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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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Daydreaming of Sessions Past...



So the heat and my schedule havent allowed me to get out and boulder since the Nowhere boulders, but I can still daydream about bouldering:) I've found myself thinking a lot about last summers Europe trip, my honeymoon, in which I got to visit and boulder at so many great places. Fontainebleau was amazing, but the spots and routes in Portugal seem to flash through my memories more than Font. With such an incredible variety of bouldering locations, from cool shaded mountainous sectors to super sunny sharp yet polished limestone on the rocky cliffs of the Atlantic Ocean, Sintra/Lisbon has within 20-30 minutes of each other, the place is an adventure boulderers paradise. The map above is of Portugal, with the bouldering areas shown in red and roped areas in yellow. I've seen these photos on Climbing.com for a while, but I've been looking at them more and more lately and daydreaming about those incredible sessions I had in such magical locations. Sintra is only a 20-30 minute train ride out from Lisbon, which is where my wife researches the changes associated with modernization and urbanization on the human skeleton, especially the skull, at the National Museum of Natural History. We have visited Lisbon twice before, staying about a month each time, and have plans to go back for more research within the next couple of years...but I'm ready to head over there right now! Lisbon is awesome...the history is incredible, the food is delicious, the night life is a blast, and the people are nice and friendly. The bouldering areas are documented and somewhat travelled, but not overused by masses of folks like most places here in the States.

Here is a shot of me on Bikini V5 at Baia do Mexilhoeira (translates to Mussel (Muscle) Beach...appropriate!) This was one of the sun soaked, seaside limestone areas...and my main local spot while I was in Lisbon.



Another spot that I'll never forget was Pedra do Urso...a higher mountain desert with plenty of great routes and FA's waiting to be had. This place, including the immediate surrounding mountains too, would take several lifetimes to completely climb out...some folks have called it the Hueco of Portugal. The image with me bouldering in front of the carving of "Our Lady of the Holy Star" is one of my all time favorite bouldering pictures, and one of my favorite bouldering memories of our trip.



If you are thinking about heading over to Portugal for some climbing, I highly recommend you get a copy of the Jingo Wobbly guide to Portugal and also check out the Boulder Sintra Website for more up to date info and a more recent bouldering guide. The local bouldering scene has gotten bigger and bigger in the last few years and this website is a good way to connect with the scene...just dont forget to click the "translate" button on the Google taskbar in Explorer to see the site in English. Here are some great intro videos of the area I robbed from Boulder Sintra...daydream with me:)

Sintra Bouldering - Introduction from Bruno Ferreira on Vimeo.


O Mito from Bruno Ferreira on Vimeo.


Friday, July 23, 2010

Nowhere Boulders Video

I just noticed a YouTube video with some of the classics from the Nowhere and Roadside boulders I just posted about. These guys start out with some good sends of the Cadillac Crack V3 at the Roadside boulder and then they head into a couple of nice sends of Nowhere V3/4, along with a few falls on the problem too. Around the 6:30-7:00 minute mark you can see a send of Monsoon V4/5...definitely the hardest and the most proud problem I've sent at these boulders. There are a couple of other routes thrown in, some I'm not familiar with, but a great intro to the Nowhere/Roadside boulders!

I'm still going to make a Local Spot post about this area, but it will most likely be next week before I'll have the time to write it all up. If you need any info before then about this area, feel free to e-mail me or make a comment on this post.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Climbing Photos of the Bald Wanted for the Rutherford County Photo Contest


I was sent an e-mail by Amy Camper informing me of the Rutherford County Photo Contest, asking me to encourage climbers and other outdoors people to send in photos for a photo contest. Matt Paden over at Frixtion has also just recently posted some great information about the contest too...click on over and check out his write up.

Photo Contest Link
Here is the link to the contest information also. If you are anything like me, you have a special place in your heart and incredibly vivid memories of the Bald...be it the feel of the air during prime sending season, the time you sent your project, the time you witness that incredible route get sent, or just that huge smile on your face everytime you pull into the parking lot and know that good times are about to follow. Let's show these folks how awesome the Bald is and exactly what it means to each of us!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Nowhere & Roadside Boulders



I've always chased the weather around when it came to planning my bouldering sessions. Cooler, drier (or as soon as the boulders dry) temps are always the preferred when it comes to choosing a bouldering destination. In the summer, the boulders in SC become so hot and covered with poison ivy and rattlesnakes, that NC is the best local option. Every year, I like to take at least one trip to the Nowhere boulders in Pisgah National Forest. Nowhere is a small collection of boulders on the flanks of Johns Rock, in the area referred to as the Horse Cove. The boulders are engulfed by moss and greenery, keeping them somewhat hidden, and cool, while still being only 100ft or so from one of the most popular hikes in the forest. The creek that runs beside the boulders has a soothing and cooling effect while you boulder...a plus for the summer time. The bouldering there is not for everyone though, really suited best for the V3 and up climber to enjoy. There are some easier routes, but they tend to be short and of low quality...but the V3's and V4's are excellent! And one of my all time favorite Pisgah problems is located here...Nowhere V3+.


