Touchstone Blog Archive
Monday, November 15, 2010
  How to Grab the Golden Ticket: Pringle Talks Redpointing
On Saturday November 5th, Ethan Pringle redpointed The Golden Ticket (5.14d) at the Red River Gorge’s Chocolate Factory . The all natural sandstone route features pockets and crimps on a steep wall. “The line is so inspiring and the movement is really incredible,” Pringle said. “I’d just like to say that the Golden Ticket is maybe the second best route of its grade maybe behind Biography.” To climb such a difficult route, Pringle employed a number of different tactics. Pringle’s techniques are applicable to any project- from the gym to the boulders to free El Capitan routes.

Pringle at the anchors of the Golden Ticket

Pringle’s path to his redpoint was a long way in coming. “When I first got on the Golden Ticket, it felt nearly impossible,” said Pringle. Pringle spent his initial efforts figuring out the moves on the route and then linking them into longer sections between hangs. The crux involves a V9 boulder problem with an accuracy dependent deadpoint to a hidden pocket. Higher on the route, there’s another V9 or V10 red-point crux which spit Ethan off a number of times. To climb high on the route, Pringle needed to maximize his efficiency through the difficult deadpoint so he could tackle the hard redpoint crux with a lot of energy. On his fourth try, Pringle climbed the entire route with one hang. On his fifth try, he managed to make it well into the red-point crux. Pringle’s next few efforts saw marginal gains though. The small and abrasive holds worked his fingers. The temperature and humidity affected his climbing. P

ringle analyzed each of the factors. “I realized I needed to start warming up better before getting on the Golden Ticket,” Pringle said. Warming up the muscles is an integral part of climbing hard. Trying to achieve maximum performance out of muscles without sufficient warming up can result in a “flash pump”, a condition where the forearms are filled with lactic acid. Pringle realized his need to avoid this condition so he could maximize his energy to tackle the difficult climbing near the end. “ I also realized that the temperature of the wall and the air mattered a lot- too hot and my skin would slide off the terrible crux holds, but too cold and my hands would numb out and I'd over-grip, get pumped and fall. The temps would need to be just right.” Optimal performance is often condition dependent. Waiting for a weather window is one of the most difficult parts of rock climbing and affects everyone from boulderers to alpinists.

Working the Golden Ticket from Ethan Pringle on Vimeo.

A video of Pringle sending the route.

The clouds drizzled on November 5th. It was a dismal start to the day. Pringle knew better than to let the morning weather to affect his psyche. “That would mean that the wall would be cool instead of blazing in the sun like it normally does from 11:30-5pm.” Pringle started late and arrived at the Chocolate Factory parking lot to cold temps and little humidity. Derek, his friend and climbing partner, noted the “ideal” conditions that occur at the Red River Gorge saying, “Where else can you go sport climbing and say that the conditions are prime while you’re walking through puddles on the way to the crag?” Though conditions were not perfect for Pringle they were better than they had been.
Pringle kept a cool head approaching the route. Though he was nervous, he tried not to let it get to him. Pringle suspected he wouldn’t send but felt pressure to perform the route so it could be documented by his filmmaker friend. Pringle didn’t let his nervousness affect his performance though and after a solid warm up to make sure he wouldn’t get pumped, he headed to the route.

On the day he sent, the route felt easy for him. His muscle memory helped him sprint to the top crux. “Every move felt easier than it had on earlier tries, my skin on my fingertips felt nice and tacky, and I breezed through the crux easier than I had on previous attempts like I had just hung on the draw below the crux. I grabbed the finish hold, gave some celebratory shouts of victory, and clipped the anchors, psyched to have finished such an amazing route, and relieved that it didn't take any longer. “

Pringle noted the psychological feelings behind completing a project. “Finishing a hard project, especially one that ranks amongst the best and hardest you've ever climbed, is always the most satisfying. You get this elation that washes over you for a short time- you glow. “ Pringle finished with a strong point about projects and how to look for something new. “But then at some point, sometimes all too quickly, your satisfaction fades and you need a new project- a harder one, a prettier one, and you hope it won't take you too, too long.”

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