The adventure continues:- Hey Craig “What about the Red?”

Today is our second last day at the gorge and it is our last day of climbing so we head back to Drive-by Crag to get on some of the classics the crag has to offer. We are both so fatigued and our hands have very little skin left on them at all. So the day begins with “Big Sinkin’ Breakdown” 5.11c (23) a three star route and this is the warm up. Monique put the draws on and did the route with ease although she did say her hands were stinging………This route is stiff at the grade and my hands are hurting from the first hold.

The bouldery start and my own fatigue just said “not a chance in hell Craig”. I give the start a couple of shots and look at Monique and smile with that look of “Oh god this ain’t gunna happen!”, I pull through the first two draws and haul my way up the route in a fashion fitting of an elephant attempting to tip-toe through eggs. It was hilarious and disappointing at the same time.

The next route I did was “Slim and the 9mm” 5.10b (20), this route was one of the best routes I have done at the grade, it was so much fun and really diverse in its movement. Lila was belaying me on this route as Monique and Colton had headed over to have a look at another line further down the cliff. Lila followed me up the route and we had a great time chatting about coming back to Kentucky in the autumn (fall).

Monique and Colton decided on “Dirty Smelly Hippie” 5.13a/b (28/29) I think?!?! Lila and I wandered over to the best seat in the house to watch Monique work through the moves on this Drive-by crag classic. Having seen a couple of people on this route previously there were a few things to be aware of like stick clipping the first bolt as the first moves were a little bouldery and the bolt was way up there. Secondly clipping the third or fourth clip (don’t remember exactly right now). The fall potential was high percentages and it would end up messy if you fucked it up. Just get it done and move on. Heading up into the steepness after the fourth clip was where the business begins;this route is so solid and for my pint-sized buddy there are some really long and committing moves.

A very excited Monique Forestier, shoeing up to battle the Dirty Smelly Hippie.
A very excited Monique Forestier, shoeing up to battle the Dirty Smelly Hippie.

She sits to shoe up and tie in as I snap a shot of her waving her shoes around in excitement. Then its game on. Taking off up the face and pulling over the lip of the first section of rock she powers through the route only to come off moving off the sloper crux to the jug just below the lip. Monique finishes up the route to consolidate the final moves. Returns to the dirt and rests for about forty minutes.

I decided to get on Yadda Yadda Yadda 5.11a as my penultimate route for the trip…….this arete route was inspiring to say the least, however after 43 routes in 8 days of climbing I would not on-sight it today. Completing the route with one fall at the crux I came down, feeling a little dejected but very much satisfied with my efforts over the last two weeks.

The authors on-sight attempt on Yadda Yadda Yadda 5.11a.
The authors on-sight attempt on Yadda Yadda Yadda 5.11a.

Monique jumped back on “Dirty Smelly Hippie” and powered through it with the determination I had become accustomed to witnessing in my time with her in the gorge. She sent the route beautifully and was absolutely toasted when she returned to the ground.

Dirty Smelly Hippie!
Dirty Smelly Hippie!

I ran over and jumped on “Brave New World” 5.10c to completely finish myself off and belayed Lila on it for a lap as well………..we have reached the end of our time here.

Brave New World 5.10c
Brave New World 5.10c

We headed home, showered and changed for our last dinner at the Rockhouse and a few drinks, said our goodbyes to new found friends and then we off home to pack.

As the bourbon haze moves into the second hour of my three and a half hour layover at Lexington Bluegrass Airport I decide to move to the bar where I can see the other beverages available to me during my reflections on what we had just experienced and enjoyed with a fervour that I had not felt in years. It is for me an extremely overwhelming and exciting moment of reflection. An outcome that I took the initiative on originally by calling Monique and asking if she would like to go climbing together in Spain. We couldn’t get Spain to work with our schedules mish-mashing across work commitments and family and she said “What about the Red?” I said “YES!” immediately. Sometimes the only thing to do is make the initial move and its amazing what can happen.

Thanks Monique, it was more than a total blast. It was the start of a great friendship……see you in Switzerland in July! 🙂

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