Monthly Archives: January 2014


Let me get you up to speed on the past week.

For those of you who are in the southeast, I’m sure you’re aware of snow-pocalypse-mageddon that was so recently upon us.

It was total pandemonium. The snow hit Tuesday morning and went on for a few hours. Everybody went bat s*it crazy and tried to make a mad dash from school/work/whatever. This is when it got weird. Cars were being abandoned all over the place leaving Birmingham looking a little like the Walking Dead.

While this is going on, George is plugging away. Spreadsheets never rest. Around 4 I gave up any hope of getting home and decided just to spend the night at the office. I re-purposed my crash pads for the evening, skidded over to the chevron to grab a 6-pack, and settled in for the night. I worked a bit longer then hung around with co-workers swapping stories and watching Netflix to pass the time until I zonked out.

Wednesday morning I woke up and turned on productivity overdrive. No one was in the office, no one was walking by talking about weather/traffic/etc. and I was a machine. I’m talking burning-the-numbers-off-my-keyboard kind of typing speed, 100 GWAM AT LEAST, act like you know. I was just about blind from staring at the screen when a friend texted and offered up his place for the night so I didn’t have to sleep on pads sans-shower again in the office (Shout out to Chris and Sarah Lee for hooking me up with dinner, a place to crash, and climbing vids to watch (sorry Sarah)).

After walking a couple of miles to their place, catching a night of sleep, and walking a couple of miles back I was in the office again (it’s Thursday now, for those of you keeping score at home). I managed to hang around until about 1. At this point I was just about off my rocker. I told the boss-man I was gonna lose it and he said that was fine, sent me on my way. Here’s where it gets good.

By this time the roads (for the most part) are fine, the traffic has cleared, and it’s warming back up a bit. I’d made up my mind to damn the torpedoes and go rock climb on my birthday and had a strong preference that it were outside. I shot out an invite on the book of faces, rode by the gym, and called a couple of folks to no avail. I called Horse Pens to be sure that the roads weren’t too bad and Jeremy lied and said that they weren’t. I knew better than to take the normal route up so I drove up to the Steele exit to come up the backside of the mountain. Before I was even off the interstate I got a text from a friend in Bham that was like “yo I just talked to Anthony at horse pens and the roads are bad, and there’s snow all over the boulders”. So naturally I get bummed out and think I’m not gonna get to climb. This was the FIRST time I almost left and went back to the gym.

I drove a little further just to see for myself and happened to come up on some St. Clair county trucks and a scraper that said I’d be fine heading up that route. I took their word for it and started to follow the plow up the mountain. Psych was restored, if only for a moment.

I turned into Horse Pens and parked, amped that I had beaten the snowpocalypse and gotten to the boulders… Now to get lucky and find out that my project was dry, right?

Before I even got all the way out of the car, a dude was walking out and I asked him how the field looked. “There’s two dry problems.” he said. This is the SECOND time I almost left and went back to the gym.

I asked which ones and he responded with Five-o and Odd Job. You would think this is good news, since they’re both located RIGHT NEXT to the rock climb I wanted to do, but when I asked him about Supa Coola he said it was a puddle. Turns out he wasn’t lying. I walked out to see how it looked for myself and there was a steady stream coming off of the LH edge that you throw to first. It looked like a running faucet… Checked Slabalicious, which I was also interested in, also soaking. Straight slime running down the crux hold. I made a quick pass through the rest of the field and noticed that a couple of problems were dry… Inspect Her Gadget, Permanent Scream, and Popeye all looked to be good to go. I walked back up to the office to talk to Jeremy a bit and try to make up my mind.

I ended up deciding to not decide and flip a quarter instead. Heads I stay, tails I roll out, best 2/3 of course. HTT. I walk back to the car and stand next to the trunk looking at my pads on the ground and getting ready to dip. This was the THIRD time I almost left and went back to the gym. Before I did though, something crossed my mind. I work 7:30-5:15 most days. The weeks are long and the weekends are short. I spend most evenings either running to control my weight so I can climb harder, working opposing muscles so that I don’t get injured climbing, or just plain climbing so that I can be a better climber. I spent the better part of the summer sweating my nuts off at Horse Pens trying to get strong on slopers so that when the cold weather came around I’d be ready. I’d never done Inspect Her Gadget and figured my time would be better spent trying that than driving all the way back past my apartment into Birmingham just to sesh at the gym and drive back to my apartment that night. There will be plenty of days when I really won’t be able to get out and climb, and today was not one of them. It was just going to be a little limited…

I went back in with pretty grim expectations and warmed up on the wall next to Inspect Her Gadget (the Ocean and stuff). It didn’t take long moving around on fine-grained sandstone to get warm and psyched to be where I was. It was sunny, the snow was gorgeous, and the rock felt sticky. I started putting burns into IHG and fell off the big move (after the swing) at the end a few times before getting lucky once and sticking it. Psych was restored, not 100%, but there was at least a glimmer of hope that the day might not be wasted.

I ran back over to Supa Coola, more because I didn’t know what to do next than anything. It was starting to look a bit dryer so I smacked it with my chalk towel a few times and decided it was at least worth dialing in the moves. I had punted post-crux on this thing a half-dozen times the weekend prior, so I knew it was close. I got lucky and put it down in a half hour or so today with a nice dude from NY who was down for the week. At this point psych was totally back to 100% and I was ready for the next one.

I made a mad dash back over to Slabalicious to see if I could get it dry and it cooperated. In 5 minutes or so she was bone dry and ready to go. This one ended up suiting my style super well. It really favors static climbers. I got lucky and did the crux pretty quickly then did it in a burn or two from the bottom. By now I was pretty much losing my mind. A smile was glued to my face.

I got a little crazy at this point and thought maybe I could take down Permanent Scream on the way out. Should have known better. Oh well. Ya gotta have stuff to come back to.

These are the kinds of days we live for. Climbers put up with an awful lot of failure in order to catch just a few days a year where everything seems to be synced up between the temps, precipitation, what you ate the day before, what your workout regimen’s been like that week, and psych in general, which is a hard thing to pin down. It’s funny that climbing a few small rocks can make us so happy but somehow it does. It’s like going to battle with yourself, but you don’t win that often, and when you do, it just means you have a chance to start the cycle over and do it again.

It’s hard to remember sometimes, especially for those of us who have rock close by, but a sunny, cold day shouldn’t be taken for granted by a climber. Even if it’s 45 minutes away and you’ve gotta pay 7 bucks to get in… go rock climbing. There will be plenty of days when you really won’t be able to go. Don’t talk yourself out of it on the days you can. Be psyched homiez!

Adam made a video last weekend (this was the day I punted Supa Coola 7 times after the first move, not the day I did it… sssshhhhhhh). Enjoy!

Hidden Gems at HP40 from adam johnson on Vimeo.