Inform and Inspire

Welcome to Upstate Bouldering, designed around bouldering in the Upstate region of South Carolina. This website is intended to inform the reader of local spots in SC, Western NC and Northeast GA, as well as a blog of my experiences climbing at these great spots. I hope everyone learns of a new place to climb or is inspired to climb somewhere close to them. If you have any comments, please send me an e-mail.

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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Local Spot-Rich Mountain Road Boulders

On a tip from an old school Clemson climber, I went to Buzzard's Roost Heritage Preserve yesterday, looking for boulders. We hiked the trail up to the top and around the loop and back, but didn't see any signs of boulders or outcrops. If anyone has any info on boulders at Buzzard's Roost, please send me an e-mail or comment below. On the way out we decided to drive around and look for what seemed to be a set of marble boulders off on an adjacent hillside. Along the way, we noticed a small set of chossy boulders off to the side of the road (FS744) right past the left turn for Buzzard's Roost (FS7441) and at the junction with the right turn for the Cedar Creek Falls hike (FS744C). It was getting dark, but we had enough time to snap a couple of pictures and take a couple videos of some short V0's...anyway its a start. The Rich Mtn Rd Boulders are only a few minutes outside of Walhalla and are surrounded by other hiking and exploring opportunities...they may not become a destination, but for someone that's nearby it could be a great bouldering resource. I will comment that there was one very striking route that is destined to be an Upstate Super Classic...maybe checking in at a V3/4 for the stand start and a V7/8 for the sit. You can see it heading under and over the right side of the rounded overhang, moving up to the right corner and a layback sidepull crimper crack to a slopey sketchy topout. I put all of the directions, along with a few pictures and vids into a little intro video, here it is...

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

An Afternoon at Little Eastatoee

Since I've been back, I havent let the jet lag slow me down too much...I've been foaming at the mouth to get out and climb. I'm spoiled having a few bouldering areas so close by where I can climb 3-4 days a week, without too many problems, and missed getting out as often while I was out west. I've been out to Little Eastatoee the last 2 days and got to catch up a little on my bouldering time. Here is a video I shot with my Christmas gift, a Sony HD video camera...Enjoy!

Pacific Northwest-The Circuit and Carver Cliffs Boulders

To wrap up my trip to the Pacific Northwest, we headed south from Seattle to Portland to spend the rest of our time. While in Portland I got to climb at The Circuit Gym and sample some of the BEST plastic routes in the world. There are always a big variety of different styles of climbs and in grades from Vb-V11 or so. I was humbled by a slopey V3 that was incredibly fun and left without topping it out, but the routes were amazing none-the-less and I sent enough to feel it for a couple of days. If you're ever in the area, sample what I consider to be the best climbing gym I've ever been to!

On the 26th, I finally got to stop off at Carver Cliffs, Portlander's local boulderfield, and sample the basalt boulders. I sent a few V0's and V1's and then focused on sending a V3 called Sugar Cube, a burly double on a couple of opposite facing crimps that throws to a sloper on the corner and some strong moves over the arete and to the top. Here are a few shots of the send...




What a fun time in the Pacific Northwest...I got to visit my wife's family and get fed so much I feel out of shape:), and I got to visit 3 outdoor climbing areas and a sweet gym. No better way to spend my Christmas break!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Pacific Northwest-Sehome Hill & Squamish


Over the Christmas holidays, we usually visit my wife's family in the Portland and Seattle area. We're about halfway through our visit and the NW has been very wet and rainy so far...but that hasn't stopped me from trying to visit a few new bouldering areas and send some (wet) routes. This visit we have been mainly in Seattle, but over the past few days we took a trip up to Vancouver, British Columbia, and then up to Squamish to check out this legendary climbing and bouldering area.

On our way up to Canada, we caught a quick break in the rain and stopped off in Bellingham, Washington, the home of Western Washington University and a little bouldering area called Sehome Hill. Sehome Hill is a sandstone area in an arboretum above the college. The boulders can be pretty tall, as they jut out from the steep evergreen rainforest hillside, and the routes may not be of the best quality...but I love to check out new places and send a few routes to experience something different. I climbed a few warm up routes and started to notice a big difference compared to back home...the grades are off by as much as 2 V grades. I got on a couple of V0's that felt like 5.5's and then I sent a wet V2 in my hiking shoes that really felt like a V0. I almost sent Brain Cancer, a V4, in my hiking shoes, but finally needed to put my climbing shoes on to top it out. I enjoyed visiting this area, but it made me miss the sweet southern boulders and the solid grades I'm used to.



After a rainy day in Vancouver, we took the hour drive north to Squamish and the giant vertical cliffs of the Stawamus Chief. The main boulders at Squamish are located under the Chief, in the enchanting evergreen forest that makes you feel so small in comparison to the giant conifers. The place was still pretty soaked, but I had to at least climb a route or 2. After checking out the area and getting familiar with the different sets of boulders, we made our way to Titanic, a popular V4. This was the route that I was hoping to climb, but due to the rain I had to settle for a couple of easier routes instead.



Here is a shot of me sending a V0 right beside the Titanic boulder, and I also got to send Twister, a pretty easy V1. Once again, I thought these routes were a little too easy for their grades...but then again, I've always thought that Rumbling grades (what I tend to compare everything to) can be stout compared to other places I've visited. It was tough to be in one of the proclaimed meccas of bouldering and not be able to pull down at my limits, but it was nice to see this amazing place and experience it as much as I could. We plan on taking a trip out here in the summer sometime soon and hopefully I'll be able to climb til my tips are bruised and bleeding.

It looks like we're about to catch a break in the weather over the next few days, as we travel down to Portland for the second half of our trip. I'm hoping to be able to check out a few bouldering spots near Portland and on up into the Columbia River Gorge and actually climb some dry rock. Every time I travel away from my home bouldering areas I get to experience new and different bouldering spots...but they all remind me of how awesome we have it in the South and how even some of our worst boulderfields are still better than what most people have to climb on! Check out the guestbook/messageboard for the first question of the week...What's your favorite bouldering area that you've ever been to?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Space Together and the Pacific Northwest


I haven't posted much about what I've been climbing lately, because I have been so busy with work, and when I got a free minute, it was raining. Over Thanksgiving, I was able to climb 9 out of 12 days and send a lot of routes that had been on my tick list...for a total of 25 new FA's (mainly lower grades, but a handful of V4's and V5's). Since Thanksgiving, I have only been able to climb sporadically and I tried my best to start winding down the "Fall" climbing season, and rest for a couple of weeks over Christmas to prep for the "Spring" season. Before I left for my yearly west coast swing for Christmas (my wife's family live in Seattle and Portland), I was able to tick off a project I had been working on for a little while, Space Together (named after a feeling many Deadheads had when they had too much too fast and were trying to gather their wits...for example, "I'm trying to get my Space Together before I head into the show."), a weird feeling V4 or V5 out at Little Eastatoee. This is another great addition to the area and is right next to another project, Best Feeling, that is much harder than it looks. Space Together starts with a great rail/slot and an odd compression move under a small overhang, and moves up a weird slab with stretchy delicate moves. I was barely able to stick the moves at the bottom and the top was touch and go during the entire send...it wasn't pretty, but it was sent:) I really need some folks to head out there and repeat it so I can get another opinion on the grade...it may be easier or harder than what I've listed, but it felt like it was at my limits, which right now are around V4/5.

While I'm out here over Christmas, I'm hoping to get some bouldering in, but if you know anything about the Pacific NW, you know that it rains A LOT during the winter months. Being in Seattle, I wanted to hit Leavenworth, but some folks warned me that it was already snowed over and not climbable. We are heading up to Vancouver, BC for a couple of nights and I'm hoping to get a couple of sessions in at Squamish, the Hueco Tanks of the summer months, made a little more famous by the Rampage video and Sharma's sendfest. Above, I posted a sweet Squamish video from some locals for everyone to check out and enjoy. After we leave Vancouver and Seattle, we are heading down to Portland and hopefully some bouldering up in the Columbia River Gorge.

