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, November 30, 2009

Thanksending Break & Little Eastatoee Development




Well, I hope everyone had a great Thanksending holiday & had a chance to get out and do some bouldering. I was able to get out almost everyday and climb until I had bruised my tips! I started the break with a couple of trips up to the Bearfields to finish up Dancin' Bones, a tough V5/soft V6 that I almost had a heart attack in the middle of sending, and I also FA'ed another V5 that I called Black Clouds. Dancin' Bones was one of my biggest projects for this season, so it was good to get that monkey off my back, and the Black Clouds FA was a sweet addition to the tick list.

After these 2 trips, I took 4 trips out to climb at Little Eastatoee to bulk up the tick list out there. If you haven't checked these boulders out yet...what are you waiting for? This is what everyone has been e-mailing me and asking about...good, solid, fun bouldering in SC! A couple of the trips, I went out by myself, and 2 of the trips I had some company with me. Over these 4 sessions, we cleaned and sequenced about 15 or so new routes from Vb to V5. Some of the top routes so far at Little Eastatoee are:
V0-Super Scooper
V1-Kang Solo or The Guillotine
V2-The Finger or Old & In The Way
V3-Rhodorete
V4-Elephant Back
V5-Jerry's Beard
Super Scooper is a gem of a V0 and the 2 V1's are both worthy ticks. The real quality routes start with the V2's...both V2's are fun routes that should be on every one's list (both feel a little soft for V2 also). The true 3 star routes are at V3 & above...Rhodorete is possibly the best V3 in SC, Elephant Back is one of my all time favorite V4 routes I've ever set, and Jerry's Beard is one of the best bouldery boulder problems in the area...all of these routes are top quality and just waiting for folks to come and send! I really enjoy developing new areas and this area has definitely got me hooked right now.

I've also updated Rockclimbing.com's route database with info on all of the routes so far, and I'm in the process of making a topo that folks can use to navigate around the area a little better. If anyone is interested in climbing out at Little Eastatoee sometime, shoot me an e-mail and I'll try to meet up and show you around...I only live a slow 5 minutes from the boulders. Enjoy the new routes!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Updated Local Spot-The New and Improved Little Easy


In South Carolina, if you want to boulder, you have to create your own boulderfields. Most folks don't realize the exhausting efforts it entails to take a pile of pebbles and turn it into a boulderfield...or maybe they do and that's why there arent any publicized boulderfields. I've had my hands in around 500 bouldering FA's in the upstate area (almost all of which have access issues), but almost every single one of them took a lot of work and hours of hiking around to find an area with possibilities and then cleaning, prepping and sequencing routes. Little Easy is a prime example of this process in action...and I think everyone should be involved with its development.

Many folks simply want to be handed a boulderfield complete with topo, but SC is still in its infancy of bouldering development, so there is no boulderfield complete with topo. If that's your style, get the awesome Rumbling Bald Bouldering Guidebook and fight for a parking spot...if I was closer, I'd be there every chance I had. But, this is a chance for folks to get in on the ground floor of this area and put their stamp on SC bouldering, and its future. As mentioned in my previous blog, our stewardship of this area is going to go a long way in the possible access of bigger and better things in the future. The Carolina Climbers Coalition has designated a new SC rep, he has visited the area and sees that the future of climbing in SC starts with bouldering and leads to bigger and better things...and cliffs:) We can be an important component in the future access of all areas by our behaviors and how we treat the land and others in this area. Always be on your best behavior in any boulderfield...never attract attention, never yell or scream, never take away from someone else's experience, always be respectful of others and the area (don't litter/pack trash out you find), leave no trace, and always keep your pet on a leash or under complete control. Remember, there is a big difference between bouldering in the gym and bouldering outside...not strength and technique, but attitude and responsibility. Many times, including Little Easy, we are visitors on hunters' and fisherman's land, so be on your best behavior and as respectful as possible to ensure there are no conflicts.

Here is the first blog post about Little Eastatoee.
This has some basic info on the area, including Little Easy V2 and Rhodorete V3.

Here is some new info on what should be, after some development has taken place, one of the best bouldering spots in the upstate....



