Over the weekend, my friends John, Aira, and I decided to take an adventure to traditionally climb some unique West Virginia gritstone. We biked in 3 miles to the spot, and hiked down to the base of the 100 foot cliff. Aira enjoyed the sun while John and I discussed who’d take the first lead on an unknown climb.
John began his rigorous stretching (aka yoga) in preparation for the first lead. Aira was still undecided whether she would climb or not, being 37 weeks pregnant. But, John made the 90+ feet of lieback flake look simple during his onsite of it, providing Aira the confidence to give it a show of her own on TR.
We decided the grade was at least a Seneca 5.7…based on the old school standards. Modern grading it would probably be a 5.9+. The crux for John and I was pulling the lie back roof, but for Aira the crux was the first 8’…her baby belly made the thin 5.2 traverse quite difficult for her, which ended up requiring a short pendulum swing across into the start of the climb 😛
While Aira climbed, I saw it as a perfect opportunity to take some maternity photos for her…especially as she hasn’t had any taken yet. This impromptu photo shoot was one of my favorites. To get these shots I scrambled up an easy 5th class area of rock, and plugged a small cam into a crack for a little added protection while I was stretching out to reach the action. I was using a new 35mm 1.4 lens from Sigma, which created the sweetest depth of field. If you’re viewing these images from a smartphone, it’s hard to tell the detail, but Aira is tack sharp in each photo.
Aira Burkhart, a true West Virginia Mountain Mama!!
John has the kindest smile..