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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Monday, March 30, 2009

This just in...Rumbling is open until next Sunday

Just a quick post...this morning, the NC Parks site was updated, leaving Rumbling Bald open until Sunday April 5th. Still time to finish your tick list or complete that project you've been working on.

With rain, comes lots of gym time...

Last week was a pretty wet week and weekend, so most of my climbing was relegated to the Climb at Blue Ridge gym in Greenville. J-Rock, as usual, has set some of the best indoor routes in the area, and some of the best I've climbed around the country. Rarely does he equate a harder route with only smaller holds and longer reaches, like many gyms and route setters tend to do...he is the master at forcing you to make a specific, sometimes extremely difficult, movement in order to complete the route. In the long run, this IS what always makes a classic route classic, outdoors or indoors; different, distinctive movement or memorable use of holds.

I spent most of my time bouldering but roped up for a few routes, including an onsight of "Starry Messenger", a great, slopey, Fontainebleau-ish 5.11. The boulder problems were outstanding also...I climbed 5 V4's, 2 V5's and an onsight/flash of a V6. Seeing as how my goal for the year was to climb 5 V4's and 2 V5's, and I climbed that and a V6 this was a really good climbing week for me.

I had hoped to go to Rumbling today, but I just dont have enough time to make it worthwhile. So, instead I'm heading to send some of the harder climbs we've found at Jedi...the Lord Sidius Arete V4 has been calling me. I have a week off of work next week and plan on rapping up the climbing season by climbing my butt off. I am hoping to head to Grandmothers and Blowing Rock boulders, as well as, rope up at Table Rock and some of the other great crags in the Linville Gorge. I'm also planning on hitting about 8-10 other boulder 4-5 areas in Pisgah (Shangrila, Nowhere, North Side, Nose, Fate), Granite City, Rumbling (if open), possibly Yonah, and all of the local areas (Jedi, Bearfields, Little Easy, Aztek, Rhodorete). I tend to do more than just climb on a day off, so I'm also planning on getting some mountain biking and kayaking in. With my wedding rapidly approaching, I need to spend more time on that than climbing (or at least that's what my fiance keeps saying:)). We are planning our honeymoon, so its not really the end of the climbing season...just a lull til I get to Europe in mid-May, then I can look forward to a summer of bouldering on the coast of Portugal and then my dream trip to Fontainebleau.

Be on the lookout for a new Local Spot this'll probably be Granite City or maybe the Nowhere boulders in Pisgah. With the heat starting to show up, I'll start to post a few deep water spots before too long also.

Monday, March 23, 2009

South Face Fun

Had a good weekend to go biking at Bent Creek on Friday and went to the South Face of Looking Glass Saturday to plug a little gear. I havent led too many trad routes, and with all of my bouldering goals met for the season, I turned my attention towards finishing my roped of which was to lead more trad. My climbing roots are mainly from trad climbing, but as time progresses, my trad partners have stopped climbing or only occasionally climb now...keeping me lower to the ground and wrestling more pebbles lately. We ended up climbing about 10 different routes/variations of routes from 5.6-5.9/5.10, and had a great time, at a truly beatiful place. This used to be a more regular spot on the rotation of crags, and since my focus has slowly turned to bouldering, I havent been roping up as much...but it was so nice to enjoy the South Face again with some friends. Hopefully, I can get a couple of more trad leads in before the end of the season...then the heat will force me into a kayak and some summertime soloing on the lake!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Rumbling Bald is open until the 29th

The NC parks site has recently been updated to extend the open date of Rumbling Bald to March 29. Good news for the WNC climber!

J-Rock and I went out to the East Boulderfield last Wednesday and sent a plethora of routes. Most were in the Vo-V3 range, but we did send Vitamin I V4 and both of us almost sent Morning Star V7. After working the route over and over in my mind all week, and being fresh and confident...on my last real try, I ran out of juice at the very top of the route and ended up not topping it out. Now that its going to be open this week, hopefully I'll get a chance to finally put it all together and top it out.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Local WNC Spot-The North Side boulders

North Side/North Face boulders:

Here is the first western North Carolina addition to local spots...the boulders at the base of the North Side of Looking Glass. I've been bouldering here for about 5-7 years and always enjoy visiting this small serene boulderfield whenever I can. One the past some boulders at the base of the North Side have been closed (any boulder you pass on the way in and to the right of the final uphill part of the trail are usually closed when the North Side is closed), along with the cliff, for peregrine nesting. To be safe and not jeopardize access, please stick to the boulders detailed in this post...they are to the left of the closures and have never closed due to peregrines.