No matter what, the only gym I actually look forward to climbing at is in Portland...The Circuit. Above is an image of the sweet free hanging boulder with another bouldering wall in the background...I'm a big fan of their top out boulder also, feels like you're climbing an actual boulder! This is a bouldering only gym, and actually one of the first boulder only gyms that popped up years ago. The older I get, the more I hate climbing gyms...such an artificial environment for such an organic and nature oriented activity, and it breeds bad ethics and morals into an impressionable group...but this gym is by far my favorite anywhere. They try to guide folks into proper bouldering etiquette, indoors and out, and encourage folks to use the gym as a step towards getting outside and not an end in itself...I mean come on, why climb indoors if you don't want to head outdoors? This gym, along with a couple more in Portland, also has a lease to an outdoor climbing area, Carver Cliffs, and encourages folks to head out there and use good ethics while climbing on real rock. Its good to see a gym taking responsibility for "raising" good climbers, instead of encouraging a free-for-all like most gyms. Stay tuned for some hopeful trip reports on Squamish and the Columbia Rover Gorge...and HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

ps...if you haven't been checking out George Evans's blog, you should. He's down in Columbia and is working on some info for a sandstone bouldering area in SC...Peachtree Reserve Heritage Preserve. Hopefully he'll be able to put together a topo and mini-guide to this area to share with everyone. As he mentions, ethics and etiquette are crucial at this spot, so if you visit, please be responsible.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Do It Yourself Project-Highball Spot Pad/Carpet

Something that is lacking in most newer model crashpads is the great carpet that was characteristic of the 1st generation pads. Nowadays, to save a few bucks, most crashpad manufacturers use the same nylon/cordura on the landing zone as they use in the rest of the shell of the pad...this makes it so much harder to clean your shoes off before that send that needs those critical feet. To remedy this problem, I recommend a quick stop by Lowes or Home Depot and buy a 1-2'x1-2' section of outdoor carpet. I recommend at least a 1'x1' section of carpet and I prefer a 1 1/2'x1 1/2' section...it seems to be cheaper to buy the carpet off of the bigger roll, by the foot, if there isn't a premade carpet in the size you want. If you buy it off the roll, you have enough to chop up a few carpets to leave in your different pads or an extra in your car with your chalk canister:).

What's even better is to find somewhere that sells dense 1" closed cell foam, and buy at least a 1 1/2'x1 1/2' section (I like a 2'x2' section for better coverage) to glue onto the carpet to make an inexpensive highball pad. If you're around the upstate of SC, you can pick up a king mattress sized sheet (7'x7') for about $15 at the Pickens Flea Market on Wednesdays or some weekends. If you're having trouble finding the foam, send me an e-mail and I'll try to send you what you're looking for, for a cheap price. Just use a good spray-on adhesive on the back of the carpet and on the top of the foam pad, stick 'em together, and you've got the best, cheapest, carpeted highball pad you can find! Stack the highball pad on top of, or tuck it into, your crashpad to give you a little extra protection for those taller problems. This is also a cheap alternative for taking a crashpad on an airplane...pack a highball pad (or 2), shoes and chalk in your suitcase and you can always send a few problems wherever you end up travelling!

Little Eastatoee Topo and Guide

Happy Holidays From Upstate Bouldering! Here is a great gift for everyone that boulders in the Upstate of South Carolina...a new UB mini-guide!



The Little Eastatoee Mini-Guide (Updated 1-15-10)


I've been busy over the last few weeks and haven't been able to post much about the development at Little Eastatoee. I, along with George Evans, spent around 8-10 sessions climbing and reclimbing some routes, trying to get more beta and a closer idea of grades, but some of these may still be a little off. For example, I originally put Sitting Duck at a V4, but after reclimbing it, I felt it might even be soft for a V3...just really exposed and a little heady. There are still some fun projects in the V0-V2 range, but there are plenty of V4-V7 projects that are waiting for folks to come and FA, especially the routes on the Spicy Boulders...if you see a ? beside the grade, it hasn't seen an FA yet, but has been worked as a project. This is the first edition of the mini-guide and will be revised as FA's come in. Please use this page as the place to list new climbs you might send that aren't listed in the guide...just post a comment and I will verify the route and add it to the mini-guide, which I'll update afterwards. Include your route description and FA info, along with any links to pictures or videos and I'll make sure to add them for everyone to enjoy; I see this area and mini-guide as a co-op effort with all those that boulder there.

Don't forget that there are other routes around this area, and some well hidden spots to find seclusion and first ascents. I've been posting a lot of the routes on RockClimbing.com, including some routes in areas that aren't listed in this mini-guide, but hopefully you can use the descriptions here and on RC.com to find your way around to everything in the area. There is plenty of opportunity for exploring and finding great new FA's here at the Bridge, or at one of the other areas. If you want some seclusion and some incredible FA chances, hike down either the fishing trail or old trail up past the Bridge Boulders, past the Bubbles, and up the drainage to the Indian Rock House Area and into a small mecca of tough FA's. There are some other bouldering spots tucked away in a holler or down the riverside that I haven't mentioned yet, but if you're adventurous, bushwhack around and see what you find:)

Upstate Bouldering Video Contest Winner!



I wish there were more entries for the Upstate Bouldering Video Contest, but George Evans was the only person to submit a video. That's not to say that his video wouldn't of won the competition if others would have entered...I enjoyed the music and it was a nice variety of good looking routes. If you haven't seen it yet, take a look above...and if you haven't been following his blog or his YouTube videos, you really should! Congrats George, enjoy your prizes and keep doin whatcha doin...and way to send that sweet V5 the other day!!!

Be on the lookout for an upcoming spring season video contest that covers any videos from routes you shot anywhere in the Southeast!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Save The Boulders!!!

Alright...so if you follow this blog, you are obviously aware that possibly the best place to boulder in the South is Rumbling Bald, NC. The Carolina Climbers Coalition has been able to purchase a 6 acre tract of land that contains most of the classic boulders in the West Side, including many of the boulders in the Cluster, Washing Machine, Terraces, and Hull areas of the guidebook.

Everyone's help is needed to finalize the purchase of this amazing tract of boulders...please visit the CCC website to make a donation of money or time (there is an adopt-a-crag coming up on 1/23/10 focused on the cleaning out the boulderfields of downed trees). Enjoy this sweet video and empty your pockets (or help all you can) for the cause:)

Rumbling Bald Boulder Project from Matt de Camara on Vimeo.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

More Development at Little Eastatoee

I've been heading out to Little Eastatoee almost everyday and adding more and more routes to the area. Right now, most of the development is just taking place at the Bridge Area, but we have been visiting some of the other areas and climbing other routes too. One of the other areas we've recently climbed at is Rhodorete...here are a couple of pictures of George high up on the arete. As mentioned, I've mainly been climbing at the Bridge Area, and have added quiet a few routes to the tick list...including yesterday's FA's of Sitting Duck V4, Peking Wing V3, Outta Sight V3, Just a Little Light V1, Step Up Slab V0, and the Vb Slab. Here are a couple of pictures of Sitting Duck...
And here is a not-so-good video, the field of view is too constricted, of me FA'ing Outta Sight...

Stay tuned for the first edition of the Bridge Area Topo, which will be posted in the next few days. We have a couple of more problems to work on there to finalize the grades and then it'll be posted. Enjoy!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksending Break & Little Eastatoee Development




Well, I hope everyone had a great Thanksending holiday & had a chance to get out and do some bouldering. I was able to get out almost everyday and climb until I had bruised my tips! I started the break with a couple of trips up to the Bearfields to finish up Dancin' Bones, a tough V5/soft V6 that I almost had a heart attack in the middle of sending, and I also FA'ed another V5 that I called Black Clouds. Dancin' Bones was one of my biggest projects for this season, so it was good to get that monkey off my back, and the Black Clouds FA was a sweet addition to the tick list.

