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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Friday, December 14, 2012

Jocassee Gorges Trail Day Write Up!

Work has taken all of my efforts lately...and when I get a chance to escape, I have been focusing a lot my attention on developing some new bouldering areas in the Jocassee Gorges instead of typing .  I'm psyched to report that the local crew has discovered a couple of new areas and about 25-30 problems have been established at each...and there are more new areas that are just now getting attention!  Since the beginning of the Fall bouldering season, there have been around 100 new routes established in new areas, as well as in some of the more traditional boulder fields...thanks to everyone involved with development (George Evans and Chris Neal especially) and their vision for these new routes, its been a ton of fun bouldering with both of you this season!!!

Now as for the Jocassee Gorges Bouldering Trail Day , here is a quick write up from Stephen Scoff...


The Little Trail Day That Could



Despite some unexpected and steep competition, the Jocassee Gorges’ trail day was well attended and hugely successful! With around 120 hours of man power volunteered, over three miles of trails improved, steps installed, and over $200 raised for the Carolina Climbers’ Coalition!

A BIG hand for all the volunteers! Thank you so much giving up your weekend day to give back. Salud!

...

I also would greatly like to thank:

1. South Carolina Department of Natural Resources

2. One With the Ride

3. Get Your Gear On

4. Vision Climbing

5. Bee Hive Climbing

6. Christopher Neal

7. Matt Riley of Riles Images

8. Dark Corner Distillery

9. Joseph Scarlett DJ Extraordinaire

10. Moms, Wives, and Girl Friends (Yummy Dinner!)

And of Course: Brad, Katy, and Lilly Caldwell


Here are some of Matt’s pictures and a short video clip.


http://www.flickr.com/photos/rileyup/sets/72157632166503496/show/




Here is another video clip from Joseph Scarlett



We’ll do it again next year: and we’ll be taking it to the next level!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Jocassee Gorges Bouldering Trail Day-December 1st!!!


The upcoming Jocassee Gorges Bouldering Trail Day is going to be here before you know it!!!  We have been putting together a big shindig to get everyone excited and offer a little something to everyone for coming out and helping clean up some of the trails used to approach some of the best bouldering in South Carolina.  Below is the tentative schedule with as much details as we have so far...

8am: Meet at Holly Springs Grocery, the gas station at the junction of Highway 11 and Highway 178 about 5 minutes west of Table Rock State Park.  We will split into a few groups and then drive to the nearby trails and hopefully begin work on the trails no later than 8:30.  If you happen to get there later than 8am, please e-mail me (upstatebouldering@hotmail.com) and I will give you directions on where to meet us after we have started the trail work.  Please don't forget to wear appropriate clothes and shoes and bring equipment for the trail day (gloves, pruners, shovels, saws...we do need at least one chainsaw, picks, etc) along with your own lunch and water you will need while out on the trail for the day.

12noon-1pm:Finish trail work and end up in the boulderfields.  Start bouldering immediately after the trail work is finished.  We will collect pads and gear at 8am when we meet at the gas station and have them shuttled to a pick up spot near the boulders at this time, so you don't have to do trail work with your pad and shoes on your back.

1pm-Dark: Boulder until your forearms and fingertips scream..."NO MORE!!!":)  There will be a few locals that are very familiar with the boulderfields there to point out problems in all grade ranges and make sure that you get on the most classic routes in your grade range!

Dark (about 6-6:30pm):  Hike out and drive down the road to One With The Ride for the evening festivities!!!  One With The Ride (onewiththeride.com) has graciously donated their land for us to camp on...we will have some sort veggie and non-veggie choices for dinner, followed by a slideshow/video of local bouldering and a sweet full length bouldering flick after that!!!  While all of this is going on, we will have a slackline set up, One With The Ride has a bouldering wall you can climb on, as well as, an awesome mini-ramp (bring your own skateboard or bike) and a BMX jump track!!! There will be a silent auction to benefit the Carolina Climbers Coalition with some great prizes to bid on...including the LAST COPIES OF THE UPSTATE BOULDERING GUIDE (theres only 7 left and the next print run will be a few years out...if you want one before the trail day, don't forget to order one by using the link out to the upper left), and a color and black and white copy of my personal journal/guidebook (about 600 routes) of the Bearfields and Jedi Boulders, which we will be focusing on during this trail day.  There have only been 2 other copies of this guidebook available to the general public, EVER, and they will NEVER be available again for purchase...so come out and bid big to own this ULTRA-LIMITED GUIDEBOOK!!!  So please make sure to bring PLENTY of cash to get some goodies and help out the CCC too!!!

SO let me sum this up for everyone...show up at 8am and plan on camping Saturday.  Trail work for half of the day and bouldering in some incredible boulders for the other half of the day.  After bouldering, enjoy the post boulder session food, camping, videos, bouldering movie, slacklining, bouldering wall, skateboarding, biking, silent auction and just all around good fun hanging out with other boulderers.  I'm sure there will be some folks heading back out into the boulders on Sunday too...so plan on camping and getting another big boulder session in before you head back home! 

If anyone had any questions or concerns, please drop me an e-mail at UpstateBouldering@hotmail.com



Thursday, October 18, 2012

Upcoming Events Near Upstate Bouldering! October 20th, November 2nd-4th and the BIG ONE on December 1st!

There are a few super fun upcoming events near the bouldering in the Upstate of SC...check it all out and enjoy the most that the area has to offer!!!

One With The Ride is having a pre-Halloween Jam, on Saturday October 20th starting at 2pm, that includes skateboarding on the mini-ramp/half pipe, biking on the new dirt jump course, bouldering on their new bouldering wall (and boulders only 5 minutes away), music and the possibility of camping!  This is a great way to meet the newest supporter of the upstate bouldering community, do some local bouldering and spend the evening having fun before you camp out and get up to boulder again the next morning!!! Here is a link to their webpage and a link to the Facebook post with information about the event. I'll be around the boulders on Saturday morning if anyone is in town and wants to tag along on a session before the festivities begin...drop me a post or message here or on the Upstate Bouldering Facebook page:)



The Pisgah Climbing Festival is November 2nd-4th and is sure to be an incredibly good weekend in the mountains!!!  To register, click here and go ahead and reserve your spot at this awesome event!!!  For more info on the Facebook page for the event, click here.  Here is a little more about the event and what to expect...

1st Ever Pisgah Climbing Festival. Come join us for a weekend of climbing and fun. Mandatory $10 Donation will get you:


Climbing
Fundraising
Silent Auctions
Slideshows
Guidebook Signings
Camping
Food
Drinking
Etc.

