Sunday, January 19, 2014

Flashback: Hoax of Clocks

My buddy Chris and I were climbing at the Cirque AGAIN the other day and talking about the possibility of courageously visiting another crag in the near future. I know, it’s crazy. But he asked if I’d done Hoax of Clocks at Central Endless and I was all, “Hell yeah, son! I’m the only one!”

It reminded me that I had put together a little video of the route a few years ago and never done anything with it. It also reminded me of what a terrible job I’ve done of updating this blog this past year. I’m going to make a strong effort to make this blog a place for reading about current climbing happenings in the region. All kinds of (somewhat) exciting stuff happens around here and there’s no place for that info to be disseminated so I’m going to hustle to catch up and then do a better job of keeping it updated. New routes, access issues, that kind of thing.

For now, here’s that little clip of Hoax. I had grandiose plans for making a really cool time-themed video about this route with some sweet Porter Jarrard interviews. It would have conveyed the following:

Porter and Doug Reed were two of the sport climbing pioneers here at the New. They established what is considered the first sport routes on Endless Wall, Freaky Stylee (5.12a) way back in 1988 when I was 10 years old. During the following 9 years, sport climbing exploded at the New and hundreds more were established. At some point during this flurry of development, Porter rapped the wall to the right of the popular arĂȘte Bullet the New Sky which is located in one of the most trafficked zones at Endless Wall. He placed some cold shut top anchors and may have toproped it briefly but in the end, he deemed the crux too difficult and left the route for another generation.

(Edit: OG guidebook author Rick Thompson has corrected the previous paragraph. The cold shut top anchors were placed by Doug Reed. Doug and Rick toproped the wall and abandoned it. Porter adopted the project at a later date.)

Porter discovered the potential of the Red River Gorge in the early 90’s and moved on from the New to live in Kentucky. Lots of time is passing here… Hoax of Clocks…get it? I’m not sure why Porter named it that, though. He was originally calling it The Mellified Man, a reference to Egyptians turning dead bodies into honey, which is also really cool.

Anyway, he moved back to the New in 2007ish and opened a restaurant. Times were different, but that route was still there, completely unchanged. One of the things that did change is that Porter could no longer just drill bolts in the route. He was the first to apply for, and be granted, a permit to bolt the route under the National Park Service’s new climbing management plan.

In 2008, with permit in hand, Porter sunk bolts into Park Service sandstone, possibly the first time this had happened, at least legally, since 1997. It’s a beautiful wall with a singular line on it but the difficulty of it kept it off the radar for most. I was preoccupied at the time with my 4-year project Picket Fence, so I didn’t bother with it.

Chris Sharma came shortly after it was bolted and spent an hour or two on it. He was attempting an outrageous crimp/dyno move at the crux and the media was there to film it. He eventually did stick the move and on his 2nd try at the route, he fell at the crux and couldn’t repeat the move. Instead of trying again, he walked around the corner and claimed the first and only onsight of the Racist (5.13b+)…apparently. I wasn’t there; I remember because the conditions were perfect that day and I was at Beauty Mt. failing on my project again.

The short clip of Sharma trying Hoax, was in the movie “the Players,” sandwiched in between clips of him sending Lucifer (5.14c) at the Red on his 2nd try and onsighting Proper Soul (5.14a). I thought it was safe to guess that the Hoax project was in the 14c range since the crux move gave him some trouble and, well, he’s Sharma!

When the 1st edition guidebook came out in 2010, I gave Hoax a projected grade of “somewhere in the 14c range.” Vasya Vorotnikov hung his draws on it a little while later and gave it a few efforts, I believe trying the move the same way Sharma was. I never bothered with the route ‘cause I don’t climb as hard as I believed the route to be.

Of course, I eventually did try it and solved the boulder problem with different beta, getting a really high foot and doing the move almost statically. It’s a classic NRG move: small crimp, high foot, rockover. After a few days of efforts, I clipped the chains, almost disappointed that it wasn’t going to be the New’s first 5.14c. I honestly thought it might be 5.13+ but I figured I might as well call it 14a since it did give some 5.15 guys some trouble. Regardless of the grade, it’s cool in that it does represent the ‘final exam’ in Endless Wall face climbing: small holds on a barely overhanging wall. And it’s a gorgeous line with bulletproof swirling white stone, and multi-colored water streaks.

That’s what the movie was going to convey; instead I just put together the climbing footage and never got to the rest. I thought the “Hard-Grit” inspired heartbeat sequence was a little too cheesy and I was going to swap out the music which is why I never posted it online. But when I went back to do that yesterday, I realized my hard drive no longer works and the premiere file and raw footage is stuck in there so I only have the rendered version from my laptop. Youtube hasn’t crashed yet, so I figured I should upload this before it’s gone forever.

Back to how the day played out for Chris and I at the Cirque… I got punted off Xanth again, a 13b that I’ve tried on and off for a few years but never seriously. This comes just a few weeks after I proposed the lofty grade of 14b for another Cirque route and got the 2nd ascent of Brian McCray’s old House of Cards (5.13c/d). All Brian McCray routes and grades, House of Cards seemed as hard, or harder, than Proper Soul and Xanth seems harder than both so we joked about how jacked Cirque grades are and grades at the New in general.

I think it’s funny how time and history are going to sort things out around here. My thought was that Brian was the first 5.14 local climber at the New, but Proper Soul wasn’t necessarily the one. Around here especially, things that weren’t that bad for Brian, like Xanth, are very difficult for others and things that he thought were hard, might be pretty chill for others.

I think it’s going to be the same for some of the routes I’ve put up here. Everybody thinks Trebuchet (I called it 14b) is kinda piss and Picket Fence has seen fast repeats by Matt Wilder (three tries), Ben Spannuth (3ish days due to poor conditions), and Jonathan Siegrist (2nd go). Looks like that one is not 14b either!

But then again, I’ve sprayed beta at some serious tough guys on Hoax of Clocks and no one can do the move the way I did. Jimmy Webb said it was the hardest move he’s tried on rope and when I yelled at him to just get his damn foot up he responded, “I can’t! I don’t have as much practice sucking my own dick as you do.” Well played Jimmy. I take this to mean that I can flash V13, I just haven’t tried yet.

So here’s the beta for Hoax. Now go up there and get your damn foot up!

Click it.

Thanks to Pat Goodman and EC Williams for hanging on ropes and shooting the footage!