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 boulder...one of the best lowball boulders I've ever seen! At 5 feet tall, it seems like another typical Little Eastatoee boulder...it 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 boulder...so 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.