So I finally got out to the Bald for the first time this fall, those damn temps have been so high that the bouldering season is just now getting in gear. After climbing at LRC and some other spots recently, and sending some routes that I had once thought above my level, I was psyched to get back to the "motherland" and pull down hard. Boy was I wrong...or at least in the beginning of the session I was completely shut down! I started out warming up on the Trailside boulder and then wanted to start working on Dime Crack V4, one of the many ultra-classics at Rumbling. I've only put a couple of tries on Dime Crack before, it just hasn't been a route that beckons me, but I wanted to start ticking off some of the Bald classics I haven't sent yet and thought about this one first. Needless to say, I could barely make any moves on the route and was shut down with little to no shot at all. I forgot how stout Rumbling's grades are! From there I went on to attempt anther classic V4, Moby Dick...shut down at the crimp sidepull, man was I feeling weak and dejected! So I thought I'd go check out the Kris Kline Corner V4 and see if I had anything for it...but on my way to the KK Boulder, I passed by a smaller boulder with some fun looking routes (#27 in the guide) and decided to jump on those instead. I sent the easy Unknown V1 on the right side of the boulder and then I went to work on the Unknown V4 arete on the opposite side of the boulder...4 tries in, I sent. It was a fun route with some tough crystal pinches up the arete and a move out to a sloping lip to top out. Feeling a little better and like I was gaining some momentum, I put a couple of tries on Shady Grove/Basketball Mantle V3 and finally made my way to the top before my pinky tendon injury really hampered my ability to finish the route. Needless to say, this may be when I retweeked the injury and now I'm paying for it.
After Shady Grove, I couldn't help but stop and stare at Titanic V4 on the Hull boulder. In my book, this is one of the legendary slabs at Rumbling...tall, deceptive and seductive. I've seen quiet a few people get sucked into the lower moves only to pucker up at the top...I am now one of those fools:) After getting through the bottom moves, I reminded myself that I LOVE slabs and that the top out would be a piece of cake...it might not be as tough as some of the other moves on the route, but the top slab sure is dedicating! When I made my way to the final slanted shelf below the top, I almost lost it (man that pad looked small under me!), but I kept it together enough to top out and almost hug the poison ivy at the top:) That was one of the most fulfilling Bald routes I've ever sent, and I'm glad to finally get that monkey off my back!
After Titanic, I flailed around on Space Pirate V5 to an almost send, but decided to give my aching tendon a rest and call it a day...after all Hound Ears was only a few days away and I needed to be prime for the comp. I'll post up my Hound Ears experience tomorrow!
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
This weekend is the first of the 3 Triple Crown Bouldering competitions up in Hound Ears, near Boone and Grandfather Mountain, NC. This is my first year climbing in the comp and seeing Hound Ears, and I'm super psyched...everybody has told me that I'd love it! On Friday evening, the annual fall Carolina Climbers Coalition meeting will take place right next to the campground...here's a copy of the release on the CCC home page. If you're gonna be up there Friday night, stop by and join in the meeting to hear the latest about what's happening in the Carolina's
"CCC Fall Meeting
Please join us for the annual fall meeting of the CCC. The meeting will be at the Foscoe Community Center, right next the the campground for Hound Ears. We will be providing updates from the various area reps, a status report on the CCC and having our usual round of lively discussion. Members and future members are welcome!
When: October 1st, 2010 7:30 PM through 9:00 PM
Location: Foscoe Community Park
Highway 105 South
Foscoe, NC "
As Far as Hound Ears goes...I'm really looking forward to meeting some new friends at the comp and hanging out with some old ones (the Clemson Contingent and the Grayson Highlands Crew especially). Also, Matt Paden at Frixtion gives upsome tips for the comp in one of his recent posts. I found them to be helpful and hopefully you will too...click on over to the link and check em out. Besides these tips, I've been getting amped with a few videos.
Here's a video recap of last years Hound Ears comp...
And another recap of last years comp from High Country Adventures...
And here are some of the incredible Hound Ears Beta videos that Andrew Kornylak has put together over the last couple of years...
