One of them, for me, is and has always been West Virginia, that is no secret.
Here, despite an annual flood of tourists and fair weather extremists, there are still far more places to be alone than to join in with a crowd, and adventures a-plenty for anyone who doesn't need a guidebook or a nanny to protect them from their own folly; someone who can accept run-out climbing, varying rock quality, bugs and rain and sparse gear as part of the game of discovery and exploration; talents that used to define the required price of admission to the discipline we call 'climbing' in this part of the world.
Some things change, some never do.
You learn to live with it.
When you can introduce old friends and new to some of the best lines you've ever created, in a setting that combines magnitude with tiny details and dramatic light, it is an opportunity not to be missed, one of the things that makes the in-between hours and days survivable.
My friend Brian came to our corner of the mountains from Colorado by way of the steep walls of the Red River Gorge, his mission: to check out the Nelson Rocks via ferrata with friends Dan and Lisa, crank at Franklin Gorge on some old favorites and finish his visit with all new lines in another lost corner of this amazing state.
Powered by a dinner of stir-fried chicken and vegetables washed down with copious quantities of beer, awakened by strong coffee and chipotle-sauced breakfast burritos, our heroes were led to their challenge by the curmudgeon and his lovely wife as rain speckled our windshields on Earth Day.
|Brian D contemplates the overhanging walls along the North Fork.|
|Muscles and the Tall Man; Lisa racks up for an on-sight ascent of Rock of Ages, as showers begin to fall.|
|Spring along the North Fork|