Directions:
From Asheville, take State Highway 280 south to Brevard. At the junction of U.S. Highway 276/64/280, follow Highway 64 west through Brevard to Cathy's Creek Road/Forest Road 471. Take a right and go 1.25 miles to campground entrance.

Sponsors:
Looking Glass Outfitters
Upstate Bouldering
Brevard Rock Gym
Cobourn, Sabley and Associates
ReGear Outdoors
Vision Climbing Holds
Misty Mountain Threadworks
Brad and Mike Reardon with the New Cedar Rock Climbing Guidebook
Barndoor Climbing Holds
American Alpine Club
Ron Gulden


Last but definitely not least is the 2nd annual Jocassee Gorges Bouldering Trail Day coming on December 1st!!!  Folks, this is going to be a BIG event...we're rolling out some new boulderfields containing some of the best boulder problems in SC!!!  Make sure you make plans to be at this event because this will be the only time to see a guidebook to these "new" areas and I'll be there to give everyone and anyone a tour of the area classics:)  Stephen Scoff is getting all of the details wrapped up, but you can be assured that there will be free camping available for those that want to stay, food, libations and a great time with like minded boulderers...click here to see the link to the event on Facebook. You can guarantee that there will be a lot more information coming out as soon as its available about this event, so stay tuned to Upstate Bouldering for all of the details!!!

If you cant make it out to one of these events, make sure that you find an event near you to enjoy and hang out with fellow climbers and boulderers!!!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Rumbling Bald: Easy Circuits


The temps are starting to fall and the friction is getting stickier...especially at Rumbling Bald in North Carolina!!!  Rumbling Bald has been one of my favorite boulderfields for over 10 years...I dont get to visit a few times a week nowadays like a did back when I first started bouldering there, but everytime I get to grope that perfect granite, a HUGE smile always ends up on my face!  The Bald is notorious for tough grades and tough problems, and sends many boulderers home humbled...especially if they're used to the soft grades at the southeast's sandstone boulderfields like LRC, HP40, Rocktown and Lilly.  Before the guidebook came out in 2007, the boulderfields were much more silent and peaceful, with only the dedicated boulderers heading out to climb, but nowadays the boulderfields are chocked full of more and more boulderers. 

I consistently hear from beginner boulderers that the Bald is too hard and that they don't have fun there because they can't send the same grades they do in the gym or at other boulderfields.  I've always had the opposite opinion...the lower grades at the Bald have some phenomenal climbs, some just as classic as the harder classics!  Over the years, I've been able to send all of the V0's, V1's, V2's and most of the V3's at the Bald and have found so many awesome climbs that some folks know about and some that other have never heard of.

In this post, I wanted to list my favorite easy problems from the Bald in hopes that beginners can use this to guide them to some of the better problems in the boulderfield.  I stuck mainly to V0-V2 problems, but I have listed a few of my favorite V3's too (I mean come on Shady Grove and Slave Driver would be mega classics no matter what boulderfield they were in!!!).  Its easy to use this list with the guidebook to find your way around the best easy problems, and its a lot of fun to link 20-40 of these together in a circuit and try to send them all in the same day...one of my favorite ways to enjoy the Bald when I'm not working on a project! 

I used the Rumbling Bald Bouldering Guidebook as the main reference for this list, and routes are simply listed with the number and letter used in the guidebook, instead of using the names for the problems.  I think there is a pretty fun list of problems for both the West and East Boulders and enough easy problems for complete newbies to enjoy their first boulder session at the Bald or first ever outdoor boulder session.  There is a great support website for the guidebook that Chris Dorrity has made and maintains, that list new problems, grade changes, beta for problems you're having trouble on and much more...if you have checked it out, click on over and get oriented to the info that will show up in the next edition of the guidebook. Enjoy crushing!!!

Easy Problems At Rumbling Bald:

West Boulders:


Obscure Area:

-Teardrop Boulder: 6a V0, 6b V1, 6c V2, 6d V2, 6d1 V1, 6d2 V2

-Egg Boulder: 4d V0, 4e V1, 4f V1

-Skinny and the Beast:* 3f V1 and slab to the left of it is a V0



Trailside Area:

-7f V0, 7g V0, 7i V1 and other V1’s to the left of this are great, but highballs for most

-8a V0, 8b V0, 8c V1

-10a V0, 10b V1, 10f V2, 10g V3, 10l V0, 10m V0 (there are now several more V0-V1’s on the same boulder as 10m

-11d V1, *11f V1, *11g V1

-14a V2, 14b V2, *14d V2, 14j V0, 14k V0

-15c V2, *15e V2

-16a V0, *16b V2, 16d V1



Hull Area:

-20a V2, *20b V3

-23a V2, 23b V2, *23c V3, *23e V2, *23f V1, *23g V3, 23h V1



Cluster Area:

-28a V2, *28c V3, 29h V2

-*30a V3

-*31a V2

-36b V1, 36d V1

-38a V0, *38b V1

-*39a V3, *39b V1, *39c V1, *39d V1, 39e V2



Washing Machine Area:

-40a V0, *40b V0,* 40b1 V1, *40b2 V0, 40g V0



Terraces Area:

-49a V0, 49b V0

-*50b V3

-56a V0, 56b V2, 56c V0

-*59a V2





Central Boulders:

-6a V1, 6g V0, 6h V2, 6k V2

-7b V2, *7c V2





East Boulders:


Breakfast Area:

-*1a V2, 1b V1, 1e V1, 1f V0, 1g V0, 1h V0

-2a V2, 2c V1, 2d V1, 2e V0, 2f V2, 2g V1, 2h V1, 2i V2

-4d V0, 2e V2

-5d V0, 5e V0

-9a V1, 9b V2,

-14a V0



Politician Area:

-17a V0, *17c V2, 17c V0

-*20a V2, 20b V2, 20c V2, 20d V2



Slave Driver Area:

-25a V2, ***25b V3/4, 25e V1

-26a V2, 26c V1

-*29f V1, *29g V1

-34b V2, 34c V1, 34d V0, 34e V2, 34f V1, 34g V1, 34k V1



Southeast Area:

-41a V2, *41b V3

-46a V1, 46b V0

-48a V1, 48b V2



Cereal Buttress Area:

-52a V0, 52b V2, 52c V3

-58c V2, 58d V2, 58e V1



Middle East Area:

-*75a V0, 75b V3, 75c V0, 75d V1, 75e V0



Far East Area:

-76a V0, ***76b V4

-81a V2, 81b V2, 81b1 V1, *81c V2, 81d V2, 81e V1

-82a V0

-*83c V0, 83c1 V2

-85c V2

-86a V0, 86b V0, 86b1 V1, 86c V0, 86d V1

-88e V2 There are a couple of new problems listed on the Rumbling Bald website on this boulder worth climbing

-90a V1, *90b V2, *90c V2, 90g V0 (listed as V2 but downgraded)



Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Legend Of The Jocassee Gorges Sasquatch


 The Legend of the Jocassee Gorges Sasquatch 

Back in March when I released the Upstate Bouldering Guide, I eluded to the story or legend of the Jocassee Gorges Sasquatch...a series of odd and unexplainable events that one of my buddies had experienced when he was younger. 



