Wednesday, December 24, 2008

50 Words

This summer I got the chance to climb the fourth ascent of a route called '50 Words for Pump' at the Red River Gorge. The route follows a line of slopey pinches and unique features up a steep face that comes over you like a tsunami. 

The line was originally bolted by Hugh Loeffler and sat as a longstanding project for years.  In 2007 Mickael Fuselier climbed the line during the Petzl Rocktrip.  There has been a lot of controversy surrounding this route because two bolts were added to protect an easier crux sequence a few feet right of the original crux bolts after the FA.  Hugh Loeffler OK'd the installation of the new third and fourth bolts and even encouraged it, saying that if he would have seen the sequence out right, that's where he would have put the bolts.  Since the discovery of the new sequence, all ascents (Dave Graham, Mike Doyle, myself, Daniel Woods, and Joe Kinder) have followed the right crux line and the line of least resistance.  However, there are still people who insist that these bolts need to be removed.  I think that both the right and left sequences need to be respected as their own lines.  The right crux sequence is definitely easier than the original sequence but it was still very difficult with muggy summer conditions. 

I first tried the route in March.  At the time I couldn't do the crux move and I could barely do the moves between the bolts.  I left it alone until I moved to the Red in June.  I didn't really have any expectations to do it since it was the summer and temps were reaching the mid 90's.  My first day on it I surprised myself by doing the crux move and doing some good links.  After that I was pretty much hooked.  I think I went back to it three days in a row and by the end of the third day I had it dialed.  After a couple more work sessions and some redpoint burns I had one-hung it twice.  I was getting frustrated and decided to stay away from it for a couple of days.  

About a week later I warmed up and gave it a burn, falling from the last hard move before the finishing jug.  I was pretty bummed because I had given it all I had, fallen, and was flash pumped.  I started to get the feeling of an epic project ensuing.  

I ended up sitting and belaying for three hours thinking that I was done climbing for the day.  I decided to get on it one last time that day to brush holds for the next day.  I still felt pumped from my first burn when I started climbing and had no expectations.  After I pulled the crux and got to the rest it hit me that I really wasn't pumped or tired.  The rest of the route was a blur and the next thing I knew, I was at the anchors.  I was definitely psyched to have sent it but I think I was even more psyched that I was able to do it in the summer.

It was an enjoyable yet frustrating few weeks to say the least. Knowing that good temps would make the line much easier was very frustrating but knowing the line would go in the heat was exciting.  Here is video of me climbing '50 Words for Pump' using the right crux sequence.

Thanks to Nathan Drolet for the photos and Spencer Victory for the video.

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