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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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Another Local Spot - Aztek Complex

Aztek Complex:
Last time, I provided a local spot out in the foothills of Northern Pickens, right inside the Jocassee Gorges area. Now, I'm going to to provide info on another local spot that might be closer to Greenville than the Little Easy area...The Aztek Complex.

How to get there:
This is a much smaller area with only a few routes, in comparison to most bouldering areas. To get to this spot, you need to park at the Wildcat Wayside parking area/Waterfall on the side of Highway 11/276. If you are coming from Greenville on hwy 11, the parking will be about .5 miles, on the right, before the split of 11 (heads to Table Rock) and 276 (heads to Caesar's Head). This is sometimes a popular area with tourists, because of the small waterfall that is visible while driving by...and sometimes you can even get a cup of boiled peanuts at a little travelling peanut stand that tends to park here during the summer months. On, it has been listed as "church" land, but this land is actually part of Caesar's Head State Park and is near a collection of Heritage Land Trust tracts that starts farther up the mountain side on Persimmon Ridge Road. There are many church groups that have used this land and have even put church/Jesus related graffiti on rocks and trees here in the past...not very attractive to see though!

The Approach:
To get to the Aztek Complex, follow the trail to the top of the waterfall...cross a wooden bridge over the falls and go past the chimney of a house that once stood here. After the chimney is another bridge over a small stream...turn left after this bridge and follow it about 2 minutes up the winding trail. You will eventually come to the obvious overhanging "boulder", actually just then end of a big slab, on your right. It is easy to know if you are at the right spot because you will see the spray painted "Aztek Warrior" under the overhang on the left. Aztek Warrior is the V2-3 on the left side at the spray paint. There are some other harder routes/projects under this same roof too, if Aztek was too easy for you.

There is also another boulder (Lost Mans Rock) at the top of the taller waterfall. To get to this area, take a right after the bridge past the chimney and follow this trail until you come to a waterfall (some red neck painted an American flag on the side of the falls a few years ago so its impossible to miss). Carefully follow the trail up the left side of the waterfall to the top and follow the trail back another 50ft to a boulder on the right. I havent climbed around on this boulder in like 10 years, but there are a few routes (V2 & V3) listed for it on

This area isnt a destination by any means...religous graffiti, an old car/SUV name (Aztek) painted on one of the best routes, and clueless tourists make for an interesting time. But in this neck of the woods, this overhanging rock has some of the better hard routes to be offered up. If you are travelling through or are up on 11 for a dayhike, stop by and check it might just be that next hard problem you were looking for.

The Link:
Here is a link to the Aztek Complex on

Monday, February 23, 2009

HP40/ Chalky Dreams/ Boat Rock

Had a great weekend on my Alabama Getaway. Started out Friday morning about 9:30 at Horse Pens and climbed until about 5 that afternoon. I was mainly climbing everything in the V0-V2 range, but I also onsighted Horsepower V3 and worked half the day to get Bumboy V4, which I ended up climbing 2 different ways. I also got a bunch of V2's that were super fun...I really enjoyed Moms, Turtlehead and Dope. My whole focus for the visit to HP40 was to try to climb Bumboy, and other slopey routes, and just check the place out, so I felt accomplished heading to Birmingham that night.

Woke up Saturday morning and headed to the comp. I got there a little early to check out Moss Rock and get oriented before the start. I wasn't expecting so many highballs! At the top of half the routes, you could barely make out your crashpad below the clouds...alright maybe a little exaggerated, but these routes were tall. In some states, you'd bolt this and call it sport climbing:) This place reminded me of a used and abused (some spray painted rocks) Lilly Boulders with some taller routes. I was so worn out from working so hard on Bumboy the day before, after about 5 routes, I knew I wasnt going to be in the race for a top spot, so I just started climbing more for fun. I ended up climbing The Bomb V3 ("Dog Wars" at the comp), and a slew of V1's and V2's. I had a chance to meet and cheer on a bunch of cool people from Alabama, and also some guys from Atlanta, I met at the Float the Boat comp last month. Good comp with lots of fun people and some good problems made for a good day of climbing.

Sunday I went to Boat Rock, on my way home, and sent a few classics that I had never really worked on. I sent Dream Scoop V3 first, then onsighted Sourwood Arete V3, and then onsighted Tough Guy V3. I also worked Lost Digits V3 and Watermelon/Bob's Arete V4, both of which I was almost to the send, but I was just finally worn out from the whole weekend of climbing. I always love to climb at Boat Rock and sending some classics always makes it better.