I completely forgot to post that story here on Upstate Bouldering until now!  Visiting the Pacific Northwest every year for the holidays has gotten me a little closer to the origins of the bigfoot/sasquatch legends and culture, with random images and references scattered among Portland and the surrounding area of Oregon.  This particular story was brought back from the depths of my memories while I was developing one of the more remote bouldering areas in the Gorges, soon after visiting the NW. 




After catching a couple of glimpses of what appeared to be a large furry creature (very well could have just been my mind wandering too), watching me from a distance in the woods, during the initial development of these boulders, I decided to use it as inspiration for the whole area and named the area Sasquatch. Here is a link to the bouldering area and below is the Legend Of The Jocassee Gorges Sasquatch...enjoy:)



Over 20 years ago, when I first started roaming these hills, I had a friend, Michael, that would always talk about weird experiences he had in these woods since he was a young boy. One particular experience left a clear image in his head of a figure he and his father followed through a remote and isolated area of the Gorges while on a fishing trip once, when he was a younger teenager. He explained that he and his father set out early one morning at the base of Twin Falls, determined to walk the creek upstream to the Narrows, a locally famous fishing hole usually accessed from Laurel Valley on highway 178, about a 20 minute drive away…but what they weren’t aware of at the time is that Twin Falls is on Reedy Cove Creek and the Narrows are on Eastatoee Creek. It was a common misnomer for folks to call Twin Falls, Eastatoee Falls before the falls become more popular and more information became available. So, Michael and his dad were destined to never find the Narrows in the first place. After bushwhacking upstream a few miles from Twin Falls, to the point where Reedy Cove Creek is dammed to create the lake at McCall’s RA Camp, they realized their mistake and turned around to head back to Twin Falls.


On the way back though, they decided to take a detour on an old road bed to try to find a gap or passage over into Eastatoee Creek. After walking for a while, they noticed a few odd footprints in the dried mud beside the now faint and overgrown trail. Confident they had found evidence of other fishermen and the gap over to Eastatoee they were looking for, they decided to get off of the trail and bushwhack to the Narrows…needless to say, after getting off of the trail and not being able to find their way to Eastatoee or back to Reedy Cove, they were completely and totally lost, high on a mountainside, and in a ravine or hollow that didn’t give them any clue as to which way to go. They couldn’t hear the sound of either creek and without a compass or map of the area, they had no clue which way they should travel…panic started to set in over the chance that they could be lost in these hills for days or even weeks without anybody being able to find them. While gathering their wits and trying to remember anything that would give them a clue as to which way would lead them back to their car, they saw a mysterious figure on the ridge above the ravine they were in…it looked to be a very tall gentleman wearing brown coveralls, a typical hunting outfit for the time of year.



They started to yell for help and guidance as to which way they should go, but the figure just watched them without replying…so they decided to climb their way out of the ravine and onto the ridge to talk to him close up. As they approached the ridge on their way out of the ravine, the figure quickly disappeared off into the distance…so Michael and his dad followed the figure the best they could, all the while trying to get its attention for help. After what seemed like miles of bushwhacking and following quick glimpses of the figure, they found themselves approaching the edge of a deep gorge that dropped over 1000-1500 feet almost instantly…and perched on its edge was the figure, huddled and staring at them. After getting closer to the figure and getting a better look at it, they realized that it wasn’t wearing coveralls at all, but seemed to be covered in brownish grey fur…and it was then that they both thought they were staring at a sasquatch or bigfoot.



Michael was a pretty skeptical guy and didn’t believe in anything that couldn’t be proven with science or evidence…but right before his eyes, he believed was concrete evidence of a Sasquatch! After the moment of shock wore off, they began to closer approach the figure, still on the edge of the gorge. After they got so close to the figure, it decided enough was enough and the “sasquatch” went over the edge and down the steep slope hopping, jumping and grabbing a hold of trees to slow itself down enough to remain in control. Michael and his dad were in complete shock at their experience and what they had been following…and in fact they were even deeper into the more remote areas of the Gorges! Now with the shock of what they had just experienced and saw, along with the fact that they were even more lost than before, the two of them decided to rest for a moment and gather themselves at the edge of the deep gorge…when things started to get quiet, they heard the faint sounds of what they thought was a waterfall below them, deep in the bottom of the gorge the “sasquatch” had just retreated to.



With rejuvenated spirits that they may have just be hiking in circles and wrapped around the mountains and back towards the top of Twin Falls, they began to tackle the steep slope and make their way down into the gorge. Once at the creek in the bottom of the gorge, they started to recognize familiar markers they had seen before…and realized that they had made their way not to the top of Twin Falls, but instead to Eastatoee and an area just below the Narrows! Crossing Eastatoee to heads towards the established fishing trail, they saw their last sign of the figure…another large odd looking footprint on the pebbly beach beside Eastatoee, but this one was fresh. Knowing where they were finally, and with the sun slowly setting, they decided to just hike out to highway 178 and try to hitch a ride back to their car. Luckily, they were able to find someone kind enough to drop them off back all the way back at their car. Overwhelmed by their day and what they had experienced, the memories seemed to be seared permanently into Michael’s mind! I met him only a few years after this experience and he would talk about and recount it often while we were hiking. He didn’t want to believe what he saw was a sasquatch, but he had no other explanation for the figure and would find similar clues at/near the Narrows and other locations in the Gorges…and I was along for a few of them. I am more skeptical than most when it comes to these sorts of tales…I’m a scientist/biologist and I rely on facts and repeatable phenomenon to explain our world, not faith or superstition.



