2013 Horseshoe Hell - Doing the Double

36 Hours of What Were We Thinking

"36 Hours of What Were We Thinking" -That's what Natalie put on our shirts.   When Andy first announced the qualifications for doing the double was having done 100 routes the year before, I immediately wanted to try.  Natalie was a bit more skeptical but thought it was worth doing as a one-time challenge.   Once we accepted the challenge, we knew we would need to train harder than we had ever done before.   At 48 and 64 years old, Nat and I knew we would have to prepare way more carefully than our younger counterparts.   We did more cardio, more climbing and more planning than ever before and were constantly concerned with injury and illness.  Natalie got a bone spur in her shoulder early on and I tweaked my back mid summer.  But, we found the right mix to recover and keep focus.  But, this was unknown ground.  We knew from previous years that we could climb pretty hard for 24 hours without bonking too bad.  But, the key was never stopping.   We really feared the break between the 12 and the 24.  Would we be totally wasted?  Would we be stiff and sore?    Would we bonk at 10pm instead of the normal 2am?   Would we be able to get our gear and food stashed and would we be able to get decent nutrition during and after the 12?    Fear and paranoia ruled.  In the last few years we have tried to do a blog for our own history since after 8 years, the actual events in the comps sometimes get blurry.   Even though it is for our own chronicling, others may find it entertaining and may actually get some hints on how we approach the 24HHH.  Click on any picture to get the bigger size. 

We got three days at HCR the week before the comp to finalize some beta and toughen the tips.   We especially wanted to scope out some of the more obscure trad lines.   Nat almost broke her finger on Cracked Rib by not pulling her hand out when shooting for a high hold.  That event forced us to move to easy trad so we got a lot more beta than we had originally planned.   

12 Hours

Perfect weather and perfect forecast.   What a change from last year.  Our plan was to hit the 12 hard with our hardest routes and then try to get 100 routes in the 24 with quite a bit of trad thrown in with the outside chance of Natalie getting the most trad routes for women.    At the start I sprinted up the hill from the Pavilion.   It was soon apparent that there would not be a lot of competition for the routes on Prophesy.   We got to Learning to Fly with no others in sight.   From Prophesy to Ren and Stempy to Titanic, all went as planned.   Titanic was a bit crowded but we knew we could use Port Side to wait for other routes to open.  We had a small bump on the 10c on the backside but after that we were on track again.  Port Side was hard but we both got it with no drama.    After a stop for a 9+ and the 10b on Doomsday wall, we moved on to the North Forty.

This happened while pulling the rope on Doomsday three bolts up!  Fortunately it was after one lap so we were able to lead from the other end of the rope and not lose much time.

First stop was the corridor.  Jack Hole was not fun.  I blew the mantle and had to do a one arm press out.  Nat took two tries when she, like me, used the wrong foothold.  

Huge thanks to Liz Chrisman for the awesome shot of Nat on Jackhole.

 After Harry Potter, we made what may have been a mistake in route choice.  We did Season of the Storm and First Normal in full sun.  

It cooked us.  Time to look for shady routes.     Around this time we saw it was possible to hit my age for route count (64).  So, the combination of having already done 32 5.10s and 18 5.9s we went for easy to get as many routes in before the final gun.    It was nice to relax on 5.7s.

Jim Grace had a goPro on an extendable pole and got Nat running up some easy route with a look of relief on her face.

We hit the pavilion with our goals met and could relax for a bit.  Phase one complete.   

We determined to try to get a good meal and good nights sleep.  But, Andy volunteered to cut the line and get us each two hot dogs.  Score!   No resistance to that offer since the thought of making a nutritious dinner was not high on our list.    Back to the cabin to unwind.

Golden Oreos and a comfy couch.

24 Hours of Horseshoe Hell

We felt pretty good at the start of the 24.   The Climber's Pledge was awesome as ever. 

Corbin Brady was a savior by humping our packs and green smoothies up to our planned start.   When the gun went off, instead of our normal hump straight uphill to Prophesy, we got to run downhill briefly headed for Kindergarten Boulder.    We were pretty relaxed knowing that our initial plan was simply to climb easy routes as quickly as possible with some easy trad thrown in when needed to avoid lines.   

Notice the #6.   That boat anchor allowed us to safely run up some of the easy wide cracks.

We cleaned up area after area without ever getting on a 5.10.   It was a strange situation where we avoided what we normally were obsessing over, hard routes.  We noticed that climbing easier routes was not hurting our skin like the hard routes had the day before.   Time flew by as we ran up route after route.   

Land Beyond without doing the 5.10s was pretty chill.

Before we knew it, it was 10pm check-in and we already had 80 routes done.    

Night climbing had perfect weather and almost no waiting for routes.

A mysterious stranger was passing out peanut M&Ms to everyone.

We reached our goal of 100 routes at 2am so it was time to up the game.   I knew the women's record for most pitches climbed was either 130 or 133.  We had 8 hours to get 34 more routes in order to have a shot at the record.   We were getting low on available easy routes but still had quite a few trad routes on our list.  So trying get the most trad routes female was also possible.   These two goals were not really complimentary since trad takes longer but they at least allow you to climb if sport routes aren't available.   So, with a new mission, we focused on pushing hard to the end.  

Approaching the last hour it became obvious that our goal for the pitch record was slipping away due to lines and the fact that we had done so many of the easy/moderate routes.    I decided to stop climbing and let Nat run the last hour as fast as she could.   She quickly dispatched two trad lines and we moved up to the Perfect Hair/Action Hotdog area for a couple of quickies.   Lines on both!!  But, the long line for Perfect Hair was a group just waiting to get their last lap in for their final hour.  They all graciously allowed Nat to jump in front and scamper up two very quick laps.   The line for Action Hotdog was now gone so she ran up that too.  I then realized that we almost had a major screw up.   I hadn't climbed a route for this final hour.  I grabbed two quick laps and let Nat know that she needed two more pitches to get to 134.   The corridor beckoned.   She was not thrilled about doing any of those crimpy routes but settled on two trips up Around the Fur.   We probably could have gotten in one more lap on one of the harder routes but with 134 pitches in the bag, we headed down.   

Mission accomplished.

Well, it wasn't as bad as we had feared and it was in fact quite enjoyable.  The 12 proved to be tougher than the 24 but that is probably because we old folk don't have the power we used to.   

Clay Frisbie's legs were a bit the worse for wear.

Jeremy Collins was finally able to relax.

As the slip-n-slide was getting tested, the rains came.

Some were not deterred but the rain forced the award ceremony to the pavilion.

Most of the great pictures I used in this blog were from one of our favorite people, Lydia Ruth Freeman.

So, the finally tally was:

12 Hour - 64 pitches each.  12 5.10a, 8 5.10b, 10 5.10c, 2 5.10d, 18 5.9, 14 5.8 and under.

                 Natalie won overall women and Leather and Lace finished second team in Advanced.  We both climbed exactly one half mile.

24 Hour - Nat 134 pitches 40 of which were trad, me 126 pitches 36 of which were trad.  

                Natalie won most pitches women and most trad routes women and climbed over a mile.

Special thanks to the Johnson family and the big guy Andy Chasteen.  They made this amazing event possible.

Shout out to all the great sponsors.

Finally some special thanks to all the volunteers and especially the core group that worked tirelessly for the entire week headed by Daniel DeMoss.   Thanks to Nate Borchert especially since he helped us get our coolers to the North Forty and basically got us anything we needed to facilitate our part in helping run this great competition.