Climbing is a sport, a lifestyle and a community that's entwined into my life recently. The sport is the perfect challenge for both the mind and body and unlike many other physical activities it will always challenge you no matter how good or knowledgeable you get.
It's kind of funny because I've started to think of money in terms of climbing gear and trips. Where I go to buy a cocktail or a Music Festival ticket and stop myself because, "wow 2 gin and tonics could buy me 3 quickdraws..." or "no way I could buy a rope and a one way flight to California" I'm not sure if this new way of thinking is healthy or not but my liver and brain is definitely happy with my lifestyle adjustment haha.
More Important, the climbing community is one of the best parts of the sport. The people are some the nicest, open and intelligent people I've ever met. They are the type of people who don't care about where you work or how much money you make, the only thing they care about is if you are a good belayer who wont drop them (understandably).
Soo yeah climbing is awesome, and last weekend I went climbing at The New River Gorge with some amazing people, and it was pretty rad.
Here's a photo of us and a little about the amazing people in the photo:
Kalli: I call out Kalli first because she is the one that introduced me to climbing last Fall. Not only is she a bad ass climber but I don't think I've ever met a smarter or more driven person. For example, we were talking about; "What would you do if money wasn't a limitation and you could do whatever you wanted?" Her answer, "I would do what I'm doing now because I love my job and then maybe I'd start my own company that would focus on using technology to make life easier for people." Like what????
What's even more amazing is that she will revolutionize the world in some way because she has the work ethic to back up her big brain, and dreams to change the world. In addition, Kalli is a beyond talented pianist and probably knows everything about the Myers Briggs personality types (so if you ever wanna know about that you should ask her). Furthermore, she's the type of genius that would never make you feel stupid or talk down to you because you don't understand something. (even though she could probably run circles around the average person's intellect, hahah).
Sadly, this smarty is leaving our small climbing community in DC for bigger and better things in San Francisco. It might be sad but I know she is going to make leaps and bounds in California, and it is probably the best place for a person who wants to revolutionize the world :). So good luck girl I know you are gunna go down in history one day and I am so excited to see the amazing things you do out west (and maybe one day join ya out there!).
Pierce: So I am convinced that if you're going to have a climbing crew you've gotta have a gear head and climbing encyclopedia, and that is what Pierce is for us. Not only is he a great climber and belayer, but he's probably read more climbing books then the rest of us have combined. In addition, he's always up to date about new gear and how it is better or not better then the old, honestly who needs a subscription to climbing magazine when you have him around! (it's awesome!!) Also Pierce is a talented singer. We didn't find this out until an epic sing along drive back from Elizabeth's Furnace when he stated belting out some angsty Green Day. Talk about shocking, like if you ever want some angsty rock while on a crag or camping in the woods name a song and you pretty much got yourself a portable radio who can also help carry rope. He also has some awesome plans for the future, like going climbing in Thailand and climbing the Nose?? I guess you could say he is another person that wont be living a boring mundane life.
Dag: Oh my goodness, he is the newest to climbing in our group but talk about a dude that never stops smiling or trying. Now Dag started climbing only a few months ago and his first outdoor attempt at climbing was when we went to The New. SO talk about hitting the ground running; The New is definitely not an easy place to climb, and hats off to him because he jumped onto the 5.8s and 5.9s like a bad ass. I commend his bravery and mental fortitude because a lot of people would be to scared to even try a 5.8 climb outside when he just jumped on like it was NBD. Furthermore, the smiley, goofy, pizza loving facade of Dag compliments his extremely kind heart. This kindness also makes him the most popular person I have ever met. No matter where you go with him he will either make 5 new friends or already know everyone there. It might be the cute waitress from Pies & Pints or a person that just so happens to like the same beer as him at the 9:30 club (aka Eddie haha). Dag, I would like to say is the little ray of sunshine that peaks through the clouds at the end of a thunderstorm and makes everything glisten like little diamonds around him. (teehee)
Will: Okay talk about a humble person who has has been living the most full filing life. He is a trustworthy belayer and an amazing climber, and the type of person who pushes you to be a better climber and person. As a group, we also have to be grateful because when the rest of us don't send a climb he is willing to climb a route twice as a setter and a cleaner, and never complains about how he pretty much has to climb 2x the amount the rest of us do. But beyond climbing Will has accomplished more in his 23 years then most people have in their entire lives. To name a few: He's hiked the John Muir Trail (221 mile hike that goes up Mt. Whitney aka the highest point in the continental US), he's also climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, did a marathon at the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro, and has traveled to Thailand and numerous other places. In addition, he's doing a half iron man soon. If that's not enough he's going to hike the JMT again (meh like why not) and if that's still not enough he's going to climb Mon Blonc this year.... (So yeah to all the readers that felt like lazy asses before reading this I hope you feel even more lazy now hahah) So yeah I would say he is the overachiever of the group, but its good because he makes the rest of us want to be better.
