Tuesday, November 9, 2010

D.C. Blitz!

This afternoon marks yet another beautiful day here at the New River Gorge.  We've been here now just over a week.  The climbing, community and weather couldn't be better (aside from two days where it snowed a bit).  We've climbed at Kaymoor, Summersville Lake and the Endless Wall; the latter of which is four miles long.  Man oh man, there is lots of rock here!  Best of all, most of it is very accessible; which is more than I can say for Washington Crags.  The only downside is that we have seen our cardio slip a bit.

Yours truly pulling on Proper Soul.
Though I've managed to onsight a couple overhanging 12d jughauls (Kaymoor), most of my time has been going into a world class rig at the Endless Wall called 'Proper Soul'.  Hitherto, I've not had the time or desire to try anything that I thought I couldn't do in a few tries.  This last Spring and Summer I poured a mammoth amount of effort into making the FA of an epic linkup called "The Wide World of Fitness" (14b/c).  I'd say I put in 4-5 months and probably 30 goes...it was mega.  And by the time I wrapped it up (aug) I was way burnt out on project climbing.  Therefore, I've been focused more on doing lots of routes.  This has been such a great change of pace for me, and as a result, I've been able to sample a myriad of climbs.  Its been the perfect tonic.

Enter----'Proper Soul'---, this 14a is long, bad (in the best sense) and beautiful.  It starts out with 5.11 jug hauling and revs up at the 3rd bolt.  Most people use a heel hook and statically reach over a blank roof to a left hand crimp; but, with my stature I'm forced to make a three points off dyno up over the roof.  As I'm flying through the air my hand has to blindly bananna around a bulge and quickly find purchase on what amounts to a one finger pad, 4 finger crimp.  Its a low percentage move for sure, but super cool.  After that, the crux comes in the form of an overhanging corner with slopers, crimps, gastons, and crack features.  Fortunately for me, my buddy Eddie (who is also trying Proper Soul) put up a top rope.  This enabled me to crack the code of beta without taking endless whippers.  The dihedral crux finishes at a jug where it launches into a brilliant 13a finish on the most awe inspiring orange Sandstone.  Though many of the New River Gorge routes require marathon long reaches, Proper Soul works for me.  Yes, I have to Dyno a few times.  But, that is all part of the fun.  Yesterday I was psyched to pull through the crux 4th go...  arggg, to fall off of moves I'd never fallen on before.  Trying this rig has reminded me about one of my favorite aspects of climbing, problem solving.  Great fun!  Enough of climbing ballyhoo though.  Let's rewind things a bit.  Because before the NRG we had one wild and crazy night in Washington D.C.!!

On October 29th, we hot tailed it from Scranton PA down to D.C.  Our plan was to find some sort of parking in and around the Arlington area.  And, from there we would peddle our way to the Monuments, and take in some of the iconic landscape.  We were lucky enough to nail a free parking space just North of the Arlington National Cemetery.  Not only was it free, and open till midnight, but it wasn't more than 15 minutes by bicycle to the Lincoln Memorial.   We grabbed some warm cloths, our cameras, and wallets and made haste.

Blue skies and late afternoon sunlight couldn't have been more perfect for viewing this historic collage.  And, with our legs pumping our bikes along, we really got around quick.  We'd recommend this any able person who wants to check out D.C.  The sidewalks are real big and most cars seem reasonably aware of bikers (at least in the daylight).

Our first stop was Lincoln Memorial.  We locked our bikes up and went up to take a closer look...  This is what we saw.

This was my first time ever in our Country's Capitol.  It wasn't only visually impressive, I'd say that reading the words and seeing the images of some of our Country's most visionary leaders moved me deeply.  Politics and Nationalism are not normally things I think about much, but here, surrounded by great men and ideas, I was helplessly transfixed.

Soon, we were standing beneath the Washington Monument.  We took some time to walk around this amazing obelisk, take pics, and look back at Lincoln's memorial and an ever fading sun.  In the opposite direction we saw the Capitol.  We both wanted to get there for some 'alpenglow' lighting.  So, we peddled back down the path, carefully might I add.  For though we were there on a week night, there were still masses walking around, and for some reason these people just love to walk shoulder to shoulder.  We did our best to be polite and get around them without crashing.  Not to fear! (breath....) we made it with just amount light to be take some photos, and get told by secret service not to leave our bikes anywhere not connected to our persons.

In addition to saving time, our bike ride gave us some much needed exercise, and was a boon to our spirits.  Within 10 minutes of riding around the Mall Area we had completely forgotten about the 6+ hours of driving earlier that day.

As the Westerly sun sank into the metropolitan abyss, our stomachs were beginning to talk.  Tiffers, an erudite practitioner of I-phone internet technology quickly found a tasty brewpub only blocks from the white house.

30 minutes later we were ordering burgers, yammer jammers, and some delicious porter.

After a lovely dining experience we said farewell, saddled our bikes and headed to the White House.  Well, I should say "near" the White House.  If you squint real hard you can just make it out in the distance.  I attempted to set up a tripod to get a higher quality image.  But, no dice.  Two policeman quickly informed me that I couldn't set a tripod up, but that I could take a picture and be on my way.  So, I cranked my machine to ISO1600, found a chink in the fence, and held my hands ever so still...  It isn't anything that would look good blown up.  For blogging purposed though, I suppose it will do.

Yes folks, this is the White House, where the President lives.

With all our jackets battened down, we made our way to the WWII, Jefferson, and FDR Memorial.  It was cool to see them all lit up, stark against the night sky.  Here are a few more pictures from our night in D.C.  We would have stayed the following day to see more (Smithsonian etc).  But, the following Saturday and Sunday were slated to be mob like; with a major political rally and Marathon.  With that knowledge, we made our way back to our Van (10:30), and sauntered down the road...

WWII memorial with Washington Monument in the distance.  This Fountain really shines after dark.

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