After these 2 trips, I took 4 trips out to climb at Little Eastatoee to bulk up the tick list out there. If you haven't checked these boulders out yet...what are you waiting for? This is what everyone has been e-mailing me and asking about...good, solid, fun bouldering in SC! A couple of the trips, I went out by myself, and 2 of the trips I had some company with me. Over these 4 sessions, we cleaned and sequenced about 15 or so new routes from Vb to V5. Some of the top routes so far at Little Eastatoee are:
V0-Super Scooper
V1-Kang Solo or The Guillotine
V2-The Finger or Old & In The Way
V3-Rhodorete
V4-Elephant Back
V5-Jerry's Beard
Super Scooper is a gem of a V0 and the 2 V1's are both worthy ticks. The real quality routes start with the V2's...both V2's are fun routes that should be on every one's list (both feel a little soft for V2 also). The true 3 star routes are at V3 & above...Rhodorete is possibly the best V3 in SC, Elephant Back is one of my all time favorite V4 routes I've ever set, and Jerry's Beard is one of the best bouldery boulder problems in the area...all of these routes are top quality and just waiting for folks to come and send! I really enjoy developing new areas and this area has definitely got me hooked right now.

I've also updated Rockclimbing.com's route database with info on all of the routes so far, and I'm in the process of making a topo that folks can use to navigate around the area a little better. If anyone is interested in climbing out at Little Eastatoee sometime, shoot me an e-mail and I'll try to meet up and show you around...I only live a slow 5 minutes from the boulders. Enjoy the new routes!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Updated Local Spot-The New and Improved Little Easy


In South Carolina, if you want to boulder, you have to create your own boulderfields. Most folks don't realize the exhausting efforts it entails to take a pile of pebbles and turn it into a boulderfield...or maybe they do and that's why there arent any publicized boulderfields. I've had my hands in around 500 bouldering FA's in the upstate area (almost all of which have access issues), but almost every single one of them took a lot of work and hours of hiking around to find an area with possibilities and then cleaning, prepping and sequencing routes. Little Easy is a prime example of this process in action...and I think everyone should be involved with its development.

Many folks simply want to be handed a boulderfield complete with topo, but SC is still in its infancy of bouldering development, so there is no boulderfield complete with topo. If that's your style, get the awesome Rumbling Bald Bouldering Guidebook and fight for a parking spot...if I was closer, I'd be there every chance I had. But, this is a chance for folks to get in on the ground floor of this area and put their stamp on SC bouldering, and its future. As mentioned in my previous blog, our stewardship of this area is going to go a long way in the possible access of bigger and better things in the future. The Carolina Climbers Coalition has designated a new SC rep, he has visited the area and sees that the future of climbing in SC starts with bouldering and leads to bigger and better things...and cliffs:) We can be an important component in the future access of all areas by our behaviors and how we treat the land and others in this area. Always be on your best behavior in any boulderfield...never attract attention, never yell or scream, never take away from someone else's experience, always be respectful of others and the area (don't litter/pack trash out you find), leave no trace, and always keep your pet on a leash or under complete control. Remember, there is a big difference between bouldering in the gym and bouldering outside...not strength and technique, but attitude and responsibility. Many times, including Little Easy, we are visitors on hunters' and fisherman's land, so be on your best behavior and as respectful as possible to ensure there are no conflicts.

Here is the first blog post about Little Eastatoee.
This has some basic info on the area, including Little Easy V2 and Rhodorete V3.

Here is some new info on what should be, after some development has taken place, one of the best bouldering spots in the upstate....



Here is also an uncut video of The Finger, a fun V2 at the Bridge Area...



And, here is a link to the new RC.com section for Little Eastatoee.

I'll post the topo, or what I have so far, within the next few days...keep checking back!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Upstate Access...Bearfields, Jedi and New Development

I've had quite a few e-mails wanting directions to the local boulderfields, Bearfields and Jedi Boulders, that I climb at...unfortunately, due to the problems with parking and using private property to access these boulders, I am unable to tell anyone where they are. We are working on solidifying a permanent point of access and to verify that bouldering is OK by the land management, but until then please look to other places mentioned in my blog for your bouldering.

Over many many years, I have worked hard to maintain a good relationship with the property owners, and they haven't minded us trespassing occasionally to hike around and climb on the boulders. It took years of trust to be able to do this as often as I am able to now. Due to the fact that it is not my property, I cant grant anyone the right to come and climb at these places. At this pivotal point in the status of these boulders, we cant take a chance on compromising the already good relationship by allowing more people to climb here, because it would have a direct impact on the future of these boulders and the possibilities of anyone climbing on them.


I do want to point people in the right direction to get their fix...I know how some of you feel when it seems like there isn't any rock around to climb on. We are going to start focusing on developing an area that will serve as a good test piece for future bouldering access in the upstate. Our goal is to provide a spot that everyone can have directions and a guide/topo to and help contribute in the development of the problems in the area. If the bouldering community can prove responsible at this area, it will go a long way to opening more access on other state and federal land...especially some of the upstate motherloads in Table Rock and Jones Gap State Park.

The area I'm referring to is Little Eastatoee, listed as one of the local spots out to the right. There are some great boulders along the Creek Access to Long Shoals Roadside Park, but the even better boulders are down the road near the parking at the bridge over the creek. There are at least 50 possible lines on the boulders in the parking lot, granted that they need to be cleaned and climbed, that should serve as a good start. These problems are not going to be easy, so most will eventually end up in the V3 and above range, but there are a few easy problems here and there to warm up on. A video of The Finger, a fun V2 beside the Big Slab, along with a slideshow movie with pictures of the area and many of the boulders...AND directions, and my first thoughts/topo drawings, including 35 routes or possible routes, will be coming in the next posting in a day or two!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Bearfields and Bears at Jedi

This week I was able to hit both of the Bearfields and Jedi Boulders and send a few of my recent and long term projects. First off, I am still psyched about finally sending Washboard and Washboard Arete, the V5 and V4 I mentioned a couple of posts ago...these guys had been on my hit list for a long time! Yesterday, I had a chance to run up to the Jedi Boulders and work on a few problems that have been haunting me also. I finally sent Darth Sidius Arete V4 and Count Dooku V4 back in the spring, but I have had trouble with both of them since...so I've been treating these almost like first sends again. I have also been wanting to get up there and send a newer problem, Obi-Wan Arete V5, that was a project of mine and J-Rock's in the spring and was finally linked up and sent by some strong Clemson climbers recently. Because my last trip up to Jedi ended up with a bear chasing me and George out, I was a little apprehensive. But sometimes the need to send your projects will make you ignore the simple things, like wild animals.


When Simon, one of my dogs, and I got up to the boulders, we headed straight for the Phantom Menace boulder to work Siduis and Dooku. I've started to take pre-cleaning my projects pretty seriously lately, it's really helped with many of my recent sends. After I fully prepped the rock, I started working Count Dooku; a good sit start on a shallow slopey rail with smeary feet, then you move to the top super slopey edge and feel for a couple of divits, finally you work your feet up to where you can crimp a tiny crystal and grunt over to the top. I worked really hard on this one, but wasnt getting anywhere, so I decided to head over and work the Darth Sidius Arete. This was a project of J-Rocks in the spring that didnt take him long to send. The arete is almost a perfect 90 degrees, with crappy shallow Horse Pens style sloper rails on one side and slightly overhanging crimps on the other side, that lead to a giant HP40 sloper top out. After working out a couple of seperate sequences, I sent the arete with a couple of different variations. While goofing off on Sidius, I started to work a squeeze route between it and Darth Maul, a V3 I also sent that starts on Dooku and traverses the slopey top edge left 10 ft into the top out of Sidius. It starts while sitting on the far left end on the Dooku slopey rail with some thin feet, you move up to an intermediate crimp and the throw for the top out using the best part of the top out sloper on Sidius. After figuring out the sequence and sending it, I called it The Dark Side and gave it a V3. Finally, feeling almost burned completely up, I worked Count Dooku again and eventually grunted and beach whaled myself to the top.


