Monday, December 27, 2010
So, the rain moved in and the slight peeks of sunshine lasted only for an hour or so...meaning no more outdoor bouldering for me out here in the winter rainforest. I did get a chance to visit The new Circuit Gym in downtown Portland and climb all of the easy (V0-V2) routes and a big handful of V3's and 1 V4. The 2 GIANT top out boulders are absolutely amazing centerpieces to the gym and something any boulderer would fall in love with! I still cant believe how good the route setting is at this gym, and the route turnover keeps the place from getting stale! I guess they have to make up for the lack of outdoor time by having some of the best indoor facilities in the country. It really encourages me to get into the gym and train more when I get back home. Besides a muddy hike in the largest city park in the US, 5100 acre Forest Park, the holidays have been about good food and even better beer and wine with family and friends...a closet glutton like myself could really get used to this:) I hope the holidays have treated you just as well as they've treated me! Now that I feel as bloated as the Michelin Man, I'm really looking forward to getting home and back on the local boulders as soon as the snow allows. I'm also looking forward to what 2011 has to offer...for me and every other SC boulderer. Stay tuned for more info!
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Our yearly voyage out to the Northwest is always a nice time to sit back, relax and enjoy family and different amenities that you just cant find back home. There are so many breweries in Portland to enjoy and the cuisine is absolutely incredible! Last night we had some of the best tacos in the world at Porque No and chased it with a great local Amnesia brew...perfect after a day of struggling to climb at the Carver boulders.
If you know anything about the Northwest, then you know that winter is NOT the season to try to boulder outside...and yesterday was no exception. I've visited the Carver boulders at the Carver cliffs on the side of the Clackamus River before, but the conditions yesterday were so wet and the rocks were seeping from under the thick patches of ferns and mosses that almost nothing was dry enough to climb. That's one of the biggest differences between bouldering back home and here near Portland...at home we have drier hardwood forests and here they have more of a rainforest environment, rich in nonvascular plants (mosses and liverworts) and ferns. Similar to Little Rock City, Carver has gone through some changes over the years and being on private property creates a unique situation that requires a unique management. Over the past year, the crag was closed due to unruly climbers and then reopened with the continuing help of the Carver Climbing Club. In order to climb here, you must be a member of the club, which requires an $8 fee, and have your membership card on hand while you climb (I dont have a card though because I signed up a few years ago...and I need to get that fixed while I'm here). There is also a small website that post up info about the bouldering, click on over and check out the saga that has unfolded.
I was lucky enough to find a copy of the old out-of-print bouldering guide to Portland and the Columbia River Gorge at Powells Bookstore a couple of years ago...so I feel lucky to actually have a topo and route list when I visit. After walking around the boulders trying to find anything dry enough to climb, I found myself at the base of the cliff on a boulder called the Standard Overhang, seen in the photo above. I climbed the stand start to the Standard Overhang route which went at a V1 and was a pretty fun route. Then I added the SDS to it and linked through for the V3 version of this Carver classic. I was shocked I found anything to climb and was stoked to pull hard enough to send a wet and slippery V3!
From here I roamed around looking for anything else that was dry and finally came upon a boulder seen above and is labelled as the Warm Up boulder on the new map. I sent an easy V0 flake/lieback arete on the left side of the boulder and then focused on a fun SDS route that followed up the broken spine on the middle and right side of the boulder. After a few tries, I finally sent the route and felt it was right around a V2. Super fun problems, even though you had to deal with some slippery moss at the top!
After this, I roamed around checking out routes in the guide for future sessions, since I couldnt find anything else that was dry. Overall it was a bad day to climb, but I felt like I had made the most out of it by "climbing for the cycle" of a V0, V1, V2 & V3. After visiting the NW a few times, I'm so grateful for what we have back in the Southeast...great boulderfields with great weather almost all winter long! Carver is Portlands local boulder crag, but couldnt hold a candle to even our worse boulderfields back home. I cant tell you how thankful I am to live in such a kick ass place in the US for bouldering!!!
