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!