I had just a little left in the tank after this series of sends, so I went to work on the Obi-Wan Arete V5. This is on the same boulder as Use the Force, the most classic SC V3, and climbs an overhanging crimpy SDS to a few bad holds on the slopey overhung arete...after getting some higher heel and toe hooks, you wrestle your way up and around the bulging arete to gain a pretty easy slab. After I had worked the problem a few times, and after I had solidified the starting sequence, I was half way up and into the crux when I noticed a bear cub, about 100 ft away, heading straight for me. The acute jitters of sugar rushing into your blood is the feeling and one of the effects of adrenaline...after thinking that momma bear was around the corner, I felt that hot face feeling and pushed those sugars into my muscles to pull around the arete and top it out, all in a frenzy to get the best view of what might be having me for lunch (kidding I hope). I didnt care about the send, I was actually pretty worried about the uncertainty of what was about to happen. After hitting the boulder summitt and seeing the big momma bear (probably the same one we saw on the other visit) with her 2 cubs slowly backing up behind her, I realized I could be in trouble. She sees me and stiffens up, like a red neck at a bar trying to be a badass, and starts to huff and snort at me...I'm definitely feeling a little uneasy at this point, especially since my gear and only possible defense, my hiking poles, are between me and the bears. All this time, Simon is off in a small cave on the backside of the boulder sniffing around...maybe its best he doesnt see them because he'd defend me to the death, and this bear might tear him up. I decided to go with what I've always heard, make yourself bigger and make noise...I raised my arms and waved them and started whistling as loud as I can (and to be honest, I can whistle loud enough to make it hurt my ears). For about 15 more seconds, she just sat there and snarled and hiss and spat at me, but her cubs turned the other way and started running. After feeling my deodorant run out:), the bear finally turned around and started trotting off. At this point, Simon had finally made his way to the bottom of the slab and was trying to climb up to see what I was whistling about. I met him half way down and rushed around to the front of the boulder, ripped my shoes off and crammed my feet into my hiking shoes, threw my gear into my pad, grabbed my poles, and started clanging my poles and "skiing" down through the boulderfield to the trail...all in what felt like 30 seconds. Simon finally sensed something was up and started running ahead leading the way and looking around to see what I was running from. By the time I hit the trail, he was already down the trail and back into the woods chasing and barking at the bears. Luckily, he came back pretty quickly when I whistled for him (he has stared down a bear up in some Pisgah boulders once and wouldnt let up) and we headed on down the trail to the car. Whew, I was mentally and physically exhausted from not only sending a few projects but from the craziness of the bear encounter. I am a fan of wildlife and usually love the random bear encounter, but this is one of the first times that I've really felt threatened by a bear.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sweet Font Video


Neil Hart, the awesome host of Maison Bleu, the gite we stayed at in Font this past summer, has been putting together Font videos for a while now. He usually puts out a new one every month on his website (Click on Monthly Vimeo at the bottom of www.maisonbleau.com) and one of his recent videos was featured on DeadPoint Magazine...check it out.
http://www.deadpointmag.com/dpm-hd/67-dose-of-font

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Plateau, Rumbling, Bearfields & Twitter


So, for the past couple of weeks I have been trying to add to the base of bouldering I have already created so far this season, and try to start ticking off some harder climbs. Lately I have felt like I have plateaued back around V3, again, and have hardly been ticking anything higher. Last week, we went to Rumbling and sent a bunch of the classic easier problems in the Trailside, Obscure and Cluster areas (here is a short video, courtesy of George Evans, of Wrestling An Alligator V1, one of my all time favorite routes). I felt that I was climbing well, but not as good as I should be able to. I usually hit this spot after the beginning of the fall bouldering season, but I don't mind staying there many times and just enjoying the easier climbs. This is generally the point in the climbing season that I have to decide if I'm going to push for higher grades and tougher problems, or simply climb around V3 for the season and just spend my time enjoying life in the boulders. This season, I would like to try to use this plateau as a springboard to climb the more intermediate grades.

When I get to this plateau, I try to fight back the frustration and use it as a place to refine how I climb...I try to use less energy, try to focus on footwork, try to retool my mental game, try to build strength, power and endurance, and climb each problem as clean and fluid as possible. Usually at this point, I realize I have to do something different than what I normally do, to start sending the tougher problems. I like to use this plateau time to train a little more often and with a little more resistance. This is when I start training with some light weights and old school general conditioning exercises...especially at night in front of the TV. With the change in daylight and our clocks recently, many of the times that were once available to get out and climb are now pitch dark. Instead of clinging to the couch and vegetating, pick up some dumbbells and start pumping! This is also a great time to let the lack of sunlight up the melatonin in your brain and...head to bed earlier. Your body heals around 4x's faster while you sleep, so rest and recover is an important part of becoming stronger and a better climber. In the last few weeks, I've started using some weights and focusing on my crunches (weighted mostly), push ups and pull ups, as well as, doing a little more HIT training. I also had a busy week at work and I wasn't able to get out to the boulders all last week...so Friday, when I finally got my fix at the Bearfields, I was feeling stronger and much more rested and fresh, compared to my usual Friday session.


The hike in warmed me up enough, so when I finally got to the hanging face of the Washboard Boulder I was ready to climb. This is one of the most unique looking boulders I've seen...it juts out of the hillside, hanging 2 feet off the ground, and has a near vertical face with small ripples & 2 half way descent edges just out of reach from the ground. The left side has a small foot and a small arete that goes around a V2, and was the only route climbed on the boulder for a long time. In the last month, I started projected the right side slopey arete that felt like it would go around a V4...I was focused on sending it sometime soon and it had become a big goal of mine recently. After warming up on the V2, I started to work the V4, and to my surprise I sent it second go. I was elated to send what had become one of my newest projects. Afterwards, I started to work on the super classic Washboard V5...the obvious line that has stared me down everytime I've passed by it for the last 9 years; you start on a high crappy foot, while the other foot floats, hands on thin slopey ripples and then you move up to the 2 half way descent holds, before moving back to ripples and a dyno/deadpoint to the top. Until recently, I hadn't even figured out the beta to just get off the ground and stay on the face. After putting 3 recent, good project sessions on it, and 4 years of half-ass tries, I finally snatched the top and sent that sucker! Soon after, it hit me that I had just climbed one of the oldest projects I had ever touched and, at that time, never thought I'd ever have the skill to send it. It was awesome to connect those 2 points and memories in my life and compare who and what I was when I first saw that problem as a newbie (that didn't even know what a V anything was), with who and what I am now. Afterwards, I found a neat little V3ish dyno problem to the side of Washboard that was tough and frustrating to start, but a lot of fun to climb. Right out of the box, it was one of the best climbing days I have had simply because of the nostalgic FA's and I "batted for the cycle" (a V2, a V3, a V4 & a V5 in a session) again. Later that day, I headed back up to the Bearfields with George and sent the FA of another project I had worked a few times, Ship of Fools V3...an oddly deceptive rising arete that leads to a grunt of a topout. It was nice to feel strong and send 4 new routes I've had my eye on for a LONG time.

I like to keep track of my sends and when I do them...its like a journal of successes, but also a good log of how you got to where you are, as far as difficulty of climbs, and what got you there. I'm trying something new by doing this with a Twitter account ("UpstateBoulder" if you want to follow). I can send a text after my session, that way I don't forget what I sent and my thoughts on it. Eventually, I'll have a virtual log of my sends, that were made while the send was still fresh in my head and the feelings are more in the moment. I've added that to the right side of the blog, below the sponsors, so folks can see where I've been climbing and what I've been up to.