Monday, September 27, 2010
If you weren't in Pisgah this weekend, then you missed one heck of a good time! This past weekend was the Western North Carolina climbers weekend up in Pisgah/Looking Glass...with all proceeds to benefit and help pay for the Rumbling Bald Boulders purchase. I, unfortunately, was not able to attend the trail work, but the evening shindig was a lot of fun. Most of the folks I talked to about the trail work thought that there was a major impact made on many of the problem areas along the many climbing trails that lead to Looking Glass. Many mentioned the hard work they put in on reclaiming the trail out to the Hidden Wall, and that the North Side trail was in the best shape it has been in a while.
Fox Guides new house, which will eventually become a climbers camping area and guide facility, provided a great place for climbers from NC (and many of the neighboring states) to get together and powwow. The festivities included some great burgers and brats fresh from the grill, a silent auction with numerous prizes and gift certificates, Misty Mountain's harness and climbing goods sale, and an ice climbing slideshow/video presentation by Shannon Stegg and Greg Berry. The food was great and the beer seemed never ending! I put a few bids in on several items in the auction, but I only walked away with a signed copy of Arno Ilgner's newest book "Espresso Lessons From The Rock Warriors Way" (which I plan on reviewing here in the next week or so). I didn't hear any dollar totals mentioned for how much was raised, but just a quick look at the prices bid on the auctions, and how much $$$ was taken up by Mike Grimm's Misty Mtn sale...I think its safe to say that at least $300 was raised. A Big thanks to Fox Mtn Guides, Misty Mountain and the many other sponsors that donated time, money or goods to help out with this event...the Bald boulders thanks you! A note about the pictures...I tried my best to take a few pictures (a little too late in the evening), but this is the best I could muster...and it kind of follows the evening too, dark and confusing in the first picture and then more and more blurry in the second (thanks Fox for all the beer!)
Thursday, September 23, 2010
The leaves are finally falling, or are they just giving up in this ridiculously late heat, and so that means the Bald is about to be overrun with everybody trying to get theirs...be it on a rope or with a crashpad. As most folks know, the parking situation has progressively grown worse over the last couple of years. Gone are the days of the crazy dirt road scaring most folks off, now the state park has created a great parking facility and the use of the area has skyrocketed. As I mentioned in a previous post on the same subject, please be aware that the park and city are planning to manage parking much more closely and towing will be taking place much more frequently than before. Take a look at the most recent CCC release below for the details.
"Parking at Rumbling Bald - Changes for the 2010 season
As the season for climbing at Rumbling Bald ripens, we
wanted to help spread the word to all climbers that the parking situation at
Rumbling Bald will be restricted this year. Historically, climbers have enjoyed
ample and unrestricted parking at the Bald and along Boys Camp Rd. Since the
completion of the new state park facilities and parking area at Rumbling Bald,
the Park and the Town of Lake Lure have made it clear of their intention to
limit the parking to that available in the new parking area only. Parking
outside of the park gate and along the sides of this entrance road or Boys Camp
Rd. will be prohibited. The Town of Lake Lure intends to promote a towing
policy for any cars parked outside of legitimate parking places.
The CCC has produced this flyer with the hope of getting the word out to the
climbing community. We feel there is an opportunity for us to help mitigate the
effects of our impact and focus on carpooling and use of the remote parking
area at the Town Hall. Please see the attached flyer for more info.
Thanks and we look forward to seeing you out there!"
Here is the link to the pdf flyer again in case you haven't seen it yet.
There is talk of a shuttle being run by the CCC from the Lake Lure Community Center to help raise money for the Bald Boulders...keep an eye out for more info on this, and try to carpool and get there early to help alleviate any parking problems you might have.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
I've been wanting to see the Reel Rock Tour for the last 5 years, but I haven't ever been around one of the venues when it was showing. Now, Reel Rock is coming to Clemson to share this years exciting videos. Just when I thought I had missed my chance last week to catch it up in the Highcountry, they come right to my front door! Here is the enticing video that should make you want to come join the fun...
