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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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Meeting Bob Cormany

So, the LRC trip was tons of fun...but one event stuck out a little more than others in my mind, and it wasn't one of my sends. As I mentioned in my last post, I stopped off at Boat Rock in Atlanta on my ride home from Chatty. While I was at Boat Rock and working the super sweet slab problem The Surgeon, I ran into one of my heroes...Bob Cormany. Bob is a near famous Southeast boulderer/climber, he's one of the old school originals of the game and has blazed the trail for many to follow. He's climbed spots out before others even knew they existed. He is one of the folks that helped to save Boat Rock, an in essence, he has had his hand in saving many more SE crags than most people might realize. In both of the new bouldering guidebooks to Horse Pens and Little Rock City, there are some nice little essays by Bob to help give his perspective of these areas. I've seen him at different events, but never had a chance to actually meet and talk to him until now. It all started out with a little beta for The Surgeon, one of his routes, and turned into a wonderful conversation on many topics.

We had a great conversation about many of the boulderfields in the south...Lilly, Little Rock City, Boat Rock, Horse Pens and several secret spots I had never heard of were discussed. I have been climbing for about 15-20 years and have seen many places change over time. ..I think we all have our own history of our favorite crags and snapshots of specific climbs or moments. I always enjoy getting this perspective from someone that's been at it much longer than I have, its humbling and helps us remember the roots of the places we love. Bob's perspective and discussion about southeast climbing and bouldering was awesome and refreshing. But what really impressed me more was our discussion of physiology. If you don't know, I'm an Anatomy and Physiology professor at a local college, this is not only my life, but one of my passions being able to talk more than just climbing shop with Bob was really cool. He talked about some of the research he helped out with at UT, while he was up in Knoxville. We went into a long discussion of the intricacies of the corpus luteum in female pig ovaries and the amazing ability of scar tissue to become an endocrine gland and control a major component of reproduction...yeah super thrilling to only the physiology geeks:) It was pretty neat to connect with him on more than just a pebble wrestling platform, and learn a lot about who he was and is.

I left the Boat with not only a sense of accomplishment from the previous days at LRC, but also with a valuable experience that will remain fresh in my mind for many years to come.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Little Rock City aka How I Fell Back In Love With Sandstone

I want to start with an apology for not having any good pictures of my trip...I stole all of these pics and videos of other folks on some problems from the net.

So, I finally got a chance (I've been floored all week at work) to write up a quick post about my visit this past weekend to Little Rock City in Chattanooga. I headed over to Chatta-boogie on Friday and hit LRC with enough time to send plenty. I started out with a couple of warm ups and immediately jumped on Kingpin V6, a route I was working/projecting on my last visit. At first I didn't think there was anyway I could send it this trip, but the friction and foot holds finally became familiar to me and I sent it after about 20 minutes of work. This was a great route and wouldn't have taken hold of me and made me project it if it wasn't so much like Fontainebleau...I really enjoyed figuring out the tricks to Font routes last summer and it gave me that same psyched feeling! I was stoked to send my project at the beginning of the trip so I could then run around sending other stuff. Feeling like I was on cloud nine, this was my first V6 of the fall bouldering season, I wandered around until I found Adam and Doug over at Tristar and Celestial Mechanics. They had been there since like 8 that morning, so they were running out of steam and getting ready to pack up and take off...but not before Doug made us all look bad by practically campusing Tristar. After hanging out and sending some easy routes with Adam, they took off and I started focusing on some tough slabs. My pinky has been feeling better since I've been trying to only climb once a week, and so I wanted to climb slabs mainly Friday to keep it from getting tweaked and ruining my main session on Saturday. So after Kingpin, I climbed Jupiter V3 and Humpty Dumpty V4, two slabs on the wall beside Kingpin. Fun routes, but not as fun as Crystal Ball V5 and Clarence Bowater Survival V3 on the Two Shoes Jack boulder. I had high hopes of sending a V5 slab this trip, and Crystal ball looked doable last time I was here and sent Two Shoes Jack V4. I was stoked to finally get to the sloping rail towards the top and have sent a super fun and delicate slab! Clarence Bowater Survival was right next to Crystal Ball and had a few sketchy moves towards the top that got my blood moving. After these routes, I was getting a little tired and wanted to start cooling down, so I climbed a bunch of V0-V1's...but on my way out, Hairy Underclings V3 caught my eye and sucked me in. Hairy Underclings ascends a bubbly sloper wall reminiscent of Horse Pens and the Bumboy area. The satisfaction of climbing Kingpin was definitely a highlight of the day, but I'd have to give Hairy Underclings the props for being my favorite route of the was that much fun to send! Friday went much better than expected & I ended up sending at least 1 route in each grade from V0-V6, which is always a stellar day for me!

