With the rise of mercury in the little glass tubes, comes a decline in bouldering down here in the South. The temps are slowly climbing towards the 90' mark and the cooler times of the day are harder to find and grab hold of them for a session. There have been a few mild mornings recently, but work has kept me more than busy over the last month or two, so I haven't had a chance to take advantage and head out to some boulders. I keep wanting to get out to the Indian Rock House area of Little Eastatoee to work on 2-3 projects that have my interests peaked...but every time I get the chance, it rains or heats up too fast.
One of the only options is to head to higher ground...Boone/Blowing Rock and Cashiers/Highlands fits that bill. A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I celebrated our 1 year wedding anniversary with a trip up to Blowing Rock. I've been this direction so many times before, but have never been fully satisfied with the "legendary" bouldering everybody talks about. Katy was nice to give me the majority of the time to climb, and I took as much advantage of it as I could. We started out with a visit to Beacon Heights, on our way to the B&B in Blowing Rock, and some boulders that have mysteriously alluded me in the past (thanks to Matt Paden and some of the other folks for chiming in with better directions to the rocks). After finding the bouldering area, I was pleasantly surprised! There was a 15-20 ft wall with tons of easy variations as the main attraction, and a handful of other smaller boulders with a variety of routes. We climbed around for just a few minutes and then headed on up the road to hit the Blowing Rock boulders as our main session for the day. This was the first time I had actually climbed at Blowing Rock...we had headed out to scout them once before, but rain ruined the session the next day. We hiked into the lower sets of boulders first and mainly stayed around the 5.10 Boulder area. I sent all of the super fun, super easy routes (V0-V2ish) on the 5.10 boulder, along with a few routes on some of the other nearby boulders. Right around the corner on the backside of 5.10 was a crew working Raw Terror V6, which is a tall overhang to a tough slopey mantle on the precarious lip. There were a few guys just flailing on it, but there were a couple that sent it...pretty exciting problem to see go! After that, we headed up to the upper area and the Mushroom Boulder.
I goofed around on the Mushroom Boulder and finally decided to work Stems and Caps V4, which started out overhung and then led to some powerful sloping features on the top. After working ti for about 30 minutes, I finally figured out the sequence and sent the route. Feeling fulfilled, we packed it up and headed to the B&B for a nice dinner and some relaxing.
The next day we got up and headed out to Beacon Heights to climb on our way back home. I like to tick off hard (or at least hard for me) routes, but I love to just climb and especially have my wife climb with me...so Beacon Heights was the perfect spot for both of us. While I sent a couple of taller problems, Katy ran around to all of the smaller boulders and climbed all of the routes in her range. She even showed me a few good routes I would have just passed over otherwise. I was so happy to see her enjoy this bouldering area! On our first visit the day before, a local was kind enough to point out some of the harder lines at BH, so I wanted to at least tick off one of those before we left. I ended up sending a short powerful problem that started on 2 small sidepulls, skipped all of the small holds in between, and made a big throw up to the top and the mantle top out. He had pointed it out as a V3 using the intermediates, but after sending it both ways, the big throw method felt a little tougher...maybe a V4-, but tougher than the V3 version. It was a fun problem, but on my send, I tweaked my wrist again and felt that it would be best to call it quits. So, Blowing Rock and Beacon Heights were a lot of fun, and our anniversary was a load of fun too!
This past Sunday, I took a trip up to Granite City focused on sending a route that I have called Claim Jumper for years...others have called it Burnt Popcorn...either way, its one of the best V4/5's at GC. The route starts on a huge sloper point, moves out under a short roof to a huge sloping jug, and then bumps up the bulging arete to the point that you can make a delicate press up the rock and gain a tough foot down low. I haven't really sat down and put too much effort into the route until Sunday, but I have worked a few of the moves before and thought it was time to take it serious. After about a half hour of flailing and looking like a chump, I realized I was using the wrong sequence, corrected my mistake and sent within another 5-6 tries. This is the hardest route I've sent at GC and agree with the V4/5 rating...it felt like Thundercats V5 (Rumbling Bald) down low, but harder, and moved into the technical press move that would go at around a V3 or so. After finishing Claim Jumper, we went down to the Chattooga River to cool off and relax in the water before we headed home. The area right above Bull Pen Bridge on the Chattooga has some decent bouldering possibilities also...there are at least 10 or so routes from V0-V10 waiting to be sent. I have sent the easy slab problems on the back of the 2nd Rapid boulder, but there are a few others just waiting for someone to come and FA. Hopefully, I'll get more chances to head up to Chattooga and Granite City and add some more routes to the topo. I am working on an updated topo of Granite City, and plan on starting a new topo for the Bull Pen Bridge area of Chattooga very soon. All in all, we had a great Sunday and a wonderful last couple of weekends!