Monday, February 14, 2011
Jocassee Gorges Bouldering
My entire intention with this website was to bring awareness to upstate bouldering resources and to use this awareness to get more, actually establish for the first time, SC bouldering access. Late last year, after a series of meetings with DNR and state park officials, we (the CCC and upstate climbers) were given our first and biggest victory yet...bouldering will be allowed in the Jocassee Gorges! Even though we have already got the OK and have done a lot of the access leg work, I have hesitated to announce that bouldering is now legal in the Jocassee Gorges for a few reasons. One of the main reasons is that much of the bouldering lies on or near private property or that you must cross private property to get to the boulders. Please be patient until we can figure out safe and legal approaches to the best boulders and refrain from parking or crossing private property. More info will come out closer to the Fall of this year with info on legal approaches...but go ahead and start expecting some longer hikes (1.5-2 miles or so) in order to get to the best boulderfields (Bearfields and Jedi).
Some very important notes about the Gorges and our partners in this venture, the Department of Natural Resources. DNR prefers that we call bouldering "hiking on rocks" in order to avoid having to create specific regulations and guidelines for bouldering. Hiking is legal in the Gorges and so is scrambling on rocks, but if this was labelled as "rock climbing", then it would fall under different regulations and restrictions. This is an incredible gesture by DNR to not only allow us to boulder, but to also classify it as a different activity so it wont be unjustly regulated. DNR, the CCC and I also ask that we all respect the land and the other users of this land while we explore the peaks and valleys of some of the most beautiful land in South Carolina.
The Gorges are mainly used for its hunting and fishing resources, so be on the lookout for other users and be as nice and respectful as possible. You should also be aware of when hunting season is and display blaze/hunter orange while hiking and bouldering to ensure your own safety. Roped climbing is still illegal, but we have a request to pilot a roped climbing area so that DNR can make a better educated decision on its impact to the cliffs and immediate area. Please respect this request that DNR has made and refrain from roping up, causing problems and setting us back tons of man hours to get to this point.
The easiest area to approach is Little Eastatoee, which makes a good place to start out for beginners and there are plenty of boulders hidden in the woods to offer hard FA's to the stronger boulderers. Be on the look out in the next couple of days for a new area to be posted, Beasley Gap, that will offer a pretty fun V1-V3 circuit of boulder problems and potentially more problems for those looking to explore. Beasley Gap will be a next step for the beginners to test their skills on some crimpier and more overhanging routes...I know I've had fun developing the area and running the circuit myself!
Keep checking back from time to time for more beta on places to boulder and problem locations and information...until then, enjoy exploring!