As we began spending more time together hiking and exploring distant areas of the Jocassee Gorges, we occasionally found more unexplained phenomenon…like glowing eyes and odd grunts and howls that would encircle our campsite late at night, at the junction of Big and Little Eastatoee Creeks, on more than one trip. The one time we got up the nerve to chase whatever it was that was watching us, it turned away and rain straight into the creeks making enough splashing noise to wake up people that had already went to sleep. Or the unexplained “village” of woven tree limb/twig tables, chairs and a small hut we found many miles deep in the Gorges, far away from any road and hidden off of a trail. The oddest thing at this specific site was a handmade crutch that was well worn and almost 6 feet tall…much too tall for the average person to use effectively if they were injured.



Or the odd carvings on trees and orange dyed drawings of large human like creatures in a cave we used to hang out in near the Narrows. We would always joke about all of these incidences (you could tell it was just our way of dealing with the uncomfortableness of what we couldn’t explain) and the whole time I just didn’t want to think there was any validity to his claims or the incidences I was involved with…but looking back now, on those days long ago…and all of these things I had experienced and couldn’t explain with all the science I could find…could he have been right!?!? As teenage boys are notorious for being gross and telling gross jokes, we would famously claim “Gasquatch” when one of us would pass gas while hiking, but we also started saying it when we couldn’t explain something weird while in the woods…almost to make light of the situation and to break the tension.

Because this was such a part of my initiation into these Gorges, I thought it only fitting to instill the legend of the Jocassee Gorges Sasquatch (and Gasquatch) into these boulders I found so elusive and enigmatic today! I hope you can allow your imagination to take you away in this location…maybe even see a furry figure watching you from a distance…but mainly to allow you to send routes that you didn’t realize your abilities could achieve!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Recent Sessions: Lilly Boulders and Rumbling Bald


I was able to get out to a couple of my favorite boulderfields over the past weekend...the Lilly Boulders in the Obed in Tennessee and the West Side Boulders at Rumbling Bald!  After spending so much time in Knoxville with my wife while she was finishing up grad school, I had the pleasure of spending a lot of time at the Lilly Boulders, as well as Little Rock City.  It's always nice to get back to the Lilly Boulders, smell the familiar smells of the forest, see the brilliant mosses and ferns covering the boulders and feel the freedom the boulderfield always seems to deliver.  To be on the small side, Lilly always seems to have a few routes I haven't sent yet in my grade range, and the new guidebook has helped unify older comp guides and give much better directions to routes that used to be cryptically hidden amongst the lush green forest. The Dungeon was finally dry compared to most of my more recent trips to Lilly, and I finally got to send Shackles V2...this thing climbs so well and tops out high enough off the ground to make your sphincter pucker, in other words, a perfect boulder problem!  From there I sent Crusty Bugger V1, Skidmarks V1 and Stankfoot V1 before sending Swamp Thing V3, all on the Lilly Pad Boulder.  None of these routes were that spectacular, but still fun to resend.  I followed that up with a send of Ivory's V3 on the Piano Boulder, a fun overhanging ride up some edges to a straightforward mantle...pretty fun route!  I finished up working Ninja With Scissors V4, but couldn't figure out the slopey top out mantle before the sun faded and the fireflies where swimming around me.  I packed up and hiked out with the light from the full blue moon...a perfect ending to another awesome session at Lilly!!!

On my way back from Lilly, I stopped off  at Rumbling Bald, another VERY familiar and favorite boulderfield.  I had gotten a chance to hit the Bald the weekend before Labor Day, when the temps were mild and humidity was down and sent everything on the Teardrop Boulder, Mid Air Prayer V4, the Unknown V3 beside Mid Air Prayer, and Mantle V2 on the Short Crack Boulder.  I then headed over to the One Time Use Boulder and sent all the easy routes on it before sending One Time Use V4 for the first time!  Bald V4's are not easy for me to send, so I was stoked to add another to the list!

On the way back from Knoxville though, I stopped by with the clouds looking ominous and the humidity and temps too high to get the best friction.  I still managed to send all of the routes on the Simpsons Boulder, then hit the Fun Filled Boulder (am I the only one that still calls this thing by its original name, The Arcade?) to send the plethora of easy V0-V1's before sending Unknown V3 (40d in the guidebook) for the first time, and following that up with a send of Right Silliness V3.  The Unknown V3 and Right Silliness were new sends for me, so I was pretty excited to tick off 2 new V3's I hadn't sent yet!  As I was topping out Right Silliness, the heavens opened up and started pouring on me...I packed up frantically, ran out of the boulderfield and got to the car right as it REALLY started to pour buckets!  Good thing I like to pack much of my gear in dry bags:)

These 3 sessions definitely gave me the feeling that I was getting ready for the better conditions in the fall and making progress towards being prepared to crush some projects when the time is right!!!  I hope everyone has had a chance to get out and climb something somewhere and get that same excitement and anticipation for the coming bouldering season...if not...what are you waiting for??? 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Rocktown Bouldering Guide: A Review


WOW!!!

That’s was my first impression of the new Rocktown Bouldering Guidebook as soon as I pulled the book out of the shipping envelope…and the WOW factor didn’t stop as I read through the book for this review! With eye popping, brilliantly colored, high resolution action photos jumping off of nearly every page, this guide doesn’t disappoint those that love some good eye candy!



Atop Lookout Mountain in Northeast Georgia exists a labyrinth of sandstone boulders with practically every shape, size and variety of hold and route possible…Rocktown!  Rocktown is one of the Big 3 boulderfields in the Southeast, Little Rock City (or Stone Fort to those that haven’t been bouldering for a while) and Horse Pens 40 being the other 2. Rocktown is typified by steep and slopey sandstone, with some routes requiring the same technical and powerful climbing that LRC is known for, and others more similar to the bubbly slopers and slabs of Horse Pens 40.



There are tons of boulder problems at Rocktown, some estimate over 1000 problems if you include all of the variations and eliminates, but this guidebook has whittled that down to around 500 quality problems worth visiting, and still left many boulders out to provide a little exploration for those that don’t like to be spoon-fed beta all the time.  Unlike the convenience of LRC and HP40 though, Rocktown isn’t a “pull up” bouldering crag where you can practically throw the pads out of the car and onto the landing zone. The hike in to Rocktown will get you a little warmed up and you’ll definitely break a sweat by the time you make it all the way out to the famous Crock Block. The boulderfield is in the middle of a beautiful hardwood forest and feels a lot more wild than the sometimes (OK, almost always) overcrowded blocks at HP40 and LRC. Rocktown is also bigger than the other 2 boulderfields, in size and in number of boulders and routes.





