Saturday night, whilst enjoying pescatarian French food, drinking wine, and laughing with my better half's family, I was faced with a choice.
Option one, stay home and watch a basketball game with a buddy of mine who I don't get to see a whole lot outside of football season. Option two, get up at 7am on a Sunday, drive three hours to the crag, clip some bolts, enjoy the sunshine, and ride three hours back.
Hmm. Go big, or go home? I chose go big.
Admittedly, I was tempted to stay home. After last week's just getting over a cold, and faced with two weddings this month in Florida, I would have relished a lazy Sunday reading in my hammock on my balcony. Alas, it wasn't to be. Sandstone called my name.
It was a great day. New people to climb with. It had been an awfully long time since I'd hopped in a car with a near stranger to go climbing. I feel like the last time was a trip to Chattanooga three years ago or so with Heckmann and Sarah. It was a great weekend, filled with interesting conversations and one Nintendo-themed send.
For all the time we three spent cragging, I think we only got on four routes. Much different than a day bouldering where I can get on far more climbs, the sheer length of the routes prevented a large number. I got to be rope gun for our first two climbs. (Rope gun, for those not in the know, is the climber that climbs each route first. It is assumed that said climber will send cleanly so that the rope quickly makes it to the top of the route, so that all others can climb it as well. Rope gun is also tasked with cleaning the route of all gear safely if no one else can send. Fortunately, I didn't have to step up on the latter.) Now, I say sheer length, but I will be mocked mercilessly by our Franklin tour guide. I am used to short boulder problems. When a route streaks past the treeline, I get a little concerned and spaced. My forearms tend to get tired on such climbs. First route was called Castaway. Not quite as hard as the Castaway at Little Rock City. I remembered how to clip in, didn't make any mistakes, and was able to choose from the far too many chalked holds around the fourth bolt.
Route two was the aformentioned streaker. Nine bolts of exposed awesomeness. I think I made it to the seventh bolt without resting before finishing up with several long deadpoints. Blood, Sweat, and Chalk. The boulderer-belittling tour guide was somewhat impressed. Tim took a few rests too. Rough Saturday.
Route three was the pinnacle of our attempts' difficulty. Bird of Prey. Also known as 7-11, because it is mostly 5.7 moves going into the 5.11 crux sequence at the top. We all had trouble figuring it out. With sapped forearms, none of us were able to send it clean. Had we not climbed Blood, Sweat and Chalk prior, I would have done better. Whether or not I would've sent eventually, I don't know. Those slopers on the top were nasty. Tim did manage to clip the anchors, lest we leave my shiny quickdraws behind. Maybe next time we go there, I'll get on it again. I can still feel the moves...
Route four was a gimmicky start, four bolt climb called Jump Start. I turned the lower section into a boulder problem, enjoyed the motion, and hung out on top for a little while. I could get used to this sport climbing thing, but I'm going to need to step my game up yet again to get any good at it. Any suggestions?