Don't forget to send in those videos...I know there's a couple out ready to go, lets see 'em!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Do It Yourself: The UB Hangboard


When I first got into real climbing (has it really been 15 years), I almost immediately came up with a simple and inexpensive hangboard I could use to train at home. Back then, I was a poor college student with little to no money, but I wanted to build my base level of hanging skills and work on my arms and core without always having to pay $10-$15 to go to the local climbing gym. With little thought, I came up with a very simple design for a cheap way for me to train at home...the Modular Hangboard. Luckily, in the house I was living in at the time, there was an extra wide, double door width, "door way" connecting my living room and kitchen. So, I made an extra long Modular Hangboard that I could attach climbing holds to and also attach a Metolius Simulator Hangboard to the center. Below is a simple sketch of how it looked, the blue area is where the Simulator was mounted and the black dots represent places to attach holds...

This was made from a 4 foot piece of 2x10 and was mounted to the studs above the doorway by some scrap pieces of 2x4. All together, including t-nuts, this cost me in the range of $10, and all of the parts I picked up at the local Lowe's. I was lucky to have such a wide area to mount it, so I could get more out of my hanging exercises. I also was able to loop a couple of scrap pieces of webbing around the 2x4 supports and create a spot that I could hang Rock Rings from. This was my own little home gym and gave me a good enough area to train, to be able to climb better every time I went to the gym. From this experience, I have since built several other versions of the hangboard and now a larger outside climbing wall. Here is a basic version of the hangboard that can be put together for around $5-$10.

THE UB HANGBOARD

Materials:
-2' piece of 1"x10" (or 2"x10" for a more sturdy board)
-2 8"-10" pieces of 2"x4"
-~30-50 2"-3" screws (2" if you are using 1x10 and 3" if you are using 2x10)
-~30-50 t-nuts (cheaper if you order them through Homegrown Holds)
-Tools: Screwdriver, Drill, Hammer, and a Stud finder will be useful
-You will also need some climbing holds (be on the look out for Homegrown Holds Training set that is designed to provide all of the major grips when used with the UB Hangboard design)

What to do:
1) Find the studs, behind the drywall, above the doorway. Usually there are at least 2 above most doorways. Take the 2x4 pieces and with 5-10 screws in each piece, screw them to the studs, through the drywall. Now you have 2 8-10" pieces of 2x4 screwed in above the doorway.

2) Take the 2' board to be used as the main hangboard, and hold it up against the 2x4's. Mark on the back side of the hangboard where the 2 2x4 pieces will attach to the hangboard. You obviously don't want to put any t-nuts and holes in this area, since it will be connected to the 2x4's.

3) After marking where not to put holes and t-nuts, take a drill, with a drill bit slightly larger than the t-nut, and drill any holes you want to use to attach climbing holds. Start the drilling on the side that will face out, because many times the wood will splinter slightly when the drill bit exits. If you want to attach an actual hangboard to this set up, I advise bolting it to the middle area of the 2' board after the next step, and then have a few t-nut holes off to the side to add a few extra holds. After drilling the holes, attach the t-nuts to the back of each hole by hammering them into place. Now you have a board with t-nuts in it, ready to be screwed to the 2x4's.

4) Take the prepared 2' board, match it up against the 2x4's over your doorway and add 5-10 screws, attaching the board to each 2x4. Make sure to stagger the screws and have one every couple of inches or so. If you are attaching a pre-made hangboard from one of the climbing hold companies, now is the time to do it. Once the 2'board is up and screwed in place, put the hangboard in place and screw it into place also.

5) Add your own variety of climbing holds and start pulling. As mentioned, I like to add a pair of Rock Rings hanging below the 2x4 supports to add another dimension of training. I also like to buy some big, positive, screw on climbing holds to fill in the gaps on the board that don't have t-nuts, especially over the 2x4 areas. This will add a different training tool to your board without much cost.

I hope that this turns out to be as easy and productive as it was for me. To this day, I still have a hangboard and set of Rock Rings in my house/bedroom along with my wall outside...there's nothing like being able to train in the comfort of your own home, at your own pace, on your own time. Be on the look out for a new post detailing training regimens for the hangboard and the Training Set that Homegrown Holds will soon be producing (don't forget to mention Upstate Bouldering and get 10% off your order from Homegrown). Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

UPSTATE BOULDERING VIDEO CONTEST!!!

Alright folks....
It is now time for the first contest here on Upstate Bouldering. I want to see your videos of bouldering in South Carolina. I love to climb all over the Southeast, but this contest is STRICTLY for South Carolina bouldering routes. You can enter as many as you like and are encouraged to submit as many as you can. Simply upload you videos to your favorite video sharing site (YouTube, etc)...then post a comment under this blog posting, with the following
1. The name and grade of the route
2. The area it is in (if it is an access problem, then just mention a general area)
3. Name of the climber and name of the videographer...lets givem both some credit

The contest begins today and will continue until Dec 13th, when the decision will be made on the best video. The prize package will be sent out immediately so you can enjoy your present from Upstate Bouldering during the Christmas sending season! A blog will be posted featuring the winning video, along with the 2nd and 3rd place videos, after the contest, to make sure everyone sees the incredible footage. (Only outdoor routes qualify, no indoor route videos please. Make sure that your profile has an e-mail attached so I can notify you that you won and get your address to ship you your booty!)

So what do you win, you might ask???
The Awesome Prize Package includes:

-An Organic Toboggan (like in the picture above but grey)

-A small set of climbing holds from Homegrown Holds

-and A Sweet Kreig Chalk Bag w/ a brush and a bag of chalk!

A perfect package for the winter bouldering season...something to keep your head warm on those chilly days, a new chalk bag, brush and chalk to get you up the route, and some holds to train at home on when it gets way too cold outside.

So, get those cameras and vid recorders going, get out to your favorite local SC spot and take as much footage as you can...who knows what the winning video might be!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

First Rumbling Trip of the Season



I finally made my way to Rumbling Bald yesterday and my wife and I had one of the best climbing days in a while! After dealing with the worst traffic I've ever seen in Chimney Rock, we pulled into the nice, new paved Bald parking area. After so many years of climbing there and being used to the drive up the dirt road, I can honestly say that this was nicer...the only problem is that now it is over run with folks that normally wouldn't have gone up the old dirt road to begin with. We had intentions of heading out to the Middle and Far East boulders, but when we got there, we realized that the place was still covered in poison ivy. But, you couldn't tell from the parking lot that it really wasn't prime bouldering season at the Bald yet...the place was packed and busting at the seams. Luckily, most of the folks seemed to be at the West Side and not the East Side. We encountered quiet a few Bald gumbies that had no clue where they were or how to get to where they wanted to go. There were SOOooo many folks wanting to go to the Far East for the "plethora" of V0-V1's, but didn't realize how tough it is to travel through the East Side and actually get all the way out there. I gave trail directions, for the easiest ways I've found to get out that way, to 2-3 different groups...but, all of them ended up circling back around past us 10-20 minutes later, lost and confused. Ahh...the beauty of Rumbling Bald in full swing!

On much better notes, the scenery was absolutely gorgeous, the leaves were brilliant and the temps were good for climbing. As mentioned, we had planned on heading out to the Middle and Far East, but we ended up just staying around Breakfast and Politician instead. Katy had never been to the East Side, so everything was new for her. She had never seen the location of so much of my blood, sweat and tears last season...Morning Star, a V7, one of my proudest sends. She took a couple of pictures of me on the route, and they are posted above. While in the Breakfast area, I sent a few new routes, including Around the Horn V3 and Microchip V5 (according to the grade change on the Rumbling Bald Bouldering site). This was only my 3rd or 4th V5 at the Bald, so I was pretty excited about this tick. Even more impressive was Katy, my wife, on her own little sending spree. She has been projecting a few V1's and V2's in the Bearfields and Jedi, but yesterday she sent 3 V1's in the Breakfast area before heading over to the Politician area and sending Trifling, a V2! I was so impressed by how hard she climbed and how committed she was to finishing some of these routes...makes me proud to be married to this fine lady:) After the Breakfast area, we headed over to the Politician area and I sent a few more new routes, including a fun ride up the Pleasant Arete, a V2. Hill of Beans, a V4, was another good tick for me on the day...helped me to "bat for the cycle" to use a baseball term (a V2, V3, V4 and V5 in one day). After we both climbed at the top of our game, we were satisfied to head home and enjoy some apples we picked up along the way...finishing up a great day at Rumbling!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Do It Yourself-Chalk Canister and Rock Prep Kit

I wanted to start a series of tips or how-to features to help boulderers save money and get the most from their time on the blocks. So this is the first in, hopefully, a long line of Do It Yourself Projects.

