Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Pacific Northwest 2010-Carver Bouldering
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!