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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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Follow Upstate Bouldering On E-Mail!

I've just installed a new gadget to the top of the website...simply type your e-mail address into the blank above and you will be sent a copy of each post made on Upstate Bouldering. Get the latest info, news and topo's as soon as they are posted!

New Southeastern Guidebooks On The Horizon

If you haven't heard yet, there are a couple of new Southeastern guidebooks with release dates rapidly approaching!

Greener Grass Publishing has a new guidebook coming out in the beginning of July...and it has just recently become available for a discounted pre-sale. The Obed: A Climber's Guide To The Wild And Scenic by Kelly Brown will be the definitive guide to one of my all time favorite places to climb, boulder, and swim when all of that gets too hot to do! I've posted many times about the time I've spent in Knoxville with my wife, then girlfriend/fiance, while she was finishing up grad school at the University of Tennessee...and my happiness with hitting the Obed a couple of times a week as my local crag. I mainly bouldered at the Lilly Boulders, but Obed was where I also cut my teeth sport climbing and made plenty of lasting memories with my wife. Andy Wellman at Greener Grass has been kind, again (he's been so awesome to hook me up with copies of the HP40 Guidebook and LRC Guidebook to review in the past!), to me by sending me a copy to review hopefully this week or next. To honor his trust in my reviews, we're scheduling a road trip to K-Vegas and The Obed for one of the coming weekends! Take a peek at a sample of the guidebook if you haven't already.

Here's an excerpt from Greener Grass...
"The Obed Wild and Scenic River is a magical landscape of meandering rivers, dense forests, breath-taking vistas, and for the climber – miles upon miles of sandstone cliffs. Located in Northeastern Tennessee, about an hour outside of Knoxville, the Obed has been a secluded and peaceful climber hangout for more than 30 years. Originally a traditional only climbing area, the early 90’s sport climbing revolution transformed the Obed into one of the finest sport climbing areas in the United States. Known for its unrelenting steepness, the Obed is host to the largest collection of horizontal roofs (equipped for your climbing pleasure) anywhere in North America. The rock at the Obed is a very smoothly textured, but well featured version of beautiful Cumberland Sandstone that many climbers describe as nearly perfect. Combine these amazing attributes with one of the friendliest and easy going climber campgrounds to be found – Del’s Lilly Pad – located mere minutes from an assortment of crags, and you have a playground that should be a mandatory visit for all traveling climbers.

The Obed: A Climber’s Guide to the Wild and Scenic is the first ever exclusive and comprehensive guide to the climbing at the Obed. Included within are a lifetime’s worth of routes found at six separate crags – The Obed, Y–12, Lilly Bluff, North Clear Creek, South Clear Creek, and Little Clear Creek – as well as a complete guide to the largest and most popular bouldering area in Northeastern Tennessee – the Lilly Boulders. The book is authored by Kelly Brown, a longtime Knoxville local, and one of the primary route developers at the Obed. Kelly has had a life long relationship with the Obed, where many of his most powerful and memorable experiences have taken place, and does a fantastic job of sharing both his love for the area as well as more than 20 years of history that only he knows."

If you are planning on getting a copy of the guidebook, you might as well click on over, get a $5 off discount, be entered in a $200 road trip drawing, and help support the Eastern Tennessee Climbers Coalition at the same time! If you've never been to The Obed or haven't heard of it before, then do yourself a favor and visit won't be disappointed!

The other guidebook I wanted to mention is just being finalized and is getting ready to be sent off to the printers...The Dixon Boulders Guidebook should be out pretty soon also! If you have never been by the Dixon Boulders, or Dixon School Road (DSR) Boulders, at Crowder's Mountain State Park in North Carolina, you should really check them out. Sometimes referred to as the Buzzard Roost, the Dixon boulders have had a jaded history of kind of legal, to being completely poached, to now being completely legal and encouraged! Thanks to the work of the NC State Parks and the Carolina Climbers Coalition, the Boulders Area of Crowder's Mountain State Park were officially added to the legal bouldering scene last year, and thanks to Matt Bielejeski, the guidebook isn't too far behind. I've always found Dixon to be very similar, but very, very different from the roped climbing at Crowder's...lots of sharp edges, but a different variety of features. If you're interested in the latest on Dixon and on the Guidebook (he's looking for pre-sale numbers and advertisements right now), check out the "Dixon School Road Bouldering" group on Facebook...its a great community to ask questions and share pictures and info with! I'll be reviewing this guidebook also when it's hot off the presses, so stay tuned. I'll also be interviewing Matt soon about the guidebook and his other passion...making and enjoying techno music.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Jocassee Gorges Bouldering Home Page

This is the new home page to centralize all of the beta about bouldering in the Jocassee Gorges of the Upstate of South Carolina. If you want to boulder in the Jocassee Gorges, its a good idea to get a map of the Gorges from the Jocassee Gorges Visitor Center at Keowee State Park or one of the other locations they are available around the Upstate. Use this map, along with the topo's available on this website to guide yourself around to the different bouldering spots. Please read the link below about bouldering in the Jocassee Gorges and abide by the rules and wishes the Department of Natural Resources has asked us to follow...this will ensure access and not jeopardize the efforts the Carolina Climbers Coalition and myself are putting forward to increase the climbing spots available in South Carolina! Thanks!

