Monday, May 21, 2012

Weekend Report: Rock Climbing and Camping in Shenandoah

After a weekend warm-up Friday night (Nats game and a party chez LORT-Emily’s BF), I got up early Saturday to start on my real weekend plans: rock climbing and camping in Shenandoah with climbing friends/co-workers Matt, JD, and Lauren.

By 8:30 the car was loaded and we were on our way, cruising through the Virginia countryside with the windows down and the music up (click here for this Weekend Report soundtrack). By 11:30 we were at Stony Man Cliffs, setting up ropes and looking out at this:

We met up with two other climbing friends, Brian and Dave, who had arrived Friday night and staked out a camping spot and two routes on Stony Man. The weather was absolutely perfect – warm but not too hot, sunny and fabulous.

Outside climbing is definitely a different animal than gym climbing. It’s more of an experience – setting up routes, sitting looking at the view, rappelling down, talking and watching others climb, etc. 

We didn’t actually climb that many times each, but it was really fun. Plus Stony Man is a 100-foot pitch, which is pretty much as high as you can go when top-roping.

(We met two girls -- "trail names" Blue and Maniac -- doing the Appalachian Trail and gave them their first opportunity to rappel and rock climb. They’ve been on the trail since March, starting in Georgia and planning to make it all the way to Maine. Oh and one of them was still in high school. Pretty freaking impressive.)

We stayed out until 6ish before heading back to camp where pure awesomeness awaited us. This trip was a bit of a last hurrah for Matt, our resident climbing expert, who is about to move across the country (to Petaluma actually!). So in honor of Matt and climbing and fun camping weekends, Dave cooked an absolutely amazing gourmet dinner on a camp stove: Chicken Tikka Masala with rice and naan. Yum!

And a cheesecake. That’s right – you usually don’t think of cheesecake and campfire together, but let me tell you, they go quite well. (No pictures survive, but it was pretty perfect.)

Sunday morning we were at it again, back to Stony Man for another shot at the wall. Our resident photographer JD snapped quite a few bad-ass pictures of us looking hard core(ish)... well as a few that reflect the decidedly less hard core side of the day...

This weekend will definitely be repeated, in various locations and on various rock faces.

But we're going to miss Matt!!!