|THE Wolf Pack: Lone Wolf, Milky Wolf, The Runt, Tiger Cub and Den Master|
Well now that I have you smiling, be prepared for one of my most downer trip reports yet.
Here are some things that would suck to have happen on a climbing trip:
1) Save up money, train for months, all to get injured upon arrival
2) Lick your wounds during the best weather of the trip
3) Heal from injury and get injured yet again
4) Climbing partner then gets injured
5) Experience the worst weather in the history of the climbing area
6) Get shut down on routes that aggravate your injury and ego
7) Watch all of your goals drift away, go into a depressing state of cabin fever in the deep hills of Wet Virginia
8) Weather gets even worse, injuries get worse, sanity gets worse, lose out on a $500 cabin deposit and drive home.
I sit here, at home in Thornbury, after returning a month early from our dreamy fall climbing trip to the New River Gorge, WV. I still have a smile on my face though, as things could always be worse, but it is really tough to call this past month a "vacation".
Rewind back to October, I was feeling at the top of my game and in some of the best shape of my life. Despite dealing with some serious family issues that delayed our departure, I was incredibly motivated for the fall climbing trip that I'd been saving up for all summer. I was in great need of some rock meditation.
|Using the eye of the tigress on "Legends of the Fall", a classic 5.13 at my local crag, Devils Glen|
Mike Williams Photo
|My happy place, sending a perfect route, just 20 minutes from home... in my hot pants|
Mike Williams Photo www.dpmclimbing.com
|The famous New River Bridge|
|The beautiful New River Gorge|
The first two days of the trip were just like I'd dreamed about. Perfect weather, amazing routes, trad, sport and beautiful bullet hard sandstone. In my happiness bubble I wrote an article for Gripped Magazine about how to fight injuries with oppositional training and how hard work pays off. But then day 3 of the trip happened, I wanted to re-write the finish of my article to: "no matter how hard you work to fight injuries, they'll always get you at some point." Yah pretty dark, I know. So there I was, climbing on one of the best routes that I've ever been on, Puppy Chow, gunning for the send. Just one more hard move. I locked in a heel toe cam and ZAP....shooting pain on the side of my knee. Not good. Kyle quickly lowered me to the ground and I limped out of the crag in tears. Turns out I sprained my MCL really bad, you can add that to the list of climbing injuries that I've had the pleasure of experiencing. And then I was convinced that someone had a voodoo doll of me when I folded my ankle 8 days later, leading to yet another 5 days of rest, ice and advil.
That was pretty much the end of my climbing trip. The rest of my days were spent licking my wounds, or trying to crawl back in search of my right legged project. But my mo-jo was long gone. Just when I started to come to grips with everything, Kyle injured his finger really bad. Then the weather turned worse...like Canadian winter worse... snow on the ground, below zero for days and no light at the end of the tunnel.
Ok, so what is with this creepy wolf pack picture then??
I realized a lot of things this trip.
I had a lot of time to think.
As we sat at a local Mexican joint during our birthday week celebration, I looked around at all of the amazing people that we have come to know, both locals, travelers and a shocking amount of Scorpios. These people have become like family to me. They each rock their own unique personalities and refreshing outlooks on life that make every day I get the pleasure to see them great. Even if I couldn't climb hard, these folks kept me looking on the bright side and appreciating this life that I am so lucky to have. I am so incredibly blessed to have so many good people like this in my life! And despite disappointments, I was still smiling every day.
|Brendan Oneil, the Lone Wolf AKA Shadow Wolf, cruises yet another New River classic, Gun Club|
|Tyler Wilcutt AKA Teen Wolf, casually onsights Lavender Days, 5.13a|
|Den Master and Lone Wolf enjoy the golden hour at the Cirque.|
|The Wolf Den, our cabin in the NRG|
|A quick taste of paradise on "Dead Raibead", a classic 5.12+ mixed route that I was lucky to climb in between spraining my MCL and rolling my ankle.|
|Nothing like the feeling of pushing both your physical and mental limits, this is why I truly love the freedom and purity of trad climbing and why I keep coming back to climbing no matter how bad it hurts some times.|
A worse-than-I-could-try-to-imagine weather system swallowed the south east, and the wolf pack got smaller and smaller as everyone fled to dry rocks. So we took it as a sign, packed up the wolf den and migrated back up North, back to snowy Thornbury for some rest, recollection and much needed hang time with my elder wolves and the Canadian wolf pack.
|Still smiling, despite a gimp leg and getting shut down on another reachy route in the NRG.|
|Den Master goes for gold on Finders Keepers 5.12c|
|Craig Reger, AKA Regal Wolf, climbs the beautiful Finger Crack in White Corner. This is one of the many classic 5.12 trad offerings at South Nuttal.|
|Den Master starts out the entry roof problem on Thieves in a Temple, a stellar 5.12b at Fern Buttress|
|Tiger cub gets a hole in one|
|Golden hour at the cirque|
So what do we do now?
Plans are ever changing but here is the current plan of action.
1) Rest up for round 2
2) Head to Joshua Tree in January to complete my final level of the PCGI Climbing Guide Certification (Multi-Pitch Guide).
3) Sacrifice May of guiding in Ontario for a redemption tour from March-May, maybe see some new areas (Smith Rock, The Fins??)
4) Home for On the Rocks in June
This is just a minor set back for me. And I will be obsessing over some of the amazing routes I got to try in the NRG that I'll return for on another trip... especially this route.... SO SICK!!!
'Til next time friends :)