Did I mention that this book is PACKED with incredible photography?;) Even during the usual introduction/general info section at the beginning of the book, there are stunning action shots thrown in to make sure you don’t get bored. Rocktown isn’t as convenient to get to as many other boulderfields in the south, requiring a gravel/dirt road drive up the mountain that can confuse and confound some folks (and their low clearance vehicles). But the guidebook gives great directions and GPS coordinates to make sure you don’t get lost along the way. Also provided in the introduction is enough information about camping/lodging, gear shops and even a small map of Lafayette, the nearest town to Rocktown, pointing out gas stations, grocery stores, the movie theater and the library.



After the short but sufficient introduction (I'm personally not a fan of seeing a long introduction, especially packed wit advertisements, that lulls you to sleep before getting to the real meat of the guidebook), the best of the best routes are listed for all the grades that have been established here, V0-V12, so everybody can find a few uber classics to pull down on during their visit. Following this is an overview map of the entire area, showing all of the mini-areas of boulders and each boulder or cluster of boulders is numbered for easier reference. From there, the book dives into each mini-area and gives another overhead topo of the mini-area showing each subset of boulders within it and then each subset has its own overhead topo showing each boulder within that subset of boulders.



After getting you around to each individual boulder, there are overhead topos of each boulder and many photo topos to make sure you’re on the right route. Some guidebooks can become confusing when they transition between the various overhead maps/topos, and get the boulderer lost before they can find their target problem. But this guidebook makes sure you’re tagging along the whole way and you don’t get lost and confused as to which mini-area, subset and boulder you are at or headed to.  Check out the various images in this review for the variety of topos used in the book.



I commend Dan for his layout and foresight to make sure he doesn’t lose a pebble wrestler along the way. As you thumb from area to area and between all of the problems, one thing kept sticking out to me…there aren’t a ton of obnoxious ads that detract from the book and make it feel more like a magazine or even worse, like you just paid for DIRECTV and all you’re getting are the commercials. Over the years, the advertising in some guidebooks have gone so overboard that it feels like you have to really search though the book to find your beta and route descriptions, but Dan has strategically placed the ads as to flow with the design of the book and the absolute TON of spectacular action shots. You’ll still be informed about some great sponsors of the book, but its more like product placement during a TV show, rather than just sitting through a commercial.



Overall, the guidebook is a big winner and I haven’t found any mistakes or typos to make it seem less professional. Dan Brayack did an amazing job with the layout, design and photos and Sean Kearney and Zak Roper’s writing keeps the mood light and playful while still delivering the beta you need to know for your road trip to Rocktown.  The photography is amazing as it engulfs and transports the reader to the boulders and gets their psyche up to send!!!  Even if you don't plan on going to Rocktown any time soon, the guidebook is a great book to have around for the eye candy alone!  I really enjoyed the fact that this guidebook is truly packed full of useful, valuable information and there are very few pages wasted on advertising or ramblings that most readers care little about.  I commend everyone involved with this guidebook and give it my highest recommendations!!!

To order this amazing bouldering tome, click over here and it'll be in your mailbox before you know it!!!



Dan Brayack is a well known climbing and bouldering photographer, whose photos have been in all of the major climbing magazines, as well as authoring the Coopers Rock Bouldering Guidebook. His photos are known to be descriptive, telling a story between the protagonist climber and the antagonist route or boulder problem. You’ve probably skipped past other boring shots and paused to stare at one of his photos, while flipping through your favorite climbing rag and you just didn’t know it. Now he has taken his talents to the next level by starting Brayackmedia Publishing and the Rocktown Guidebook is his first and rather beautiful publication!  Dan was very kind to provide me with all of these great images for the review, along with a copy of the guide, without thinking twice!  Thanks again Dan for giving back by donating 10% of the profits of the book to support local climbing!!!   


Dan



The duo of authors, Sean Kearney and Zak Roper, both bring a unique perspective to the guidebook. Sean is a hometown, Chattanooga boy who’s been bouldering at Rocktown since 1995. He is very familiar with the boulderfield and problems and his expertise helped to ensure accuracy and consistency of the route locations, names and grades.


 
Sean


Zak Roper, originally from Knoxville, spent the better part of a season at Rocktown, preparing the guidebook and descriptions, and has since moved on to live in West Virginia. Both of these guys, like many of us, enjoy exploring for lesser known/new areas and Sean is living the essence of the enlightened boulderer by discovering, sending and then leaving the unnamed and ungraded problems for the next enlightened one to come along and learn the lessons these mysterious routes teaches them. This trio of boulderers have created a beautiful tome that appeals to those familiar with the boulders of Rocktown, those planning a road trip or just those that love looking at incredibly stunning images of others crushing problems most of us could only dream of.


Zak
I was intending to have this review up almost a month ago, but life got in the way of me getting it out until now...my apologies to those that have been waiting patiently for this review! In the meantime, I was able to swing by Rocktown for a quick visit during the heat of the summer...check out the trip report here.



Thursday, August 23, 2012

Summertime Chattanooga Roadtrip: Rocktown and Little Rock City

Back at the end of July, when the mercury was popping out of the thermometers, an incredible new guidebook arrived in my mailbox...the Rocktown Bouldering Guidebook!  Over the years, I’ve bouldered at practically every southeast boulderfield worth visiting, including a lot of trips to LRC and enough visits to HP40 to know my way around…but I’ve never made it out to Rocktown. So the new guidebook gave me new motivation to get out that direction and give an honest review of the book from the perspective of a newbie to the area. Unfortunately the guidebook came out during the summer and 100 degree heat, but fortunately I have a wonderful wife that was game for a roadtrip!  Here is a recount of the roadtrip and coming very soon is the full review of the new guidebook, so check back often!!!


 
When we got to the parking lot, we were greeted by a couple of dads and their sons (all non-boulderers) that had just got back from a long hike through the boulderfield and upon returning to their car, realized that they had lost the car keys and were locked out…with no more water, no cell phone reception and no way of getting back home to Atlanta. So, we decided to help these guys out, and my wife shuttled one of them down the mountain, so they could make a call for help, while I packed Lily, my crashpad and gear into the boulders. Not the best situation for bouldering, but I’ve always had a dream of taking Lily on a bouldering trip with just the 2 of us, and this was as good of a time as any!



