Out of all the routes on the 3 mile long Endless Wall, Proper Soul is considered to be the crown jewel. Its no longer the hardest route on the wall but its unrivaled beauty, accessibility, and athletic moves attract climbers of all abilities to try their hand at it. It is a modern day test piece of the New River Gorge and many climbers come to the gorge with the sole intent of sending this route.
The route was originally bolted up to the beginning of the dihedral by NRG climbing pioneer Porter Jarrard. Later Brian McCray bolted the remainder of the route to the top of the cliff. Since then other notable ascents include Chris Sharma's onsight in 2008 and Brent Perkins's redpoint on traditional gear in 2010.
Proper Soul follows a meandering crack much of the way up the steepest section of the Cirque. It starts out with three bolts of easy juggy climbing before the intensity increases. After the third bolt a couple hard moves take you to a large undercling feature and an unnerving clip. With the pump already slowly starting to build enter the crux dihedral and battle your way up the slopey crack. The dihedral is sequential and pumpy but no move is particularly hard. A quick rest can even be copped once you clip the middle bolt in the dihedral.
The climbing gets more interesting the further you climb in to the dihedral. A high drop knee knee bar gets you to the end of the dihedral where you must choose the most efficient method to dismount the dihedral. With fully pumped forearms gain your composure and clip the 6th draw while standing on some bad feet. One more dynamic move takes you out of the dihedral and before you know it you're at a 95% recovery rest.
After the pump is fully diminished make your way up some sidepulls to the second crux. A V6 rightward traverse on crimps requires some aggressive heel hooks and an aggro attitude. From here you're cruising through easier climbing which includes a couple of bomber resting knee bars. Keep your composure and shake out well because its not over until you clips the chains. One more redpoint crux awaits you as you battle over the final bulge. Be ready for a standard NRG V4 grovel that doesn't let up until your full body is fully established on the final face.
This route is a true multi-crux journey. Savor the experience because rock doesn't come much nicer.
Located in the steepest portion of the cirque it is fully equipped with green light saber cable draws.
12 bolts + anchor
Oct 21, 2011
There is no shortage of accessible beta for Proper Soul. Videos of both Brent Perkins and Chris Sharma's ascents are available on vimeo and youtube respectively.
One important note about the climb is that the final 10 feet can get very wet during the rainy season. During the month of March 2010 the top was seeping the entire time. An ascent was basically impossible during this time.
From: Morrison, CO
Nov 3, 2011
Great description Fred! Got my palms all sweaty just reading it.