Today is another typical Portland day with rain in the forecast...hopefully I'll get a chance to go back to another little area in town called Rocky Butte. It looks like the Columbia River Gorge is getting some snow over the next week, so Beacon Rock and any of the other boulder areas within an hour and a half are out of the question for this trip. It would be nice to make it to Smith Rock, but we'd have to drive over the snowed in Cascades in order to do that...something I'm just not willing to do. No matter, I'm planning on hitting Portland Rock Gym and The Circuit too in the next couple of days to try to get my send on! I hope everyone is out getting on some rock somewhere and appreciates how nice it is to have what we have in the Southeast!
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
I've been slammed lately trying to finish up the semester, focus a little on helping out with SC access and then I've tried to slip a few sessions in between. As mentioned in previous posts, I've been helping the CCC work with the State Parks to try to expand climbing opportunities in South Carolina. We have had very pleasant meetings with both DNR and the Mountain region State Parks (Keowee-Toxaway, Table Rock and Jones Gap) and hope that we have set some positive wheels in motion. Over the last 2 days, I have been out early in the morning, with temps in the single digits to low double digits, working with some of the best rangers to identify areas that are of interest to SC climbers. Its been great to meet these guys, walk in their woods and inform them exactly what we're all about. All of the rangers have been receptive to our ideas and willing to find out if there are any hurdles that might stop access from happening in the near future. I'm a big fan of cooperation and forces working together so both succeed in their missions of conservation and recreation. Things are in the works and I hope to be able to tell you in the next couple of months that we will have expanded access and more places to enjoy climbing. If you are in SC and have been "scalping" some of these areas, please realize that this could really jeopardize the legitimate access work we are doing and could bring things to a complete halt. Please try to relocate your sessions to other legal areas until we can get this figured out and you'll be greatly rewarded in due time! The picture from above is taken from the Table Rock webcam...click over there and take a look every now and then to see how the park changes with the seasons. There should be some snow in the picture sometime soon!
I am also getting ready to take our yearly pilgrimage to Oregon to visit my wife's family. It looks like there might actually be a break in the usually wet weather to get a few days of bouldering in while I'm out there...I'm really looking forward to that! Otherwise, the best bouldering gym I've ever been too, The Circuit, just opened a new gym in Portland that's even closer to our family...so even more chances for me to get some crush on while I'm out in the Pacific Northwest! I'll hopefully post up some pictures while I'm out there of some bouldering at Carver Boulders and possibly Beacon Rock. Here's a sweet shot of Beacon Rock from across the Columbia River...
And here is a video of some bouldering at Carver...
Monday, December 6, 2010
A few months ago, there were 3 different proposals (1 very conservative, 1 mid ground and 1 very liberal with our climbing resources) for what will eventually become the new Chimney Rock State Park. These were made available to the public to vote and comment on and the state was supposed to take these comments into consideration when forming the Master Plan. This park will cover a lot of land and includes the existing Chimney Rock Park and Rumbling Bald, as well as tons of other cliffs that have been climbed for decades. In the recently released proposal, of which the state plans to use unless there are major complaints (hint-hint), only the south side of Rumbling Bald, what most folks just call Rumbling Bald, is the only cliff that will be allowed to remain open...and the only roped routes that are recognized are the ones in the guidebook. Now, unless you are under a rock somewhere, you know that there are more routes at the Bald than whats in this 20 year old guide (and the updated Selected Climbs book doesn't include very many new routes for the Bald, so its pretty much still the routes listed in the old Kelly guide). Besides these unlisted routes being off limits, the plethora of other smaller crags, that have seen action for over 20 years, are to be closed and climbing is to be disallowed. This doesn't make sense, nor does it sit well with those that have been using this land for way longer than the state has owned it. PLEASE do what you can by checking out the CCC Alert and clicking at the bottom and filling out the Access Fund letter to those that need to hear our voice. This IS a pivotal time in the planning and future of our climbing resources. We know that our resources are limited and not allowing climbing in all areas of the park that have traditionally allowed climbing is a deep cut into these resources. It only takes a few minutes (no lie, just a couple of minutes) to fill out the info needed to send a great form letter to the folks in charge to let them know that we wont stand for this! Together we CAN affect a change in the plan and get our resources back...please do what YOU can to help!!!!