In October, DMM Team climbers, Alex Megos
and Peter Würth
, headed to the States, swapping their usual Frankenjura sport climbing crags for those of Rumney; as the starting out point for a three-and-a-half month road trip.
After buying a van in Boston they got stuck into the short, technical and bouldery routes that characterise Rumney in New Hampshire. On their second day at the crag the pair both sent Riviera 5.13d (8b) and Alex climbed the super-classic China Beach 5.14b (8c) second go.
That same day Alex tried Dave Graham's test-piece, The Fly 5.14d (9a), which he finally got after four days, upon discovering a better solution for the upper section. This sustained route is only about seven metres high with two bolts. The first one has to be pre-clipped and the second can either be pre-clipped or clipped from the top, so as you might expect the route is very bouldery in style (V14/8b+). Despite the poor landing, which is why it was bolted, it has seen some ropeless ascents, initially by Jason Kehl in 2003.
The Fly was Alex's second 9a, after San Ku Kai, which he climbed last summer in Briançon. Peter and Alex moved on after Hurricane Sandy brought rainy weather with it. Peter said: "We left the area with a lot of nice impressions and for me it was a good way to get back into roped climbing after spending most of the year bouldering."
An 18 hour drive then took them to the brightly coloured sandstone of Red River Gorge. Plenty of well-known and strong climbers such as Adam Ondra, Cedric Lachat, Mélissa Le Nevé, Jacopo Larcher, Jon Cardwell, Daniel Woods and the upcoming little Ashima had also made the pilgrimage to the 'Red'. Conditions were perfect in November which seems to be the best time to visit the area if you want to climb hard.
Alex managed to climb nearly every hard route in the 'Red'. This included three 5.14a’s (8b+) onsight and five 5.14c’s (8c+): Southern Smoke (3rd attempt), 50 Words for Pump, Lucifer (2nd attempt), Golden Ticket (2nd attempt) and Pure Imagination. Pure Imagination was Alex's first 8c+ flash thanks to some good beta from a French team and Michael Fuselier. Peter focused on climbing a lot of the classic 13a’s (7c+) and 13b’s (8a) along with Black Gold 5.13c (8a+), one of the best routes in the Red.
The month before, Pure Imagination was still given 9a, but the consensus from Woods who also flashed it and Ondra who onsighted it, was a downgrade to 5.14c (8c+).
After three weeks Alex had almost run out of projects at Red River Gorge while Peter had a lot of unfinished stuff. But the time had come to make the 25 hour drive to Indian Creek to check out a totally different style of climbing and get the trad rack out.