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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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Multi-Trips: Do It All In One Day!

Summer is the time of the year that is perfect for a good multiple activity day trip. Its nice to get a quick boulder session in the morning when its cooler and then either a mountain bike ride or a good paddle, and in the summer months, I love a good swimming hole to wrap the day up right. Here are some of my favorite multi-trips, that might peak your interest, in an area near you.

1) This weekend we were able to hit up Mt Yonah for a nice chill morning boulder session then we paddled the Upper Chattahoochee (section 3, I think) for the first time. Got some hiking, climbing, paddling and my fiance got to go swimming in one of the rapids also:)

2) Probably my favorite spot for mulit-trips is Pisgah...North Side boulders in the morning, a nice 10 mile mountain bike ride on some of the best singletrack anywhere, and then a jump into the least crowded swimming hole to cool off.

3) Cashiers is always good too...Granite City in the morning, biking in Panthertown afterwards, and swimming holes in either Panthertown or on the Chattooga to cool off.

4) The Nanny trip never disappoints...Climb on the boulders or cliffs on either the AT or the railroad tracks in the morning, a short bike ride at either NOC or Tsali, and then the bone chilling waters of one of the most fun paddle runs around on the Nantahala. Or skip the bike and paddle the Tuckaseegee on your way home.

5) If you are near Charlotte, you have the outdoor persons Disneyland at the US National Whitewater Center. Gotta pay to play, but in Charlotte this is a great resource. Bike on their trails till you get tired, boulder or climb on their nice outdoor climbing walls and then take your kayak or one of their rafts down the whitewater course to cool off.

6) I know that Boone has some great bouldering at Granny's or Blowing Rock for the morning, some pretty intense biking nearby at Wilson Creek and the Watauga can be paddled in the heat of the afternoon. Haven't done this trip yet, but hope to tick it off this summer.

Anybody have any good multi-trips they like to take in the summer?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Hot Enough To Fry An Egg On The Rock!

This past week has seen the temps rise from a freeze warning at night to 90 during the day. Within one week, I dropped the crashpad, picked up the paddle and my thoughts went from V3 to Class III. Now that the best days of the spring climbing season seem to be behind us, its time to climb in the early morning or late afternoon/night, climb on rocks over the lake, or switch activities altogether. I try to keep climbing when it heats up, but the allure of rapids and chilly water draws me to the lakes and rivers nearby. I still like to climb on the home wall in the morning or after dark, and hit the occasional spot on cooler days or in the morning...but I usually stop focusing on climbing for the summer and enjoy a lazy day on the lake or surfing a fun wave while paddling down a river.

Since my Spring Break Extravaganza, I've been focusing more on roped climbing and winding the spring season down easy. I've been able to get out to a local spot a few times, and I also had a chance to hit the South Face with one of my long time climbing buddies. But after focusing and training to peak during my break, my muscles were tired and my tendons felt like they were all about to snap. I couldn't believe that I ticked such hard routes, and don't know if I'll ever be able to climb that hard again, but I was happy to grab them when I could! Now that I've started a rest phase before Portugal and the Font, I plan on paddling as much as possible and getting ready for my wedding. Before I leave the Upstate Bouldering site alone for a little while, I plan on adding 2 more Local Spots and another topo this week...a post for a couple of fun deep water bouldering spots on Lake Keowee and a post for Mt Yonah bouldering, with a supplemental topo.

So, I'm looking for some comments on climbing through the summer or switching to something else like kayaking. What do you guys do? Keep climbing at your normal spots? or Change to different spots? or Stop climbing altogether? Who switches to paddling for the summer?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Local WNC Spot-Granite City

Granite City is by no means a destination to travel to and spend a week at...but its a great place for a quick day trip or as part of a bigger trip to the area. Compared to most climbing/bouldering spots around the area, Granite City is much less developed and a little dirty...some of the routes acquire a new layer of dirt and moss every year. Granite City is a maze of slots and crevasses that can be very confusing to get lost in...similar in style to Little Rock City in Chattanooga, there are tons of climbs in each of the corridors and the possibilities for the dedicated FA'er are still numerous. Being close to Cashiers, Highlands and the Chattooga River make Granite City a great place to stop by on the way through the mountains.