What great weekend! I kind of wore myself out the first day, but the rest of the weekend was just as rewarding. I love a good road trip, and this one had some great climbing in it. Cant wait to get back to Horse Pens for Sloperfest!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Old and New Polls

The polls for last week on training just closed. Most people out there seem to just climb a lot as their main training method, but there are a few people with home walls and other training equipment that can be used on their wall...HIT, fingerboards and rock rings to name a few. If you dont do any climbing training at home...why dont you? I have found that a simple pair of Rock Rings or Pump Rocks are a cheap and great way to get a climbing specific work out, as well as, a general conditioning work out. You can hang them almost anywhere, they are easy to move if you are renting or plan on relocating them often, they supplement a home wall well, and they are easy to work out on. I also like that you can do as little as a 10 minute work out, a few times a week, and see and feel a difference in your climbing. If you have a home wall and can fit a set of HIT strips into it, I highly recommend doing so. I was able to get my set from "clemsonscooby" from the CCC and SCC messageboards (thanks again if you read this), and I have been addicted to using them ever since. I have seen a noticable change in my endurance, power, and finger strength. I jumped up a bouldering grade immediately after starting to use them. The more I use them, which is about 1-2 times a week, the better I can climb and my confidence continues to be on the rise. I used to climb in the V4-V6 range regularly years ago, but I started letting my focus get away from climbing and training. When I started back bouldering more frequently, I could barely get some V2's and V3's. Even after training like I used to, I still couldnt achieve the grades I was used to climbing. After starting the HIT training, I have been jumping up a grade every month or so. Now I have been climbing more V4's and got a couple of V5's the other day at the gym...that hasnt happened in a while. I think a combination of addressing my weaknesses by training on Rock Rings and HIT strips, has put me back closer to my "glory years" than anything else.

Anybody have any successful training tips to share? I think one reason most people climb is to get better and climb through the grades to harder and more challenging problems...what has helped you get to the grade you are at right now?

The new polls ask what your favorite local bouldering areas are. I have been to most of these areas and each has their own charisma, so if you want to add a comment about why its your favorite boulder area, please feel free to do so here. Also, if you have a favorite area that I have left off, please make a comment and I'll add it on there.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Alabama Getaway...Getaway

I love that Dead song! It hasn't gone out of my head since this trip was thought up. My fiance is heading to Denver for a conference this weekend, so I saw this as an oppurtunity to visit some boulderfields I've been wanting to hit. We are getting married this May and heading to Europe for our honeymoon. We are going to spend some time in Portugal, where she will be doing research, and where I'll be bouldering a lot...hopefully. After Portugal, we are also spending some time in Fontainebleau and France. No better way to prepare for the Font than to climb at the American Font...Horse Pens. We are planning on going to Sloperfest at HP40 also, in 2 more weeks, so I saw this as a way to get familiar with the area before then. It also happened that the Chalky Dreams comp, at Moss Rock in Birmingham, is this weekend too, so I'm going to climb in that as a way to see the majority of the problems and see them being sent. I'm not really a competitor, but I love the vibe of a comp when everyone is climbing hard and yet pulling for each other to send. I'm staying with some friends in Atlanta after the comp and climbing at Boat Rock on Sunday. So many people hate on Boat Rock, but it is really a primo southern boulderfield with a variety of quality problems...well worth the stop while in Atlanta. 3 great boulderfields in 1 weekend should make for a really fun time!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A couple of local spots

There are a handful of easily accessible boulders around the upstate that can provide you with a little bit of climbing. Here is the first installment:

Little Easy: Little Eastatoe Creek used to be a trashed red neck hang out on the side of highway 11 between Table Rock SP and Keowee SP. We used to come here a lot in the summer and hit the water slide and swimming holes to cool off. This led us to climbing around on the boulders and walls that litter the creek side. There was a clean up effort by Pickens Middle School that eventually led to the area being designated "Long Shoals Roadside Park". There were bathrooms added, as well as picnic tables and grills to make a nice addition to the highway 11 circuit of parks. Along, and in, the river are quit a few boulders and actually a couple of short top ropable walls. Not going to mention any specific boulders but they start up river from the water slide and go down river, almost to the junction with Big Eastatoe Creek. There is a great V2 SDS, "Little Easy", tucked on the "island" between the split in the river downstream of the slide.

You can also park near the bridge over Little Eastatoe and see a nice collection of rounded boulders, right there in the parking lot. I have climbed a few routes in this area, but most of the rock tends to be featureless making it tougher to find good routes.

From this parking area, follow either the creek side trail or the faint trail that leads up the hill to the left of the parking lot boulders. Both of these trails with intersect in about 1/4-1/2 mile. At this intersection you will see another small set of boulders off of the trail. Only a few climbable routes, but worth a peek.

If you continue down this trail, towards the junction with Big and Little Eastatoe Creeks, you will come to a big dip in the trail with a small stream going under it. Turn right and follow this stream bed up the hill to another small set of boulders with a cave/shelter. There is a good bit of rock, with a couple of problems scattered here and there.

