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Kai Lightner: Sending Lucifer 5.14c

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

My April 2014 trip to the Red was my longest outdoor trip ever. My ten day trip was 50/50 climbing versus hanging out with my friends. It was awesome! On this trip, I quickly became obsessed with the route Lucifer. Despite the 20 minute hike to Purgatory, my friends Dru Mack and Dylan Barks, drove, hiked and belayed me every day until I sent the route. After quickly working out all of the moves, it got pretty frustrating at times trying to link them. Luckily, I had a great group of friends that kept me entertained and helped me deal with my frustration.
Lucifer is a slightly overhanging route filled with shallow (and razor sharp) pockets and crimps. It’s very bouldery, with poor rests during the crux section. This route is very different from the usual types of routes that I enjoy climbing. In general, I love steeply overhanging, long routes, similar to those that can be found inside of a gym. Climbing a route that shreds your hands with each attempt, forcing you to learn how to climb with cut and bruised fingers (and limited skin), really pushed me outside of my comfort zone. At the same time, it intrigued me to push myself and expand my skill set.
By day two, I was able to link the moves all the way to the final crux hold. I kept falling trying to grip the jug that would have ended the hardest section of the route. A few days later (following a rest day) I was incredibly frustrated because I was unable to link the route through the first crux move. I felt like I was moving backwards. I was eager to come back the next day (hopefully with a better mental game). When I woke up the next morning snow was covering everything, despite the fact that it was 65 degrees the day before! I was really disappointed that I wasn’t able to try Lucifer that day; however I enjoyed spending the day at the movies with a bunch of my friends.
The following day, the snow had cleared up, and we headed back out to Purgatory so that I could climb Lucifer. That day, the sun was shining bright, yet ironically, the rock was freezing cold. On my first attempt of the day, I cleared the main crux move, but fell a few moves later after being blinded by the sun. I regrouped and got back up for my next attempt. As I approached the main crux move of the route, for some reason, I decided to go for a different hold and discovered it was a much better choice! Then as I approached my final crux move, my body told me to change to a higher foot, drop knee, and reach (instead of dead pointing) to my hold using a different hand. It worked and I began to be excited! Reaching that hold ended the most difficult section of the route. The remainder of the route consisted of 13a climbing on really good crimps all the way to the chains. Just when I thought I was home free, I discovered a new problem… my hands were freezing (from the cold rock), my fingers were numb, and I could no longer feel the holds! I climbed the next section at a snail’s pace! I didn’t want to make a stupid mistake on the easiest section of the route. I kept stopping to warm my hands on the back of my neck. After almost slipping twice in the easier section, I finally reached the anchors. I was really excited!!
Although my hands were cut and bruised (with a layer of missing skin on my fingertips), reaching the anchors made it all worth it. I tried to continue climbing the following days, but after 1-2 routes each day, my hands would start to hurt, and I quickly flipped to hanging out at the crags, opposed to climbing. Overall, it was one of my most enjoyable outdoor trips ever! I had accomplished a goal and spent a lot of time hanging out with my awesome (and crazy) friends.
Next stop the 5Point Film festival in Carbondale, CO next weekend…
~ Kai Lightner, prAna Ambassador
Photos by Elodie Saracco and Dru Mack
Learn more about Kai