I was privileged to take a recent trip to the New River Gorge for some climbing with a few friends on mine. The weather tried to swat us away and the routes even bucked us off, but we had fun nonetheless.
Our trip to the New River Gorge began with a 6-hour drive that would take us south through rural Pennsylvania and west across Maryland and finally south through West Virginia. Reaching our campsite at 10:30pm we set up our tent and headed to bed for what would be a long day of climbing ahead! The combined excitement of three avid climbers in the “New” was sky-high. Our plans were ambitious to say the least.
Weather decided not to cooperate, it never does for the three of us. Put myself, Mike, and Broc in the same spot and its guaranteed to rain or snow. And it did. After the hike in it started to pour rain, luckily our prospective route was severely over hung and stays dry in adverse weather.
Day one of climbing was a short drive and hike into "The Hole" where our plan was to tackle Lactic Acid Bath rated at 5.12d. Lactic Acid Bath is a monster of a route with a beefy over hang and roof system, a 75ft climb that lives up to its name! The route continues up a roof to the crux through v8+ boulder sequences, followed by a run-out to the chains. Each of us gave it our best before Broc worked and pieced the route together, with Mike and myself declaring defeat until next time. For a nice moral boost we continued to Butchers Branch, NRG, where we quickly onsighted two 5.10d's "The Green Piece" and "Play It By Ear". Ending the day at a local hangout called Pies and Pints.
Day two proved to be our largest challenge ever. Our plans led us to Lake Summersville at The Coliseum to tackle "Apollo Reed" 5.13a. With neither on of us having ever attempted a 5.13a outside, we were nervous. Luckily the route is equipped with permanent bolts and quickdraws. I decided to give Apollo the first go. After only 2 bolts I reached the lower crux and threw the largest kneebar of life, only to fail when hucking for the jug above. After 2 more burns I had had enough and had my belayer lower me to the ground.
Mike was next, wanting his shot without any beta. He also threw the monster kneebar but failed at pull past that. Broc, the strongest of the three finally was able to get past the kneebar and make the bump for the jug above. The next 15 feet was smooth sailing until reaching the upper crux. Broc, now tired; declared defeat. Apollo Reed would stand as our test piece of endurance and strength for future trips to come.