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, 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.