Here is a quick link to the Clemson info on the Reel Rock homepage. I hope to see all of the local climbers out there enjoying the incredible footage from Big Up and Sender Films!
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
This weekends trip to Little Rock City was a lot of fun! The new guidebook was spot on and led me to a few places I had overlooked in the past. I ended up "batting for the cycle" (at least 1 route in each grade V0-V4) both Friday and Saturday & finally sent a few classics I hadn't sent before.
Friday, after warming up on the Fire Crack Boulder (some of my favorite warm ups anywhere...isn't that Flake awesome!), the highlights were sending Gutterball V2 and Strike V3 on the Bowling Ball boulder and then ticking Mystery Groove V4. Mystery Groove was a fun route that climbs a series of slopey pinches to a slopey/slabby top out...a classic for the area.
Saturday I got there early and headed right to the Super Mario boulder. After warming up on the easy V0's on the Dumb Luck boulder, I moved on to one of my big goals for the trip, Super Mario V4. I usually climb the top out before I climb the whole route, just to see what I need to prepare for at the end...and so I sent Super Mario from the second hold in to begin with, but after that, I just couldn't get it together for the entire send. So instead, I settled for the easier send of Underfling V3 right beside it, not as fulfilling as Super Mario but good enough to start out with. From there I went out to the very end of the boulderfield and sent a handful of routes I hadn't done before.
The Graham Cracker Boulder is one of the most picturesque in the field and well known for The Shield V12. There's some easier routes to the right of the beautifully broken face, Twin Cracks V1 and Graham Cracker V2.
I sent the V1 and got to the top of Graham Cracker and my sphicter puckered (its tall) and I backed off at the very last moment...what a waste, I should've just topped it out.
The arete problem Open It Up V0 was a fun ride on the Jigsaw boulder too.
The Rib V1 was a slab reminiscent of the Meat Grinder Boulder in the Bearfields if SC, and the V1 traverse to the left of it was fun too. After that I headed back and hit the Pancake Mantle V2, a tougher send than I was expecting, and then headed to one of the classic V3's in the field, Ribcage. There was the first crowd of the day parked under Ribcage & The Sternum V5. With plenty of pads ready, I jumped in the rotation and eventually sent Ribcage...after quiet a few bumps and bruises. From there I thought I might as well put a few laps on the last V4 I wanted to try, Two Shoes Jack. I have to admit that I'd rather put time in on a slab than an overhang any day, so Two Shoes was a perfect fit for my near spent condition. After about 8 tries I found myself at the slopey shelf at the top of the route and super pleased I had put the send together! From here I headed closer to the clubhouse and worked a little more on my project for the trip, Kingpin V6. This is the last route on the Bowling Ball boulder I haven't sent, and one of the most Fontainebleau-ish routes in the field I've found. I finally linked it together and made my way to the tough left hand mantle at the top, but just didn't have enough to finish it up and top it out...I'm looking forward to hopefully finishing it up on my next visit. Seeing my strength waning, I jumped on and sent the V0's and V1 on the Cornerstone boulder and immediately packed it up for the trip.
As I mentioned earlier, the guidebook was spot on and led me around a boulderfield I'm somewhat familiar with and helped me find the routes I never knew about. I've been to LRC tons of times before, but this trip was honestly one of the best I've had! Instead of walking past routes I didn't know were routes or didn't know the grade for, I had a chance to finally see the whole gamut that LRC had to offer. Sending Ribcage, Mystery Groove and Two Shoes Jack were definitely the highlights of the trip...and it just got me more amped for my next voyage to the Stonefort in October!
Monday, September 20, 2010
The Looking Glass Trail Day has been expanded to become a small celebration of WNC climbing. This year, Fox Guides is hosting a great opportunity for all of us Southeast/Western North Carolina climbers. I stole this description from the CCC website...
"WNC Climbers Weekend @ Looking Glass Rock.
