Sendtember at the New
Sendtember has come to a close here at the New River Gorge. And Rocktober has gotten off to a cold, rainy start. We’ve been staying at Roger’s Rocky Top Retreat, or just plain old Roger’s, as most people call it. Roger’s isn’t much of a campground. It’s an open field next to Roger’s house with a port-a-potty, a small token operated shower, a sink to do dishes, and some picnic tables. But that’s not why people stay there. People stay there partly because it’s cheap, but mostly because of Roger.
Roger is one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. He has a laid back demeanor, and kind, Southern manners to match his drawl. When you enter the office for your morning cup of coffee, he’ll put on a big smile and ask, “Whatch y’all doin’ today?” After a week of staying here, you can’t help but pick up some of his expressions. My favorite one is a long, drawn out, “Mmmmhmmmm.” He also has a great sense of humor, and refers to our six pound rat terrier as “Killer.” But it sounds a little more like “Kyeeler.”
Roger’s is located in Fayetteville, a pretty cool small town. Actually, one of the coolest small towns in America. Not according to me, according to Budget Travel Magazine. There’s a great little downtown area, with some great restaurants, a terrific coffee shop, and a fantastic gear shop. The only issue I have is that everything’s fairly expensive. I think they’re more accustomed to rafters coming to town, who have a lot more money to spend than dirtbag climbers.
All of the climbing we’ve done so far has been in the New River Gorge area. There is also climbing close by at Meadow River and Summersville Lake, but we have yet to venture to either of those areas. The New River is thought to be the second oldest river in the world, behind only the Nile. It has a couple of oddities, the first being that it flows south to north, which usually isn’t the case here in the northern hemisphere. It is spanned by the New River Gorge Bridge, which at the time of being built was the longest arch bridge, and the highest vehicular bridge in the world. It’s pretty impressive looking, and it can be seen from many of the climbing walls, or at least from the top of your route. Most of the tourism here is centered around rafting and kayaking on the river. Typically we’re used to any non-locals being climbers, but that’s not the case here.
The climbing so far in West Virginia has been stout. After two weeks of being here I feel much more comfortable, but I am still not climbing at the grades I was climbing in Wyoming. Part of me thinks it’s because of the different style. But part of me also thinks that the grades in Wyoming were a little soft. Yesterday I got on a 10c and wasn’t close to being able to make all of the moves. But I’ve been able to redpoint a different 10c, and about five 10bs, all on my second try. I’ve onsighted a couple of 10as, and I’m currently working on a 10d and 11a. We’ll be here a couple more weeks until we head slightly further south to the Red River Gorge in Kentucky. I’m looking forward to that, and hopefully I’ll continue to climb stronger.