Belay Specs Blog

This blog has less to do with Belay Specs and more to do with our employee's climbing and outdoor outings.  We'll talk about exciting news about Belay Specs but we'll talk much more about the trips we've taken and the places we've checked out.  We'd like to share some of our experiences in the hope that they inspire you to check the areas out for yourselves. If you read about an area or activity in one of our posts and have questions on beta, route recommendations or anything else, leave a comment and we'll try to fill you in.

Early this morning I got a text from Bram saying that he wasn’t feeling good and didn’t want to climb so I set to looking for a partner for the day. Luckily I was staying at Miguel’s where the pizza is delicious and climbing partners are pretty easy to find. I hadn’t even started looking when someone asked me where I was headed and when I said I didn’t have a partner yet, he invited me to come to Drive By with his crew. Drive By is a great crag in the Pendergrass-Murray Recreational Preserve (PMRP), an area owned by the Red River Gorge Climbers Coalition (RRGCC). Drive By is another great crag for a wide range of abilities, which we certainly were on this day. In our loose group of eight people, there was one guy who had led his first route the day before and there was Ethan, the guy who invited me to join them, who had come out to work on Spank, a steep 13a sport route.

I had long ago climb nearly everything in my ability at the main area of Drive By but recent development on the other side of the holler by Kipp Trimmel and Jeff Neal has resulted in ten new slabby routes that I was itching to get on. I warmed up on Sojourner Truth, a route that sandbag-extraordinaire Kipp called a 5.10b. After pulling on some pretty small crimps and searching for a hold to clip the anchors, I felt the route was more like 5.10d. If you ever see a Kipp Trimmel route in the Red River Gorge guidebook, you should get on it because it’s probably good but don’t expect anything easy. With this in mind, I hopped on Return to Sender (5.10c) and found it to be very sustained, desperate slab climbing. I’d call it an 11a 4 star route. The sun was beginning to peak over the slab adding a sun crux to the already tough to read routes so we headed over to the main area and Ethan gave Spank a couple good burns.

Not having anything to do at Drive By, I headed over to Bob Marley with a guy named Mike to get on a new route called Eyeball Chaw (5.12a). This route lies just right of Bettavul Pipeline, another 12a, and is very similar in that they each start with 40 feet of steep climbing on huge holds and have cruxes at the top. Luckily, after clipping the last bolt of Eyeball Chawt, a right heel-toe cam and a left toe hook underneath it takes some weight off your arms and huge jugs lets you get a good shake out for the crux. After the rest the route turns an angling arête and you need to establish yourself on a crimpy technical face. It took a couple minutes to figure out just how to get onto the top face and a lot of cheek puckering to get to the anchors. I’m not sure what the fall would be like but it felt very exposed. After a rest I took another burn but botched the sequence and took that fall. Turned out to not be too bad.

Feeling pretty exhausted, I headed back to Drive By and watched Ethan give Spank another go. He had a great go and stuck the anchor clipping hold for a second before his momentum carried him off it. He was done with the route for the day but wanted to get another pitch in at Bob Marley so we headed back over there. Ethan worked on Where’s the Beef? (5.12c), a steep route in the cave with a ~10 foot roof in the middle of it. I’ve been on it and the thought of it makes my fingers ache. It had been over an hour since I’d gotten on Eyeball Chaw so I was feeling energized. I got back on it and managed to do a move a long move on the lower section statically, which gave me some confidence for the top. After the heel hook rest, I pulled the corner onto the face and, remembering the beta, managed to reach the anchors. After Ethan gave Where’s the Beef? another go, I hopped back on Eyeball Chaw to get some pictures of the long throw on the lower section and then, just to see if it will work, turned the heel-toe rest into a hands free bat hang. A fun ending to a great day of sending new routes.

What our users have to say

In the end, all the benefits ultimately yield a more attentive belay, and its hard to argue against that. Highly recommended. 

Gripped, April/May 2013

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