I headed up early Sunday to try to beat the heat and thunderstorms and got to the boulders by 10am. Compared to the heat of SC, Pisgah was very pleasant, and surprisingly, there weren't too many people in the forest yet. After the 20 minute hike in, I made my base of operations around the Nowhere boulder, seen above, and started sending. There aren't too many good warm ups around, so I warmed up with the stand start to Nowhere that goes at around a V0/1, along with the short V0-V2's on the Warm Up Wall right past the Nowhere boulder. After warming up, I sat under Nowhere V3 and remembered how hard the first moves of the problem felt/were...this is really where the V3 rating comes in. After sitting and moving to the big flake under the bulge, you have to go up to a great sloper and either double or bump past it to the slopey shelf. After these powerful moves, the problem lets up and finishes easier...but going to the sloper and moving past it are a lot of fun. After grunting, getting scraped up good and feeling like I had become old and pudgy, I finally sent the route. This is still one of the most fun and satisfying V3's I've sent. I also sent Breathe In V3/4, which uses the flake under the bulge to traverse left and finish on the left side of the boulder. A bit of a squeeze job to keep from touching the rock at your back, but a worthwhile route none the less.




After the Nowhere boulder, I went over to the other classic boulder here, the Creekside Boulder. You can see the easy V0 warm up variations in the first picture above, and the main face of the boulder in the second picture. The third picture shows another classic route here, Creekside V2/3. Creekside follows the crystally sidepulls and underclings to a seam above the mossy bulge and then to the top. I also worked Monsoon V4/5, a route I've always tried to send, for a little while and shockingly I put together the send when I was least expecting it! You start bear hugging the big sidepulls on each side of the bulge and move up until you can snatch the seam at the top of the bulge...kind of a direct version to the Creekside finish. There is plenty of moss on this route that might be removed to make the problem easier, but I am the kind of person (tree hugger) that likes to climb routes with the minimal amount of cleaning.



From here I went up to the Cave boulders and sent some of the easier short routes which I have called Clobber Girl V0, Stretch Dude V2, Thung V1/2 and Mulk V2 after some superhero names from the Simpsons universe. Here is a shot of the slopey edges on Stretch Dude V2...

After going around through the cave, I also worked Radioactive Man V4 on the other side of the boulder. Radioactive Man sits on some tough smooth crystals and goes up to some long, reachy moves on thinner edges. I couldn't get anywhere near the send, in fact, I could barely move off of the starting hold. From here I moved up to some of the boulders in the Upper Nowhere area and sent a couple of easy routes along with The Fang V2, a similar problem, but overhanging, to the The Finger at Little Eastatoee...fun, even though it was short. At this point, I had sent as much as I wanted or hoped to and was ready to move on to the Roadside Boulders.




Once at the Roadside Boulders, I had just enough juice to send the 4 V3's that make this place worth at least a visit every now and then. In the top of these 2 pictures, you can see the VW Bulge with 2 different variations/problems that ascend it...Newschool VW Bulge V3 and Oldschool VW Bulge V3. Both are great routes with fun top outs. On the other side of the overhanging boulder are a pair of crack/flake systems that are very similar to each other...almost to the point that they feel like the same climb. The left crack is called the Cadillac Crack V3 and the right one is the Ferrari Flake V3. Both of these have some juggy overhanging moves that lead to a difficult mantle, and both are fun routes to send.

After visiting this area for years and sending most of these routes before, I felt like coming here might actually be a bore for me...but this visit was the best visit I've had to these boulders. I felt the most accomplished and finally sent Monsoon, I thought it was a pretty good day!

The first picture on this post is of the bridge on the Cat Gap Loop that you use as a landmark for finding the Nowhere boulders. I have been working on a topo for much of the bouldering in Pisgah and plan on posting up within the next few days a "Local Spot" post with all the info about the approach and routes at the Nowhere boulders...stayed tuned!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Grayson Highlands Trip and the Dixon Dessert


I have been pretty busy since I got back from our trip up to Grayson Highlands in Virginia last week...but I finally got a free minute to write up a report about the trip. Overall, I would say this was one of the most fun trips I've taken in a while! And it wasn't strictly due to the bouldering...the trip on the Virginia Creeper Rails to Trail was a lot of fun and the wild ponies were a big hit too!

