Nick Duttle is wrapping up an extremely productive month in the New River Gorge. Since his arrival in West Virginia on April 27, Duttle managed to send 10 5.14s.
"Upon heading to the New my main goal was to climb at least 10 5.14 level rock climbs," Duttle wrote in an e-mail to Rock and Ice
. "I had already explored the stone through the 5.13 range on other visits and knew I could learn more because the stone changes for the next level of movement."
Duttle methodically worked on sending one 5.14 after another during his stay, sometimes climbing up to four days in a row.
"I would work on the hardest lines at the end of my third day on, usually, so they would feel easy when I rested," wrote Duttle. "That being said, I did take some extended rest in the middle of my trip."
The most difficult hurdle Duttle faced during his trip, however, was the encroaching early summer heat—not only due to the lack of friction, but also because Duttle was born with inactive sweat glands (hypohidrotic ectodermal dysplasia), which causes him to overheat easily.
"There were definitely a few instances of heat exhaustion," wrote Duttle. "The level of focus it takes to get up any wall when your body temperature is over 100 degrees is a feat of its own. Let alone sending 5.14 in a day. The heat was like climbing with a 50 pound training backpack on."
Despite the warm temps, Duttle managed to put down hard route after hard route. In fact, on his last sending streak, he climbed four 5.14s in four consecutive days, with the finale being a second-try ascent of Hoax of Clocks (5.14a).
Particularly impressive is the film capturing Duttle's send of Hoax of Clocks. In the video, Duttle snaps off a hand-hold while on the route's lower crux, yet stays on for the send.
"I seemed unfazed because all I could do in that moment was react to what was happening," wrote Duttle. "I was right in the middle of the 5.13c lower crux and the hold just ripped off the wall! That right hand I was on sucks too. To be totally honest, if that hold would not have broken I may not have sent."
Duttle says he got "pissed" when the hold broke and his "fight response was triggered." He managed to pull through the sequence, and prepare for the notorious exit moves of Hoax of Clocks
"This route has a reputation," explained Duttle. "Chris Sharma had tried it a few years back. I had heard he commented that a V12 crux was guarding the anchors. I had watched my friend Jimmy Webb not be able to do the move and that guy seems to mow down any move he touches."
Duttle told himself to "stop holding back and just go," and pulled through the top moves to clip the chains of his tenth 5.14 of the trip.
Considering his recent success, Rock and Ice
asked Duttle about his current training regimen, to which he replied:
"I have been doing all kinds of different training—swimming, running and climbing. I have many tricks up my sleeve still to come. I have been intentionally climbing at over 15 pounds above my performance weight for around 10 years now."
Today, Duttle is heading back to Colorado where his multi-year, high-altitude project waits.
"I knew I could gain a lot from climbing on this technically demanding rock and carry those skills back to my main project on Long’s Peak."
Check out the video of Duttle sending Hoax of Clocks (5.14a) on his second try.