Cragmama "Not all who wander are lost…" JRR Tolkien

2023 Recap and Looking Forward to 2024…

Well it’s that time of year again where our family likes to get super nerdy with stats and graphs! From a family adventure perspective, we had an AMAZING year. We spent 44 days climbing outside, and our climbing area breakdown looked like this:

Starting the roof crux on Manifest Destiny

NEW RIVER GORGE (and surrounding areas) – 12 days

From a climbing performance perspective, our biggest challenge as a family was the logistics of balancing 3 different climber “agendas,” plus a kiddo that is mostly along for the ride but still wants to tie in on something easy every now and then. Though none of us quite accomplished ALL that was on our list, we each hit some major milestones throughout the year. The CragDad had been hovering in the 90’s range of lifetime 5.12 sends for the past few years, and this year he was finally able to get the last 7 ticks he needed for his initiation into the “Century Club.” Equally awesome was Canaan breaking the 5.12 barrier this past fall! He finished the year out with a total of sixteen 5.11s and three 5.12a’s (J Rat’s Back at the Red, and Morning Dew and Dead Painter’s Society, both at the New.)

As for me I tried to keep my goals as broad as possible in order to be able to mesh well with everyone else’s agendas. It kinda sounds corny, but honestly my main goal was really just to enjoy the fun side of family climbing again, after getting so bogged down with the Pudd’s Pretty Dress saga of 2020-2022. If you are unfamiliar with this saga, part of it can be read here. I got so burnt out on it in fall 2022 that I stopped writing about it, BUT the end of the story was told in a Power Company podcast episode found here. Full disclosure: It’s called the “Failure Episode” for a reason! (As a sidebar….getting the chance to be on the Power Company Podcast was probably one of the coolest climbing-related things I got todo in 2023! It definitely brought my experience full circle and helped me move on from my frustration.)

Cruxin’ out on Likme

Anyway, my goals could be summed up as follows…

MANIFEST DESTINY – This was the only specific route I had on my list for the year. It was the last undone line for me out of the seven 5.12s on the Hawksbill 12 Wall down in Linville Gorge. On paper it’s graded the easiest. But in reality, it was by far the hardest one for me. In fact, after I sent it in June, I realized that Manifest Destiny took more tries than any other route I’ve sent.

QUICK SEND FUN – In my quest to “make climbing great again” I wanted to remember how to send again, so outside of Manifest, I wanted to focus on the hardest grades I could send quickly – ie, 4-5 tries or less. This was super compatible with both CragDad and Canaan’s goals, and it was great fun working a lot of the same routes together each year! I also had a lowkey style goal to hop on more steeper, anti-style routes for me, which worked out great on Manifest Destiny as well as 2 week long trips to the Red. I ended my year with 9 new 5.12 sends, bringing my lifetime total up to 134. Perhaps I’ll make a “Century and a Half” run at some point in the coming years, but probably not for 2024! Here’s my 5.12 tick list for the year, in chronological order. (Fun fact: This is DEFINITELY the first time the majority of my 5.12 sends have come from the Red!)

Anti-stylin’ out the Planetarium roof at Hidden Valley

Likme 12a (7 go’s total, but the first 4 were a long time ago)
Crimp My Ride (2nd go)
Melungeon 12a (3 go’s)
Manifest Destiny 12b (28 go’s off and on since 2015, though serious attempts didn’t start til 2021)
Mass Hysteria 12a (5 tries)
Suppress the Rage 12a (4 tries)
Keepin’ It Real 12a (2 tries)
Summer Solstice 12b (2nd go DESPERATION MODE SEND!)
Dead Painter’s Society 12a (2nd go)

PROJECT SHOPPING? – This goal had a question mark with it b/c I wanted to be really careful to not get caught up in the projecting process again. By the time I sent Manifest, the rest of the family had gotten sucked into some of the other routes on the wall, so I decided to try the only other route left on the wall – Triple Bypass 13a. While most of the climbing is similar to the rest of the wall, there are two distinct bouldery moves that are definitely a step up in the power department. So with the rest of the family stoked on hiking down there again, this one is definitely going on my list for 2024 projects!

As far as other project shopping endeavors, I had reasonable-for-first-efforts success on a 13b down at Endless Wall called ‘Bout Time. The movement was fun but the crux is NAILS hard, so undetermined whether that one should go on the short list or not! A goal that still remains unchecked is trying out a few routes I’ve been talking about for years…namely Quinsana Plus. It just never seems to fit with all the other stuff we’re trying to do…that and I am quite intimidated by it so that’s probably more of an excuse than a legitimate reason. 🙂

WHAT ELSE FOR 2024? – As we roll into a new year, I’m coming up on the 2nd anniversary of officially starting my side hustle coaching business. As I’ve added more and more athletes to my training roster I’ve realized that I am way more stoked on designing THEIR programming than I am on designing MY programming! Decision fatigue is REAL, and b/c coaches need coaches too, I’m really excited to work with Lauren over at Good Spray for a 12 week block in a few weeks! This spring will hopefully feature another week at the Red as well as a bunch of weekends spent at our usual haunts. In the meantime over the winter you will probably find me doing just as much lifting as I am climbing these days, taking advantage of the off-season to build up some strength gains!

Let’s keep the stoke going! What are some achievements from 2023 that you are proud of? And what are you most looking forward to in 2024?!


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“Not all who wander are lost.” —JRR TOLKIEN