I am a very lucky man. I have a beautiful new wife.
I am an extremely lucky man. My wife is a climber.
I don’t know how lucky I am that that same wife agreed to a climbing honeymoon!
The 10th of September saw the start of the #honeymoonsends mission. Not many people train for their honeymoon. I sure had been. Putting in the early morning sessions on a daily basis, day dreaming of my first flirtation with American climbing. When you can’t get out and rock climb, training with the focus of a trip really helps and I was properly motivated. Feeling strong and psyched we made our first port of call Rumney, New Hampshire.
I’ve always wanted to go there. Rumney is the home stomping ground of 2 of the World’s most successful pro-climbers; Dave Graham and Joe Kinder, but more than that the rock is Schist. A world-class crag made of schist! Imagine. It’s just like taking all that is good about Upper Cave crag and multiplying by 100.
After a few nights of proper honeymooning in Boston we made our way 2 hours North to Rumney and were not disappointed; with the climbing anyway. The weather was hot, dry at least, but 28 degrees does not make for hard sends at South facing crags.
At Rumney I had a two things in mind, attempt to onsight the iconic, photogenic, area classic Predator 5.13b (8a) and try China Beach 5.14b (8c) as demo-ed by Dave Graham in Dosage 2. Day 1 of 4 we only had the afternoon to climb. A beeline straight to Predator, 1 warm up then done. Predator is a stunning 45 degree arête, perched 1 pitch up, above the tree line, looking out over the idyllic New Hampshire forest. A truly magical way to start the trip, goal complete straight away.
With the sun setting we dashed over to Waimea, Rumney’s most impressive crag. The frozen wave of Schist is home to most of Rumney’s hardest routes, which generally follow grooves, corners and big features that beg to be climbed. All the routes require a bigger dose of technique than your average euro-limestone line and every grade puts up a great fight.
China Beach, an overhang flake in a faint groove up the centre of Waimea’s toughest piece of wall is a beautiful line. With 30 mins of light left, I rushed up it bolt to bolt, doing all but 2 moves and coming close enough on them to realise that they would go next shot. Given the conditions, an early start would be necessary. At 9am the next morning I stood at the base of China Beach, gutted. The route was already in the sun and it was already too hot!
I knew I could do the route, but it would take me a good number of goes. I had 3 days and the climbing window on the route was way too short. I couldn’t afford to lose all my skin on this thing because of the heat and write off the next 2 weeks with split tips. I had to be realistic and lower my expectations. I moved further down the cliff to a section that stayed shaded till midday and got on Cold War 5.14a (8b+). Despite being a link up of 2 8b’s, this route covers some of the best climbing on the cliff. A desperately technical bottom groove (also seen in Dosage 2) followed up by weird technical press move on a 30 degree overhang, in to a pumpy, kneebar-tastic finish.
Despite even earlier starts, day 4 came without a send. It seemed that the temperature rose so fast that 1 or 2 hurried redpoints each day were all that were feasible. I needed to get something done. In the end I knew I could do the top half of the route, no matter the weather. This was part of the route, Urban Surfer 5.13d (8b). A first attempt redpoint was at least a consolation to the consolation.
Is it enough to know I was more than capable of climbing, China Beach, or Cold War? It is nice. I know my training had me at the level to climb 8c quickly again. But no, it is not enough. The training was done exactly so I could clip the chains, revel in the buzz of climbing one of the best sport climbs in the World. You can’t change the weather, but that doesn’t mean I’m not disappointed. Time to start saving for another airline ticket!