Here is also an uncut video of The Finger, a fun V2 at the Bridge Area...



And, here is a link to the new RC.com section for Little Eastatoee.

I'll post the topo, or what I have so far, within the next few days...keep checking back!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Upstate Access...Bearfields, Jedi and New Development

I've had quite a few e-mails wanting directions to the local boulderfields, Bearfields and Jedi Boulders, that I climb at...unfortunately, due to the problems with parking and using private property to access these boulders, I am unable to tell anyone where they are. We are working on solidifying a permanent point of access and to verify that bouldering is OK by the land management, but until then please look to other places mentioned in my blog for your bouldering.

Over many many years, I have worked hard to maintain a good relationship with the property owners, and they haven't minded us trespassing occasionally to hike around and climb on the boulders. It took years of trust to be able to do this as often as I am able to now. Due to the fact that it is not my property, I cant grant anyone the right to come and climb at these places. At this pivotal point in the status of these boulders, we cant take a chance on compromising the already good relationship by allowing more people to climb here, because it would have a direct impact on the future of these boulders and the possibilities of anyone climbing on them.


I do want to point people in the right direction to get their fix...I know how some of you feel when it seems like there isn't any rock around to climb on. We are going to start focusing on developing an area that will serve as a good test piece for future bouldering access in the upstate. Our goal is to provide a spot that everyone can have directions and a guide/topo to and help contribute in the development of the problems in the area. If the bouldering community can prove responsible at this area, it will go a long way to opening more access on other state and federal land...especially some of the upstate motherloads in Table Rock and Jones Gap State Park.

The area I'm referring to is Little Eastatoee, listed as one of the local spots out to the right. There are some great boulders along the Creek Access to Long Shoals Roadside Park, but the even better boulders are down the road near the parking at the bridge over the creek. There are at least 50 possible lines on the boulders in the parking lot, granted that they need to be cleaned and climbed, that should serve as a good start. These problems are not going to be easy, so most will eventually end up in the V3 and above range, but there are a few easy problems here and there to warm up on. A video of The Finger, a fun V2 beside the Big Slab, along with a slideshow movie with pictures of the area and many of the boulders...AND directions, and my first thoughts/topo drawings, including 35 routes or possible routes, will be coming in the next posting in a day or two!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Bearfields and Bears at Jedi

This week I was able to hit both of the Bearfields and Jedi Boulders and send a few of my recent and long term projects. First off, I am still psyched about finally sending Washboard and Washboard Arete, the V5 and V4 I mentioned a couple of posts ago...these guys had been on my hit list for a long time! Yesterday, I had a chance to run up to the Jedi Boulders and work on a few problems that have been haunting me also. I finally sent Darth Sidius Arete V4 and Count Dooku V4 back in the spring, but I have had trouble with both of them since...so I've been treating these almost like first sends again. I have also been wanting to get up there and send a newer problem, Obi-Wan Arete V5, that was a project of mine and J-Rock's in the spring and was finally linked up and sent by some strong Clemson climbers recently. Because my last trip up to Jedi ended up with a bear chasing me and George out, I was a little apprehensive. But sometimes the need to send your projects will make you ignore the simple things, like wild animals.


When Simon, one of my dogs, and I got up to the boulders, we headed straight for the Phantom Menace boulder to work Siduis and Dooku. I've started to take pre-cleaning my projects pretty seriously lately, it's really helped with many of my recent sends. After I fully prepped the rock, I started working Count Dooku; a good sit start on a shallow slopey rail with smeary feet, then you move to the top super slopey edge and feel for a couple of divits, finally you work your feet up to where you can crimp a tiny crystal and grunt over to the top. I worked really hard on this one, but wasnt getting anywhere, so I decided to head over and work the Darth Sidius Arete. This was a project of J-Rocks in the spring that didnt take him long to send. The arete is almost a perfect 90 degrees, with crappy shallow Horse Pens style sloper rails on one side and slightly overhanging crimps on the other side, that lead to a giant HP40 sloper top out. After working out a couple of seperate sequences, I sent the arete with a couple of different variations. While goofing off on Sidius, I started to work a squeeze route between it and Darth Maul, a V3 I also sent that starts on Dooku and traverses the slopey top edge left 10 ft into the top out of Sidius. It starts while sitting on the far left end on the Dooku slopey rail with some thin feet, you move up to an intermediate crimp and the throw for the top out using the best part of the top out sloper on Sidius. After figuring out the sequence and sending it, I called it The Dark Side and gave it a V3. Finally, feeling almost burned completely up, I worked Count Dooku again and eventually grunted and beach whaled myself to the top.


