… a question that I may have asked myself only on the few occasions that I woke up before my parents on Christmas morning, was ever-present in my mind on both Saturday and Sunday mornings at our campsite along the Gauley river in West Virginia last weekend.  Maybe its because we were sleeping in the snow, but more likely still was the fact that I was in a sleeping bag rated to “25F” when it was actually a brisk 15F out.

Chilly morning at the Gauley River Campground

Our objective?  To climb outside … in the sun … at the New … for the first time in MONTHS.  Long hours spent in this gym and that, enduring cold days at the crag and colder at the barn, were finally about to pay off.  After an uncomfortable wake up at around 7AM, Grigore, Robyn and I packed up and drove out of the river canyon to the top of the dam above in search of sunshine and made a quick breakfast of instant oatmeal and bananas.  Realizing it was still far to cold to hop on rock, we stopped in at the Cathedral Cafe in Fayetteville for some tasty sweet potato pancakes and a warm cup of coffee.

The Cathedral Cafe has some great grub and a cool vibe.

Warmed by the coffee, (or in Grigore’s case a mistaken order of iced tea) we were off to an area called Bubba City.  Sun at our backs we made fresh tracks aside for those of forest critters, down to the crag.  A beautiful but brisk day awaited and granted us a handful of dry and classic climbs.  The only limitations on what we could climb were sun and ice.  As long as it was sunny, and rapidly melting ice daggers weren’t dangling and crashing all around us, we were good to go.

Robyn holds on for an icy descent to Bubba City

Each time we go to the New it is nearly impossible to avoid the best pizza place in the world “Pies & Pints”. This place is off the charts good, and at the end of a rough day climbing it beckons to you to pull up a stool and chow down.  This time around, however, we made a compromise.  Pulling into the parking lot, we set up the stove and cooked ourselves some suspect looking pasta while Pies and Pints patrons looked on with both pity and admiration.  Saving some cash by stuffing with pasta, we still managed to share a pitcher and soak up the warmth, but most importantly we killed time that would have been spent freezing in our tents!


The next day was more of the same except the sun was just BRILLIANT, warm and inviting.  At one point I was climbing in a t-shirt and loving it.  The sun and warmth really brought out the best of us as Grigore put up a new project “Narcissus” one of the coolest lines at Summersville.  Robyn worked her way to the top of “Satisfaction Guaranteed” arguably one of the coolest climbs in all the New, and I sent a pretty line on the edge of the coliseum called “Reckless Abandon”.

A little more exploring led us to an area of Summersville that was new to us all “Pirates Cove” and even though the route we were looking to get on was washed out in ice melt, we still managed to play on another cool route and enjoy the erie landscape of the exposed lake bottom.

Low water at Summersville Lake

With another great trip to the New in the bag, we returned to State College to see the ground for the first time in months.  Spring has officially arrived and it can’t feel any sweeter.