This year Fox Mountain Guides is expanding the classic Looking Glass Rock ‘Adopt-A-Crag’ trail day into a weekend long event for climbers from across the Southeast region to get together and to raise funds and awareness for the Access Fund, Carolina Climbers Coalition and Southeastern Climbers Coalition
The event will have three main components, Saturday 9am-1pm is the Access Fund Adopt A Crag trail day at Looking Glass Rock, with time to climb through the afternoon at the Glass. Saturday evening will be the Carolina Climbers Coalition Event of a catered BBQ, slide show and multimedia presentations from local climbers with a huge silent auction and fundraiser for the CCC. On Sunday Fox Mountain Guides and Climbing School will be offering two Climbers Self Rescue courses with 100% of the proceeds going to the Southeastern Climbers Coalition."
I was hoping to get a group of folks together and work on some of the boulderfields this year, especially the North Face boulders. If you'd be interested in that, please post a reply here or e-mail me...they may not want us to focus on the boulders unless we can get enough people involved, so a head count of those interested may help us out. So come on out to help with the trails, get some fun climbing/bouldering in, and then enjoy the Saturday night BBQ/silent auction/slide show shindig with many more like minded hooligans!
Here is a link to Fox's website, with the most detailed information and schedule of the events...
Thursday, September 9, 2010
I don't know about you guys, but every time I get a new guidebook I get new motivation and new excitement for bouldering...especially if its a good guidebook! This guidebook is no exception. Its been a couple of years since I've been able to make it to Little Rock City, but for several years while I lived part time in Knoxville, LRC was one of my home crags. Even though I've spent more time at other bouldering areas since then, there is still a little piece of me that considers LRC to be some of my home boulders. The sandstone is impeccable and possibly the best in the Southeast. The boulders are perfect in size and shape with plenty of variety to suit any boulderer. The current access situation is great...only a few bucks a day gets you in to one of the best "outdoor gyms" on the planet. And when you're done with your day, there's nothing like kicking back a beer in the clubhouse to celebrate your sends!
The history of the Stone Fort/Little Rock City/LRC is muddy and pieced together in the guidebook by snap shots of the boulderfield from different climber's perspectives, over different times.
Even the name has some confused...I've always called it Little Rock City or LRC for short, but the developer, when the Triple Crown Bouldering Series approached about using the boulders for the comp, decided he wanted to distinguish the area from the big Chatty attraction Rock City...and the name Stone Fort was born.
Most local boulderers know the area by both different names and you can even tell who-climbed-when by the name they prefer to refer to the area by.
Marvin Webb (Thanks for your Southeast bouldering influence...I'm a fan of the Marvin Webb Slab at Boat Rock!) may have been one of the first real climbers to investigate the area back in the early '80's, and from there the legend began to grow. More and more people found out about the area through different means and eventually it became a popular bouldering crag. Eventually though, its popularity and the constraints of the Montlake golf course shut the place down for many years. The SCC and Triple Crown organizers finally cracked the nut in 2003 and LRC was open to the public on a sustainable management plan. This plan has changed a few times since then, but what hasn't changed is the incredible access and opportunity that any climber has to enjoy this world class destination! The patchwork history is presented in a series of 13 essays, contributed by different authors from different generations of LRC climbing, and is a great read in itself. The first time I read through the book, I actually found myself thumbing past all of the classic problems to get to the next essay, and next chunk of history...very unlike me.
The guidebook itself doesn't disappoint! As I mentioned in my review of the Horse Pens 40 Bouldering Guide, I've travelled to several different world class boulderfields in several different states and countries...and I've seen/used the gamut of guidebooks. Greener Grass's format is one of the easiest to understand and use. Its very simple to compare the topo to the pictures of the routes drawn on the boulders and know exactly where you're at...especially compared to the old Triple Crown guide. I haven't been able to make it to the Triple Crown comp at LRC, but I was fortunate to get a copy of the comp guide...so I have always had to stumble around the boulders, using the comp guide, looking clueless and trying to find a boulder and route that should be right in front of me. Now, finding routes and boulders in the boulderfield is easier than ever!