I had just a little left in the tank after this series of sends, so I went to work on the Obi-Wan Arete V5. This is on the same boulder as Use the Force, the most classic SC V3, and climbs an overhanging crimpy SDS to a few bad holds on the slopey overhung arete...after getting some higher heel and toe hooks, you wrestle your way up and around the bulging arete to gain a pretty easy slab. After I had worked the problem a few times, and after I had solidified the starting sequence, I was half way up and into the crux when I noticed a bear cub, about 100 ft away, heading straight for me. The acute jitters of sugar rushing into your blood is the feeling and one of the effects of adrenaline...after thinking that momma bear was around the corner, I felt that hot face feeling and pushed those sugars into my muscles to pull around the arete and top it out, all in a frenzy to get the best view of what might be having me for lunch (kidding I hope). I didnt care about the send, I was actually pretty worried about the uncertainty of what was about to happen. After hitting the boulder summitt and seeing the big momma bear (probably the same one we saw on the other visit) with her 2 cubs slowly backing up behind her, I realized I could be in trouble. She sees me and stiffens up, like a red neck at a bar trying to be a badass, and starts to huff and snort at me...I'm definitely feeling a little uneasy at this point, especially since my gear and only possible defense, my hiking poles, are between me and the bears. All this time, Simon is off in a small cave on the backside of the boulder sniffing around...maybe its best he doesnt see them because he'd defend me to the death, and this bear might tear him up. I decided to go with what I've always heard, make yourself bigger and make noise...I raised my arms and waved them and started whistling as loud as I can (and to be honest, I can whistle loud enough to make it hurt my ears). For about 15 more seconds, she just sat there and snarled and hiss and spat at me, but her cubs turned the other way and started running. After feeling my deodorant run out:), the bear finally turned around and started trotting off. At this point, Simon had finally made his way to the bottom of the slab and was trying to climb up to see what I was whistling about. I met him half way down and rushed around to the front of the boulder, ripped my shoes off and crammed my feet into my hiking shoes, threw my gear into my pad, grabbed my poles, and started clanging my poles and "skiing" down through the boulderfield to the trail...all in what felt like 30 seconds. Simon finally sensed something was up and started running ahead leading the way and looking around to see what I was running from. By the time I hit the trail, he was already down the trail and back into the woods chasing and barking at the bears. Luckily, he came back pretty quickly when I whistled for him (he has stared down a bear up in some Pisgah boulders once and wouldnt let up) and we headed on down the trail to the car. Whew, I was mentally and physically exhausted from not only sending a few projects but from the craziness of the bear encounter. I am a fan of wildlife and usually love the random bear encounter, but this is one of the first times that I've really felt threatened by a bear.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sweet Font Video


Neil Hart, the awesome host of Maison Bleu, the gite we stayed at in Font this past summer, has been putting together Font videos for a while now. He usually puts out a new one every month on his website (Click on Monthly Vimeo at the bottom of www.maisonbleau.com) and one of his recent videos was featured on DeadPoint Magazine...check it out.
http://www.deadpointmag.com/dpm-hd/67-dose-of-font

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Plateau, Rumbling, Bearfields & Twitter


So, for the past couple of weeks I have been trying to add to the base of bouldering I have already created so far this season, and try to start ticking off some harder climbs. Lately I have felt like I have plateaued back around V3, again, and have hardly been ticking anything higher. Last week, we went to Rumbling and sent a bunch of the classic easier problems in the Trailside, Obscure and Cluster areas (here is a short video, courtesy of George Evans, of Wrestling An Alligator V1, one of my all time favorite routes). I felt that I was climbing well, but not as good as I should be able to. I usually hit this spot after the beginning of the fall bouldering season, but I don't mind staying there many times and just enjoying the easier climbs. This is generally the point in the climbing season that I have to decide if I'm going to push for higher grades and tougher problems, or simply climb around V3 for the season and just spend my time enjoying life in the boulders. This season, I would like to try to use this plateau as a springboard to climb the more intermediate grades.

