Adventures with Canis Cragus (aka Crag Dog): Part I
It’s been a sisyphean year for Matt and I (Sisyphus was the dude in Greek mythology condemned to rolling a rock uphill everyday for eternity only to watch it roll down again). In other words, there’s been too much futility and not enough frivolity. So, to balance the scales a bit, we’ve attempted to fit as much outside time as we possibly could into the past two weeks. Now, we’re sitting back and relishing the soreness in our hamstrings and shoulders, ready to hobble in to our first week of clinic (we’re speech-language pathology students). Two of the most exciting things: we got to use our tent TWICE, which is quite the achievement considering that the thing has been down in the camping bin mocking me all winter! And, Buddy (our rat terrier) got to experience the joys (and trials) of camping and the great outdoors. This was the Budster’s first real shot at camping. The overarching theme? A lot of poop and unflinching obstinacy (more about that later).
Our first stop was to Fayetteville, WV to climb and share a cabin with our good pals from Boone. This was my first visit to the New River Gorge. Amazing. It’s like a giant rock climbing playground with great climbs stacked beside one another. I can definitely see what all the fuss is about.
We started off at Fern Buttress, and, on the hike in, I let Buddy off the leash to feel the wind in his fur a bit. Mistake. Something you should know about Buddy: he’s cute, he looks clean in his white fur and black spots, but the dog loves some stinky poo: eating it and rubbing it on his neck like the newest fragrance from Dolce & Gabbana. At that moment, Buddy became Shit-Neck, his evil alter ego. I try to tell him that nobody likes Shit-Neck. Shit-Neck receives no petting or kisses or treats: just complete exile.
We were there during the Rendezvous, but we were too tired and cash poor to attend the festivities. We weren’t camping, so the $30 felt a little steep. Too bad, because I really wanted to talk shop with Chris Sharma, which would go something like this: “So, when you’re getting super pumped on some 5.8 chimney, do you think it’s best to let your belayer see you crying or is that something one should only share with the stockpile of squirrel shit in the corner? Thoughts?”
At Fern Buttress, Matt and I started with Ritz Cracker (5.9+). This was the alpha and omega of the trip for me (didn’t do much climbing afterwards due to extreme sloth and torpor). I had zero previous experience with delicate hand cracks or cracks of any kind prior to this climb. Matt belayed from above, perched on the rim overlooking the river. I finally made it up after grunting through the cruxy last section of the climb, my hands and fingers jammed in the crack and feet skating up the glassy opposite face. Later in the day, we hopped on Anal Clenching Adventures? (10.a?). Strange title for such a wide crack, in my opinion. I just couldn’t quite get my hands jammed in there and had to bail before the anchors. Sigh.
The second day, I got to brush up on my chimneying experience, which I alluded to earlier, on a very nice 5.8 in the Lower Bridge Area. I don’t remember what it was called. Our plan was to stay on after everyone left, but severe weather forced us to return home. We plan to head back soon, though.
Anyway, stay tuned for more doggy epics in Part II of our two-week adventure.