Monday, May 10, 2010


The trebuchet went down yesterday and I can hardly believe it. It is unbelievable to me that a world-class route in a world famous area just 10 minutes from the road can still be up for grabs. Thank you Red River Gorge! The trebuchet is without a doubt one of the best 5.14- routes in the country.
The climbing on this route is simply unbelievable. It really is perfect in every way. The bottom bit alone is one of the best 13b's I've ever been on anywhere. Perfect rock and amazing moves. Lots of cross throughs including a hard cross to a pocket on an otherwise blank face.

The climbing to the roof is pumpy. No stopper moves, which is unusual for the gorge, just sustained big holds with a few cruxes thrown in. At the base of the roof is a good rest where you can get most of it back. In a way, success on the route boils down to how much you can get back before the crux.

Then the upper portion of the route is the business. When I first started trying the roof a few months back it felt impossible. I thought V9ish and it took me a few efforts to do all the moves then a few more before I finally linked the boulder problem. After a few months on the route it feels v8ish??

From the rest you reach way out the horizontal roof and grab a left hand slot, three fingers, one pad deep. Then a right hand half pad crimp. dig your toe in the horizontal and lunge out to a crimp with your right hand. The crux is cutting feet, staying tight, and throwing a heel to the lip above your head. Then a hard match, and some more crimps lead to two deep lock offs and a decent clipping hold on the headwall.

The first 20 feet of the headwall is probably 12d/13a? I thought if I got to this hold that I'd be able to pull it off. Not so. I fell three times past here. Once at the sideways lunge and twice past that just before the jug. It is so pumpy up there. The moves are probably 12c? in this section but there is a ton of hard climbing underfoot.

Pretty nice stone on the headwall huh? The first time I rapped down and saw these crimps I almost pooped myself. Just unbelievable. And how bout that jug? Custom placed for sure. If that jug wasn't there this route would be 14+ for sure. You shake and hang and shake then launch in to the final crux. Left hand undercling under the roof, right hand up to a 1/4 pad three finger crimp and a huge lunge to a jug. Terrifying on redpoint cause you could totally blow it. This section is probably V6? then it's 5.11+ jug hauling to the top of the wall. 100 feet to the ground.

I think this route is 14b. It is the hardest route I've done and one of the hardest I've tried which makes it hard to grade. the only route I've spent time on that's harder is also a project so I have no idea how hard this route actually is. It may be 14a. I tried to compare it to many different routes in many areas to tack down a number. It is for sure a big step harder than Proper Soul. It is harder than Mango Tango. I figure White Wedding is solid benchmark 13d and this route is a good step and a half harder than that....I've sampled transworld and God's own stone also and this route is way harder than those as well, for me. So I hope I didn't throw a fluff grade on it.

But how do you grade a pump? The first time I sent trebuchet to the roof it was the fourth most pumped I've ever been in my life. #1 was satanic verses 13c. when i clipped the chains I almost passed out and it took me 10 minutes to untie and feed. #2 was some weird flash pump I attained on Hand me the canteen boy in rifle and that's only 12d. #3 was a redpoint burn on Proper Soul after eating a peanut butter covered brownie. I lowered and almost threw up and then ran off and had diahrea in the woods! And the first time I sent to the trebuchet roof I was almost too pumped to clip. I called it 13c at first. Then after getting it licked and redpointing it 20+ times I could do it with no pump at all. It feels like mid range 5.12 now??? What the hell? So who knows. Maybe for some super fit 14+ climber this route will be tits. If you can get it all back below the roof the top will feel like 13d. It might just be a super complex 13+?

Time will tell I hope and the Rendevous is next week. Hopefully some rock stars will try it and help me out with the grade. Is this the hardest route at the New? Maybe...

Again, regardless of the grade, this is certainly one of the finest pieces of rock I've ever touched. I'd say it's destined to be a classic but due to it's location at the New River Gorge it will probably never get climbed on. Maybe someday people will wake up to how good the hard climbing is here. We'll see.