When I get to this plateau, I try to fight back the frustration and use it as a place to refine how I climb...I try to use less energy, try to focus on footwork, try to retool my mental game, try to build strength, power and endurance, and climb each problem as clean and fluid as possible. Usually at this point, I realize I have to do something different than what I normally do, to start sending the tougher problems. I like to use this plateau time to train a little more often and with a little more resistance. This is when I start training with some light weights and old school general conditioning exercises...especially at night in front of the TV. With the change in daylight and our clocks recently, many of the times that were once available to get out and climb are now pitch dark. Instead of clinging to the couch and vegetating, pick up some dumbbells and start pumping! This is also a great time to let the lack of sunlight up the melatonin in your brain and...head to bed earlier. Your body heals around 4x's faster while you sleep, so rest and recover is an important part of becoming stronger and a better climber. In the last few weeks, I've started using some weights and focusing on my crunches (weighted mostly), push ups and pull ups, as well as, doing a little more HIT training. I also had a busy week at work and I wasn't able to get out to the boulders all last week...so Friday, when I finally got my fix at the Bearfields, I was feeling stronger and much more rested and fresh, compared to my usual Friday session.


The hike in warmed me up enough, so when I finally got to the hanging face of the Washboard Boulder I was ready to climb. This is one of the most unique looking boulders I've seen...it juts out of the hillside, hanging 2 feet off the ground, and has a near vertical face with small ripples & 2 half way descent edges just out of reach from the ground. The left side has a small foot and a small arete that goes around a V2, and was the only route climbed on the boulder for a long time. In the last month, I started projected the right side slopey arete that felt like it would go around a V4...I was focused on sending it sometime soon and it had become a big goal of mine recently. After warming up on the V2, I started to work the V4, and to my surprise I sent it second go. I was elated to send what had become one of my newest projects. Afterwards, I started to work on the super classic Washboard V5...the obvious line that has stared me down everytime I've passed by it for the last 9 years; you start on a high crappy foot, while the other foot floats, hands on thin slopey ripples and then you move up to the 2 half way descent holds, before moving back to ripples and a dyno/deadpoint to the top. Until recently, I hadn't even figured out the beta to just get off the ground and stay on the face. After putting 3 recent, good project sessions on it, and 4 years of half-ass tries, I finally snatched the top and sent that sucker! Soon after, it hit me that I had just climbed one of the oldest projects I had ever touched and, at that time, never thought I'd ever have the skill to send it. It was awesome to connect those 2 points and memories in my life and compare who and what I was when I first saw that problem as a newbie (that didn't even know what a V anything was), with who and what I am now. Afterwards, I found a neat little V3ish dyno problem to the side of Washboard that was tough and frustrating to start, but a lot of fun to climb. Right out of the box, it was one of the best climbing days I have had simply because of the nostalgic FA's and I "batted for the cycle" (a V2, a V3, a V4 & a V5 in a session) again. Later that day, I headed back up to the Bearfields with George and sent the FA of another project I had worked a few times, Ship of Fools V3...an oddly deceptive rising arete that leads to a grunt of a topout. It was nice to feel strong and send 4 new routes I've had my eye on for a LONG time.

I like to keep track of my sends and when I do them...its like a journal of successes, but also a good log of how you got to where you are, as far as difficulty of climbs, and what got you there. I'm trying something new by doing this with a Twitter account ("UpstateBoulder" if you want to follow). I can send a text after my session, that way I don't forget what I sent and my thoughts on it. Eventually, I'll have a virtual log of my sends, that were made while the send was still fresh in my head and the feelings are more in the moment. I've added that to the right side of the blog, below the sponsors, so folks can see where I've been climbing and what I've been up to.