If you continue down the trail instead of heading to the last boulder set, the trail will begin to skirt the creek. In a dip covered by rhododendron tunnels, look up right for 2 boulders. One has a 3 star slightly overhanging arete that goes at about a V3...this is called "Rhodarete". Beside this boulder is a rounded slabby boulder with some tough problems.

If you continue down this trail another 150 yrds, you will come to the junction of Little Eastatoe (what you've been hiking beside) and Big Eastatoe (the creek coming in on the right). A few chossy boulders/walls are on the right side of the trail before the junction. This is basically the transition from Eastatoe, upstream, to Lake Keowee, downstream. If you floated from here, its about 2-3 miles to the real open water of Lake Keowee. If you hiked upstream besdie Big Eastatoe for about 1 1/2-2 miles, you would come to "Dug Mountain Angler Access" at Dug Mtn Bridge, right inside the Jocassee Gorges.

There are plenty of exploration opportunities around this area, and actually a few more, tougher to find, boulders tucked over hillsides here and there. There is also an incredible 80' roped roof route, The Mushroom, hidden in the woods somewhere...never been toped out, so the FA is still there if you can find it:) If you are heading out in this direction, get in touch and I can meet up and show you around the area. Also, report any climbs you make and where they were, because most will be FA's...I'd like to keep track and start a topo for these areas. Good luck exploring!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Polls and Training

The first poll closed this morning, and the second one was just put up, and a 3rd poll question for non climbing training will be posted soon also. For these new polls, you can select more than 1 training method you click on all of you training habits and hit vote!

The results from the first poll were kind of what I was expecting, most people climb in the lower grades (V0-V4), and there are a handful that climb harder (V5 and up) regularly. I love to climb and climb a lot, but I still usually climb more in the V1-V3 range than any other grade range. I find these climbs to be more fun than challenging. I like a challenge sometimes, and I will find a route or two that sparks me into "projecting" it, but usually these are a couple grades higher (V4-V5).

I put up the new poll question because, I tend to do a lot of activities, beside climbing, that help my climbing abilities. For example, yesterday I went to Clemson and biked about 5 miles around the town, then did yoga at Fike and ended with a quick climb on the Fike nice to officially meet you ATJohns. I always feel like I climb a grade harder the weeks I do yoga, and bike rides always get my aerobic and endurance up.

It's also cool to note that there are 2 route setters following the blog...J-Rock sets the routes for "Climb at Blue Ridge", the gym in Greer/Travelers Rest, and ATJohns is a routesetters for the Fike wall at Clemson. If you havent visited these gyms yet, I recommend it...Climb at Blue Ridge always has some fresh tape on the wall, both roped routes and boulder routes. The Fike wall is a very nice Nicros fake rock wall with a couple of regular plywood walls on each side. The place is usually buzzing with students, and the routes are always fun and challenging...a welcome climbing respet in Clemson!

Watch out for tomorrow's post...I'll spill the beans on a couple of bouldering opps in the upstate. I've had several people ask about directions to the Bearfields and Jedi, but I cant give these out yet, so I'll keep ya'll happy with some other areas to explore.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Good Weekend

J-Rock and I ended up climbing at the North Side boulders of Looking Glass this past Friday...perfect day to boulder. Got there and met another climber, Josh, and later, Chris Dorrity joined him. Josh climbed this incredibly nice blunt arete on tiny little crimps that would make most people shreak like a little girl...awesome send to see! J-Rock and I climbed around for a while warming up and checking out the different boulders, when we saw Chris topping out on one of the harder and possibly the best problem in the area. Eventually, I sent a crimpy problem with a short dyno at the top that I had worked on for a while last time I was here. J-Rock called it a "Horse Pens V5"...which is a Rumbling V3-4 in his book:) J-Rock then climbed another route to the right of the route Joshed climbed. A short powerful problem that requires a kind of wide awkward gaston and a rotation up on a high heel hook to the top slopey ledge...nice send! It was really nice to meet and talk with Chris and see those guys send a few problems I've only dreamed of. Overall, it was a great day of bouldering!

Headed down state for my brothers birthday on Saturday and was able to climb a little at a small juggy area on the side of the Savannah River. Not much to speak of, but nice to have if you are in the area. We didnt get to ride at FATS, but we did get to ride on the North Augusta Greenway, which was a nice easy ride. Overall, it was a pleasant weekend to be able to climb, bike and visit family.

