BACK FROM HELL

Airing it out on Filthy Sanchez (5.11ish), a beautiful Arete at the Ranch. Photo courtesy Lucas Marshall.
Airing it out on Filthy Sanchez (5.11ish), a beautiful Arete at the Ranch. Photo courtesy Lucas Marshall.

That title is far too negative sounding, but I’m not the one who decided to name the event “24 Hours of Horseshoe Hell” rather than “A Full Day of Horseshoe Heaven.” Bigndy made that call, so I’ll just adopt his preferred nomenclature.

It would be equal parts impossible and boring to recount the entire week, so I’ll save everyone the trouble of skipping over a long post. Needless to say, we had ourselves a good ole time in them thar hills. The Ozark Mountains. Arkansas. God’s country.

The week at the Ranch leading up to the comp held plenty of climbing, partying, mullets, and $3 breakfast specials. As always Kristo and his crew of Patagonia athletes were a blast to hang out with, although it was too bad the Canuck couldn’t make it this year.

The comp itself was incredible. Les and I – “The Shawtay Slayas” – held our own and came in at 6th place. We had decided to try and climb for quality rather than quantity, so the vast majority of our 57 pitches apiece were 5.10 to 5.12. We even sent a 5.12 (albeit a very easy one) on hour 23!

My one big tactical error was attempting to onsight Fat Hand (5.12a) in the dark, 12 hours into the event. Fat Hand is basically a few hard moves off the ground, then about 30 feet of steep, pumpy climbing before easier ground to the anchors. I fell on the LAST MOVE before the easy section out of pure exhaustion. I lowered and figured since I’d put that much work in, I ought to go ahead and do it. I managed to crank out the send on the second go, although I forgot draws for the last two bolts and had to run it out a bit to the anchors. It happens. Unfortunately that effort pretty well cooked me, and after that I went into what Les and I deemed “thrutch mode” – desperate climbing style characterized by jerky and clumsy movements.

Little Les-tot stepped up big and I was wildly impressed. The most routes he had done in a day before Hell was 6! Kid crushed; flashing and onsighting almost anything he could get his little paws on. He definitely kept me going in the dark hours (literally and figuratively) of the early morning.

It was no surprise that our boy Jeremy Collins and his partner Tommy Caldwell brought home the W, but they earned the hell out of it. They finished with over 52,000 points, beating the 2nd place team by 10,000 points. Tommy said afterwards that 24HHH was harder than his two-routes-in-a-day El Cap linkup, pretty crazy. His individual score alone beat our combined team score. Damn.

Perhaps most important of all was beating out Andre and Camilo, my buddies from DC who bet us a night of gym climbing in whatever attire the winner chooses. Now I just need to find a good costume shop in DC…