I’ve been in Fayetteville for a month now, and it has been a month full of dramatic emotional shifts in every direction! When we first arrived, we were super excited to climb, and were really hoping to spend a lot of time dialing in our sport climbing skills so we could progress to a point where we hoped to be climbing in the 5.12 grade. Things started off well, but then the weather decided that it didn’t want to comply with our plans, and we spent more days than we cared to sheltered from the rain.
Fortunately, we really hit it off with our fellow dirtbags living at the AAC campground. Everyone has been very kind and inviting, and we have had the opportunity to climb with lots of different people, meet a variety of Fayetteville personalities, and spend our evenings enjoying the company of friends next to a warm fire. One of the best evenings we had was spent at the house of Gene and Maura Kistler, the owners of Water Stone Outdoors which is one of the best and friendliest climbing shops I’ve ever been to! We went to their house and watched British free solo climber Jules Lines give a presentation about his climbing career in support of his new book, Tears of the Dawn. It was a great presentation, and I found my palms sweating throughout as I watched clips of Jules climbing without any protection whatsoever! You can read more about Jules and his story here: http://www.shelterstone.co.uk/
We were also featured on the Instagram of Water Stone Outdoors. Check out their site, and make sure to visit them for any gear or guiding while at the New River Gorge! http://www.waterstoneoutdoors.com/
Austin Laurent and Dimitri Papazuglou have been hanging our here at the NRG for a couple of weeks. They are two months into a year long climbing trip during which they will subsist on Soylent. That's right, they will drink this nutritionally complete beverage almost exclusively. They say they feel great and don't miss food at all–and it is cheap! Could be a good life hack for road trippers and expeditioners. For more info: www.soylent.me
Later in the month we were visited by our friends Joe Heim and Dave Lucas who joined us for Bridge Day and some climbing. Bridge Day is an annual tradition at the New River Gorge where the bridge gets shut down for a day and base jumpers are given the opportunity to do what they do best, throw themselves off of massive structures! We spent the day walking the bridge and watching the base jumpers, then squeezed a little bit of climbing in later that afternoon. Joe and Dave both made valiant efforts at climbing, and they got some awesome photographs that you can view here: http://joe-heim.tumblr.com/post/101266746628/freshman-year-of-real-life-trip-to-the-new-river
Joe and Dave are also creators of a project similar to our adventure called Freshman Year of Real Life which you can read more about on their blog: http://www.freshmanyearofreallife.com/
The week after bridge day we visited Blacksburg to visit my good friend Ryan Marlow and attend a craft brewing festival called Blacksburg Brew Do. The festival was an interesting event. All the brews offered were quite good, and I enjoyed tasting various ciders and beers (wilder flavors include pumpkin cider and pretzel beer), but I found the atmosphere and other attendees to a be a bit lacking. The music act hired was a mediocre country cover band and most of the kids in attendance appeared to be carbon copies of one another. I saw endless streams of guys in salmon shorts, Sperry’s and Ray-Bans, as well as girls all dressed in the same outfits with the same hair color and the same accessories. This is one of the many reasons I don’t miss college at all, and it saddens me to see people who seem to have such a hard time paving their own individual path in life and settling for the styles, thoughts, and actions that are approved of by the majority of their peers. This is why I often urge people to spend their time reading and self-educating so they can really develop their own personal list of priorities, values, and interests rather than accepting the ones foisted upon them by pop culture, corporate agendas, or public education.
I will also be returning to Blacksburg this weekend to pick Dimitri up and to attend Ryan’s radio show that’s a part of WUVT’s Radiothon! Listen in! Here’s the facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1499792060271954
Unfortunately, while in Blacksburg, Dimitri received news of the passing of one of his relatives, so he booked a train to NYC in order to attend the services, and I returned to Fayetteville hoping that my dirtbag friends would be free to do some climbing for the week I would have to spend alone. Thanks to a stroke of scheduling luck, my friend Emily, and my dad came to visit, putting me in the best of company. I spent 2 days hiking and climbing with each of them, and was very happy to share the beauty of the New River Gorge with them. Emily and I hiked to Long Point (overlooking the bridge) and spent the day there laying on a blanket, enjoying the warm weather, and listening to the best band of all time: The Beatles. My dad didn’t have as much luck and the weather turned a little colder when he arrived. We hiked the Kaymoor Miner’s trail down to the old coal mining town, and also hiked out to Long Point (overlooking Summersville lake… there are multiple Long Points here). It was wonderful to see them, and I’m very thankful that I didn’t have to spend the past week all alone.
Finally, I recently was approached with an opportunity to write a guest blog post for the Brooklyn Boulders Blog. Brooklyn Boulders is the most popular rock gym in NYC, and I wrote a 3 part post for them that should be appearing over the next few weeks. Here’s part 1 for your reading pleasure: http://www.brooklynboulders.com/how-to-live-out-of-your-van-and-rock-climb/
I will post parts 2 and 3 as they go live.