I'm getting psyched for my "Alabama Getaway", coming up in 2 weekends. Might be able to go to Rumbling this Saturday, especially if this is the last weekend its going to be open for a while. Anybody else do some good climbing this weekend?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Secret Stash- New Pictures

I just added some new pictures of the Jedi Boulders to a new slide show. There are a lot of pictures of random boulders, about half of the total boulders in this area are shown in this picture set. Then there are some pictures of me and J-Rock climbing some new FA's yesterday. We put up about 5 new V0's, 5 new V1's, a few V2's, and a few V3's...about a total of 20 new routes. I have a couple of photo series where we are climbing a slopey edge/arete that went at about a V3, and also climbing on the Turtleback Boulder on some sharp rails and a slabby left hand arete. Most of these routes went at around V1-V2+. It was cold, but we had a great time anyway.

We are planning on hitting one of the fields in Pisgah, The North Side or maybe Shangrila at the base of the God's Wall tomorrow. Looks like the temps are gonna be a little better and we both have the whole day off to enjoy the serenity of Pisgah. I've been wanting to get back to Shangrila to climb some awesome V2-V3 problems that dont see much traffic. I always get an eerie feeling when I go to Shangrila, like there is a Yeti waiting to jump out and eat me. It's so beautiful, but pretty rugged and truly a great hang out for the hibernating bear.

I hope everyone out there has a great weekend and gets their hands on some quality rock to climb.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Secret Stash-The Jocassee Gorges

I've been hording the best boulders in the area for a while:) Mainly because of access issues...there are no official statements about bouldering in this area, but we dont want to push it until it becomes a problem (not uncommon for SC climbing of any sorts). We have been warned by game wardens before about climbing and biking in the area, but they didnt know if bouldering was officially illegal, so luckily they let us go without a hassle. Still, I dont want to push the limits.

I have linked to and a page I started years ago and have added only a few of the routes to...The Bearfields. This is the easiest boulderfield to access and most climbed by myself and a handful of others over the years. We have lately been FA'ing in a new/old area that was left alone for a while and now we are attempting to fully map...The Jedi Field. The last of the 3 boulder areas, mentioned on the page, is not that easy to access and mainly has highballs (some of the best highball lines I've ever seen) we dont head out to the Lighthouse Boulders very often due to the danger and lack of any rescue imaginable, short of a tractor beam from a UFO. We have mapped about 100 routes in the Bearfields, about 20 at the Lighthouse, and about 75 in the Jedi field, including "Use the Force", which J-Rock calls "the best V3 this side of Rumbling"...or at least in the Jedi area. J-Rock has climbed all over the planet, so I trust his statements about grades and quality more than most. We are heading back to Jedi today to mine some more incredible routes. Sorry, I know its kind of a tease, but I cant tell you where these places are until permanent access has been figured out, but I will provide some pictures and a video of "Use the Force" very soon so everyone can see that SC really does have some incredible bouldering.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

February Road Trips

Heading out of town a couple of times this month...

Next weekend we are heading down towards Augusta, GA for my brothers B-day. While there, we plan on checking out some boulders in the Clarks Hill area and also riding at some of the best mtn bike trails in SC, FATS. If you bike and havent ridden FATS...what are you waiting for? Great trails with plenty of options to keep you busy for 5 miles or an all day 30 miler. If you have info about boulders in this area, drop a comment and let me know.

I'm also planning on climbing in the Chalky Dreams comp, at Moss Rock, in Birmingham, AL on Feb 21st. Hopefully, the weather will be good for the whole weekend and I can climb at Horse Pens 40 on Friday and Boat Rock on the way home on Sunday. Dont plan on competing hard, just nice to get together with like minded folks and pull down. Never been to HP40 or Moss Rock, so this will be a great trip to fresh rock for me. Competed at Boat Rock last month and got to see so much more of the boulderfield than I ever knew existed. Great stuff out in Wood's Hill and the Glove I want to get back on. If anyone else, from the Upstate or WNC, is planning on climbing in the comp or being down that way between Feb 20-22, let me know...we'll get together and celebrate climbing a few states away.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Temporary closure of Rumbling Bald

I'm sure by now, most have heard the news of the closing of Rumbling while they create a new parking area. Please don't jeopardize future climber access by not following this mandatory closure. This is an incredibly positive sign for the climbing community that the park is expending resources to improve an area mainly used for climbing. This is also a great opportunity to go out and find some new pebbles or crags, or invite someone new to your own secret stash you've been hording all these years:) This is also a chance to check out and possibly develop Big Rock into a little Rumbling of our own.

Post where you've been climbing instead of Rumbling...might help others find the peace of mind they need during this closure:)

Big Rock

Hopefully sometime this week, I'll take a break from the normal boulder circuits and poke around Big Rock to see what's there. A buddy of mine used to climb here when he was going to Clemson, and I have also heard several other groups from Clemson and Greenville have climbed here in the past. This is presently the best, legal bouldering option in the Upstate. Even if it hasn't been looked at yet, its better than what legal bouldering we have right now...practically nothing! If anyone wants to get into a bushwhacking adventure, just post here and we will start developing the rock.