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.