How to get there:

If you are anywhere near familiar with climbing in the Carolina's, then you are sure to know about Looking Glass in Pisgah National Forest near Brevard, NC. Looking Glass is a traditional climbing area with a few sport routes. There are boulders at nearly every roped climbing area, but the best concentration is found at the base of the North Side. From Brevard, follow Hwy 64 to the junction of 288, right in front of the entrance to the forest. Turn left and follow Hwy 276 past the Ranger Station and turn left towards the Fish Hatchery, at the obvious fork. Follow this past the Fish Hatchery and take the first gravel road to the right (FR 475-A). Follow this road about 4-5 miles, past the parking for Slick Rock Falls and the South Face climbing area, past the parking for the Nose climbing area, and finally to the parking for the North Side trail. You get a great view of the North Side and the Nose of Looking Glass from the parking spaces.


Follow the North Side trail for almost a mile to the base of Looking Glass. The very last part of the trail makes a dip down into the boulder area before it finally makes the last uphill to Looking Glass. The boulders are located up, and to the left, as you begin up the final uphill.

You will first notice a long, not too tall, boulder that makes a great Warm Up boulder. I have counted about 30 different variations from V0-V2 on this boulder, and there is a tough slopey V3 SDS on the far right side of the boulder. One of my favorite routes on this wall is the crimp/dyno, right in the middle of the can dyno to the left or right of the railed peak, I think left is a little tougher. After you warm up on this boulder, move over to the tougher stuff past the Warm Up boulder. At the top left of Warm Up is a great boulder with a variety of tougher routes ranging from V2ish-V6/7ish. There are some shallow diagonal seams on the left side of the boulder, a great slightly blunt arete (looks V5ish), and a tough slopey shelf/mantle problem facing the top of Warm Up. After you climb on these 2 boulders there are plenty more pebbles around to wrestle the left of this boulder, the trail heads down into another group of about 5 boulders with some great highball routes and solid V3-V7 ranged problems. This is enough to get you started and still leave a little mystery and surprise for what you might find there.

Being in Pisgah is always a serene, almost spiritual, experience...and bouldering there is no exception. The North Side is usually less crowded and not as loud, compared to the other climbing areas on Looking Glass. The hike in is a great warm up and helps to clear your head for the great bouldering ahead. I think the North Side is a great place year round, even though sometimes it gets cold in the winter, but I like to save it for warmer days when its too hot to boulder elsewhere. It tends to stay a little cooler in the summer, especially if you can get there in the you can climb till you get too hot and then head down the road to one of the many awesome swimming holes in Pisgah to cool off!

Not too much here, but might still be worth look.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Rumbling Bald is open this week!

Good News! From the sound of last weeks park service announcement, it seemed like they were about to close for the bulk of the parking lot renovation...but a new announcement today leaves the Bald open until Sunday, March 22nd.

With rain and cooler temps, the rocks are cleaned and primed for optimal stickiness! I might join J-Rock at the Bald on Wednesday, to try to tick off a few routes I've been working on...hopefully I can put the pieces together to Morning Star for my first V7. I was planning on camping and doing some trad climbing at the South Face of Looking Glass on Friday, but with this news, I might try and boulder at Rumbling on Friday and then hit Pisgah on Saturday and Sunday, instead, to rope up and boulder.

One of the next "local spots" will be one of the boulder areas near Looking Glass...probably the North Side Boulders or Nowhere Boulders and keep the other good Pisgah spots for later. Granite City is also coming soon, but I tend to hit that up closer to summer time, so I'll wait til then to post it. Also, summer brings "deep water soloing", so I'll mention a few spots on the local lakes that are perfect for climbing up and jumping off. Look for the new Pisgah local spot later this week.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Wednesday at the Bald

After work Wednesday, I took a trip up to Rumbling to try to get one last day in before they close for what seems to be the bulk of the parking lot work. Looking at the weather, it looks to be wet all weekend, so this was my last chance, possibly for the whole season, to send some good routes. I was hoping to climb until about 6-7, but the heat, about 78', got to me faster than I expected, so I ended up leaving about 4.

I climbed a lot of routes in the Breakfast Area in the East Side, including, Crowd Pleaser V3, Champion at Keepin' Them Rollin' V4, and the FrankenBerry Dyno V5. After sending these I went down to the Breakfast Area proper and sent Land of Dreams SDS V3 and East Side 1c Unknown V5. I almost sent Morning Star V7 at the end of my session...I can do the stand start, but I didnt have enough strength to finish the route after I finally got the sit start. I had only climbed 1 V4 at the Bald before, and I had never climbed a V5 here, so today was a pretty good day of climbing for me. I like to set monthly and yearly goals to keep me motivated and progressing instead of just spinning my wheels at the same place, on the same routes. One of my major goals for the year was to climb 5 V4's and 2 V5's...which for me is a pretty big accomplishment. Before this year I've only climb a few 4's and only 1 other 5, and those were a few years ago when I was leaner and in better climbing shape. After today, I've completed this goal sooner in the year than expected.

