There I was pulling my gear on for an after work Fat Bike ride. The phone rings and I hesitate. Work is officially over. Do I pick it up or do I run like hell.
The caller ID flashed on and it said "Prince of Darkness".
The Prince of Darkness is the alias some of us gave Superior Kettle Bell Gym owner Adam Dailey because he puts you in the hurt locker anytime you darken the door of the gym.
I grabbed the phone, and my afternoon completely changed......
This is a classic Duluth moment because Adam Dailey is one of the best Ice Climbers in the country right now. I have been watching from afar as he has slowly but surely trained himself in his gym (Along with a full cadre of others) to the point of being a ice tool wielding machine.
"Dude I need you to come and take some pictures of the climb I am trying to do today" Where?
"The old Train Tunnel....."
The old train tunnel is a legendary place in Duluth for a lot of reasons. Some of them cool, some of them nefarious. Some of them recreational. This one was recreational.
Adam is getting so strong and climbing so hard that he had actually bolted a route on the roof of the tunnel that creeps slowly along to mouth then up and out on the face of the cliff.
I tossed the bike in the office and grabbed my camera bag. This was going to be a legendary push and it would be worth skipping a ride for.
Thus the classic Duluth moment. When a guy calls off the cuff, saying he is going to climb M11 in a living stone tunnel within the city limits....that does not happen everywhere I am convinced.
I humped it through the waist deep soft snow the mile or so to the tunnel. The warm spring sun was transforming our arctic scape into a tolerable sludge.
Adam attempted the route three times. All of them making it to the penultimate moves to finish it off only to come off the climb. Keep in mind that he was pretty much inverted the whole time. Hanging from his tools. Each attempt took around 10-15 minutes and you could tell that even for the prince of darkness this was heavy shit.
Finally it came down to the fourth and final try.
It was really interesting shooting climbing. It is so slow compared to MTB. While Adam was up there toiling away, I was down below scrambling, switching lenses, directing flash gaining new angles and shooting tons of files
Not without drama, Adam was finally successful in the full route. It was amazing to watch. Basically he was doing 15 minutes of inverted climbing, hundreds of pull ups in some of the craziest contortions you can imagine.
He rated it M11 and named it "Relapse". Because it was harder than M10 and not as hard as M12...
Some props should also be extended to his loyal belay agent Jake as well. Jake helped bolt the route and also opted to stand guard in the cold dark tunnel as Adam attempted it.
I wonder who will be the next to repeat it?
|Light on the face of the prince of darkness.|
The whole event finished in a classic Duluth moment.
I looked at the time and realized I had to pick up the kid in about 15 minutes. I did the snow post hole back to the car in record time, hit the road and still managed to not be "that dad" at Tae's school. Again, classic Duluth, shooting a dude throwing down M11, in town and still being able to pick the kid up at his after school session!