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Chatt

December 9, 2008

I was super psyched on going outdoors in the deep south while visiting Florida for 10 days, and with plenty of longs days/nights sitting in front of the computer running astronomy programs and editing the thesis, I managed time to climb.

Friday morning two friends and I left for the 7 hour car drive from Gainesville Florida to Chattanooga Tennessee.

Being a climbing fanatic I’m well read on the climbing blogs out there and well aware that Chattanooga is not talked about that much.  It is generally Bishop, Castle Rock, Yosemite, Gunks, South Africa, Switzerland… and so on.  Not so much the deep south.  But hey, if Wills Young and Lisa Rands have decided to make Chattanooga their home (after living in Bishop) then some good climbing can’t be far away.  Truth is that the Deep South has pristine boulders, awesome features, awesome rock, loads of potential, and a chill atmosphere to accompany it all.

It is all a matter of preference.  Sure you don’t have millions of boulders as you may find in South Africa but you have cool streams and golden-yellow/radiant-red blankets of leaves.  You don’t have lions or rattlesnakes or scorpions or tarantulas… you have chill walking around with North Face sweaters on.  Your pick.

What I like most about trips in the south is messing around on hard climbs with good friends.  With temps between 25 and 50 Farenheit (hummm… what? 15 degrees celsius or something) on our first day we went to Rocktown in Georgia with the aim of working on classic lines such as The Orb, and The Vagina… (you only find such names in the south).  Despite feeling much stronger than a year ago, and having trained plenty indoors, I couldn’t piece anything together outdoors.  I felt all disjointed.  Like a wave of energy being channeled into a ragged doll – unable to stay clear and simple and focused on… and I somewhat expected this.

I have learned that only after 3 or 4 days of continuous climbing outdoors do I settle in.  Something happens, somatically.  Some shift.  Short trips are always filled with the need to send, now, make the move right, do it on this try…   The trip to Hueco Tanks last New Years was a great revelation, 10 days of climbing with 1 rest day, and I was noticing how my body settled more and more into climbing.

So I focused on having fun, which is what I do best, and with that mentality still managed to pull-off the FA of the bong by being the first (and only one) in sticking the first two moves on Digital Scales!  And thoroughly enjoyed watching a friend crush, flashing, nearly all the climbs we got on – Florida gym rats.

There are some rad classics I hope to come back to on a longer trip.  The Orb for sure.

The second day turned out to be just as good as the first, not without some challenges though as many of the members of our group had either gotten physically injured or metally injured (when the soreness of the body starts telling you to not climb on an amazing perfect weather day).  Some left and others headed out to enjoy the rock at Laurel Snow (aka Dayton Pocket(s)).  Top of the agenda was River Dance, a V9 I had done in a day last year, shortly after its first ascent by Jimmy Webb, and that had gained reputation as one of the raddest climbs in the Southeast.

The group converged there and we had a short warm up on two-move V0s before RD called to us.  I was interested in the low start (V11/12) but looking at the holds and my performance yesterday I was realistic and decided to play on the original line.  I tried it a couple of times and failed in nearly all the moves individually; my finger was bleeding and I was content to take video and shout insultingly-comical remarks at the friends trying the route.  Unexpectedly my ego was to get a boost as first some strong Vdouble-digit friends showed up followed by a high-profile climber and they all set their eyes on sending this classic.  I thought for sure there would be flashes but in fact no flashes and only one send.  So a part of me was all happy for having done this line last year (even though I couldn’t move on it this day) which uber-strong climbers couldn’t do.

Soo, two days of an awesome climbing trip with great friends pulling down on bullet-proof rock nestled in a pristine low-key location.  Videos to come shortly.

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