Honnold on Horseshoe
Recently, the AAC sent Matt Segal and Alex Honnold to climb for the AAC at 24 Hours of Horseshoe Hell in Jasper, AR. Alex and Matt blew the competition out of the water, climbing 5,830 feet of 5.8-5.13. Alex reports in:
This summer Matt Segal approached me about representing the AAC at the 5th annual 24 Hours of Horseshoe Hell with him. I’d heard about the fun, friendly competition before and I’d always wanted to try it out. Climbing continuously for a whole day is my favorite kind of thing, especially when it’s in a new area on new rock.
We flew out 2 days early so that we could sample the fine sandstone of Horseshoe Canyon Ranch before the event started. We knew we’d need a day to recover from travels and we hoped to work out some beta on a few harder routes just so we could boost our score. The longer I was at the Ranch and the more I talked to all the locals the more competitive I got. I’d arrived only hoping to have a good time and enjoy the spectacle, but by the time it started I really wanted to do well.
The event itself was one of a kind. Not like any climbing festival I’ve ever seen. It almost felt more like a picnic than a climbing comp. Tons of cool people all spread out around the Ranch enjoying themselves. What really struck me was that everyone [it was capped at 200 competitors] was trying their hardest all day long. It didn’t matter at what level, I saw people whipping and wimpering for the full 24 hours. The party next to us whipped off the very first route of the day [must have been a long day for them]. There were people whipping off 12c in the middle of the night. There were people barely clawing their way up 5.6 the next morning. But everyone was trying their hardest, and everyone was psyched for them.
I think the most surreal part was the night time at the North 40. It felt like a big party scene. There were people playing the banjo, people with glow sticks, people passed out in hammocks. Tons and tons of people, climbing the night away. Matt and I did a bunch of classic lines there during the night, the only bummer was that we never saw them. Even though I think we did basically every route on the wall above 10d, we still have no idea what the whole area looks like. We arrived after dark and left way before light.
The whole thing was really quite an amazing experience. I think the fatigue only compounded the strangeness of it all.
I’d like to thank Andy Chasteen for putting it all together and running the event for the last 5 years. And Matt and I would like to thank volunteer Josh for guiding us out to the Land Before Time [aka the Land of the Lost?] in the middle of the night. Everyone was super kind to us while we were there and we had a great time. And thanks to the AAC for sending us out there to represent in the most fun climbing event in the country.
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