Two plus years ago when I moved here, part of the motivation was that I'd be able to sneak climbing back into my life. Over the past decade I had gone from a dedicated/full time climber, living in my car at NRG or RRG, making lots of trips to Seneca, The Gunks, ADK, Red Rocks, Zion etc etc to a guy who owned a lot of climbing gear that mostly stayed in a rubbermaid bin.
Biking became easier. I was a messenger, then I was a sport racer, then I was training, using intervals and a trainer, and then I was racing pro/expert all over the country. Riding was just more accessible when I lived up north, and it squeezed climbing out; completely.
So with the move I've put myself 45 minutes from Looking Glass, Cedar Rock, Rumbling Bald, and an hour (or two) to Linville depending on which side of the gorge I'm heading to. Gotta say; Life is good again. I like the balance of riding and climbing I've found. And I've been consistent enough with the latter so that I'm no longer just frolicking up 5.8s anymore.
Case in point. Last weekend...going way back now...Todd and I climbed Flappin in the Breeze, 5.10a at the Flakeview Area of Rumbling Bald. The next day I rode with a team in from Atlanta, and did 6 hours of Pisgah riding. We stopped a bunch early on, extending the ride time, but I eventually just left the group and added on a section at the end. Black Mountain - Turkey Pen - Mullinax - Squirrel - SMR - Buckhorn - Black - Avery. Both days were things I felt really good about.
Flappin in the Breeze is at Flakeview area at Rumbling Bald, soaking in the sun. Three pitches go at 5.9+, 5.9+ and 5.10a. Both the 5.9+ pitches were harder than the 10a pitch, but that always seems to be how it goes. The gear was awkward, and sparse, and the gray area of 5.9+ is about my limit right now on gear. Climbing that many pitches at my limit is good for me. And, after a fall and early spring of throwing ourselves at 5.7s and 5.8s, it finally felt like Todd and I were climbing again.
Fast forward to this past weekend. Saturday I did the Heartbreak+penalty miles ride with a couple folks (Sunday's post), and Sunday I made my way up to Linville to finally start exploring the southern end of the gorge, Shortoff Cliff. Linville style climbing is more up my alley than the climbing that western NC is known for. I just haven't found my rhythm on those slabby, friction domes of the Nose Area of the Glass, or even made the trip down to Green Mountain or Laurel Knob. I like to hold on to stuff. And I like vertical to overhanging rock.
Maginot's Line. A nice little 5.7+ to get acquainted with the area, and its supposed to be the best 5.7 in the state. Can't over look it. Linville promises Todd and I a nice progression through the grades, with classic 5.8s, 5.9s and 5.10s littered all over the cliff. Summer is going to be good. First we had to get there.After all the rain we'd had, the approach was a little wetter than usual. Todd ended up with a lap full of water on this move, and had to suffer through the first shaded pitch still soaked through. The approach is definitely a little rough, but it keeps the crowds down.
Found our route pretty easily. Todd's up there, about halfway up the first pitch. The second pitch climbs up to the last chockstone below the giant diving board roof. Pitch 3 climbs out and around on to the face, for some great views. Pitch 4 is just a necessary evil to top out, 5.5 climbing and scrambling.Sidenote: we took my new half ropes out on their maiden voyage. At 8.4mm they tie some tiny knots, but no rope has ever handled as nicely as these for me. No longer having to trail a second line for raps is nice, plus the added redundancy you get from climbing on two ropes. I think its going to be a system that gets used quite a bit for everything more than simple cragging.
Todd checking our scaled down guide book to see where pitch 3 went. You can see the burned out side of Linville Gorge below. The fire never jumped the river, so the other side of the gorge stands in stark contrast.
More great ledges to hang out on and contemplate life. By the time Todd had finished up p3, I was finally in some much needed sun. For photo sake, I actually have to slip time here for a minute. I returned to the same climb on Tuesday, taking one of Katy's friends out for his first multipitch. Figured Maginot's would make a good introduction. There's great ledges at all the belays, it gives you full value adventure with the approach and the exposure, I had JUST climbed it two days earlier, and I wanted to do all the pitches, having gotten the short end of the stick on the weekend. SO....Here's a sharp end self portrait of me enjoying some pretty easy moves on beautiful rock in the sun on Pitch 3. Peter coming up behind me; enjoying the air beneath his feet and the friction of Linville's metamorphic sandstone. He's used to the super slick quartzite up at Devil's Lake, WI; this was an eye opening experience for him. More great ledges, this at the top of P3, looking north into the gorge. The upper gorge is definitely a little more scenic, but the logistics down here make for an easy day. We started kinda late, leaving the house at 9:30 or so, and were back at the house, with a beer stop, at 4:00. Nice lazy way to get 4 pitches of climbing in, see no one the whole day, and live in your hands and head for a day. Certainly no complaints from Peter.