch. Eventually this led the start of our ongoing relationship. Suffice it to say, the Red has been a special place for both of us over the past many years and “our story” is one that I never mind repeating.
We started our season here by sharing our years of climbing knowledge through the “Learn to Lead” clinic at Rocktoberfest 2016. We had a great group of students who enjoyed the exceptionally good climbing of the Chaos crag in the Miller Fork area. This area was recently acquired through the joint efforts of climbers, the RRGCC and the Access Fund. We’ve climbed in Miller Fork for the past two weeks and thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s worthy enough to bite the bullet, pay the $40 to buy the guidebook, and deal with the newness of the area. Yep, some of the routes are still in need of cleaning and holds on new routes do break sometimes, but it’s worth it for the 300+ (and growing!) number of new climbs with very little traffic to contend with. We’ve had several days of midweek cragging all to ourselves.
It’s taken the first couple of weeks to get our Red fitness going, but things are starting to click. I’ve managed to add 17 new 5.12s and one new 5.13 to my growing resume, mostly onsight or second shot, in eight days of climbing. Maggie is experiencing the rough re-constructive period that can follow after spending a long time making the same moves repeatedly, but she’s starting to rebound. It’s been a nice reprieve from “projecting” all summer for both of us. We’ve added a portable tripod training station to our small number of earthly possessions which should help with the recouping of much needed and ever elusive pure power for projects to come.
We plan to enjoy our stay here in the Red until the weather forces us south or west. We may find ourselves eventually in the Obed, Chattanooga area, Little River Canyon, Mexico or even back in Southern Utah. It’s hard to say what direction Mother Nature will direct our travels. The only thing we know for certain is, there’s a lot of rock out there and finite time to enjoy it all…
Featured photo at top of page 📸 Jeff Rueppel (www.jeffrueppel.com)
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