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, 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 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...

Monday, September 14, 2009

Fall is Almost Upon Us!

For those of us in SC, the heat is just now starting to subside, and the crisp feel of fall climbing weather is closer and closer. We've had a few cooler days, but nothing consistently below 75 and dry enough to climb...but the forecast is looking better and better!

This past week, I got back out to the Bearfields with George and one of his friends, and helped them both send Meat Grinder. The pictures from the last post were both images of Meat Grinder...a tall typical South Carolina slab devoid of almost any holds. These were some solid sends for these guys, so it was good to be there to celebrate with them, and encourage them to send it. After the Meat Grinder, we searched around and saw some routes that George didn't see on the other visit...and he reiterated his opinion that the Bearfields are on par with Grandmothers and has Lost Cove beat. These were his local, familiar spots when he was living up near Boone, so he's speaking from more experience than I could. I'm a little biased, since the Bearfields was my home boulderfield for the first 5 years of my bouldering life, but I've always thought that the Bearfields was better than many of the talked about boulderfields around. It was good to hear what others thought, especially compared to one of the most talked about boulderfields in the south. If you're around and want to check out a few of the classics, e-mail me.

I also got out to do a little more climbing and topoing at one of the upstate state parks. I hate to keep omitting the name of the park, but I'm still unsure of the complete access facts. The rangers have said that its OK to boulder, but not to rope up on the cliffs or taller stuff...but some of the rangers still like to hassle me and threaten some sort of action, even though it seems that their boss is OK with bouldering. I'll hopefully get a solid word very soon on access and then post it up on the blog. I've been preparing my topos of the park and collecting routes in anticipation of a guidebook release sometime soon. I'm up to about 600 boulder or DWS routes covering SC, a few spots in NC, a few spots in GA and a few spots in TN. I havent really looked at the details of publishing the guidebook yet, but hope to have some substantial news after the fall-winter-spring climbing season. I have found so many good climbing routes in the Upstate area, and don't mind keeping them all to myself, but I think that it would be a greater asset to our local climbing community to create a guidebook for them. I know many folks don't want info or beta to get out about certain climbing areas, but as long as there isn't an access issue, I think everyone should know what resources are available to them in their local area. I hope that the guidebook will complement Chris Dorrity's Rumbling Bald Guidebook, and provide info for some of the places mentioned in his intro, as well as, fill in the gaps with other, smaller areas to visit. If you have any thoughts on the guidebook, send them to me in an e-mail.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Good Weekend

I had a pretty good weekend...I got to boulder at a couple of different spots and also get a few bike rides in. George (one of the blog followers) got in touch and we headed out and around the Bearfields Monday. I hadn't been there but maybe twice in the last year, I've been focusing on Jedi too much when I boulder locally, so it was nice to get back to one of the first boulderfields I started climbing at. George seemed happy to find some good boulders close by and climbed some of the classics with was nice to hear a new opinion of the boulders and problems. It was a little early in the fall to hit the Bearfields, but the temps were perfect in the morning and we sent plenty of routes before it heated up too much.

I've been taking it a little easier than usual and not trying to climb too hard lately. I usually take the summer off from climbing, but with my honeymoon, I kept climbing most of the summer. So now, after taking a little break for the last month or so, its time to start getting back into good bouldering shape.

Here is my usual recipe for getting ready for bouldering season...
I always like to start by trying to shed unwanted pounds (and I got plenty to shed), and I prefer to bike as much off as possible. I always like to start the climbing season with plenty of road rides and then add in some off road riding to build my core, endurance and legs. After I'm feeling like I'm in a little better shape, I add more outside bouldering to build my climbing base. Indoor climbing is good, but I always feel the benefit of outdoor climbing to be better for me. I cant stand the thought of spending so many hours every week in the gym and barely ever touching real rock...kind of defeats the purpose of rock climbing in the first place. After I feel stronger in the boulderfields, then I start with the training methods I have at my house, especially Rock Rings and HIT training. I like to start out with 2-3 Rock Ring sessions a week and 1 HIT session each week. Rock Rings usually only take 30 minutes or less and are convenient to hang inside the house. I've always thought these were a no brainer training tool, because they are so easy to use, so versatile and you can use them anytime, despite the weather. My HIT system is on my wall that's outside, so I have to have good weather to be able to train on it. HIT training is the one piece of training that has given me giant leaps in climbing ability over only a short period of training. I'd say its the best boulder-specific training method out there. I usually climb about 10-20 boulder problems to warm up and then do 10 sets of the HIT exercises and finish with another 10 boulder routes. You climb up and back down on the different strips for either a total of 24 hand movements or until failure. The first session reminds you how weak you are, but you can tell the gains in each of the future sessions by being able to stay on the strips for the full 24 or by getting farther than you did last session.

I'm starting HIT training this week and hopefully will start to tick off some tougher and tougher routes. For now, my goal is to be able to climb Buddha's Belly V4 at Lilly in a couple of weekends. I don't usually have too much problems with most V4's, but Buddha has eluded me for a few years now. Eventually, I'm setting my goal at a V6 for the fall. I worked really hard in the spring to get into shape and I was able to tick off a few V7's and a V8 (and a wildly misgraded V9 that was easier than most V3's I've done), but it eventually took its toll on me and I had to take a break to allow my tendons and muscles to fully recoup. After my Spring Break Rampage, my forearm tendons felt as tight as piano strings, and I had a geniune worry that I might snap one if I kept climbing. I'd rather take it a little easier and just enjoy the bouldering I get to do, than focus on a project that's going to sap my time, energy and possibly other more fun routes I could of done.

I hope everyone is gearing up for the fall season in their own way and our paths cross on some boulderfield in the South sometime soon!