How To Get There:
From Cashiers, go south on Hwy 107 for about 1-2 miles. Turn right onto Whiteside Cove Road. This road is very twisty and takes you down towards the base of Whiteside Mountain. On you way down this road, there are many great photo opps of Whitesides and also its neighbor to the west, Blackrock Mountain, which Granite City is at the base. Eventually, after passing by Whitesides, the road will turn to gravel at a small waterfall on your right. About 1 mile past the change of the road, you will see an unassuming pull off on the right, just big enough for 2-3 cars. You will see the trail/drainage ditch heading straight up the hill from the parking spots. If you miss the parking area, the road will become paved again and then hit the intersection with Bull Pen Road (towards the upper sections of the Chattooga) and Horse Cove Road (towards Highlands).

There are 2 trails leaving from the parking area (both indicated on the topo), the one heading straight up the drainage ditch will lead you directly to the Main Street area. The trail to the right leads to the other side of Granite City and plenty of opportunities for exploring and a few spots for roping up. Both are about a 5 minute hike to the rock. After you boulder on Main Street, look around and follow some of the slots and crevasses up into the "Canyon" on the back side of the City. This is an almost impenetrable fortress of shear 20'-40' walls that have several anchorable trees at the top. I have seen people climbing what looked like 5.11's back there and then again I have seen a dad and his 7 year old daughter head back there to set up some easy stuff.

As mentioned, this area isn't as developed as most areas around, so expect loose rocks, dirt, moss, and choss on occasion. The Main Street area is a great beginners area because most of the problems are in the V0-V2 range and aren't too tall or intimidating. There are several good dyno spots on both the Dyno Wall and the Town Square wall that make for great practice for bigger dynos elsewhere. The hardest dyno I've found is about a V2 or so, but I'm sure you could find a tougher one if you look around. After you climb and check out the area, don't forget to take a cool dip in the headwaters of the Chattooga (Section 0 for you serious paddlers), down at Bull Pen bridge. There are also some great places to eat in Cashiers and Highlands...I really like the BBQ at Carolina Smokehouse, and the menu of Cornucopia cant be beat for anything from a sandwich to a steak. Cashiers is in a dry area (no alcohol), luckily some places (like Cornucopia) are BYOB and they allow you to drink on their property.

Let me know if anyone finds any problems with the topo...enjoy!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Rumbling Bald is Now Closed...

The latest info from the NC State Park website states that Rumbling Bald climbing access is now closed for the next phase of construction. It looks like we will have a new parking facility for the start of the fall climbing season. This is an incredible improvement aimed at the climbing community, so please support the state park system whenever you can. I personally want to thank Chimney Rock SP for giving us almost the entire winter/spring climbing season, despite initially indicating it would be closed! The initial closure was issued in February and seemed to indicate an end to the winter season at Rumbling Bald, but I know quit a few people that were very thankful for the open weekends and eventually weeks that we were able to enjoy.

Now that the Bald is closed and the heat is slowly rising, its time to seek climbing refuge elsewhere. Boone and the highcountry is always a good summer option. Boone is 3 hours away for me, so its not easy to take a day trip everytime I want to pull on some rock, so I tend to climb locally, early in the mornings and then take a dip in a river somewhere afterwards to cool off. Eventually, I start climbing on the rock formations on Lake Keowee and Lake Jocassee and jumping off into the lake when it gets too tough, too high or after topping out. I'll be posting some more local spots very soon that might be some good hot weather options for climbers in the area. Be on the look out for the Granite City topo/guide, hopefully tomorrow. Nothing like an easy morning session at GC and then playing in the Chattooga for the rest of the day!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Spring Break Climbing Extravaganza

I've been away from the computer and office for a week and I haven’t had much of a chance to do any posting. I was in such a bad need of a week off of work, and it couldn’t of hit at a more perfect time. I was able to climb for 8 of the last 10 days, finish up some bouldering projects, lead a new route and climb at 8 different spots.

