Trip Report: Oklahoma and Arkansas
During his last trip up to Squamish, my good friend Kevin told me about a little area in Oklahoma that is super high quality sandstone. During the winter break Michelle and I always make the pilgrimage home to Austin so I decided to extend my trip so Kevin and I could drive up to OK. It was a short trip, but pretty jam packed. The first stop was McGee Creek in Stringtown, OK, which is only 5 hours from Austin so we were able to squeeze in a short evening session after the drive up. We tried The Visionary and Solar Strike with very little success. The Visionary stumped us and Solar Strike had a massive slam dunk finish move that I was never able to get the distance on. After that we ventured deeper into the woods to do a cool moderate compression problem Kevin spotted early. We were both able to send pretty quick but I snagged it first and had to navigate the top out. I don’t know if it was the fading light, dirty unchalked holds, or my own shear obliviousness, but it was the worst top out of my life. It took me a solid minute to pull over the 2′ bulge at the top. Pretty pathetic. Anyways from there we drove up to Bartlesville just past Tulsa for the night.
The next day we drove out to Osage Hills, the next destination and main stop for the trip. This is the area that Kevin had told me about and he did not disappoint. There aren’t many problems but what is there is amazing. The first area we went to was a gorgeous cliff band with an amazing 45 degree wall. Sadly most of the wall was blank but there were two V6’s called Nemesis and Memesis that shot right up the middle. We did those quick then moved over to the main attraction (I should note that we later found out that those two problems topped out which we didn’t realize so sadly can’t take the points for those two). Geometry Class is probably the best problem in OK and by Kevin’s standards the best V7 (pre break, now at least V8) he’s ever done. It kind of has everything: dynamic power move, techy body position moves, crimps, wraps. It almost felt like a Squamish climb. This problem was one of my major goals for the trip, and I wanted to try to flash it. I was off to a good start, I stuck the big intro move, cruised the the next few, and go to the crux. Which was wet. So needless to say I had to give up. From there we walked up the hill to try Chaos From The Masses, or rather the high start which I later learned is called Power To The People. It’s supposed to go at V9, but it felt more like V7 to me, and rightly so: I started in the wrong spot. That’s what happens when you go to a low traffic area! Oh well, it was a fun problem either way. Up next was my second major goal for the trip: Steak Dinner Right. A pumpy little V9 traverse that felt very reminiscent of Sesame Street in Squamish. Honestly I think Steak Dinner was slightly harder. It didn’t have the same satisfying slam dunk finish but still a fantastic problem overall. With that one in the bag we called it a day, and since I pretty much climbed out the classics we decided to move along to another area. Well, to another state actually. Next stop Arkansas!
We drove into Fayetteville that night and crashed at a random hotel. Fayetteville is a pretty cool little college town by the way. The next morning we drove out to Area 74 about an hour from town. Area 74 is basically an outdoor climbing gym. It’s actually a giant overhanging cliffband covering a rest stop on the side of the road. Literally 10 sec approach, picnic benches, trash cans, etc. Pretty swanky as far as crags go. We warmed up on “the classic V4” called The Fin. Then I did Hood Rich, a squeezy V6. For 3rd day on I was feeling pretty good and was super psyched on a problem called Backseat Spooning a more or less two move V10 ending with a victory lap on jugs. The two moves are: lock off left hand start hold, hold body tension and snag an awkward right hand pinch, set up your feet and go big to a left hand mini jug and hold the swing. First attempt I pulled on, tightened up and reached for the pinch, only to grab it wrong and fall. Next attempt I knew to slow it down. Grabbed the pinch just right, walked my feet over, eyed up the jug, a little too far, oh wait left hand intermediate, square up with that, jump and snagged it! With a little try-hard I held the swing and took the victory lap on the jugs to the finish hold. My second V10 on my second try. Pretty fantastic way to end the trip. Here’s the video I put together of the trip.
Now that I’m back in Seattle it’s time to get to work. I only got a couple weeks of weighted campusing in before the trip so I’ll be restarting that cycle. I will say that I felt a significant lightness after just those few sessions so I’m pretty psyched to see what happens after a full cycle! Other than that, I was recently inspired by the latest addition to the Seattle strong guy crew, David Powell, to take my training even more seriously. I’ve lately been trying to find shortcuts, or just do the minimal amount of work needed to show improvement. I need to get back to putting in the extra hours, controlling my diet, staying focused and motivated, and generally just trying harder so that I can achieve that next level, even if only momentarily. I’m working full time at school now so it’s going to be hard to find the time for all this but hopefully by putting my intentions in writing I’ll hold myself accountable and motivated :).