So we hiked in to the legendary Hueco Simulator area, I unloaded Lily and the gear and got her playing with some toys before I shoed up and set the pads for the first sends. I climbed all of the fun V0’s along the perfectly featured wall and turned around to my daughter eating a fist full of dirt…so we decided to just do a little recon of the area together instead, until my wife caught back up to us. Once I could focus again on the sandstone giants and their perplexing puzzles all around me, we headed to one of the poster routes for the area, The Scoop V2. The Scoop climbs a slabby scoop to a slabby top out with a couple of good holds…needless to say, not a warm weather problem. But this is one route that everyone has always recommended to me, so I had to give it a good effort to say I at least tried. I love slabby boulder problems and thought The Scoop would actually not be that bad, even with diminished friction due to the heat…I mean it is just a V2 slab…I can send that in my sleep…right?....NOPE! I was able to send The Scoop Left V1, an easier version of the V2 classic, The Scoop Right V3, a harder version of the V2 classic, and Imaginary Pathway V2, a slab around the corner from the V2 classic…but I just couldn’t pull off the V2 classic. I was happy to have a reason to come back as soon as the weather cools off though!


I had poured a lot into trying The Scoop, and along with the intense heat, I was getting pretty wiped out at this point, even though I had only seen 2 boulders, but I didn’t want to leave until my fingertips were screaming at me, so on the way out I hit the Lucky 7 boulder at the beginning of the boulderfield. Lucky 7 is a nice beginners or warm up boulder with plenty of V0’s and a couple of harder routes. I was able to squeeze my remaining strength out on the top section of the problem Lucky 7 V2 and sent Squat Low V3 with a lot less effort. Because of its size and complexity, Rocktown is not an easy boulderfield to navigate, but the whole time I was in the boulderfield, the guidebook kept me on track and if I found myself confused, it didn’t take very long to use the book to reorient myself and get to where I wanted to be. The maps and topos are very user friendly and with minimal effort, even the newest bouldering gumby can find their way around the maze of boulders in this amazing boulderfield. Once to the boulders, the photo topos make it super easy to find your route and before you know it, you’re topping it out! There will be a lot more about the Rocktown Guidebook in the next post, coming very soon!


From there we headed to Chatty and our lodging for the night…the Chattanooga Choo Choo. We rolled the dice on the Hotwire hotel deal where you pay a really cheap rate, but you don’t know which hotel you’ll stay in until you pay. The Choo Choo is the reconditioned train station of the famous train, the Chattanooga Choo Choo. With old trains on the premises, some you could even stay in, a great pool and hot tub and clean rooms, the whole family had a blast! And The Terminal next door has some great food and beer and makes for a fun place after sending all day.




The next morning I got up early and headed out the Little Rock City for a few hours, before the heat set in for the day. I wasn’t feeling all that psyched for some reason when I got there…I’ve been to LRC quite a bit and have sent most of the quality routes in my grade range, so there wasn’t any specific route that I was focusing on. So I decided to just hit some routes I hadn’t really focused on too much in the past towards the front of the boulderfield. I sent a few V1’s (maybe Green Label and Black Label…I can’t remember off the top of my head) before heading over to check out Genghis Khan and Manute Bol. Neither looked remotely doable for me right now, but I ended up climbing the easy terrain to the right of these routes and to the left of The Wave. After sending a few V0 slabby problems, I took a crack at Green Machine V4 and flashed the thang!!! I really enjoy slabby bouldering, and after making the first few hard feeling moves to get really established on the slab, the second half of the problem felt like a walk off. I was a little shocked to send a V4, especially a slab problem, while on this summer trip, but it totally sent my psyche through the roof! Then it dawned on me that I had really wanted to work Art of the Vogi V4, but never had…so I headed over to the impressive overhang and bubbly face and started digging in. Vogi let me know quickly that I wasn’t going to flash it and I was going to have to work hard for the send. After about an hour of figuring out the best way for me to get past the lower overhanging moves and sending the top out once, I linked it all together and pulled onto the bubbly face and stood up for the send. To be a problem that you don’t top out, I thought Art of the Vogi was one of the best routes I had ever sent!!! Seriously…I got it up there with Bumboy at HP40, the 5a going up the face of L’Elephant in Fontainebleau, Shady Grove, Slave Driver, and Morning Star at Rumbling Bald, Hooker and Flexorcisor at Lily, Lost Digits and Sourwood ArĂȘte at Boat Rock, Use The Force and New Jedi Mind Trick at the Jedi Boulders and Meat Grinder at the Bearfields. Whoa…did I just list my top 13 problems I’ve climbed over that past 20 years??? If these aren’t the top 13, then these routes are definitely some of my all time favorites...that's for sure!!!
I had plans of heading to the Lily Boulders and to Boat Rock on this same trip, but the weather didn’t cooperate enough for me to make it to Lily, and it was 100 degrees during the time frame I had to hit Boat Rock…so I ended up passing on sessions at both spots and just savoring the taste of the send of Vogi more!  I hope everyone has had a chance to get out and climb lately…if not, get off the internet and go send something fool!!! Just make sure to check back real soon for the Rocktown Guidebook Review!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Real Life and Pisgah Bouldering



I have been swamped with life lately...the wife and 15 month old daughter keep me busy and with less time to boulder and get out than ever before!  Along with the usual stresses of being a Family Guy, and soon after my last post, my mom was diagnosed with uterine cancer...so the last month plus have been focused on helping her to her doctor appointments and then eventually to her surgery, hospital visit, and recovery.  I'm very excited to say though that after what seemed like a time in hell, she is now doing incredibly better, making a full recovery, and does not need any chemo or radiation therapy!!!  You only get one mom and I was happy to help mine out through her hard times, as she's helped me out through multitudes of hard times throughout my life:)  Mom's oncologist, as well as the hospital for her surgery, Mission Hospital, were in Asheville, so I spent a lot of time in one of my favorite cities and when I got the chance, I stopped off in Pisgah on my way to or from her.  Over the past month or so, I've had a chance to hit the boulders in Pisgah around a dozen times and have thoroughly enjoyed getting back to the roots of some of the spots where I began climbing and bouldering! 

Pisgah has been a special place to me for over 3 decades, and to my family for well over 100 years. Well before I began hiking, mountain biking and rock climbing in Pisgah, my great grandfather emigrated from Italy, to work for George Vanderbilt as one of the first foresters in the forests near Looking Glass. My grandmother was born at the Biltmore House, and when she was 6, they moved to one of the little wooden houses in the Pink Beds, that is now on display at the Cradle Of Forestry. My grandmother lived within sight of Looking Glass, in the truly pristine old growth forests, for much of her life, before moving to a house in downtown Brevard, where she lived the rest of her life. When I was younger, we would visit her and Pisgah often and we enjoyed family reunions in the forest a couple of times a year.