Evan: You know those people who have no filter but it doesn't matter because they are too innocent and kind that you can't get mad at what they say? Well Evan is that type of person. He really has no filter though, if something is on his mind he will blurt it out no matter how weird or strange it is. I, kind of, have the upmost respect for him for that because their are not enough honest people out there. I would also like to add that Evan is soon going to be the honorary Dirt Bag (this is a compliment in climbing terms) of the group when he finishes converting his Mercedes Sprinter into a Van home! What makes this all even better is that Evan is also extremely intelligent and lives a little outside the lines. He started his unorthodox way of life when he decided college wasn't for him and dropped out. Now this is a great example on how school is NOT for everyone because even though he dropped out he still took care of himself, didn't get into trouble, and was able to get a job to support his hobbies like climbing and van conversion. Sadly, he is another that we are going to lose this year because he is also going out west soon to live the dream of climbing, traveling and van living. (I hope our vans cross paths one day when we are both living the Dirt Bag Dream!)
So now you know how amazing the climbers are that went to The New, and here is what we did:
Friday Night-Day 1: we left DC/Vienna around 6:30 and didn't get into our campsite till around 1:30 am. It was a long drive but it is definitely worth it to have the night before so you get the whole next day to climb. We camped at one of the NPS camp sites which is first come first serve (aka free which is awesomeeeee) The site had toilets and toilet paper wooohoo!!!! We camped on the beach it was pretty perfect cause you could go swimming and we had a fire pit (and fire=funnnnn and smores)
Saturday- Day 2: Please learn from our mistakes! Check the book and do not be stupid because you need to go to places with mainly sport routes if you don't know how to Trad sooooo we strongly recommend going on or near Tattoo wall. This area has a great amount of sport routes that range between 5.8-5.11. It does get very busy so be prepared for a good amount of waiting, and a lot of people and crag dogs (the crag dogsssss are awessssomeee). To get to this area you will hike about 20-30mins form the Sandstonia parking lot that is near some power lines and a little circular grave area. From their follow Sandstonia signs, and you will follow the power lines over some rollings hills and then take a left into the woods where it will start out flat. Then you go down steep switchbacks which will take you to the crag!! Woohoo (note: most people leave around 4pm so it gets really nice and pretty chill after then) After a good day of climbing we went to this great pizza place called Pies & Pints which was delicious and I strongly recommend it. Once again, it is super popular so be prepared to wait about a hour for a table, especially if you are in a big group! Then we ended the night with a nice campfire, cards and shenanigans.
Sunday- Day 3: Once again LEARN FROM OUR STUPID MISTAKESSSS. On Sunday we decided to check out Summerville Lakes. We drove and parked at the Summerville Lakes parking lot which is right off of rt 19 and looks like a Gravel Pit. From the parking lot you walk about 10-15 mins on a nice path (marked with really big red markers). NOW the IMPORTANT part is that you take a left right after walking over a little stream and if you get to a beautiful cliff that overlooks the water you went to far. If you get to the cliff overlook you need to go back about 5 mins and go down the little path with the little stone tower. Don't worry about the path being a little overgrown you are going the right way, and then the next "landmark" is a sketchy wooden ladder next to some water that you go down. Then you will arrive at the first set of bolted routes about 5 mins after. We climbed near the Orange Oswald route which is this beautiful stretch of rock right next to the water. It has a great group of 5.9-5.11 climbs and good amount of 5.10s. To get to the area we climbed you just have to walk straight with the wall on your left side, pass the huge cave and it will come up within 5-10 mins. This area was awesome because you can go swimming in the water to cool off and set up of rope swings. The only thing that might bother you is that the boats that pass by are pretty loud which makes it a bit hard to hear when you're belaying. Also, a quick note about leaving when you take the path back. Make sure you cross the little river/slippery rocks after going up the ladder, because if you don't you will get extremely off path. If you start seeing boundry signs you are going the wrong way and you need to back track back to the ladder. But in general Summerville lakes was awesomeeeeeeeeeee, and was the perfect end to our West Virginia trip.
So the trip was awesome, the people were awesome and now I'd like to make a quick shout out to the awesome people that helped us when we had no idea which route was which, espcially Jimmy who gave us a run down and was the one who reccomended Summerville Lakes, you ROCK dudddeee.