For most climbers the month of October is the time to drop everything and hit the road. The temperature cools down allowing for better friction and ideal climbing conditions. The days are still long enough for big objectives and the scenery is amazing with the changing of the season.
This October I was lucky enough to travel to some of the best climbing destinations in the country with some great friends. What follows is a brief synopsis of my Rocktober!
As the guiding season slowed down (Park Closure) I packed up the Sea Stack Slider (my Nissan Versa) and headed to the New River George with three of my favorite climbing buddies. Our plan was simple, we were going to climb as much as we could in this amazing area for just over two weeks.
The New river George is a world class climbing area located in Appalachian Mountains of West Virgina. The New is also white water rafting mecca offering boaters a chance to paddle the biggest white water sections in the east. Stunning sandstone cliffs line the New and the Gauley rivers and stretch for miles in every direction. There is enough climbing in this area to last 100 lifetimes! The climbing is varied with an abundance of both traditional and sport climbs. We did tons of amazing routes and were also lucky enough to raft the upper Gauley River which hosts five super rugged class V sections.
I would highly recommend this area to everyone! The people in West Virginia were super nice and the climbing was phenomenal!
My next stop was Yosemite National Park! Yosemite is the epicenter of climbing in the US and with out a doubt my favorite climbing destination in the world! Whether you are a climber or not this is an area everyone should visit at some point. My favorite times to visit are in early May when the dogwood trees are in bloom, and in the fall when the crowds thin out.
I was climbing in Yosemite with my buddy Pete who used to run ACS with me. Pete now lives in CA and works as a vegetable farmer on a vineyard.
We arrived in the Valley at around 2:00am and got a few hours of sleep beneath the stars. It was super cold on the valley floor and I slept in three pairs of pants and two down jackets! The next morning we climbed Serenity-Sons which is by far the best free climb I have ever climbed in the Valley! That night we met up with some friends (three of which are ACS guides) in the meadow at the base of El Capitan. We had a few beers and watched the headlights up on El Cap start to blink on. Pete and I wanted to climb the Nose the following day. The Nose is the most famous rock climb in the world. It rises over 3000 feet from the valley floor and begs to be climbed. In 2007 Pete and I climbed the Nose over three and a half days. Our goal was to now climb the route in under 24 hours.
We slept at the base of the route and started climbing at 6:00am just before the sun rose. We had one 70m rope, five cliff bars each and one gallon of water. We were PSYCHED!
The best way to climb such a huge route is to break up the climb in to sections. This way there are fewer transitions between the lead climbers and each climber can settle in to his role (leading or jugging) for a longer period of time. We made good time up the route trying to free climb as much as possible. The Nose is like a giant obstacle course linking sections of cracks with wild swings across the granite. We moved efficiently up the wall and made it to the summit 16 hours after we began. Climbing the Nose in a day had always been a dream of mine and it felt great to finally make it happen. We descended the East ledges in the Dark and slept back at the base of the route. It was an amazing day of climbing with one of my best friends!
The next two days we rested and enjoyed life with out a harness on. After this much needed rest we geared up for one more climb before we left the Valley. We climbed the Silent Line on the Gold Wall. This is a spectacular line up a sea of golden granite. Lots and lots of very physical crack climbing leads to an amazing view of one of Yosemite’s most beautiful water falls and a great view of the West face of El Capitan. We had tons of fun climbing and made it back to our car before dark. We were lucky to not have been eaten by bears! We saw tons of fresh bear sign!
We drove East over Tioga Pass and bivied in the desert near a hot spring. The next day was a long haul to St. George Utah. St. George has an abundance of great sport climbing. It felt nice to climb in a more relaxed setting.
We are now in Zion National Park. Zion is incredibly beautiful and I am excited to explore some more of it’s classic climbs!
Overall October has been perfect! Amazing climbing with great people! I’m excited to see what November will bring……..