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, June 12, 2011

The Obed: A Climber's Guide to the Wild and Scenic Guidebook Review

Andy Wellman over at Greener Grass Publishing has been so awesome to hook me up with a pre-release copy of the new The Obed: A Climber’s Guide to the Wild and Scenic guidebook by Kelly Brown, and I was not disappointed! If you’ve not seen the other 2 guidebooks released by Greener Grass, Horse Pens 40 Bouldering or Stone Fort Bouldering, what pebble have you been hiding under? These guidebooks have set the precedence for future bouldering guides, and now, Andy is bringing this same vibrant, eye catching style to trad and sport climbing guides. The Obed Guidebook is designed around the plethora of incredible sandstone sport and trad routes found in this beautiful area of Tennessee, but also delivers the first easy to understand guide to the Lilly Boulders, one of my all time favorite boulderfields.

Outline of the Book:
Starting out with the forward from Rob Turan, long-time Obed Ranger and route developer, the tone is set for the guidebooks verbal presentation…respect and reverence for such an amazing climbing and outdoor recreation area. The Introduction that follows walks you through climbing the best routes at the best areas for each different time of the year…I really enjoyed this method of introducing each area. The history lesson that followed was rich with details of development and those that pushed the standards and grades. I assume this history was written by Kelly, but another developer’s, Chris Jones, view of the history is included later in the book to provide more info and insight. Plenty of info for the travelling Obed climber is presented next, including airplane and driving beta, a satellite image overview of the climbing areas, yearly weather info, and amenities in the area, with a spotlight on the Lilly Pad climbers camp and the Obed Hostel. After a take on The Obed from the perspective of one of the Lilly Pad’s dogs and some important climbing ethics all Obed climbers are asked to follow, the Best of the Best routes for each area are laid out in a ticklist format to give you all the motivation you need to plan your next road trip. Scattered throughout the rest of the book are perspectives of Obed experiences by Brad Carter, Frank Harvey, James Gose, Glenn Ritter, and James Litz that helps to bring different views of the Obed from different times during development.

The Obed:
If you’ve never been to or heard of The Obed, you may not be alone. This awesome little climbing secret, hidden on the Cumberland Plateau in northeast Tennessee, has seen development since Southeast legends Bob Cormany and Craig Stannard first laid into the Lilly Boulders and Lilly Bluff back in the early 70’s. Since these early adventures, more and more southern climbers have held Obed in high regards for its impeccable sandstone, steep walls and incredible roofs. I have never seen the sheer quantity of amazingly featured roofs at any other climbing area I’ve traveled to in many different states and countries! If you want powerfully pumpy, overhanging endurance routes, look no further. The 478 trad and sport routes are laid out into the different climbing areas, North Clear Creek, South Clear Creek, Lilly Bluff, Little Clear Creek, Y-12, and The Obed itself. With incredibly sharp and vivid photos and photo topo’s and approach info, it’s finally easy to find your way to each area…especially compared to the previous guidebook beta of The Dixie Craggers Atlas. This guide includes a few new routes in each area, compared to the most recent Dixie Craggers, and with more than line drawn topo’s and fuzzy black and white photos from far off distances, getting to the crag and to the route you want is now easier than ever. At the beginning of each area, photos of the cliff, parking and approach guarantee that you are at the right place and on the right route. Hiking time to the cliff, best season to visit, sun/shade info and if this is a rainy day crag info is also included to help plan your visit.

The Lilly Boulders are a miniature version of the nearby cliffs and are a little bouldering oasis in practically any season you visit. As a boulderer mainly, I have visited the Lilly boulders many more times than the different roped areas around the Obed. In the past, a slightly off (OK, way off) Dr Topo guide was all most folks had access to in order to guide themselves around these boulders…and if you dug deep enough on the internet, you might find a copy of the much better, old hand written competition guide Kelly put out years ago. This kept the traffic down in the boulderfield for a while and kept people at the more popular bouldering destinations in the Southeast…I have a feeling that the volume of boulderers is about to increase now with this updated and easy to use guide. 164 problems from V0-V13 are listed, and just like the HP40 Bouldering guidebook, there are plenty of easier warm up routes that still aren’t listed (I honestly think there’s probably 50 more V0’s or V1’s scattered around the area that have never made it to a topo, so beginner boulderers, don’t think it’s for hardmen only). A correctly oriented and displayed overhead topo finally guides you right to your boulder and the photo topo of most routes reassures that you’re not climbing the wrong route. A few boulders and problems have had name changes, and as with bouldering grades from guide to guide, some grades were adjusted also. No matter what though, the classics remain the same…KB Arête V2, Buddha’s Belly V4, Hemlock Arête V4, and Hooker V4 are some of my all time favorite routes I’ve ever sent in any boulderfield.

The only problem I could find with the guide is minor at best…a handful of the routes were left off of the ticklist in the back. But as long as they weren’t left out of the guidebook, I think most folks will be fine with just checking the box beside where the route is listed and not doing it on the ticklist in the back. It doesn’t matter if you are a local or travelling from far away, an old school tradster, new school sport climber or boulderer of any grade, this guidebook is an awesome purchase and guaranteed to get you to the best routes in the Obed, or what many folks think may be the best routes in the world!

Besides a minor ticklist mistake, The Obed: A Climber’s Guide to the Wild and Scenic is a homerun of a guidebook. With more pages of info than the HP40 or LRC Guidebook, and the first trad, sport and boulder guidebook offering by Greener Grass, this guidebook is destined to find its way to every Southeastern climber’s bookshelf! Don’t forget that now is the time to order your copy of this incredible tome…the pre-sale special gives you $5 off the purchase price, enters you in a drawing for the $200 road trippin’ gift and as Andy has become known for, 5% of the proceeds will be donated to a great cause, the East Tennessee Climber’s Coalition! Thanks again Andy and Greener Grass for putting together another great guidebook, for giving back to the community that these guidebooks service and for hooking this Upstate Boulderer with a copy for review...keep up the good work and I'm always looking forward to the next Greener Grass release!

Click here to pre-order your copy!

Check out a sample of the guidebook here

Stay tuned to Upstate Bouldering for the next review coming this week…the new Evolv Shaman climbing shoes!

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