Jocassee Gorges Bouldering Info...PLEASE READ THIS if you plan on bouldering in the Gorges!

Bouldering Spots in the Jocassee Gorges:
Little Eastatoee
Beasley Gap
Big Eastatoee Bouldering Wall

Beasley Gap Boulders Home Page

This is the centralized location for everything about bouldering at Beasley Gap.

Beasley Gap Bouldering Guidebook (with photo topo's)

Directions, Approach and Basic Beta

Beasley Gap Bouldering Video

Little Eastatoee Boulders Home Page

I'm trying to organize some of the content of this website and I'm going to start using this post/webpage as the centralized location for all information dealing with bouldering at Little Eastatoee. Check back every now and then to see new additions to the photo topo's and mini-guides!

New Photo Topo's:
Batman & Saw Boulders
Best Feeling Boulder
Rhodorete Boulder

Little Eastatoee-Bridge Area
Little Eastatoee-The Bubbles

Beta/Info Posts:
General Page
Little Eastatoee on Rock

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Odds and Ends

I've been wanting to post and link up to a couple of climber interviews lately, but I just haven't been able to find the time...but you go!

Brad Mcleod, of SCC and southeastern access fame, has a great training/work out website over at you haven't checked it out yet, you should. He'll get you strong and keep you strong if you follow his work outs! I spotlighted his interview with John Gill back a few months ago, but he has also done some other awesome interviews lately too.

Here is a link to his interview with climber/poet Pat Ament and more recently, his interview with training guru Eric Horst.

If you haven't seen any of these interviews yet, click on over and eat em up...this is some good stuff!!! Thanks Brad for all the hard work you've been doing on all fronts and everyone is looking forward to what you've got for us next:)

Another great article that has got me pondering lately, especially since the arrival of Lily and my priorities have changed a little, was written by Matt Paden over on Cruxn a couple of weeks ago. The article is called Climbing: Compulsion, Habit, Escape, Pure Joy or All of the on over, check it out and ponder yourself about exactly what climbing is and isn't to you.

We had planned on taking Lily out to Oregon for the 4th of July break this year to visit her aunt and cousins, and so I could go check out Smith Rocks and some other Oregonian bouldering (when it wasn't soaking wet, like our usual winter trip) too, but fate has twisted us in a different direction and postponed the trip for a little while. Instead of hitting Oregon and Smith Rocks though, we just made our reservations to rent a cabin up near Grayson Highlands State Park in Virginia. If you haven't heard about Grayson...should you really call yourself a boulderer;) Nah...Grayson is destined to become the southeast's best summer time bouldering destination and with good reason, plenty of rock, beautiful settings and wild ponies make for a unique and memorable trip. We went last year for the 4th and had a blast and look forward to showing Lily the ponies and taking her on her first bouldering road trip!

Here is a video of our trip last year...check it out if you haven't already:)

Last but not least...I'm also planning on posting up, real soon, a new topo to a small bouldering wall in the Jocassee Gorges that I haven't given beta out for before, Big Eastatoee. Hopefully that post will be up today or tomorrow, so keep your eyes peeled for some new (actually one of the oldest Gorges spots I've been bouldering at) beta for a summer morning session!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Little Eastatoee: Spotlight on the Saw and Batman Boulders

So, I've gotten a few chances to get out to Little Eastatoee and enjoy the slight cold wave, if you call 70's a cold wave, we've had over the last week or so. My wife has been so kind to see how tough it is on my to go without doing something active outdoors every now and then, and her and baby Lily have encouraged me to get out to keep my sanity. As I've been spotlighting some of my favorite boulders and routes in the Jocassee Gorges lately, and providing you good folks with the topo's to go and enjoy these routes yourself, I want to continue that tradition with this post and hopefully add a few new pages here soon to organize all of these recent (and future) beta/topo posts, so they will be easier to access from a link on the side panel.

Today's featured boulder is the Batman of the best lowball boulders I've ever seen! At 5 feet tall, it seems like another typical Little Eastatoee doesn't immediately strike you as a boulder with good routes on it until you actually get on them. I passed by this boulder for years before I took the brush to it and cleaned away some of my favorite, short but powerful routes at Little Eastatoee...and possibly the best lowball problems in the Jocassee Gorges. This development occurred during a Batman movie marathon I was in the middle of in my off time, so I decided to name this the Batman Boulder and the routes after some of the characters in the movies. All of the problems are basically of the same design...butt draggin starts followed by a stout move or two to hit the top lip and finally a tricky mantle to finish it up.

