Climbing during less hectic times at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch, Arkansas.Photos courtesy of www.climbhcr.com.
How many routes could you lead in 24 hours? Last weekend’s 24 Hours of Horseshoe Hell challenged teams of two climbers to find out. More than 60 teams began the climb-a-thon at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch in Arkansas at noon on September 16, and at noon the following day the Bomb Squad team of Jeremy Collins and Jesse Gross had logged a combined 127 leads. However, the Bomb Squad finished only third in the competition because they completed fewer difficult routes. Winners Clay Frisbie and Todd Johnson (Team Petra) each led 42 climbs up to 5.12a/b—and nothing easier than 5.10.
Competitors in three difficulty categories could choose any of the 300-plus sandstone routes at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch. More points were awarded for harder routes within a category, and bonus points were given to trad leads. Only the leader got points for the route, and it had to be a clean, no-falls ascent to count.
Climbing at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch, Arkansas.Photos courtesy of www.climbhcr.com.
As with 24-hour skiing and mountain biking comps, strategy played a big role. Collins, who managed a comp-topping 70 leads to earn the best individual point total, said, “My strategy was to just kill it for eight hours, then pace myself through the night with one 5.11 (trad or sport) an hour, and fill in the rest with moderates. I bonked at 3 a.m. and took a rest, then bonked again at 8 a.m., then slowed down a bit until the E-Gels and Red Bull kicked in.”
Despite the obvious dangers of climbing at night with no rest, only one injury was reported. And climbers at all levels performed amazingly well. Dozens of climbers managed more than 24 routes in 24 hours, and Amanda Smith, entered in the intermediate (5.9-5.10d) division, led a 5.11b at 5 a.m. for her 35th lead of the comp!
Collins said the comp (also a fund-raiser for the Access Fund) was a blast, with a friendly and encouraging atmosphere that helped keep climbers going all night. “It’s like [doing] a made-to-order Grade VI,” he said. “Have you ever been on a long route and thought, ‘Boy, I wish the next pitch was a 5.7 jug haul?’ Well, in this case it could be!”