The Chalk Canister:
I like to keep a little stash of chalk in my car for those times when I either run out in my chalk bag or dont have a chalk bag around when I happen upon a cool boulder while I'm travelling. My biggest problem has always been how to contain the chalk so it doesnt spill all over the back seat or trunk. I've tried a variety of different methods; from differently designed chalk bags and chalk buckets, to keeping the extra chalk in a big zip lock bag, to buying an expensive dry bag and store my chalk bag in it. But none of these methods ever really worked; the chalk bags and buckets always have a tiny opening for chalk to fall out, and the big zip lock was crushed and chalk exploded every where, and even the pricey dry bag eventually got some holes in it and started shooting streams of chalk out when it was compressed. The easy answer was always right in front of me (or actually behind me in the back floor board)...along with extra chalk, and other random items, I almost always keep a small canister of powdered Powerade or Gatorade in my car, so I can add some to my water bottles when I need an extra kick. So, after I finished a canister it dawned on me that it would make the perfect chalk container, it even comes with a scoop that's perfect for refilling a chalk bag. So, after a good wash and dry, I filled it up with a block of chalk and enough loose chalk to refill my chalk bag about 4-5 times. I used an old Powerade canister, removed the label and added a couple of stickers to it to make it look a little less plain. The canister hasnt leaked any chalk since I've put it in my car, and the other day it saved my session when I forgot to pack a chalk bag.

Rock Prep Kit:
You can also use the same canister to make a small kit to clean and prep the boulder before you send your route. After bouldering all over the place, I've picked up a couple of tricks from other people's approaches to climbing. I met one guy at a comp last year that kept pointing out how most people just go straight up to a route, maybe feel the holds and features and then attempt to climb it. Or at least he was pointing it out to all the other competitors that were trying the problems he was trying. This guy was meticulious about how his rock was before he'd even step foot on the route. He always brushed every hold clean, and cleaned them from the top hold downward, that way you dont get gunk in the holds below that you might have already brushed. He also had a small cloth that he used to wipe down features and would prespread chalk on the rock with it sometimes too. I also saw a lot of folks at Fontainebleau using small pieces of cloth or denim to slap or wipe the rock clean. These 2 items, along with chalk, I think are crucial for a good Rock Prep Kit. I have found that a small, stiff bristled, double sided denture brush is the one brush that I use more than any other while I prep rock. One side is flat and perfect for almost every type of hold, and the other side comes to a point, which is perfect for cleaning and chalking thin cracks and crimps. I add this, along with a small 6"x6" to 8"x8" piece of cloth, I prefer fleece, and a couple of scoops of powdered chalk to an old Powerade canister to make a lightweight Rock Prep Kit thats easy to take out to the boulderfield. You can also leave your chalk bag in the car and save some weight by using your Canister for all of your chalk needs too. After using some of the advice and techniques I've seen and heard around the world, I've been able to see first hand the benefit of cleaning and prepping the rock, by sending some great hard problems I dont think I would have been able to send if the rock wasnt prepped right.

So it might be pretty simple...pour some chalk into an old Powerade canister, but for me it has been a session saver and an easy kit to take to the blocks to send at my best. I hope this helps you to climb harder and enjoy your time in the boulderfields more!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Beefing up the Local Spots & a New Sponsor



I've started to beef up the Local Spots on the website to include some spots that aren't quiet as local, but haven't had much information put out about them. I keep mentioning the Big Easy bouldering wall, but this is a minor drip in the bucket compared to the 2 spots I've recently added, so its going to stay on the backburner. My intent is to give the best info I can, on Upstate bouldering areas that don't have access issues. After that, I'd like to offer at least one good bouldering spot in the states that border South Carolina; North Carolina and Georgia. The last 2 Spots listed were pretty big areas with some major potential left for new routes.

The first North East Georgia spot is a doozy; Mt Yonah. Many folks don't consider Yonah (or Yoda as I tend to call it) to be a top notch crag or bouldering area...but their view is pretty short sighted. Yonah offers some good to great climbing routes at the Main Wall and other crags near the top, but the bouldering there is so under appreciated. The small guidebook and additional Hilltop topo only represent a tiny percentage of the boulder routes that are scattered all along the mountain side and base. These are the quickest and easiest boulders to hit and serve as a great launch pad for exploring and finding "new" boulders. Michael Crowder is the long time Yonah expert, and he has mentioned several times that Yonah has had over 1000 boulder routes sent in the past, but most of them have been recovered with moss and left for someone else to "FA" once again. For all of your NE Georgia folks, be on the lookout for another N Georgia spot soon; Shaking Rock, about 45 minutes outside of Athens.

The second spot is a little more north than I usually post about, but has become a very talked about destination in magazines and recent climbing media; the Linville Gorge Boulders. Highlighted in an LVM Rock video, an issue of Deadpoint magazine and in Urban Climber, the Linville Gorge Boulders, including Wonderland and Dreamland Boulders, have become very enticing for anyone near the area. The Highcountry is notorious for hush-hush boulder tactics and keeping info very close to the vest, but this is one area that has been given a little better treatment and made public to those that are interested. The Movement On Stone blog is basically the internet guidebook to the area, and when cross referenced with Rockclimbing.com's info, a more comprehensive understanding can be obtained.

These are the first 2 climbing spots not within the immediate vicinity of the Upstate, but because of how many quality boulders, relative lack of information, and current reputation of the areas, especially Linville Boulders, I thought they should be brought to the forefront so folks can have at 'em and form their own opinions about the areas. I am also planning on adding a couple of quick local spots outside Knoxville, TN in the near future, so be on the lookout. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to share them with me on the website or through e-mail. Enjoy some of the better, unheard of, bouldering in the South!

New Sponsor!!!


I also have a new sponsor for the website...Homegrown Holds. Homegrown is a local, upstate SC, climbing hold company. They produce some of the finest, and most unique holds on the market and their holds have been thoroughly tested at a local gym. I mentioned Homegrown back in August, when I recieved an awesome skull climbing hold from them for my birthday. They can also produce special order holds if you have something special in mind that you've always wanted. The quality is superb, the turn around on orders is very rapid and the prices wont break your budget (they are usually well below the average hold price). Take a look at their current stock by clicking their button to the right. If you have any questions, get in touch with Jared and he'll set you up with what you need to complete or enhance your wall. Mention you saw this on Upstate Bouldering and he'll give you the 10% local climber discount!!!

WNC Local Spot-Linville Gorge Bouldering



The Wonderland and Dreamland Boulders
If you follow online climbing media at all, in the last year there have been several videos and articles on the Linville Gorge Boulders. LVM Rock was briefly making climbing videos and put out 2 great ones; one for Rumbling Bald, and one for Linville Gorge. In the Linville Gorge video, Mike Stamm's FA of "The Panic is On" was an incredible send of a hard scary route...if you havent seen it, check it out. Here is a link to the LVM website, scroll down on this site for the bouldering info. The boulders are down in the bottom of the Linville Gorge, one of the deepest gorges on the east coast, and tend to get little direct sunlight...making them better to visit during warmer weather. Its getting to be cooler weather, but I have heard of folks heading down into these boulders during the cold months also. The hike in is not to be taken lightly, generally steep and difficult loaded with a big crashpad...so dont bite off more than you can chew. Rescue from a location like this is a real ordeal, so understand the risks of climbing in a remote and isolated area like the Gorge and use as much caution and safety as possible. Unfortunately, I have not personally had the pleasure of getting down in the Gorge and checking these boulders out, every chance I have had it has either rained or something last minute has come up. But, with so much good information available on RockClimbing.com and on the Movement On Stone blog, I thought it would be fitting to list this under the Local Spots for Western North Carolina and make it more visible so folks can find information a little more centralized. For both the Wonderland and Dreamland Boulders, I have just cut and pasted the approach directions from existing threads and then linked to written route descriptions/grades. By having one window open with the route descriptions and another open with the Movement On Stone Topo's, you can compare the information and get a more comprehensive idea of the area and routes. I've also included a link to a good detailed hiking website for the Linville Gorge to help you get around the area. Enjoy!

