New River Gorge

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I'd sort of haphhazardly made connections with someone (more on that person later) to meet them for some climbing at the New River Gorge. One of the other "must see" climbing destinations in the south east. Thankfully this person had given me some pretty good directions, because this place is quite a rabbit warren, and unlike at the Red, where I'd driven MILES past Miguels the first time, due to some overly conservative distance estimates I'd been given, I pulled up Roger's Rocky Top Retreat. (At the red, I'd been told that miguel's was about 4 miles down the road, so I didn't start looking till after the first couple, and by then I was already well past it.)

Well, almost at Rogers. My directions said "Rogers" and Rogers doesn't actually say Rogers anywhere. It just says "Rocky Top Retreat" Anyway, I found a note on the door from my connection, saying he'd hurt his neck pretty bad, and was going home early. Oh dear. That doesn't sound good. Roger then promptly turned up and showed me around. Very chatty, lovely guy.

Interesting place. He has a rather severely sloping, yet lush, grassy hillside, that you camp on. A tap or two, (A sink and shower in summer, but things had started to freeze by now) and no toilet. Well, not really. He has a toilet, but it's not really his. It's across the road at the trailhead in the National Park. Rather interesting setup. I setup camp on the picnic table and floor in front of his "store" which he apparently sells food and gear and crap out of in the busier months.

Roger was very enthusiastic about getting me someone to climb with, and had lots of ideas, and gave me all the guidebooks I could use, but there were only two other guys there that night, and they were heading out in the morning. And it was raining anyway.

Got up in heavy mist, and decided that climbing was a stupid idea, and I was going to go and look at the bridge, and tour around a bit, and probably head off the next morning. Went to the visitor center, and wasted a bit of time there, mostly watching a neat video of how the bridge was built. (courtesy of the engineering firm that built it) And chatted to the cute rangers of course.

Went for a drive along the scenic one way road down under the bridge, intending to have a good looksee. Got down under the bridge and took a few pictures as the bridge drifted in and out of mist. Pretty cool looking. (I'm happy with them) Saw one other car, an old guy with a camera. Then I saw another, just down the road from the bridge.

Another outback. With out of state plates. A sierra club sticker. And no-one around. I smelt climbers, and parked beside them, dug out some shoes, harness, helmet, camera, and a koala bribe, and headed up the hill. Roger had mentioned that the Bridge Buttress would probably be dry, so this must be it.

Met Stewart and Jeremy. Nice young guys, one with camos and one with sharp pointy sideburns, not your average pair. They were going to aid up a crack so they could toprope it. Awesome. A nice looking line, (centre of the wall to the right of the little cave/structure) and they were more than happy to have me along, especially when I returned to the car and got them some cams and etriers to use. Didn't stop Stewart from taking a pretty good fall. He mustn't have gotten the memo about not falling on C1.

And excellent climbing! Wet and slimy at the top mind you, but this was a fun crack! We took some laps on that, then decided that everything else was a bit wet, so how about some bouldering in a nice dry cave? I could provide a crash bad, so the boys bit. We walked in to the Junkyard cave, with me admiring the many moderate trad lines. This was a lot like the blueies to me. (though I've met many other people who fervently disagree, no matter)

The cave is hard. Damn bouldering. At least it all has beautiful flat landings, and doesn't get too high. My style of bouldering. We found a little area that we reckoned was a bit more achievable, and set out to project. Good old fashioned fun. Falling off, falling off, chalking, cheering, and falling off some more. If only I could get this motivated about actual roped climbs. I was the first person to get a hand on the final hold, but ended being last to actually finish the problem. doh!

Of course, at one point I foolishly asked what these two guys did that they could be out here on a friday, and didn't they have anything better to do, given the weather. Have you studied the bible much Karl? Sorry, I think that should have been Bible. They were very polite, and didn't push anything, but still find it odd that people feel the need to go to a bible college to study a normal degree like arts or science. Stewart is excused, he was there studying to be a priest.

Left the boys after that, it was getting late, and we were all sore and broken from climbing hard all day. Excellent day. Felt really pumped about climbing nicely. Went and wondered around a mall in fayetteville, smiling at everyone while I waited for a movie to start. I was ready for some society again.

Chatted to Roger a bit again, that man is irrepressible. Enjoyed some more fine home cookery. Made plans to go elsewhere in the morning, head on out to the Outer Banks. Hopefully visit some old work mates, that sort of thing. Got woken up by a couple coming to do some climbing. Oh yeah, it's the weekend again. Maybe I'll go climbing today anyway. Or at least along for a looksee.

Today's companions were Dan and Gen. Or Jen. Or bob. Or something. I never quite gathered what the real name was, but there was defintely some in jokes there. We went down to Kaymoor. Allegedly it stays fairly dry too. So they say. Dan led the easy crack there, which looked ok, but I wasn't feeling lead motivated. I just wanted to climb harder. harder! I wanted to pull on hard sport! Dan had only done that climb so we could all toprope the sport climb that climbs straight through and over it anyway.

Which was again fun. Crimps and tenuous holds. All the joys of toproping. We then swapped ropes with the other party hanging out in the drizzle and mist, to climb the area classic, Rico Suave Arete. Or some variation thereof, due to wet rock. The overhang here was nowhere near as big as at the Bridge Buttress, and it had now been raining for a while longer. Hard anyway. More working it. This was cool. Topropes that I had to try mutliple times. Even tie in multiple times to get up. I should be doing more of this.

We all got sick of the wetness after that though, so we went and sat around and drank beers at Rogers. Then went into town for mexican, and margaritas. Lovely chatting with Dan and Gen, and fun to have people to talk to over dinner. Made a pleasant change. Cheers guys.

The New River Bridge

The New River Bridge

Stewart climbing in inclement weather at the Bridge Buttress

Ok, this is hard, time for the aid

It's easy to climb up the etrier when you can jam as well

Oops. Stewart pulled some gear out

It's a little bit popular to toprope the next route right after leading this one

If only I had those etriers! says Jeremy