Saturday I was able to climb for a while...and I ended up sending a lot more than I expected. I went to LRC with 2 goals, climb (or at least get a little closer to sending) Kingpin and to try to send a V5 slab problem. Since I had accomplished both, surprisingly, on Friday, I decided to just roam around and climb what looked good. I had sent Mystery Machine V3 years ago, but I wanted to send it again, since its one of the ultra-classic V3's, so I started out here and had to work pretty hard to get the send. After Mystery Machine, I climbed Ruby Roo V2, which was a bunch of fun and seemed like an easier version of Hairy Underclings, and then sent Mutiny V2 right around the corner. From here I thought I'd aim high and try a few more harder routes, or at least for me. Adam had shown me the moves to Fat Cat V5 the day before and mentioned that he thought I might could send I sat underneath the jigsaw like face and pulled onto the chalked crimps and sidepulls and flashed Fat Cat. Here is a video from YouTube of Fat Cat...

I was super surprised and stoked to send another solid route. After climbing the easy routes on the Blind Spot boulder, beside the Frumundathunda boulder, I headed around to the Main area to work the dyno problem Trailer Hitch V5. I had this route in mind before I got here, because I thought I could send it without my pinky getting too tweaked...and I sent 2nd try. Here is an older video of Trailer Hitch...

From here I ducked into the Cell to finish up the day by sending Green Lantern V3 and Jump V3. I only had 1 route left that interested me, Fixer V4. Here is a video with Fixer at the 2:08 mark (and Mutiny V2 is the first route, but its referred to as the After School Special)...

I had tried to work Fixer earlier in the day, but a crew of loud obnoxious guys came up and ruined the experience with a radio blaring really bad pop music. When I came back at the end of the day, I was barely able to send it with the last little bit of strength I had left. This ended Saturdays sendfest, and I couldn't have been more satisfied with Saturday and the whole LRC trip...3 V5's and a V6 was much more than I thought I could send and made me remember how much I really love sandstone and its comfort and ease to climb. I spend most of my time on the east side of the Appalachians, and granite routes that aren't as forgiving, so it was good to feel like I had accomplished something.

On my way home, I ruined that feeling by stopping off at Boat Rock in Atlanta and getting my butt handed to me:) I sent the usual routes on the Easy Crack boulder and added a new V3 send with Kashmir Crack, seen above. Besides that, I just felt spent and weak and like I had left everything on the boulderfield back up in Soddy Daisy...but that was the goal of my trip anyway!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Hanging Chain Boulders

Adam Johnson and myself got a chance to run out to the Bald last Friday and check out the Hanging Chain Boulders. If you haven't had a chance to get on the Rumbling Bald Blog and see the great photo gallery, click on over there and check out the new routes. There isn't a topo of this area yet, but the captions to the photos will let you know the name and grade of each you can use these as a photo topo until the new guidebook comes out. Chris just recently posted directions and a little beta on the Bald Blog about these is a repeat post to help anyone that might not of seen it.

"Directions and information about the Hanging Chain Boulderfield -

Once at the Patio Roof, continue hiking West along the Hanging Chain Wall (roped climbing) trail. This trail starts off pretty good and obvious, but then quickly gets overrun by downed trees. Step over and duck under the trees and keep hiking West. Do not go uphill or downhill. Stay on the flat area. After about 4-5 minutes from the Patio Roof, you will come to 3 cool boulders. These have all been climbed 10+ years ago. They are pretty cool, especially the backside of the left one (Southernmost boulder).

Keep hiking West for about 5 more minutes. Here the trail improves. Cross over a shallow creekbed and view 2 boulders to the right. The left one is called the Slash Boulder and problems have been done. The right one has not been climbed to my knowledge, but it is good looking.

At this point, the Hanging Chain Wall trail cuts directly North (right) and heads straight up the steep hill, just to the left of the Slash Boulder. For the main Hanging Chain Boulderfield, continue straight (West) on the well worn and wide path. Head uphill and once over the rise, the boulderfield is in plain view!!!

