Last week I got in a 15 passenger van with GLAM Climb of Austin for a road trip to New River Gorge! This third ever, but second official I think, Homoclimbtastic Summer Conference was the largest queer rock climbing event in the world, with about 70 people coming out (heh) over three days. I’d say there were only four or five of us straight groupies, and a few non-climbers around just looking to get laid. Regardless of the motivation for going, I think everyone left satisfied.
I made amazing new friends, and climbed on the most glorious 5.10s on the planet – 90 foot orange sandstone walls with these sticky (even in the heat) crimps, towering over the lake.
And I surprised myself by nailing every move of a classic 13a called Apollo Reed on the first try. I wasn’t even all that pumped, although I fell about five times and couldn’t seem to make the last perma-draw gate to open. After five minutes fighting with it, turning it, trying the other way or another hand, I climbed past it a ways onto a knobby easy headwall. I still couldn’t get the gate to open, so I let out a string of expletives and took a huge, airy whipper into space, with twenty-five gay climbers applauding. Man, I am a sucker for an audience.
I can be super sensitive to the scene at a climb, in a good or bad way. Usually bad. I tend to stick to climbing with one other person. Crowds freak me out. I never know if I should try to impress people or be impressed or what. I mostly just feel self conscious and embarrassed and leave, or get narcoleptic on a crash pad. But sometimes the right crowd is, like, all I need. When I got through the first crux, a random, awesome kneebar over a shield that gets you into the meat of the climb, all the gays applauded. I started laughing and kind of kept smiling the whole time. I cruised through the next few moves, made a few more clips, then threw for a ledge but caught a crimp and ripped off. It was the end of the day and I considered stopping.
“Girl, boink up that rope right now.” So I did. With some beta from Mike Abell, who had flashed this pile the day before with that particular kind of determination and skill I associate with having lived in a rock gym since age 11, I got through the next section. The route is very similar to what I climb in Austin at Flat Creek. It was, if you know the area, like four Scapegoats end to end. It felt super easy and I wasn’t scared at any of the clips – a common stopper crux for me. I finished it up and lowered after my huge whipper.
The next morning at the group breakfast they gave out awards for the Homoclimbtastic Anti-Comp, to honor notable moments of fabulous from the trip. For what came out of my mouth when I still couldn’t deal with that stiff gate, I won a bag of Beta Clothing and Prana swag. I called my dad to tell him about it. He said he was proud but didn’t want to know what I’d said to earn it.