Don't forget to send in those videos...I know there's a couple out ready to go, lets see 'em!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Do It Yourself: The UB Hangboard


When I first got into real climbing (has it really been 15 years), I almost immediately came up with a simple and inexpensive hangboard I could use to train at home. Back then, I was a poor college student with little to no money, but I wanted to build my base level of hanging skills and work on my arms and core without always having to pay $10-$15 to go to the local climbing gym. With little thought, I came up with a very simple design for a cheap way for me to train at home...the Modular Hangboard. Luckily, in the house I was living in at the time, there was an extra wide, double door width, "door way" connecting my living room and kitchen. So, I made an extra long Modular Hangboard that I could attach climbing holds to and also attach a Metolius Simulator Hangboard to the center. Below is a simple sketch of how it looked, the blue area is where the Simulator was mounted and the black dots represent places to attach holds...

This was made from a 4 foot piece of 2x10 and was mounted to the studs above the doorway by some scrap pieces of 2x4. All together, including t-nuts, this cost me in the range of $10, and all of the parts I picked up at the local Lowe's. I was lucky to have such a wide area to mount it, so I could get more out of my hanging exercises. I also was able to loop a couple of scrap pieces of webbing around the 2x4 supports and create a spot that I could hang Rock Rings from. This was my own little home gym and gave me a good enough area to train, to be able to climb better every time I went to the gym. From this experience, I have since built several other versions of the hangboard and now a larger outside climbing wall. Here is a basic version of the hangboard that can be put together for around $5-$10.

THE UB HANGBOARD

Materials:
-2' piece of 1"x10" (or 2"x10" for a more sturdy board)
-2 8"-10" pieces of 2"x4"
-~30-50 2"-3" screws (2" if you are using 1x10 and 3" if you are using 2x10)
-~30-50 t-nuts (cheaper if you order them through Homegrown Holds)
-Tools: Screwdriver, Drill, Hammer, and a Stud finder will be useful
-You will also need some climbing holds (be on the look out for Homegrown Holds Training set that is designed to provide all of the major grips when used with the UB Hangboard design)

What to do:
1) Find the studs, behind the drywall, above the doorway. Usually there are at least 2 above most doorways. Take the 2x4 pieces and with 5-10 screws in each piece, screw them to the studs, through the drywall. Now you have 2 8-10" pieces of 2x4 screwed in above the doorway.

2) Take the 2' board to be used as the main hangboard, and hold it up against the 2x4's. Mark on the back side of the hangboard where the 2 2x4 pieces will attach to the hangboard. You obviously don't want to put any t-nuts and holes in this area, since it will be connected to the 2x4's.

3) After marking where not to put holes and t-nuts, take a drill, with a drill bit slightly larger than the t-nut, and drill any holes you want to use to attach climbing holds. Start the drilling on the side that will face out, because many times the wood will splinter slightly when the drill bit exits. If you want to attach an actual hangboard to this set up, I advise bolting it to the middle area of the 2' board after the next step, and then have a few t-nut holes off to the side to add a few extra holds. After drilling the holes, attach the t-nuts to the back of each hole by hammering them into place. Now you have a board with t-nuts in it, ready to be screwed to the 2x4's.

4) Take the prepared 2' board, match it up against the 2x4's over your doorway and add 5-10 screws, attaching the board to each 2x4. Make sure to stagger the screws and have one every couple of inches or so. If you are attaching a pre-made hangboard from one of the climbing hold companies, now is the time to do it. Once the 2'board is up and screwed in place, put the hangboard in place and screw it into place also.

5) Add your own variety of climbing holds and start pulling. As mentioned, I like to add a pair of Rock Rings hanging below the 2x4 supports to add another dimension of training. I also like to buy some big, positive, screw on climbing holds to fill in the gaps on the board that don't have t-nuts, especially over the 2x4 areas. This will add a different training tool to your board without much cost.

I hope that this turns out to be as easy and productive as it was for me. To this day, I still have a hangboard and set of Rock Rings in my house/bedroom along with my wall outside...there's nothing like being able to train in the comfort of your own home, at your own pace, on your own time. Be on the look out for a new post detailing training regimens for the hangboard and the Training Set that Homegrown Holds will soon be producing (don't forget to mention Upstate Bouldering and get 10% off your order from Homegrown). Enjoy!