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The Red


by Rufus Nagel

December 29, 2001

Here's a short report on my little memorial day weekend...4 states in 3 days...

I finished up at the lab and snuck out at 3 pm to catch the Amtrak to Champaign. I didn't realize how heavy 2 ropes, a few clothes, all my gear, and a few books could be. Somehow I made it to the train sweating like a bull in heat. I got on at Homewood, the first stop after Chicago. There were no seats on the train! I had two choices

  1. sit in the smokeing car with 40 chain smokers and a roomfull of smog or,
  2. go to the dining car and buy something.
The dining car was full, but at least I could put my pack down...someone got up to leave and I fought off 3 old ladies and a mean looking little boy for the privilige of sitting across from a Giantess. She was on the Basketball team of UIC. We got to talking and she confessed to be 6' 4" (gasp!) imagine the reach she has. I shortly dozed off, to awaken 2 hours later to the call of "Champaign".

I staggered off the train under my load (later to be weighed in at 70 lbs) of gear for me and my girlfriend, Maria. Maria was waiting patiently by the train, ready to go (yeah, right!) After we went to her place, packed her stuff, and, ahem, uh, yeah..then we got right onto the road at 7:30 pm. We drove all night, getting lost in Indianapolus (a complete hell hole, by the way) because we took 74W through the city instead of taking a circle road around it. We arrived at my Mother's doorstep at 1:00 am (eastern time) in Cincinatti, OH. After checking out my mothers new house and gossiping a little, we crashed.

We intended to get up early and head to Red River Gorge, near Lexington, KY. But, we rolled out of bed around 11:00, picked up some Bagels and sat around talking...My mother then told me that a new Gym had opened up called Climb Time...After a nice relaxing day, we headed over there. WOW! what a gym...they have about 20 ropes on nice sparcely rocked walls, a huge overhanging bouldering area with a 3 feet thick crash pad. But, the best part was the 50' overhanging (from 130 deg. to 180 deg.) lead wall! I tried to onsight one of it's two routes (5.12a), but it was a no go...I got pumped pretty quick by not seeing an undercling and trying to hold on with a doit on one-finger and crossing over to a pistol grip (totally upside down..) After another try, I had two much rope out and If I missed the would be splat, so my belayer ( dude with the most gorgeous wife, margarita, a way-honed rock betty that can out climb he and me), would'nt give me slack to clip. I clung on for 30 more sec's then TAKE! and a nice satisfying pendulum....gotta go there.

So, sunday rolled around and we actually got out by 830, heading down to the Red. It's a two and a half hour drive and nice country on the Mountain Highway or something. I had no guidebook with me, but was there once before and remembered a spot called military wall, right near the Nada tunnel. We headed down there and found it in no time. I was to carry most the stuff..2 ropes, all the gear, a Thermalounger, and socks (I hate dirty socks). My girlfriend Maria brought the food and water, and my mom brought herself. I got a little lost by making a wrong turn, but we back tracked a half mile and were there in no time at all...way crowded. I tried to jump on sunshine or moonbeam (5.9, 5.9+) but they were busy and there were people in line. I spotted a blank face that was Possum lips (5.10b/c).

I flashed this route last time I was here, but it was a near thing. I went up very smoothly this time and worked out the kinks in my legs from walking with my 2 ropes. I had the idea in my head that I would want to work a route with a static line and I didn't wan to wear my dynamic too much. Never again..that rope became a burden along with the gallon of water we brought. It turned out to be a 70-75 deg. day in the shade. Perfect weather! I ran out of water last time I was there so I brought more than enough this time. Maira struggled up PL, but gave up after 20' of difficult climbing..she has only been climbing for 2 I let her get away with it. I had to go up to clean the I tried to make a variation by only using the left side of the climb...I was going smooth, but feel in one spot that would have been pretty bad on lead.

By then Sunshine and Moonbeam were vacant. I didn't really know which was which so I just jumped on the right one. That was the hardest 9+ I ever tried! It was overhanging and pumpy...the third clip has no good rests near it..I worked my way up the left side with a QD in my mouth..... I was able to clip it into the hanger, but then had to down climb back to nice stuff, I got pooped and went to the second clip to rest...Rather than clip in, I decided to have Maria work a little..TAKE...I fell 4 feet and made a little gasp. It was a good thing I tried that...Maria was getting stuff falling into her eyes so she moved out from the cliff face and was pulled in. I was thus able to instruct her on the proper stance for an overhanging belay..under the rock. That way I will fall out and away from her and she won't be pulled into the wall and I won't fall as far.

At this point I noticed that the third clip was a crater potential if I had slack out for the clip..good thing I down-climbed. I then went up the right side of the clip and was able to just reach the draw and finish the 4th clip and run-out to the anchors. That climb was the hardest 9+ I had ever seen. I think that this is a classic exampple of 9+ meaning hardest move, but with Crater possibility and with continuous overhanging for 70 feet.

I then flashed the climb just to the left, 5.9, similar climb w/o the groundfall. It's amazing what mental attitude will do. Maria then tried the first climb on my static climb and dogged her way up it. About this time I was witness to a climber loose her cool. She was leading the left after her partner bailed and sent her to get the 'draws. She got to the forth clip but was too scared or pumped to clip in. She then traversed to the right and decided she was going to rappel off my TR static line. She asked if she could, to whic hI agreed. But, she couldn't fit my rope (an old Blue Water 11.5mm(due to age) static line) onto her BD ATC. rather than say anything, and noone, even her belayer knew what was going on, she started to descend the rope HAND OVER HAND. Of course, she fell after about 2 feet and took a monster 15 foot pendulum/fall, grazing the ground by 6 feet. This was from 40 feet off the deck, I could help but imagine what would have happened if she had lowered herself on my rope a little farther before her swing.

What should she have done? You all might have you guesses. Learning the body belay would be a start (rappel, actually) or taking a small plunge. I thought that she should have clipped into my QD that was sitting wight on the rock and lower on the right side..but, she lost her cool.

Anyway, Maria was pooped by then and my Mother was happy as can be sitting on the Thermalounger, luxury in the woods, but I had other plans. Fuzzy Undercling:5.11b in this sandbagging hell, and it beckoned me. I got onto it with my wits about me but little left after cleaning those 2 false 9ers. I worked the bottom boulder prob, made the first clip..ah some pro its in. I worked up to the second and the hole was ready for my protrusion...the clip fit and the clang on metal was great. I reached betweeen my legs and found nothing left. My forearms felt like a boy with his first playboy magazine. I knew I was out of gas. I grabbed the clip and weighted it and made a doggie clip. I vowed never to resort to such tactics again, but in the meantime..TAKE.

I was ble to scrounge, undercling, layback on huge flakes and make it to the coolest (well, amybe second coolest) rest I've ever seen. Certainly this is the only one of it's kind oin overhanging rock (NO, I'm not going to tell you what it is, silly!). I made the anchors, and discovered that they were 4 cold shuts that were twisting out and had sand falling out of their hold when I adjested them. The cleaning was epic...and I will never climb with only 1 prussik again.

We walked out and home, and drove back to Cinci. The next day we headed back to Chamopaign. Yesterday I arrived in champaign and we saw the best movie ever..."Much Ado About Nothing" I will be quoting from it henceforth in my posts. Definetly the best movie of a Shakespeare play and maybe one of the best movie's of all time. Ciao,

"Man is Giddy, is my conclusion"

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