So we headed up last Tuesday and within an hour of leaving Boone, we were at Grayson Highlands...much closer than I first anticipated. The weather was obviously cooler and the scenery was dominated by beautiful rolling hills with a big blue sky above. After getting settled at the cabin we stayed in, we headed straight to the park to hit the boulders full tilt. I had made arrangements to meet up with Aaron Parlier, the main developer of Grayson Highlands, and so we headed to the one place I really wanted to visit, The Highlands. The Highlands area is only a 15 minute hike up the AT connector from the Massie Gap parking lot. Once up on the ridge, you feel like you can see for miles and miles...gorgeous views of the hills and mountains that surround southwest Virginia, northeast Tennessee and northwest North Carolina. As soon as we hit the Highlands, we were greeted with a small pack of 3 wild ponies!

This is one of the reasons we wanted to go up here, and those cute little beggars (if you reach for your backpack, they snuggle up to you waiting for you to give them some food) didn't disappoint! After pulling our attention away from the ponies, the clusters of boulders strewn on most of the hilltops, especially the first, closest cluster, was calling out to us to go climb. We had seen Aaron and Travis working The Horizon Line V5ish, on this cluster when we first hit the ridgeline and then caught up with them. The boulders here are tall and polished due to their exposure to extreme weathering...it felt like I was climbing some of the polished routes at Rumbling Bald. We went and found the Highland Highball V2 problem, and decided it was a little too tall for the pads we brought that day, so we focused on the smaller Lowball boulder next too it. I sent a variety of easy warm up routes on this boulder and then went to work on the problem that grabbed me the most, Lowball Corner SDS. The problem sit starts under the first arete on the boulder and follows the short arete to the top. On the send of this route, the crucial right foot hold broke, making the problem a little more difficult...I sent it one more time with the missing foot and it felt even harder without it, I would say a solid V3 with the missing foothold. Here's a shot of me cleaning the route...

After talking with Aaron, he thought this was probably an FA. I went back before the last day we were there and attempted to get some footage of the route, but the heat and me bringing the wrong shoes for the problem didn't allow me to get footage of the SDS, but I did get a video of the Low Start, which goes around a V2. I was stoked to get an unexpected FA...giving me a boulder FA in 5 different states now! After climbing on the Lowball boulder, and goofing off a little on the highball boulder, we packed it up and headed up to the Listening Rock area with Aaron and Travis. We met up with Kaci Quinn, one of the rangers in the park that is helping lead the boulder charge, and proceeded to climb some of the easier routes and attempt some of the V3's and above. I was able to send about 10 different V0-V1's in this area that were super fun! Communion V0+ and Honeycomb V0/1 were some of the most fun and best roues in the low grades up there. I was thwarted by the sharp holds on The Hive V3, because I didn't want to cause a big flapper on my first day. After a great first day of bouldering in the Highlands and Listening Rock area, we headed back to the cabin for the evening.

The next morning we headed out to try to find the AVP boulder. We got to the parking area and found the Roadside Boulder and sent the Roadside Warm Up Vo and then I was able to add the SDS on thin crimps to tick Roadside Warm Up SDS V4. After this, we tried to find the trail out to AVP, but with all of the underbrush, we didn't ever find it...so we headed back into the park and to the Listening Rock area again. I added a few more routes to the tick list, including Bi-Lingual V1/2, picture below, which is one of the better routes in that grade range at GHSP, and then I sent what I thought was Biopsy V5.



I started with my left on a crimpy flake and right on a good crimp, pulled onto the rock and deadpointed up to a small crimpy gaston that liked to cause a barn door...the rest of the route was slopey and had a couple of fun moves to top it out. After getting together with Aaron, he explained that I didn't do Biopsy, but instead a variation that I called Bionic V3. I didn't think the route I sent was a V5, but it took me a lot of work to stick the barndoor move and be able to top it out...so I gave it a V3. This was actually one of my favorite routes of the trip and had some of the most fun moves of the trip! After nabbing a few more V0-V1's, we headed out for lunch and a nap before the evening session with everybody else. We met up with Matt Bielejeski from Charlotte and Kaci at the Contact Station and headed down to the Contact boulder near Kaci's cabin. This was one of the best boulders of the whole trip! The problem Copperhead V3 was another one of my favorites...and Kaci, Matt and myself each sent it first go. Kaci was stoked to climb her first V3, and for good reason! Matt added an FA called Heel or Peel V1/2 and I added an FA called Sleepy Hollow V1...both of these make great warm ups before you try Copperhead or Contact. These sends are in the video in the previous post. Aaron and crew showed up and worked Contact V4 a little before they all headed back up to the Listening Rock area. We were pooped, so we headed back for the evening, hoping to save a little something for the next day.