On the first of my recent sessions, I felt very out of shape and like I hadn't bouldered in a while. Lily has taken up most of our time lately, and luckily I'm only teaching a partial load this summer so I can spend more time at home with our new family. The time that I used to spend running out for a quick session (Little Eastatoee is only 10 minutes down the road from me), is now usually filled with housework or baby related stuff. I now really value what it means to get out and be able to go on a bouldering trip, even if it is only for 45 minutes to an hour! So, hitting the boulders after not climbing or biking or hardly exercising at all, seemed like I was doomed to fail...and fail I (almost) did.

Before I hit the Batman Boulder though, I warmed up on a couple of easier, tricky mantle problems on a nearby boulder called the Saw boulder. Another of my favorite movie series, this boulder was named because of the "pig nose" feature climbed over on the problem Pig Face V0/1. Pig Face is a short but fun problem that uses a sidepull and sloper to mantle up onto a low angle slab, and is one of my favorites in that grade range at Little Eastatoee. To the right of it, and a small tree, is another interesting slabby/tricky mantle problem called I Wanna Play A Game V0. Both of these routes are located near the Batman Boulder and are some of the only easier warm ups to practice the delicate and sometimes awkward mantles on the Batman Boulder. Below is the topo for the Saw Boulder...

Saw Boulder Routes:
1. Pig Face V0/1
2. I Wanna Play A Game V0

For so long, Scarecrow V3, Two Face V3 and Bruce Wayne V3 on the Batman Boulder were routes I could hike fairly easily almost every time I showed up at them...but these guys were making me feel like a gumby flailing in the gym on a V0! I worked Scarecrow for a while without the send, so I decided to move over to Two Face and give it a try. After struggling for a while just to make the first move, I finally snatched the edge and sent the awkward mantle to top it out. Feeling like I was building momentum, I went back to Scarecrow and barely caught the edges with my finger tips before I almost lost it on the last part of the balancy mantle. After Scarecrow, I gave my best shot on Bruce Wayne and was thwarted every time. This was about it for the first session, and since the time I FA'ed these routes, this was the happiest I had been to struggle to send 'em.

The next session took a little while to arrive and so I figured that I would have lost anything I could have built on from the first session. I went to the boulders with low expectations and ended up sending Scarecrow and Two Face first go instead. Feeling pretty good, I really wanted to send Bruce Wayne, which for me feels like a hard V3, so I sat down on its cramped awkward start thinking I was gonna first go it also...didn't happen. It took me the whole session to send the route, in gumby flailing style no less, but I sent it...reward enough.

The third session came the day after the second and I was feeling strong and ready to send Bruce Wayne with style instead of bumbling through it. I sent Scarecrow and Two Face again first go and then did the same to Bruce Wayne...what a great feeling to have gained a little ground I had lost since my lack of activity hit. Since I wasn't spent for the session, I had to jump on the other routes on the boulder. The extension of Bruce Wayne that traverses left and mantles either on the slopey short mantle problem Utility Belt V3 or around the corner past Utility Belt, is possibly the best route on the it is fittingly called The Dark Knight V4. After hopping onto Utility Belt and barely sending it, I knew that it wasn't going to be easy to add The Dark Knight to the days tick list. I was thwarted by the route after 10 or so tries and decided to hit the other side of the boulder and The Clown Prince Of Crime, the other V4 on the boulder. This route starts with a hand high on the sidepulling fin and the other on a small divot just to the left of the fin and fights an oddly tough barn door and moves up to a mantle near the top out for Two Face. After fiddling around with my foot position, I stuck the hard move from the barn door and mantled it out...this was my first V4 send in a while so I was totally stoked! Feeling like a superhero myself at this point, I loaded up and tried the squatty and really awkward super low start to The Clown Prince Of Crime called The Joker V5. This is the hardest problem on the boulder and one of the hardest at Little Eastatoee and requires a move off of some small crimps to the fin and divot start on TCPOC...reminds me a lot of the first move of the Unknown V5 on the Warm Up Boulder in the Breakfast Area at Rumbling Bald, so I gave it the same rating. After a few miserable attempts, I started to pack it up before I decided to give The Dark Knight one more go. After making it out to the sloper on the corner, I knew I could dig deep and finish the mantle and the route...and that's exactly what I did! Rolling with sweat and starting to notice the humidity rising with the sun, I was completely exhausted...but the feelings culminated from those 3 sessions were priceless! I really felt that once I had a kid that my skills would drop off quick, and they kind of did...but its good to know that when I put a little time back into it, I can still tick a few routes that surprise and excite me. Bouldering has had a very useful place in my life for quiet a few years now, and this was the first time I've been forced away from it for any length of time, so it was nice to feel that familiar feeling of a send hard earned and the satisfaction in the rest of my life that it gives me!