This is the beginning of the area, and we are calling it The Library. All problems have been done here already. They range from V0 to V6. The Classic, Butch Seamstress, V6 is in this area. For the other areas and boulderfields, continue through and to the left (downhill side) of The Library area. After 1-2 minutes, you will be at The Laboratory. All problems have been done here except some hard projects. The classic, Scientific Method, V7 (cover photo on the blog) is in this area.

We have developed several boulder beyond The Laboratory, but from here on out (West) most of the boulders (40+) have not been touched! Go get em'!!!

See you all out there and happy FA's!"

I have to say that right now the trail is overgrown and sometimes difficult to follow, but keep your eyes out for the rock cairns (small stacks of rocks) here and there and they'll keep you going in the right direction. As soon as the first freeze hits, this vegetation should die back and make travelling out in that direction much easier.

Before we could get out to the Hanging Chain area, we stopped off and warmed up at the Terraces. After sending some easy V0's, Adam flashed Liza Minelli V3 like it was a V0-...impressive send. We took a look at some of the other classics in the area like The Sail, Big Crimpin and Crimpin Aint Easy but decided to head on out to the Hanging Chain Boulders instead of wasting our fingers on other stuff.

When we got out there, we found the Library Area first, obvious by the complex of multiple fins that cant be missed. We sent all of the fin routes...from left to right, Scarlet Letter V1, Grapes of Wrath V3 & Robinson Crusoe V3. I also sent a couple of more easy fun lines on the face of the uphill fin, and a couple of fun easy slabby problems on the boulder facing the fins. From here we went and checked out the boulder that Butch Seamstress V6 and Remember The Future V3 were on. We didn't send either of these, didn't even realize that Remember the Future was a route really, but we did send a fun route to the left of these, with a tricky slabby top out.

From there we checked out the Twin Peaks boulder and sent Cooper's Dream V1 and Adam sent The Mystery V2. At that point, my pinkie was killing me and so we decided to call it quits and head back. I think it was a good intro to the area and it's always good to climb new stuff! I look forward to getting out there when the trail dies back a little and sending more in this new area. A big thanks to Chris Dorrity for cluing us in on the new stuff and sharing the pictures and beta to help us find our way around these new classics!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Since the Comp...

So I've been trying to lay low and let me pinkie heal for the last few days. I got a nice, long mountain bike ride in Monday over at Isaqueena in Clemson...still one of my all time favorite places to ride! I turned down the chance to run out to the Bald for the day to ride, but I think my pinkie appreciated it. Even though I'm resting the finger, I did get a chance to climb some fun roped routes on some private property here in SC I took it. Above is a shot from the bottom, which has a fun 5.7, 5.8+ and 5.10+/11-, and below is a shot of the top out after the last pitch. It was a nice day to climb with 2 of my climbing buddies that I don't get to climb with much anymore.

I'm also amped about the Reel Rock Tour coming to Clemson this Saturday. If you haven't checked out my previous post, get informed and come join the fun!

Another somewhat new development is the updated Rumbling Bald Blog. If you haven't clicked over there and seen whats new, you should. Chris Dorrity is always trying to keep folks in the loop and let them know about the major happenings and new routes at the Bald. I'm looking forward to heading out there tomorrow and checking out some of the new stuff out at the Hanging Chain Boulderfield! Above is a shot of Chris, from the above linked photo album, of a new classic V7, Scientific Method. Jared, one of my buddies I climbed with yesterday, has seen it and said its incredible! I'm gonna have to take it easy on the pinkie so I'm in as good of climbing shape as possible for my visit to Little Rock City next weekend. I am going to a Forensic Anthropology conference in Chatty and plan on hitting LRC as much as possible in between talks and events.

And finally, I registered for the next leg of the Triple Crown at Horse Pens 40. I don't think that my pinkie will be 100% by then, so I was satisfied to sign up for the Recreation Category and just climb for fun again. I'm really looking forward to hanging out with a bunch of climbing hooligans and soaking up the Alabama Autumn!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Hound Ears 2010

This past weekend was the first leg of the Triple Crown Bouldering Series at Hound Ears in the Highcountry of North Carolina. This was my first chance to get to Hound Ears, which is only open for climbing during this one competition every year.