The smells of Pisgah are unique and take me back every time the earthy musk rushes into my nostrils!  I really started to understand how much I appreciated Pisgah when I was in high school...I started hiking, swimming and camping in the forest pretty regularly and soon after started riding my mountain bike across some of the worst goat paths in the forest.  I became strongly connected to the forest in these years, with it feeling like a welcoming family member every time I walked across its doorstep!  Towards the middle of my undergrad college career, I started climbing and bouldering around Looking Glass, and I still consider this area to be one of my home crags.  For me, real bouldering in the forest began around 1996 or so, when I first visited The Nose and North Side of Looking Glass with my first pair of climbing shoes. I bouldered around the base of the cliffs and on nearby boulders, and I especially enjoyed the boulders beneath Glass Menagerie. After a few years of focusing mainly on roped climbing and not really bouldering much, Pisgah and the North Side became one of my favorite summer bouldering areas, and has remained so for the last 10 years or so.

Beside the North Side, there are plenty of other boulders planted along the base of Looking Glass, John Rock and the Blue Ridge Mountains in the backdrop too...including boulders at the Nose/Sunwall, South Face, East Face, Nowhere/Horse Cove and Stony Bald.  Over these 12 or so visits I've been able to put in lately, I stopped off at least once in each of these areas and spent multiple visits at a few of these spots, including 4 sessions at Stony Bald, 4 sessions at the North Side, and a couple of sessions at the Nose/Sunwall.  Each of these areas have some incredible problems and it has been a ton of fun touring through familiar boulderfields and sending some of my favorite routes!!!  It helped me to reconnect with the land, the sounds and smells that recall such incredible memories from throughout my life, and the awesome bouldering that is hidden amongst the hardwoods and evergreens.  Thanks Pisgah for always being there for me with open arms:)

Be on the look out early next week for the review of the new Rocktown Guidebook!  I've had this review almost finished for the last month, but have been too busy with my mom to get everything wrapped up...but this weekend should give me a chance to finalize the review and get it up next Monday or Tuesday!!!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

WNC Local Spot - Stony Bald

Stony Bald


Perched around 4200’ up, off of the Mountains to Sea trail and Blue Ridge Parkway, Stony Bald is a nice addition to Pisgah Bouldering. With slightly cooler temps and some fun routes, Stony makes a nice stop while driving along the Parkway or a good addition to mountain biking or trail running at Bent Creek or the North Mills River area. There are a variety of boulders in the area, but slightly overhanging tends to be the trend for most of the Unclimbed and First Boulders, with many fun slightly pumpy routes.

Stony is a relatively new bouldering area in Pisgah and has seen minimal development. There is still plenty of loose/hollow rock that can send you off onto the pads unexpectedly, so be careful pulling on anything that doesn’t seem super solid. Unlike the bouldering in the forests surrounding Looking Glass, Stony seems to dry fast and is south facing, generally exposed to the sun and making this a place preferred in colder weather, but doable in summer weather also due to the elevation. While I was sending routes on the Unclimbed Boulders recently, a bad thunderstorm was pummeling Looking Glass while I was enjoying the views above the storm clouds and seeing the lightening torment the forest below!

Check out a quick video of El Swiper V2, possibly the most classic problem in the area so far…



Driving Directions:

From the epicenter of Upstate Bouldering (junction of Highways 11 and 178 at Holly Springs Grocery Store), follow highway 178 north for a curvy 25 minute drive, out of the Jocassee Gorges, past the SC/NC line, eventually into Rosman NC…and hang a left at the first red light. Past the Rosman Community Pool on the left, turn left at the stop sign, drive about a ½ mile to the junction with Highway 64 and turn right. Drive another 10-15 minutes into Brevard NC, stay on Highway 64 (either of 2 ways through Brevard) past the Ingles, all the cheap fast food and hospital to the junction with Highway 276 at Pisgah Forest. Turn left into the forest on Highway 276, drive past the Davidson River pay campground, the Ranger Station (worth a stop if you have never been in before), Coontree picnic area (great swimming hole for all ages) and stay right on Highway 276 at the fork for the Fish Hatchery and North Side Boulders. Follow 276 past Sliding Rock (pay CLASSIC sliding and swimming hole that you’ve got to slide down at least once), the other turn for the North Side Boulders, and the Cradle Of Forestry, to the junction with the Blue Ridge Parkway…turn right, north, on the BRP. Drive past a few tunnels and the Mt Pisgah area (lodging, camping, restaurant and country/convenience store) to Elk Pasture Gap, where highway 151 intersects the BRP on the left and park at this intersection in the small gravel parking lot. Many different groups of outdoor enthusiasts use this parking area, so try to park in an organized manner so as many other cars as possible can park beside you.

Approach:

From the gravel lot at the intersection of the BRP and Hwy 151, cross the road and walk with the traffic about 100 feet to pick up the white blazed Mountains To Sea Trail, which is also the Shut-In Trail, on the right. Hoof it over a small hill to a view of the BRP (and a possible side approach trail) on the left and very soon after will be the Unclimbed Boulders. To get the main bouldering trail and First Boulders, continue down the MTS/Shut-In Trail after the Unclimbed Boulders another 2-3 minutes to a small low slabby rock on the left and the best marked trail so far on the left…bust a left up the trail 20 or so feet to the Wake And Bake Boulder on the left. Don’t forget to “leave no trace” while approaching and at the boulders.

Season and Route Recommendation:

I only started climbing here recently, in the summer of 2012, and find it a little steamy in the middle (1-4pm) of the day and actually somewhat tolerable around these times…but being exposed to the sun on the side of the Blue Ridge makes it a warm spot to climb, especially when the air temps are hot. The temps and friction would obviously be best in the fall to spring (minus when the BRP is closed for icy/snowy winter weather). Stony has a small circuit (15 or so problems) of routes that are great for beginners-intermediate. Not to mention, with some grooming and care, this place could produce a few more classic crimpy & slightly overhanging routes. I think there is at least one route in each grade worth sending at Stony Bald (but you might as well climb all 18 routes listed on Mountain Project while you’re there): Pack It Up V0, Bottle Rocket War V1-, Hollow Prow V1/2, Wake And Bake V2, El Swiper V2, Unclimbed Arete V3, and White Squirrel V4/5 are my personal favorites.

