Neal Sipahimalani on Lucifer – 5.14c

A couple of weeks ago I went down to Red River Gorge to photograph Neal Sipahimalani on his attempts to send Lucifer, a super steep and crimpy 5.14c in Purgatory, PMRP. He’s been working on it for a while and made some good progress, but after three attempts it didn’t go for him this time. It’s frustrating knowing you can make all the moves, but piecing them together it just doesn’t seem to fall into place.

Neal Warms up before attacking Lucifer.

More Photos and story after the break!

Matt Morse, Neals belayer, warms up on an 5.11 at Purgatory.

Two climbs over from Lucifer, Eric Lemieux from Montreal sends his first 5.13a, Paradise Lost. He had been working on it for a week, with some 17 attempts.

Eric Lemieux on Paradise Lost, his first send of a 5.13.

Neal and Matt watch as Eric climb Paradise Lost.

To get up to a position in which to shoot Neal climbing on Lucifer, Neal had to take my rope to the top of Dracula, a 5.13b. There was no possibility that I could climb that. He attaches my rope to the anchors and I ascend up. But it doesn’t quite get me into the position I want to be in, so I climb up onto the ledge. This is nothing but choss. I pull off loose rock after loose rock, and break several holds I attempted to grab. Finally I find good enough holds and I place a couple of camalots so that I can position myself higher than the route’s anchors. I make sure everything is doubled up, bringing the two cams’ quickdraws to one point on the rope. If either of the cams fail, the other will catch. And if both fail I will fall…10-15 feet and be caught by the anchors. My friend Leigh climbs up to get some video of Neal climbing. He didn’t enjoy the ascent.

Retrieving my gear the next day was an adventure.