Thursday, January 3, 2019

Revisiting the RRG

It had been many many years since we climbed in the famous Red River Gorge, Kentucky. This place has always held a special place in my heart as it is essentially where I learned how to sport climb, and definitely where I fell in love with it. I remember crying my way up my first 5.9's back in the day like it was yesterday. Kyle and I would each try to get to the top, usually only making it part way before having a complete melt down. Then the other person would try to get a bolt or two further, have their meltdown, and we would do this until eventually one of us got to the top. Soon we realized that if you climb harder, the falls we feared were generally cleaner. Before long we were sending our first 5.10's and 11's. Motivated to improve, we trained in the gym for 6 months straight after that first trip to the RRG and returned after a month long bouldering trip to Bishop California. It was this trip to the Red that I discovered my potential in this sport. Inspired by watching women like Whitney Boland and Jen Vennon crushing 5.13+, I started to try harder. A friend convinced me to try a 5.12d called Tuna Town, I was intimidated as I had never been on a 12+ before, but shockingly flashed the route and almost every other 5.12+ I touched for 2 weeks. Eventually I worked my way up to 5.13+ with quick sends of Kaleidoscope and White Mans Overbite. I'll never forget working on Kaleidoscope with Daila Ojeda and Whitney Boland, it was a dream come true to climb with two of my climbing heroes.

Me waaaay back on my second ever 5.13c-- White Mans Overbite

We returned years later after dappling in the world of trad climbing for a while. My trip goal was to climb a 5.13c sport and 5.13c trad route. I managed a quick send Angry Birds 5.13c and a not so quick send of the trad test piece: Sacred Geometry 5.13b/c. I badly injured my neck and ankle after falling on Sacred Geometery and barely squeaked away with the send on the last day/last try. I wasn't going to do that last go either, but Kyle convinced me. I'd already had 3 tries that day, it was below zero, now in the shade, and I was in horrible pain. I balled my eyes out as I lowered from my 3rd attempt as I thought it was over, but Kyle insisted that I go again right away. I then sent the route while sobbing, and soon the tears of failure and neck pain had turned to tears of joy. An emotional battle I will never forget. After that trip we took a long break from the southeast as we got spoiled by the weather in the west, and feared the crowds in the RRG.

The classic traditional testpiece-- Sacred Geometry 5.13b 

Finally this fall we returned!!!

My goals this time were not as big. Honestly I have been so plagued by injuries and health issues over the last few years to set goals other than to stay healthy and have fun. Also, I generally do not perform well on the rocks after a long guiding season. Getting smarter with age you could say. The weather was pretty harsh during our month there, cold and rainy, but didn't bother me as I enjoyed being bored after such a busy season guiding and running On the Rocks. We took it slow and steady, discovering all the new-to-us crags of Miller Fork. I did have a small goal in mind, but tried not to fixate on it. I wanted to flash/onsight 5.13a again and after a couple heart breaking attempts, I did finally bag one at the end of the trip. Though this was a motivating accomplishment, I was more excited about my send of The Legend, an absolutely stellar and bouldery 5.13. This was memorable because I remembered being so intimidated by the style of this route back in the day. My style is much more diverse now and though I may be older and a little weaker/injury prone; I am wiser, with many more tricks up my sleeve. I didn't try anything hard (for me) this trip, but I am incredibly motivated to return to the Red with bigger goals. This place is magic.

Jany Mitges warms up at a classic crag-- The Infirmary

Jany Mitges on the ultra classic "Last Rights" 5.12b in Miller Fork

Locking in 'The Abyss' 5.12d, another Miller Fork classic.
Great hike to check out Creation Falls and this incredible rock bridge forming over the river.

Standing on an amazing natural rock bridge--Rock Bridge Trail in Daniel Boone National Forest.
Thanks Arc'teryx for keeping me warm all fall!

Tom Addison on one of my favourite routes of the trip, Foaming at the Mouth 5.13a

I actually write this blog post from Leonidio, Greece! We've been here for 2 weeks now and loving it despite some major disappointments. The crowds and weather are so brutal right now, and the crags are unseasonably wet to boot. These three things combined equals waiting in line for shitty/wet routes, plus waaay more rest days than climbing days. Luckily the culture and beauty of this country make up for the lack of climbing occurring. Fingers crossed it'll improve, stay tuned. I will be sure to post useful info for anyone considering travelling the facts that nobody tells you, such as the best crags here are un-climbable Jan-Feb (especially this year, worst weather in history). If you are planning a trip here this winter, I would highly suggest reconsidering! They are having the wettest season ever and not hopeful stuff will dry. It's a real bummer but life is good! NOT COMPLAINING.

Really enjoying writing on here again, as I'm feeling rather tired of the Instagram filled world we live in now. It doesn't feel as genuine or authentic to me. The expressions: "Do it for the gram!" or "Insta-likes" really sum up what I am talking about. I dislike chasing "likes" and the fact that you can even buy "likes" blows my mind. I worry about the youth of today and the impact "like" chasing has on them. I prefer the honesty and useful information I can place in a blog post, it's opposite of "insta", rather reflective. Blogs are a way for people to express themselves without that need for "instapproval" people desperately seek now. I will love in years from now to look back on my life through these stories. An extra bonus is that some of my stories could help others plan a trip or perhaps be inspired by words and not just a picture flashing across your screen as you swipe. #bringbacktheblog ;-)

Much love to all, spread love in all that you do, and do what fills your heart with joy.

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