Besides the easy to use format and design that was made popular in the HP40 Bouldering Guide, there are also some incredible photos to glare at too. The same high quality, vivid images take you there and help you soak in the beauty and excellence of this boulderfield. The action shots are incredible and help with a little beta, while the topo photos are clear and easy to use and understand. The problems are color coded on the map to help you find the grade range that best suits your ability. The problem descriptions are concise and help bring many of the routes to life with the occasional history reference or anecdote. The introduction for each area has a small reference picture of the whole boulderfield, along with a close up overview of that specific area, which points out all of the boulders in that area. A brief description, ticklist of the classics, and grade distribution chart are also included in each intro to help you get a feel for the area and zero in on what's best for you to send. As you thumb through to each boulder in each area, more detailed topo's of each boulder are presented to get you to the right route...and the photo topo's make it fool proof to find what you're looking for. This may be the best thing about this guidebook...in the past, the travelling boulderer just wandered around aimlessly, relying on the kindness of a local to point out where the "good stuff" was. Now the secrets to each area have been unlocked and presented in an easy to understand format. If you haven't clicked over to Greener Grass's website and checked out the sample pages for this guide, go over there now and see the details, incredible topo's and photos I'm talking about. I'm so glad that this perfect boulderfield finally got the perfect presentation it deserves!
This book was a winner and the 2 Southern Bouldering books combined, set the new standard for what all bouldering guidebooks should live up to. Andy Wellman's calm and cool demeanor was apparent while reading the book, making it more enjoyable to read. His friendly attitude may upset locals that feel he's moved in on their turf and demystified this once hush-hush crag. I'm personally glad to see this style of information becoming more popular and more areas are being recorded and made available to everybody. I've been to plenty of places that locals covet their boulders to the point that they have actually ruined it for much of the rest of the bouldering community (sometimes Boone has this "locals only" attitude to a fault), and I'm glad to see the South slowly loosen its prudence belt and embrace others/outsiders enjoying its areas. I mean it cant be world class if the rest of the world cant enjoy it too!
Jimmy Webb's closing essay echoes my exact sentiments about LRC...respect and gratitude for those that have come before me, and excitement and anticipation for the excellent resource future generations of climbers will be able to enjoy. Thanks to the SCC and the Tripe Crown for working so hard with Montlake and the entire community and getting this place open on a sustainable management plan! Click here for more information on LRC access and a great photo gallery of this amazing boulderfield. Don't forget that 5% of the proceeds from this book will be given back to the SCC to help out with their ongoing diligence in saving our southern crags!
The book is available for preorder at a discounted rate...I advise picking one up on this sale and you'll receive it the same day as the stores do. You'll have a slight jump on the rest of the crowd that is sure to ensue:)
Next weekend I'll be taking the guidebook for a 3 day test drive, and I plan on posting an update to this review as soon as I get back. I always like to use the guide in the field before I give my absolute final opinion...so stay tuned!
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
So I received my advance copy of the new Stone Fort Bouldering guide late last week and was super stoked to see how impressive the guide is. If you liked the new HP40 Bouldering guide, then you'll be very pleased with the Stone Fort Guide. I'm in the process of writing the review, which will hopefully be posted in the next couple of days...keep an eye out for it. I'm also going to write a follow up when I get back from my LRC bouldering weekend on the 17-19th...I don't feel comfortable giving a whole review without using the book in the field and assessing its user friendliness. Don't forget that the best deal on the guide is going on right now during Greener Grasses Pre-Order Sale...save $6 off the cover price (that's like 25% off!). I can guarantee that if you plan on going to LRC, this guide will make your trip worthwhile and keep you from wandering around aimlessly asking everybody where Super Mario is:)
Also towards the end of last week, I signed up for Hound Ears, the first comp of the Triple Crown Bouldering comp. My wife and I are both competing/attending...I'm so psyched to finally get to take part in one of the Triple Crown comps! Its been my goal each of the last 5 years to compete, but something always comes up that prevents me from going. One of the benefits to these comps are the comp guides you get while competing (this used to be the only way to get a topo of LRC or HP40)...but since Greener Grass has published new guidebooks to the last 2 stops of the Crown, I don't feel the urgency to attend these 2 comps as much (and especially since I'm visiting LRC in 2 weekends).
