Thursday, March 3, 2011

A great day at the Reflector Oven, Old Rag Virginia

Last Sunday I got out on rock for the first time this season.  For the record it had been 3 months 20 days since I last went rock climbing.  I did not get out on plastic, or bouldering, or any kind of rock climbing.  Actually I did go ice climbing 2 times for a total of 6 pitches.  I joined up with a group from the Potomac Mountain Club and we loaded up my car with 5 people and headed for Old Rag Mountain. 

Old Rag is part of Shenandoah National Park and is near the town of Sperryville Va.  To get there you want to park at the Berry Hollow trailhead.  Then you take the dirt road uphill.  There will eventually be a turn on the right onto a proper trail.  You continue up the trail - steeply uphill - until you get to the summit of Old Rag.  You will pass two day shelters on the way.  Once you get to the sign pointing out the summit, you have to keep going on a meandering trail through, over, and under boulders.  Eventually you start heading downhill again and you will find yourself among the forest once more.  Then you look for a trail heading downhill to the right, which is near a 3 trunked tree.  All this takes just under 2 hours.... if you know where you are going.

Strawberry Fields 5.9

 Once you get to the base of the cliff, you should immediately stand back in awe of Strawberry Fields. It is an awesome looking hand crack that stretches on straight up through a very blank wall.  This might be the best hand crack in the states of Virginia and West Virginia combined (yes including the New River Gorge).  The grade is 5.9, but it's more of a super sustained 5.8.

Report to Sickbay 5.10c
Our group was quite large and there were many leaders among us.  I can tell you that I'm probably the dumbest of them all because nobody else decided to get on Report to Sickbay for their first climb of the season.  It goes at 5.10c, and was wet, awkward, and difficult.  I had quite a time at the crux which was to exit the chimney and get out on the crack above.  However once again I did prove that with a good belayer I can pretty much get to the top of anything.

Later that day I decided to re-climb it again on top-rope to at least prove to myself that I could do the moves in sequence.  I made short work of it the second time.  When will I learn to not warm-up on the hardest climb of the day?

One last thing, if you go to Old Rag to do some crack climbing, please tape up.

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