My wife and I headed up towards Boone on Friday and had enough time before check in to stop off and warm up at Beacon Heights, near the Grandmother Boulders. If you haven't been to Beacon Heights, its a great spot to climb easy routes and was perfect to stretch my aching pinky tendon out and see how it would perform at the comp. As I mentioned in my previous post, I got a chance to go to the Bald for the first time this fall and ended up retweaking my pulled pinky tendon on what I think were the crimps on Shady Grove. The rock at Beacon is similar to Granny's, being only a few miles down the Parkway, but with more jugs and edges. There is a great climbing tall wall there and a handful of smaller boulders also, and most of the routes are down in the V0-V1 range. So after warming up, I noticed that the finger wasn't really giving me anything on the crimps and pinches, but I could still run a jug haul...not good for the comp where crimps and sharp edges are notorious.

After checking in at the condo (I'm getting way to old to camp out in the freezing cold:)) we went to preregister and see what goodies were up for sale or demo. There were quiet a few shoe companies demoing their new models and La Sportiva had a sweet fundraising t-shirt for sale, with all of the proceeds going to the SCC and southeastern access.

The Carolina Climbers Coalition fall meeting was held at 7:30 and had a pretty good turn out. Carolina climbing access and agenda was discussed and kept everyone informed on whats happening in the Carolina's and with the Rumbling Bald Boulder purchase. At the meeting I snagged another great t-shirt, with all of the proceeds going to save the Bald Boulders...

If you see these t's around for sale, don't hesitate to pick up a couple...they are some of the most comfortable and best wearing shirts I've gotten in a while, and of course you'll be helping out a good cause!

After a restful night, the madness began early by cramming crashpads in the back of the U-Haul's and competitors into the shuttle vans and whisking them away to the comp site. After everyone arrived, and sat around for a while (thanks Adam Johnson for the above picture of me and Katy checking out the guide before the comp started) and the clock struck 10 am, the competitors were unleashed on the rarely climbed boulderfield. So many folks had been there before and had a good plan of action ready, and others were just left to wander around and find what looked good. My wife really wanted to rope up and try some of the easier routes, so we started out by sending Baby Bear 5.8 and Mama Bear 5.9 before we really even bouldered anything. From there we wandered around hitting some V0-V2's and sampling some of the sharp routes the Ears had to offer. I realized that my finger was not going to let me climb hard or much, so I settled in for a day of easy sends. The hardest thing I sent was a V2 all day, but I still had a blast. It was a lot of fun to roam around the boulders and meet up with friends old and new and see what they were working on. I got a chance to chat and climb with Ben Newton and his girlfriend/wife(?), Rachael, as well as hang out with Matt Paden of Frixtion was a treat and definitely made the comp more fun. Running into the Clemson Crew going all in on They Call Me Nobody was another well as seeing Doug Ianurio running around like a madman (congrats Doug on 2nd place in the Mens Advanced category...way to represent the Upstate fool!). Matt Paden has a great slide show available on his should check it out if you haven't already seen it on work Matt! Zach Lesh-Huie, one of the nicest and most motivated access dudes I've met, also had a great write up of the comp on you should check out too. I felt a little defeated when I turned my scorecard in and was immediately bumped down to the Recreation division, I had signed up for Intermediate which is generally where I compete, but after the finger injury held me back, I knew it wasn't due to my lack of effort or motivation. I still had a great time, no matter where I placed or what division I was in, and I look forward to hopefully being full strength at Horse Pens in a month!

That night, after the comp, the rewards shindig was rocking...loads of loud obnoxious music and drunken competitors cheersed their efforts and celebrated another fun day of climbing. Awards and door prizes were handed out by the handfuls and most everyone got to go home with something more than they came with. The Triple Crown raised a lot of funds during the comp and they graciously contributed $6000 to the Bald Boulders right then and there...HELLS YEAH!!! So I would have to count the comp a big success...everybody got to climbed on some great boulders, the camaraderie was thick in the air and there was a big chunk of money earned to help fuel Southeast climbing access! Now its on to the second leg of the Triple Crown in November down at Horse Pens!

I want to thank everyone for such a great event, from the Triple Crown itself to the climbers that contributed to your favorite organization and the friendly folks that helped us feel right at home...we really had a fun time and enjoyed every minute of it!