Proper Soul goes on gear at 5.14a R/X

Brent Perkins

All pictures were taken while working the line on the bolts. Photo: Taylor Strohmeyer

On August 20th, Tennessee native and recent New River Gorge transplant Brent Perkins stepped up to the NRG’s ultra classic 5.14a Proper Soul. He tied in, racked up with a handful of nuts and cams, and climbed to the top without falling… or clipping the bolts.

Before this ascent Brent climbed the line twice. He took a few days back in July to redpoint it on the bolts then repeated it once just before his gear attempt. He worked out the gear placements on rappel and sent his first time placing the gear on lead. Astonishingly, his hardest gear lead before this was 5.12a! Brent placed just 8 pieces total on the 100 foot tall, 40 foot overhanging monster pitch.

“I placed two number one Camalots in the first 25 feet. From here things start getting a little more sporty.   The run out to the next gear placement is about 20 feet up and 10 feet to the left with the difficulty increasing with every move. The placement is from a flaring hand jam undercling that one can easily slip out of with no warning. I squeezed and focused all my energy into that hand jam. If I blew it I was well aware that my belayer would have a hard time keeping me off the deck. After setting the #1 Camalot I slapped my way into the crux dihedral where I placed a sketchy C3 and a HB brass nut to protect the final hard moves exiting the dihedral. The next half of the climb I placed three trucker Camalots: a .3bd, a 0 C3, and a .5bd to protect the final crux.”
This ascent certainly marks one of the boldest headpoints yet done in the East requiring superior fitness and mind control.  Nice job Brent!
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