Here are the topos for the Batman Boulder...enjoy!

Batman Boulder Routes:
1. Utility Belt V3
2. The Dark Knight V4 (top out on either Utility Belt or traverse around the corner as shown and mantle)
3. Bruce Wayne V3
4. Scarecrow V3
5. Two Face V3
6. The Clown Prince Of Crime V4
7. The Joker V5

I added this old video of mine because the last routes on it are footage of me sending Bruce Wayne and Two Face...check it out if you havent seen it before.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Little Eastatoee: Spotlight on the Rhodorete Boulder

Sorry its taken me so long to get this post up...the little one has kept us pretty busy since we've been back home...but I'm still anxious to share this next boulder with everyone!

Rhodorete is another hidden treasure at the Little Eastatoee boulders. Most of the boulders at Little Eastatoee that I've talked about are located at the Bridge area, practically in the parking lot, near the bridge over Little Eastatoee Creek, on highway 11...but to find Rhodorete, you're gonna have to do a little hiking in the woods. Tucked away off of the trail near the confluence of Big and Little Eastatoee Creeks, and hidden behind a cluster of rhododendrons, the Rhodorete boulder offers a few great lines, along with a couple of short but sketchy slabs and a project line, for someone that likes pulling over a big sloping bulge and mantling onto a slab.

Rhodorete may have been one of my very first projects, before I really started bouldering, back in my high school days. A bunch of friends and I used to haunt Little Eastatoee all the time...exploring the woods, swimming in the creeks, camping out for long weekends, and hopping on and over boulders like drunken toads. Rhodorete was tried by a few friends and myself...but none of us topped it out back then. Since then, I have sent Rhodorete V3/4, or Rhodorete Right, but the official FA of Rhodorete Left or Rhodorete V4/5 is still up for grabs. Rhodorete V3/4 climbs a slightly overhanging arĂȘte, with a couple of tough crimps, that leads to an odd move over onto a sketchy slab. A tougher V4/5 variation moves out left after the crimps and grunts over onto an even sketchier slab to finish. A few shorter slab routes to the right of Rhodorete V3/4, that feel sketchier than they should, are the warm ups on the boulder. Here are a couple of topo shots with the routes listed after them...enjoy and let me know when someone bags Rhodorete left or that project so I can add them to the upcoming 2nd edition of the Little Eastatoee guidebook!

Rhodorete Boulder Routes:
1. Pink Lady Slipper Project
2. Rhodorete Left V4/5
3. Rhodorete (Right) V3/4 - the original line on the boulder
4. Rhodoslab V1
5. Trillium Slab V0
6. Mountain Laurel Slab V0

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Off Route

This past week has been a roller coaster ride for me and my wife...from one of the highest points in my life, to one of the lowest and back up again.

Last Tuesday morning, April 26th, at 10:31, my wife gave birth to our first child...a little girl named Lily! I feel honored that my wife went with my name choice...I choose that name because I love the flowers, especially calla lilies, but also because I love the Lily boulders in the Obed, where my wife and I spent many a day at while she was finishing grad school at UT. We had a great pregnancy, with no complications and felt very fortunate about that! The delivery went wife is my hero for doing that "natural", without pain meds. But quickly after the baby was born, she was moved to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) due to respiratory problems that the doctors feared was an infection. Our wedding was amazing, but the birth of our child was equally amazing, if not more...and this turn of events felt like we had climbed to the top of the cliff and then the rope snapped and we fell to the ground with a hard thud. We spent the next torturous week in the NICU with Lily, seeing her improve gradually and trying to scrape ourselves up off the deck. Thankfully, she is all better now and yesterday we were discharged from the hospital and finally were able to bring our little Ashe-villain home! A big thanks to all those awesome nurses in the NICU at Mission Hospital in Asheville that took care of Lily and us!!!

So this post isn't about bouldering really, but about getting off route in life...everybody does it from time to time, but it sure feels so good to get back on route and keep climbing! Thanks for the support of all my friends and family that kept our spirits high throughout this whole ordeal!

I cant leave you with NO bouldering stuff in this post though. A couple of days before the baby was born, I was at Little Eastatoee working Rhodorete V3/ awesome lesser known problem in the Jocassee Gorges. In the woods near Rhodorete was a beautiful Pink Lady Slipper, a unique orchid for the area, that had just emerged and was begging to be stared at...take a look at this amazing flower. In my next post, I'm going to put the local spotlight on the Rhodorete Boulder and provide a photo topo like I did for the Best Feeling boulder in my previous post.