Starting with a week ago Friday's visit to Rumbling Bald where I finally sent Morning Star V7 and then followed it up with a quick send of Short Circuit V8 (downgraded to a V5 though). While I was first checking it out and not really putting a lot of effort into Short Circuit, I found myself latched onto the top of the boulder before I knew it and refused to let go. I felt my collarbone bending at one point and had several scars on my chest, shoulder, arms and legs from where the rock was digging into my flesh, but I refused to back down and finally scraped my way up it. I also sent some other great routes in the Breakfast and Politician area, but Morning Star and Short Circuit were definitely the highlight of the day.

On Saturday, I was planning on waking up and heading to Grandmothers, but it looked like it had rained all night and there were chances of rain all day in the Highcountry, so I came home and then headed to Granite City near Cashiers instead. This is one of the best areas for beginners due to the easy short walls found on "Main Street", the first climbing area the trail takes you to. I was so physically worn out from climbing the day before, that I had a real easy session and spent most of my time drawing a topo and writing route descriptions that I'll post as the next Local Spot very soon.

Sunday was hotter and perfect weather for a paddle, so we went out to Lake Oolenoy at Table Rock SP. It’s a small lake right on Hwy 11, but for an early season paddle, it’s just right. After that, we came home and I climbed on the home wall. My fiancĂ© and I had ordered some holds from Etch, and after a month or so, they finally came in. So I spent the evening setting and climbing some overhanging crimpy routes, which is one of my biggest weaknesses.

Monday, my fiancé and I were planning on roping up at Curahee, and I was going to run down to Yonah and boulder beforehand. I went to Yonah and sent most of the V5 and lower routes listed in the guidebook...including a send of Yonah Man V7. The bouldering took so much out of me, that we cancelled the Curahee trip and I just headed home sore and tired, but with another V7 under my belt.

Tuesday was a rest day so I would have enough energy to climb on Wednesday at Rumbling and Thursday at the South Face. I still climbed a little at Rhodorete, a local spot only 10 minutes from my house. Rhodorete is a lone, towering boulder with a super classic problem on it. I have only topped it out once and without spotters and extra pads, I didn’t want to chance injury in this somewhat isolated area.

Wednesday was the second trip to Rumbling for my break. This time, we had a whole crew of people climbing with us...J-Rock and his wife and her brother, a couple of friends from the climbing gym, and an old climbing buddy I don’t get to climb with much anymore. We had a blast sending a lot of easy stuff and a couple of V3's and V4's.

Thursday was a great day to be at the South Face of Looking Glass! My partners got there about 11:30, but I wanted to get an earlier start that day, so I went to Shangrila and did a few boulder problems. I always enjoy a trip up into this great pocket of boulders, in such a beautiful setting. After I sent a project I had worked on for a few visits, I sprinted back to the car and met them right on time at the parking lot. We roped up and had a great time at one of the best climbing areas around. While I wasn’t climbing on a rope, I had a chance to check out what I call the "Short Man's Circuit"...a series of lowball overhanging boulders at the base of the Short Man's Sorrow wall. There is a small circuit of about 10-15 really great V3-ish routes to pull on when you are finished roping up. I think the 2 finger pocket problem, on the left side of the boulder below the right hand tree ledge, is a primo problem. I also like the backside of the boulder at the base of Left Up for a couple of good powerful moves. This wrapped up the bulk of my climbing for my break...7 days straight of climbing is a real treat for me. Tiring, but a real treat!

Friday and Saturday were rest days after the previous 7 days. Friday was raining all day and Saturday was a chance to grab a few brews and check out the Clemson Football Spring Game. That’s right...I'm more than just crashpads and dynos:) Having received both of my degrees from Clemson and being raised as a Tiger fan has endeared me to the football and basketball it’s just a great chance to grab some beers:) Some Clemson friends came into town for the weekend and made it a much better time!

Sunday was the last day of my break, and maybe one of my last chances to get another roped lead in before the end of the spring climbing season. We all headed to Curahee, met up with a climbing friend from Clemson, and had a nice afternoon session. I was able to lead Dust Bowl Daze and then we also climbed several other routes on the Slab Wall. It was a great way to spend time with some friends and wrap up my Spring Break Climbing Extravaganza!

Spring Break Final Score Card:
-1 V8, 2 V7's, 2 V5's, 7 V4's, and 12 V3's
-8 different climbing spots
-1 new 5.7 lead