Red River Trad Climb, Under The Stars
This night was going to be a night of firsts for me -- I was about to do my first night climb, follow on my first trad route, and do my first multi-pitch climb all at once.
It is 10 p.m. in the Red River Gorge, and I find myself driving down a small winding road in the pitch dark with new climbers I just had the pleasure of meeting a few days prior. My stomach is in knots, and I feel butterflies all over my body. We are getting closer to the trail that will take me and my new friends on an adventure of a lifetime.
Finally after a short but long 30-minute drive we arrive at a small pull off on the side of a road. I'm nervous and scared, but the rush and excitement is a feeling I can't describe. We check out backpacks to make sure we have all our gear, and I have my trusty Deuter 45L day pack filled with cams, nuts, helmets, carabiners and various climbing gear.
And all of the sudden we're off ...
We embark on this trail that is one of the steepest trails I have encountered in the Red, and I start to feel winded after all the switch backs. My nerves start to race and I start to feel panic of what I am getting myself into, and then all a sudden we arrive to our wall. It is a short two-pitch climb, but to me it was a whole new ball park. I had only done single pitch sport routes up until this point so my excitement is through the roof.
After a short moment of gathering our gear, my friend leads the first pitch and sets a top-rope belay to bring the rest of us up. I watch in amazement as my friends climb up this first pitch and can't wait to get my turn. And all of a sudden it's here. I put my shoes on, tie my figure eight knot on a bite and start climbing up this beautiful crack. I have never climbed crack before, so I'm trying to find any face hold to grab onto and end up just lay backing the whole way up. I get to the top which had a huge belay area you could explore and take it the awe and beauty of nature.
I'm lost in the moment and beauty of where I am and what I am doing and then all of a sudden my friend calls down -- it's time for the second pitch. I was excited to get even higher and get another dose of climbing crack. I start climbing up yet another beautiful crack when all a sudden my helmet bumps the roof and I realize I have to traverse sideways. I start to feel nervous as I have lost sight of the belay ledge I was at and could not see my friends at the top. But I feel great holds and I know I'm on top rope so I just keep going. I get to a no hands rest and realize I looking out to the most breathtaking view of the gorge. The stars and moon are shining so bright I struggle to catch my breath in their beauty.
Then I finish and top out the second pitch and join the rest of my new friends at the end of our climb. We are all silent for a moment just trying to take in the beauty and amazement of what we just accomplished. We all lay down at the top of this rock and just watch the shooting stars and moon drift over us.
That night was one of the best nights of my life, and I felt a part of my soul awaken. I realized how much I loved the outdoors and what rock climbing meant to me. I met new friends that will become lifelong friends and I realized what I wanted and needed to dedicate my life to. Thank you Deuter for giving me the best backpack possible to accomplish that adventure and give me the courage and confidence in my gear to know I have many more adventures to come.
Michelle Vlasich is February's Guest Blogger and proud new owner of a Deuter Freeride Pro. If you have a great story to share, hit us up on the Write For Us! page. You could be next month's winner!