Saturday, December 12, 2009


OK. I will admit it. I am a climbing addict. I may not be the strongest. Or the boldest. I might not have the greatest climbing blog in the world. But damn it, I love this stuff. I get a little obsessed. A tad wacky perhaps. Fixated. Etc. A couple years back, I saw some footage of Jason Kehl climbing a beautiful face at Little Rock City (now Stone Fort), in Chattanooga, TN. He ended up calling it The Shield, and the bugger goes at V12. It became pretty evident to me straight away that this was a world class beautiful cumshot of a boulder problem. Later on, some Sportiva ads surfaced featuring Kehl on the very climb. The photos made me even more interested. This thing looked freaking amazing. The beginnings of my obsession surfaced around this time. A little later on, rock climbing legend and sexiest man alive John Glassberg posted a video of his ascent of the boulder. That was it. I wanted in. Badly. Maybe it was John's ravishing good looks, and my insane jealousy at my inability to ever be as unstoppable handsome as he is. But either damn way. I needed to climb The Shield. There was just one obvious problem. I live in Boston. The Shield is in Tennessee. Well, this past month I went to the Southeast to see my family (read: TO GET MY HANDS ON THE HOLDS OF THE SHIELD.) So what did I do in the few weeks leading up to the trip? I tried to ignore my back injury and get my finger strength up to par. I closed my eyes at night and saw this freaking boulder in my sleep. Ridiculous.

Day one: Straight from the car ride from Grovetown, GA to the boulder field. Waste lots of times on old favorites like the Cleopatra-Cinderella traverse (v9), Super Mario (v5), Redhouse (v7), Tri-star Crack (v3), Deception (v7), etc. Finally, I work my way back to The Shield. It's really a sight to see. I was a little giddy. I took a snapshot with my iPHONE and sent it to anyone whom I foolishly thought might actually give a shit. (If you were the recipient of one of those picture messages, I'm sorry ok? I WAS EXCITED. WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME????) I toyed around on a couple of the moves. But my companion had to be to work, and I knew that if I sat down to give it real effort, I would not be able to drag myself away. TOMORROW SHIELD. TOMORROW.

Day two: We had to semi-sneak in to the boulder field on this day because a bunch of uptight, elitist hillbilly fucking retards think they own the boulder field. And that's all I'm going to say about that. Warm up. Head straight for it. Not much time today. But amazing temps. Worked out the opening/easier moves in two attempts. One I got in to the crux, I was utterly baffled. I had use a "lifeline" as if I was in some game show to call John Glassberg for some beta. Jesus, old school rock climbing purist types would have been embarrassed to see me on my iPHONE at the foot of the boulder discussing the nuances of a heel-hook versus a toe on the crux move. But you know what I have to say to them? Technology is freedom mother fuckers. It's fall. Decorative gourd season. Now you're either ready to reap this freaky-assed harvest or your not. Get out of the way, I'm trying to find some 3g network service so I can watch the video on YOU TUBE dammit. Must. Get. Beta.

At any rate, I worked out the crux. Which is very, very difficult and involves a long ass throw off a heel hook that is at about chin height. And you're moving in to a completely shitty flat hold. Sweet. A little dismayed at this point, sun was going down and I had not yet stuck the crux.

Day three: After some snow, and fighting through about 3564529812 climbers to get back to the boulder, I much anticipated a send. The conditions were great. If anything, it was too cold. Something asinine like 27 degrees. I made it to the crux with nearly no effort and almost stuck the move my first attempt of the day. I was having a hard time keeping my fingers warm. After a few solid efforts, I was left by myself with just 1 crashpad. A less than ideal scenario for this thing. I eventually stuck the crux move, and nearly did the boulder, only to have my foot pop sending me flinging from the boulder. GAHHHH! NEXT ATTEMPT IT GOES.

I waited too long. 30 minutes of spotting my friend on Deception proved to be too long in the hideous cold. I got back on and it became clear very quickly that I was done for the day. My muscles were utterly and completely frozen.

I admit it, I am an addict. I will buy a plane ticket to bum-fuck USA to climb on a rock. AND FAIL. But is that failure? Is traveling with visions of standing on top of a physical and mental challenge failure? Is it crazy? Am I demon? Etc.

I think not. I'm going back. The Shield will fall.


  1. I am flattered by your kind gay words Gavin. Sexiest man alive? haha!

    a little Shild history for an addict:

    First done by Tony Lamiche while staying with Ronnie Jenkins. Ronnie suggested to Tony that he call the problem "G Spot" and Tony obliged. So the problem was namesd G Spot for a few weeks then Jason came through and saw it and gave it a good name thus scortching the earth and removing the defiling G Spot name. just thought you might be interested in that little tidbit. Maybe dont tell anyone about the G Spot name. Maybe delete this comment off your blog. It is the secret of the Shield that noone should know about... or at least let it be known that the G Spot name is quite embarassing for the best problem in the country....

    Jon G.

  2. Definitely a beutiful line, nice work Gavin. Cool info on G Spot, do you know if Tony calls it The Shield?