Wonderland and Dreamland Topo's (Movement On Stone website) :Click here for great picture topo's and comments about each area


Wonderland Boulder
Approach:
The Spence Ridge Trail is the easiest, least steep way to access the river having 700 fett less elevation drop than any other trail to the river, and a foot bridge has recently been built to cross the river. Takes about 25-30 minutes with a pack. Wonderland is about 10, 15 minutes downstream of the bridge on the river trail. A large cave right on the trail marks the easiest ways to get to the river, as well as the downstream end of the best concentration of good, set-up boulders. These include the wonder boulder, the glory(mushroom) boulder, and good god's urge. The trail up to the Linville River Crag also marks the down-stream end of this bouderfield.

Wonderland Boulders Extra Approach Info : General info thread about Wonderland Boulders
Wonderland Boulders Route Info :Check here for written route information for Wonderland


Dreamland Boulders
Approach:
Park at Sitting Bear lot and walk towards sitting bear, cut left into gorge on Devil's Hole trail. Once at river, some boulders downstream, most boulders upstream. Stay on trail side of river to go up. Access to Gorge River Trail(on other side) is marked by cairn across river from Devil's Hole trail

Dreamland Boulders Extra Approach Info : Good thread about some general info of this area.
Dreamland Boulders Route Info : Check here for written route information for Dreamland

Linville Gorge Hiking Website

Thursday, October 8, 2009

A Big Ol' Black Bear, Huckleberry George & Yonah Bouldering


We were up at Jedi today, and George was so close to linking it all up and sending Use the Force, when I looked up the hill and saw the absolute BIGGEST black bear I have ever seen! I took a quick double take to make sure it was a bear...it was and it seemed to be curious about us bouldering in his boulderfield. Talk about access issue, HA:) There's a reason why one of these places is called the Bearfields;) I have seen about a dozen black bears in the mountains of Southern Appalachia; some while driving, some while hiking and a direct run in while mountain biking. Usually they turn tail and hop along off the road or trail as soon as they see you, but this one started heading down the hill, directly towards us. Needless to say, we packed it up quickly and headed out ASAP...right after George got one more burn! After almost sending it, we drove to the Bearfields and finished our session by reclimbing the old school direct start to Ground Turkey, the V2 highball route we reclaimed a couple of weeks ago. After that, we worked a couple of more slabby problems on the Meat Grinder boulder, and then I started working on a new problem I've had my eyes on for a while. It's a subtle slopey climb that requires next to nothing feet with a super high heel hook/smear to a difficult mantle. I felt like I was close but still I need to spend a little more time figuring out the whole sequence. I'm heading back in the morning to hopefully send both this one and a beautiful V4 ish problem that Andy sent last week.

Also, I just found out today that George, the newest SC slabmaster, has some great pictures of some of our adventures on his blog...
http://huckleberrygeorge.blogspot.com/
Check out the photos of us on one of the best V3's around, Use the Force.

I also started to post the Local Spot highlight for Mt Yonah bouldering near Helen, GA the other day, but I held off. When I finally posted it today, it bumped it back a post...so if you didnt notice the guidebook and additional topo of the area, then scroll down and check it out. Yonah has some really good bouldering outside of the area mentioned, so if you explore around, it seems like you find another good quality problem just right around every corner. When it's frozen in the Highcountry near Boone, and Rumbling is putting icicles on your nose too, Yonah is usually the cure with just the right temps and bullet hard granite to satisfy your bouldering craving.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Northeast GA Local Spot-Mt Yonah


If you're passing through Helen, GA, perhaps for some German food and beer during Octoberfest, Mt Yonah is a great little bouldering area to hit. Mt Yonah has been used for many years as an Army training area, and new climbing leaders have used it to cut their teeth as well. Yonah has several smaller crags at the base of the Main Wall, near the top. The trail up to the base of these crags is about a mile to a mile and a half long, with boulders strewn across it almost the whole way. If you are a boulderer, some of the local favorites and hard test pieces are located just around the corner from the parking area, making a quick boulder session a much easier option if you cant spend all day up at the crag or chasing boulder problems up the mountain. The guide was given to me by a local GA boulderer that helped to write it, and I think it only fitting to share it with everyone else that might be travelling through or live near the area. The guide list directions and an overview map that makes it pretty easy to navigate. Sometimes its hard to locate the boulder trail from the parking lot, but if you search around the valley that heads up the far right side from the parking lot, you'll start to find a faint trail and see some of the boulders just right around the corner. If you take the main trail, after you cross the metal bridge about 1/4 mile up the trail, you'll see the Hilltop Boulder down the hill to your right. Be careful of the bugs and poison ivy in warmer weather. If you're staying in Helen, the BBQ place has some of the cheapest and best eats in town! Another good perk about bouldering at Yonah is that camping is allowed. And, if you're extremely lazy and dont mind people watching you camp, you can even camp right out of your car on the backside of the parking lot. For a little privacy you can hike up the main trail and find a campsite before you hit the metal bridge and several good spots further on up the trail. With free camping, boulders 5 minutes from the parking lot and some awesome BBQ 10 minutes away...Yonah is destined to become even more popular with the Georgia and South Carolina bouldering crowd.

While you're there, here are some of my favorite routes to climb...

-Good Warm Up: Almost everything on the Hilltop Boulder

-Intermediate: Detached V4 near Hilltop Boulder, Any of the V2-V5's on the 45 Boulder

-Advanced:Yonah Man V7 (One of my proudest sends, because I onsighted it!) and Grand Daddy Yonah V9.

Click Here For the Guidebook

Here is the Hilltop Topo:

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Bearfields, Jedi, Dixon & Organic

This past week was a pretty busy week. I was sick for the early part of last week and it kind of slowed down my plans for climbing all week. Despite being sick, I still had a chance to hit the Bearfields, Jedi and this weekend, I went up to Charlotte and checked out the Dixon School Road boulders.

A few of the followers of this blog got together and climbed some of the classics and found some great new problems in both the Bearfields and Jedi boulders last week. It was good to see people that had never climbed at these spots looking at the place from a new approach. I showed them many of the classic problems in the area, and then they showed me many problems we had overlooked in the past. Andy put up some of the best and hardest lines in the Bearfields in one visit, and Caleb and Adam attacked some new, hard, routes in Jedi. I'm excited to see lines I've only dreamed of climbing, getting crushed by these guys! Hopefully I can get some pictures of these visits up soon.

This weekend I took my annual pilgrimage to Charlotte to see two of my all time favorite bands...The Allman Brothers Band and Widespread Panic. This marks the 15th anniversary of my first Allman Brothers concert and I've seen at least one show every year since 1994, for a total of almost 50 shows. This is also my 20th or so Widespread Panic show, since the first time I saw them in 1995. There are 2 things in life that really make me happy...good bouldering and good jammy music. Here is a link to the WSP show for that night, in case you're a fan too:)
http://panicstream.com/streams/wsp/2009_10_03/player.html

And...to top off the music, I got a chance to finally check out the Dixon Boulders at Crowder's Mountain State Park in North Carolina. I have tried to get up there since they officially opened back in like April, but every chance I've had, it just didn't work out. We got up to Charlotte a little early on Saturday and had about 2 hours to check the boulders out before we had to head to the concert. We took the road around to connect to the Ridgeline Trail, instead of using the connector trail behind the new facilities. This was quicker than taking the connector, but I always feel like a wus choosing asphalt over trail:) When you finally hit the ridge, the boulders are very obvious and seem to go on a bit down the trail. They are several sets of GIANT boulders, easily could be bolted for sport routes, and there were also sets of smaller boulders. We stuck to some of the first boulders we found and worked some of the easier, obvious lines. The rock felt very similar to Crowder's...it was rough with a lot of quartz inclusions that made gripping it uncomfortable at times. I'm not complaining, but Crowder's always has a way of shredding and wearing down your hands faster than most places I visit. We came back Sunday, on our way back home, and climbed for another 2-3 hours on some boulders down the hill from the first set you come to. There were some great tall problems and a super fun low problem with a sit start to a rounded dish and then either mantle up or move right to the big bulge and wrestle a different topout. They both felt like they were in the V2-3 range, and there were a lot of fun movements involved. My wife climbed a couple of good routes at the top of her grade range, one was a power climb and one was a technique climb, so I was happy about that also.

