Monday, March 14, 2011

A few from Old Rag

After a good night of sleep following our Saturday trip to Bushwhack (which I'll also post about soon) we got up early yesterday and drove down to Old Rag Mountain in Virginia, a place I'd been wanting to visit for years.  Originally planning to walk all the way up and maybe play on some of the boulders up top, we changed our plan somewhat when a friend's ankle began to hurt part way up the trail, the result of a massive fall that she took a few years back.  Not that I was overly disappointed about the change of plan...  I'm sure the summit is awesome, and I have every intention of going back, but at that point the river and boulders at the base of the mountain were the prettiest things I'd seen all day.  As it was, my friends had practically needed to drag me away from them to get me started up the trail!

Before heading back down, Emily and I walked a bit further up the trail, and saw local father and son Barry and Brendan Condron coming up the trail with crashpads in tow.  They showed us around a bit, and we hung out while they worked on a great problem called The Mindala.  Going at around V8, it worked up crimps and slopers on an overhanging arete, and I could easily see why it's considered one of the best problems in Virginia.  I gave it a couple tries myself before deciding that warming up would have been a better idea.

Brendan Condron working The Mindala

Barry Condron sinking an intense heel-hook

Eventually ready to head back down, we rejoined our friends for lunch on some rocks near the river.  Were it not for the obviously East Coast trees around me, the rushing river, beds of ferns, and round granite boulders would have convinced me that I was in Rocky Mountain National Park on my way up to Sandbeach Lake.  A beautiful spot for sure.

After eating, we walked slightly upriver to a large boulder with several nice lines on it.  Can't remember the name of the boulder or any of the climbs, but some very fun moves on amazing rock.  My favorite was a tall line up a slightly slabby face, using smears and crystals for feet while laying back a left-facing flake.

Me high-stepping through the top of the flake

Emily after topping out the protruding arete below

Up or Down?  Ryan McAvoy considers the possibilities

Walking down and finding ourselves on the road earlier than expected, we used the extra time for a well-earned tasting stop at Gray Ghost Vineyards, and had a nearly traffic-free drive home.  A great end to an awesome weekend of climbing!

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