So with 2 big bouldering trips coming up in the next month, I felt the need to stop goofing off as much when I boulder and focus a little more on projecting and sending harder stuff. I went to the gym last week, for the first time in like a year or so, and sent a bunch of V0-V2's and then I roped up and shocked myself by sending a 5.11a/b. I havent sent a roped route that hard in the gym in a long time, so I was pretty excited (and sore the next day too). Also, I've been doing a lot of bouldering lately at one of my old school secret spots and started to tick off some of the old projects I had, and hadn't visited for like 5-10 years. Yesterday I was working on a sweet route I call Hades, in a bouldering area I've been calling Asgard. I had a freak send of this route Sunday but couldn't repeat it afterwards...making me feel that the route is about a V4. I went back yesterday to celebrate Labor Day off, and worked out better beta and sent the route differently and felt it was around a hard V3...either way, the route was awesome. The route starts with a left hand undercling on a 2 finger crimp and right hand on a sloping arete...next you get some thin crappy feet under you and bump the right hand up to a big overhanging pinch, the crux. Once on the pinch, you have to bring your whole body up to some higher, crappier feet and throw for the sloping edge at the top. Hades V3/4 became an instant classic in my book! The only bad thing was that while I was working the route, I felt my pinky on my right hand pop...I assumed it was the knuckle popping, but I think I've sprained or pulled one of the pulley tendons in that finger (medial compression hurts more than any other movement). I ended up sending the route after the pop, and even though it hurt a little, I could still produce enough force to grip the critical undercling without too big of a problem. Today the tendon is tight and odd feeling, but I am not limited in my motion or grip...so I hope it is just a temporary sprain and it'll be good as new by the time LRC and Hound Ears comes around. If anybody has any tips on my finger or might have experienced the same thing before, post a response to help me better understand it. I've been climbing for what seems like forever and never had a single pulley or tendon problem, so this is all new to me. After Hades, I ventured a little deeper in the woods to a few other established problems. I ended up sending a fun V4 slab route, along with another V3 slab route right beside it...I love slabs more than anything (good thing because that's the usual for SC bouldering). After the slabs I hit an old school classic called Cookie Monster V3...a great SDS that follows a series of slopey bulging shelves to a slap happy top out. I feel stronger than I have in the past month, since my kidney stones, and hope to build on this to have a good time on my upcoming trips!
I hope everybody else is getting ramped up for bouldering season and has some fun road trips planned too! If not, consider signing up for the Triple Crown, or one of the comps, and hang out with hundreds of climbing buddies you never knew you had!
Thursday, September 2, 2010
I've been following this for the last week and some change over on Ben Henson's Blog...and if you havent heard about the situation, I recommend you click over and read about what has been happening lately with Lee Means, a Southeastern bouldering legend/activist/comp organizer/overall cool dude.
I had the pleasure of meeting him at the Chalky Dreams bouldering comp in 2009, and was impressed with how laid back but on the ball he was. He was a great comp organizer and host and made sure everybody had a great time. And he was also mentioned as being one tough cookie in the Chattanooga article, in the most recent issue of Climbing Magazine. I hate to hear that he has gone through so much problems with his heart lately, but the most recent post mentions that he's doing better and has been moved out of ICU. I'd like to encourage everybody to try to give a little donation to help out with the incredibly massive doctor's bills he will be dealing with when he hopefully makes his full recovery...like too many Americans, he was in between jobs and did NOT have health insurance when this condition hit. Take one day off from the gym and throw those bucks his way...your climbing wont suffer and you'll be doing a very noble deed! If the Paypal contribution widget in this post isnt working correctly, head over the Ben's Website and donate by using the contribution box to the right of the screen.
Good Luck Lee, everybody wishes you the best!