On Wednesday, we decided to go ride part of the Virginia Creeper bike trail over in Damascus. We opted to not get a shuttle and just ride up about 10 miles towards Whitetop and then turn around and head back. We had been riding a lot on the Swamp Rabbit Trail here in Greenville to get ready for the Creeper, so the miles weren't that bad, but the downhill return was fast and exciting! That evening we went back into the park and hit the Highlands area one more time.



Once again we were greeted with ponies...a pack of about 6 this time and 2 smaller ponies were in tow. The smallest one can be seen rolling in the grass on the video also. After hanging with the equine for a little while, we headed back over to the Highball and Lowball boulder again. After attempting the SDS and realizing it wasn't going to go this time, we climbed the easy stuff again and then I sent the Highland Dihedral V1 just to the left of the Highland Highball. I don't think this is an FA, but it might be since I haven't seen anything about it anywhere. This is a tall dihedral with some good hands right when you need them! After this...of course...we headed up to the Listening Rock area...again:) We were lucky enough to catch some footage of a couple of deer grazing right in front of the first set of boulders, which can also be seen in the video. The highlight of this session was Aarons 2nd go send of Man-Child V6, which can be seen in the video I posted on the last post. What a great day full of fun routes!

Our last day started with a stop off at Listening Rock to finish climbing all of the easy routes we hadn't yet got to send...its not always about climbing the hardest you can climb, I like to climb all of the easy stuff in an area too to get a real feel for the style of climbing. After sending Crash V0 and Duel V0, both use the same great crack to ascend a 12 foot section of rock, I sent Tall Dark and Beefy V3 and Vitamin B V3...both of which were tough sits that led to some thin crimps up a taller section of rock. With only 1 route left that I HAD to tick before I left, we headed down to the Rock House/Olympus area to climb Cherokee Dihedral V1. This ended up being one of my favorite routes of the trip and a great way to end the voyage. Here are a couple of pictures of Cherokee Dihedral, which follows the dihedral crack up and right to a fun top out.




If you are thinking about heading to Grayson, get in touch with Aaron through Mountain Project and he'll be happy to show you around, if he's around. Be prepared with extra skin and a roll of tape...the rock at Grayson reminded me of Boat Rock and Dixon, rough, sharp and able to rip a flapper in you before you know it!

After returning home to Pickens, SC, I drove my wife to the Charlotte Airport so she could fly out to visit her family. While in Charlotte I decided to stop off at Dixon and finish my week off with some bouldering...and it was hot! I only hit 2 boulders, the Zeus Boulder and the boulder just to the left of it, "Filthy Crack" as I've heard it called. After sending those fun tall warm ups on the side of Zeus, I worked Zeus Eye V6-V8 a little and realized it was going to take A LOT more effort and time, along with cooler temps to even come close to the send. So instead I managed to grovel my way up a couple of other V1 and V2 routes. Once over on the Filthy Crack boulder, I sent the fun V0/1 crack, and the V2/3 SDS that climbs the short face to the right. I have sent these routes before, but I have always worked the other 2 routes on the boulder to no avail. This time, despite the heat, I sent the Deadpoint Arete V3, which climbs up the arete, doubling on the obvious flat sloper, and then deadpointing up to the top hold and finishing straight up the arete...damn what a fun route (even though I reagrivated a big toe injury I've been battling off and on). After this I went to work on what seems to be a new FA on the bulging arete to the left of the crack. I had cleaned this line of lichen and debris the first time I came to Dixon last year, and worked it everytime I've been back...but this time it all finally came together perfectly. You start with a right hand low on the thin sidepulling seam and left on a small bump in the slopey arete...plant your feet and head straight up the seam to a small isolated seam closer to the top of the bulging arete and some open handed slapping. The route finally gives up a little when you hit the good pocket/sidepull on top of the bulging arete and you can finally get your feet on something substantial...I named the route "Float The Boat V4" because it felt just like a mixture of a V3 and V4 route from Boat Rock in Atlanta! I felt like it was one of the better sends of my break and a solid new route for Dixon...I was stoked! What a good end to a great week of bouldering!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Grayson Highlands Video


Here's a video of our trip to Grayson Highlands State Park in Virginia. I'm going to make another post about the trip tomorrow, but here is a primer to show you some of the stuff thats up there. My wife and I had a great time and cant wait to get back soon.

The video seems to be very grainy...dont know why, it was shot in HD. I'll figure it out and repost the video again later.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Win Some Sweet Gear When You Donate To The Bald!!!


Matt Paden at Frixtion, a Western NC climber and blogger, is having a contest for people that donate $10 or more to the Rumbling Bald Boulders. Check out the flyer and Matt's Blog for all of the details...and thanks Matt for showing us all how much these boulders mean to you!