I also worked out a little deal to have Organic climbing pads "slightly" sponsor the website. I'm getting a nice small pad and chalk bucket at a great deal, and hopefully a few freebies that I can give away to some of the readers of the blog. If you havent checked out Organic's line of crashpads yet, take a look at the new link to the right. Each of their pads are made to order, can be customized with extra options and you choose the colors/design you want on your pad, chalkbag or bucket. And its always best to support the small, customer oriented, US owned and operated business. If you have any questions, shoot them an e-mail and Josh will be more than psyched to help you out!

This week I'm planning on getting out to Jedi again, but I have a friend's wedding to attend in Charleston this weekend, so climbing will be more on the back burner. Hopefully, this will give me time to finish up the new topo to Big Easy it get that out there for folks to check out. I also hope to put up another new (kind of) local bouldering spot, Mt Yonah, and the first UB local spot for Northeast Georgia.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Temps Are Dropping and the Sends Are Rising!

The temps have finally dropped down into the not-so-suffering range down here in the Foothills and the sends are starting to accumulate. George and I have been hitting the Bearfields every week, at least once, and we've also been checking out some other local spots like Aztek and the Big Easy boulder wall. If you are in the area and want to boulder with us, drop me an e-mail and we'll set a date for some climbing. George has got the feeling for the local rock and the super South Carolina Slabs are starting to come easier for him. In fact, he resent a proud V2 HIGHBALL route that hasn't seen a send in almost 5 years yesterday, which I repeated aftewards. It was good to get on this old/new route and see it to the scary topout. We have both also started projecting one of the best V6's (or so) in the Bearfields... Walter's Wild Ride. This route hasnt seen a repeat in about 5 years also, and is one of the most aesthetic and proud routes in the Bearfields. We also went out last Friday and visited an access sensitive area that was hopefully about to become available for the Upstate to climb in...but after talking with someone in charge, they have decided to keep it illegal to boulder. A total bummer! This week, I plan on hitting the Bearfields and the first fall visit to Jedi before I head up to Charlotte and check out the Dixon School Road Boulders, the newest addition to Crowders State Park.

I have been using a new topo program and have started making detailed picture topos, like in Dorrity's Bald book, of most of the routes around the upstate. One of the completed projects is the Big Easy boulder wall and I will hopefully put this up as a new local spot here soon...keep your eyes peeled!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A Slightly Wet Lilly Session...Cumberland Blues (Almost!)








I came up to Knoxville this weekend, with my wife, and I was hoping to be able to climb all day at the Lilly Boulders in the Obed. I knew that this weekend would be iffy because of all the rain we have been getting, but Lilly has always beckoned me like a siren calling me into the rocky shore. For some reason, it hasn't ever really mattered to me what kind of weather its getting, if I'm in Knoxville, I'm heading to Lilly as soon as I can get away. I haven't been to Lilly in over a year, but I used to go almost every weekend when my wife was finishing up at UT. Lilly always seems to have something to climb, no matter if its hot, cold, dry, wet or soaked with some left over radiation from Oak Ridge:) It's not the biggest bouldefield in the South...in fact, the Jedi Boulders easily has more problems than Lilly does. But the surroundings are amazing, a lush forest with plenty of sandstone and a great paddling river running less than a 1/4 mile away...and many times, you're the only one in the boulderfield. I was hoping to climb Buddha's Belly, a super slopey V4 bulge that has always been tough for me, but I knew it would be wet and didn't get my hopes up. I kept hearing the words of the Grateful Dead in my head..."A lot of poor man got them Cumberland Blues, he cant win for losin"...seemed fitting, but within a wet climbing context. Lilly is an incredible sandstone area, that has a great combination of slopers and some absolutely amazing roofs (if you haven't seen Daniel Woods send the 2nd ascent of Chinese Arithmetic, the V13 James Litz classic, check out the link at the end of this post). So for the last week or so, I've been working on my power and training on my HIT system, getting ready for those roofs...roofs really aren't my favorite style of climbs, but I tend to climb them well once I start working them.

So, I showed up in the boulderfield this morning around 8 or so and sure enough, everything but the roofs were wet. I went to my usual warm up spot on the KB (Key Blocks) boulder (mislabeled on the Dr Topo guide, but labeled correctly on the old comp topo) and sent some of my favorite warm up problems. Even though they were a little wet, the boulder is slightly past vertical, so most of the holds were somewhat dry. If I could have one boulder in my backyard, it'd by far be the KB boulder. One of my favorite aretes, the KB Arete V2/3 is on one side of the boulder's main wall and the best beginner arete, Tippy Toes V0 (Aretes of Fun V1 on the Dr Topo guide), on the other side. In between these 2 aretes are a handful of V2 to V5 routes that would be top notch routes at any boulderfield. The top picture on this post is of the overhanging Key Blocks Arete. After that, I decided to just chalk up Buddha's Belly V4 and see if it'd be possible. After using most of the chalk I brought with me, I had dried the crucial holds enough to finally slap and compress my way, to send the sucker from the sit start. So my trip wasn't in vain after all! The 2nd and 3rd picture on this blog are of Buddha's Belly. After Buddha's Belly, I went over to work on another super classic roof problem, OPP, a V7 on JR's Corner. I got the route from a stand start, but the real meat of the problem is with the sit start...but I still did better on it than ever before. The last 2 pictures, at the top of the blog, show OPP on the right and Chinese Arithmetic to the left of it. After OPP, I went over to check on a problem I've been working almost everytime I visit Lilly, Flexorciser, another V7. I had sent almost all of this route in pieces, but never linked it all up for the complete send. I sat deep under the overhang and started remembering the parts of the route as I began climbing it. I wasn't expecting one of the holds to have a dish of water hiding behind it and I was tossed off, missing my crashpad and bruising my hip on the hard ground. In the split second of pain while I was laying on the ground, I thought about packing it up and heading out...after all it was starting to sprinkle. But like any good climber, I used the pain to motivate me for the next climb and to pull even harder. I took a second to gather myself and chalk up a few of the wet holds I missed. With the pain fueling my power, I started on the tiny sloper crimps at the sit start and barely pulled through the roof to gain the headwall and the eventual top out. I almost slipped off, right before the top, due to the water and mud that was caking on my hands, but I held on to get the send. The 4th and 5th pictures above, are shots of Flexorciser and the Muscle Block Boulder. Looks like my goal of a V6 or higher route, for the fall climbing season, was closer than I could imagine...even on a road trip that I thought might end up being a bust due to all of the rain. "Goes to show, you don't never know"...when you'll climb good and when the pain can drive you to a send that normally might not be in your grasp.

If you are heading to Lilly sometime, get in touch with me so I can send you a copy of the old comp guide and topo. The Dr Topo guide is so far off, its practically impossible to navigate by it and many of the problems are misnamed, misgraded and even put on the wrong boulder...which is also misnamed. I'm also planning on creating a new Lilly topo, with at least a dozen new routes not listed in either of the guides, for the road trip section of my future guidebook.
Here is a link to DeadPoint and Daniel Woods at the Lilly Boulders...
http://www.deadpointmag.com/dpm-hd/15-daniel-woods-on-chinese-arithmetic