If this was the last boulder session of the spring at Rumbling, I am very pleased! Rumbling is still open until this Sunday, March 15, at 6:30pm. But with the wet weather we are expecting, the opportunity to climb there before it closes may have already passed.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Another Local Spot-Clemson Buildering

In keeping with the idea of trying to provide a local spot near most major areas of the Upstate, and after providing a spot close to Pickens and Greenville, Clemson is next. This is a minor addition to the local spots, but one that I used to enjoy when I was an undergrad and grad student at Clemson University...buildering. There are several areas around campus and downtown that offer a few urban climbs. Usually, buildering is frowned upon by onlookers, so try to keep a low profile.

In general, many buildings on campus have a few short problems, and some offer tall aretes and sometimes cracks between adjacent buildings. We used to also climb statues and monuments...when no one was looking:)

There are 2 small areas that were used by several generations of Clemson grads to get a little pump. The first, and most popular, was the incredibly fun sloper wall on the outside of the bottom floor of the "High Rises". It takes a little getting used to, but the traversing and short routes are a fun aside from class or studying. The second, and not as popular, is in the Botanical Gardens. There have traditionally been earthen sculptures in the gardens and many of them had some height. Some of my favorite roof jug routes were right beside the parking area, next to the train. We used to climb up the rock pillars, across the trellis and back down a different pillar. The trellis may not be as strong as it used to be, so test it before you begin the roof sections. Take a walk through the gardens and you will usually find another climb or two that looks interesting...try some routes on the rock bridges or other structures.

A short drive from Clemson are several towers/supports of old bridges that have been bolted and used to climb on by locals. These were sketchy (loose bolts) when I was at Clemson 10 years or so ago, so I would imagine that they have only gotten worse. I'll take a look at them and add it to this post if they are worth a visit.

Nowadays, there is an incredible climbing gym on campus, at Fike, that cant be beat. Check out the link to the Fike Wall on the Upstate Bouldering Links the right. They may not be very big, or they may not be open very often, and they may be crammed full when they are open...but what a great place to get some "real" climbing and bouldering in. With a nice textured Nicros simulated rock wall and normal plywood walls to each side, you get a good variety of climbing. There is usually at least one route in most grades, from 5.7 up to 5.11 or so, and the same with bouldering problems, from V0-V6ish. The routes are changed fairly often, so you get a new challenge every couple of weeks. This is also a place to meet up with other students, faculty and staff that climb and plan some outdoor trips, or sign up for one lead by the Clemson Recreation Department. This is not a public wall, you must be a student, member of the Fike gym, or a guest to use the climbing wall.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


I have been keeping an eye on the forecast for HP40 for this weekend, hoping to get some good road trip weather...but I just don't know how its going to turn out. As of now, it is predicted to be about 75' all weekend and a slight chance of rain. I don't know about you guys, but I like my climbing in sub 65' weather and think when its much warmer, the friction I think I'm going to trade the sweaty road trip to Alabama for a couple of trips to Rumbling instead. I've been wanting to hit some of the classics I've missed, so I plan on taking a couple of trips this week to try to catch up on a few. I've been bouldering around the Bald for what seems like 10 years (probably more like since 2002 or so), and mainly stuck to the West Side boulders and the classic lines that were printed in the old Boulder Dash magazine topo and guide. Then, when the guidebook came out, I wanted to hit all the lines I hadn't seen yet, and see all the boulders in the other areas. I have almost completed all of the boulder routes at Rumbling, in my grade range, and think its time to start focusing on the classics and harder problems I couldn't get the first go round. I'm hoping to climb a few of these this week, while the Bald is open.

I am also planning a few trips up to Grandmothers and Blowing Rock for the coming months, and hopefully will be getting back over to Lilly within the month also. I've been to the Boone area a few times to boulder, but its so hard to navigate the boulders unless you have someone to show you around or the old Henson topo that tends to pop up on occasion. Anybody willing to help out with either the topo or a crude map of boulders for these areas? I can use the info posted in to figure out the routes, but just need to make sure I'm at the right boulders. I keep hearing so many people claim that these are the BEST boulders in the South...but I haven't been too impressed the few times I went. They were nice, don't get me wrong, but the local Jedi and Bearfield boulders stack up almost even as far as number of routes/boulders and overall kidding. After bouldering at so many places over the last 15 or so years, I cant see what makes them any better than Rumbling Bald, which I think is one of the top 3 areas in the South...hands down! I've begun to wonder if the locals just don't get out to other areas for comparison, or if I'm just missing some of the boulders. Either way, I hope to find the same mystique and satisfaction everyone else finds in these areas.

After the trips to Blowing Rock and Grandmothers, my spring climbing season will be almost over, and then I'll have a little less than a month til I get married. We hope to get a little paddling in before we head to Portugal/Europe for a couple of months. We wont be able to get our usual summer whitewater/flatwater season in over there without our boats and gear, so we're going to try to stuff it in before we leave and after we get back. Once in Portugal though, I'll be climbing almost everyday on some of their "blocs" and sport routes, before I head to Fontainebleau for my dream bouldering trip.