Day Trip Recommendation:

If you’re heading this way, you might as well add a mountain bike ride at Bent Creek or North Mills River beforehand and if you’re getting hot after that, then grab some hydration at the Pisgah Country Store, and a dip at Skinny Dip Falls before either heading down into the Cradle Of Forestry, Looking Glass Falls and all of the Looking Glass and Nowhere Boulders…or stay on the Parkway to take a great hike, dip in some swimming holes and have a mellow second session on the couple of boulders at Upper Falls of the Graveyard Fields. Check out some basic info on the Graveyard Fields Boulders in the 2 submitted photos on RockClimbing.com

Stony Bald Mini-Guide:

Cut and paste the topo and route list below to a Word document and print it up for a hard copy mini-guide to the area…or simply use the Mountain Project app or website from your smartphone to access the beta and pictures of Stony Bald.


Stony Bald Route List:Unclimbed Boulders:

A. Unclimbed Lowball Boulder

   1. Unclimbed Lowball V1/2

   2. ULR V0

B. Unclimbed Highball Boulder

   1. Unclimbed Highball V1

   2. Unclimbed Arete V3


First Boulders:
1. Wake And Bake Boulder

   a. Pack It Up V0

   b. Wake And Bake V2

2. Hollow Prow Boulder

   a. Hollow Prow V1/2

   b. Hollow Prow Warm Up 1 V0

   c. Hollow Prow Warm Up 2 V0-

   d. Hollow Prow Warm Up 3 Vb

3. White Squirrel/El Swiper Boulder

   a. Blind Justice Slab V0

   b. White Squirrel V4/5

   c. El Swiper V2

4. Fireworks Boulder

   a. Bottle Rocket War V0/1
   b. Roman Candle V0/1

   c. Sparklers V0

   d. Jumping Jacks V0

 


Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Dirtbaggers Deluxe Wal-Mart Bouldering Kit

The Dirtbaggers Deluxe Wal-Mart Bouldering Kit

I’ve been wanting to write this DIY article for a while now, but with the economy and jobs being where they are, now more than ever is a good time to put it out there. I generally don’t shop at giant mega-corporation superstores, I try my best to support local businesses as much as possible, but on occasion I find myself at Wal-Mart and over the years found all sorts of gear that's perfect for bouldering.  Here's a run down of my current bouldering kit I use to keep gear organized and easy pack in and to move between problems and brush kit I use to scrub dirt and grime off of problems.
Brush Kit:

When I started developing bouldering areas around the Jocassee Gorges, I always had a tough time finding the right brush to take off that first layer of crud. I didn’t want to use a stiff wire brush after seeing that many of the boulders in the area can be changed drastically when one is overused, so nylon and animal bristle brushes were what I generally used…with the occasional softer brass wire brush for the really tough spots. Regular toothbrushes just don’t work…if that’s all you’ve got, its better than nothing, but overall they just don’t cut it. I bought brushes/brush kits from all of the climbing companies that offered them at the time, spending nearly $100 on the variety, but I could never find the right brush to scrub the dirt and grime off of a the chossy boulders in the Gorges to the point of perfect friction. I started buying brushes in the cleaning isle at the grocery store. But once again, none of these brushes really fit the bill. The well known Metolius/gun cleaning brush was a great brush, much better than a regular toothbrush, but it still wasn’t good for initial cleaning.
I didn’t have a local store that sold these brushes so I looked around Wally World’s sporting goods department for the same brush used for cleaning guns and found a nice little Gun Cleaning Toolset by Winchester ($3.97)...
...that included the Metolius brush, a last resort, soft bristled brass wire brush for the hard to scrub crud and an oddly useful pick for trying to dig out that hard to reach detritus in small cracks and crevasses.


I also liked the small denture brush in the Revolution brush kit for a brush to keep in my chalkbag, so while at Wal-Mart, I checked out their denture brushes and found one of my favorite all around brushes to this day; the Sea Bond Denture Brush ($1.56). It has very hard bristles for a toothbrush, a compact but robust design that’s fits well in your hand so you don’t scrape your knuckles while scrubbing, and 2 brushes that both function very well to clean even some of the tiniest cracks, especially to prep the rock for a send attempt. I’ve even used the rubbery pick on the other end of the brush to clean out slots and cracks with hard-to-get-to dirt. So again, I had found a good brush to add to the collection, but I hadn’t found the brush I needed to strip the crud from the rock, to unearth the next amazing route. So I went to the hardware department and asked if they had any brushes, but they only had metal brushes for cleaning tools, but they recommended I look in the paint department…honestly something I had never even thought of before.


When I got to the paint section I found what I was looking for the whole time in the Stripper brush (~$2.50). With a racy name and super stiff bristles, this brush chewed through the outer layer of crap that haunts untoched boulders and soon proved to be my go to brush for the initial phase of developing a problem. If you ask me, the Stripper might be the best brush for a serious stick brush too, just strap it on with some zip-ties.


And if you’re like many boulderers, you take video of some of your and your friends sends…so adding a Stripper brush to the Targas Monopod ($16.98) from the electronics department makes for a perfect way to film video when propped up against a tree, shrub or with a stick, a great extendable stick brush and a walking stick for the approach to the boulders.


The stick brush slides down very compact and stores easily in the trunk of a car so its always handy if you need it and not really in the way if you don’t. The Stripper brush isn’t the easiest brush to carry alone because it didn’t fit into most pockets on my boulder buckets, and tended to get left in the boulderfield too often.


The Grout brush ($1.47) is about half the size of the Stripper brush, has the same style of super stiff bristles and fits into the pocket on most chalk buckets...that’s why I use it for the initial route cleaning phase nowadays. I tend to go through 4-6 of these a year over the past few years of heavy development, and like to keep 3 of them with various stages of wear and bristle length (and the brass brush) on a short loop of power cord as my go to crud scrubbing brush set.  


The more worn and shorter the bristles get, the better they scrub the crap away, so it’s good to have a few brush options when the scrubbing gets tough...each different brisle length scrubs a different scrub well also. So over a few years of trying out a variety of brushes, I’ve finally found the best brush kit for me and at a great price too!

Brush Kit:

-Gun Cleaning Toolset (1 typical bouldering brush + 1 brass brush) $3.97

-1 Denture Brush $1.56

-1 Stripper Brush $2.50

-1 Monopod for stick brush $16.98

-3 Grout Brushes for initial scrubbing $1.47x3= $4.41

Brush Kit: 6 Brushes without the Stick Brush Total Price $9.44

Stick Brush/Walking Stick/Monopod + Brush Kit $29.42






Dry Bag Bouldering Kit:

While at Wal-Mart, I poked around looking for other goodies for bouldering and I came upon one last thing that has been crucial to keep my gear organized…a set of lightweight drybags ($9.96). The Outdoor Products 3-pack Dry Sacks wont add weight to your bouldering kit, but will keep your gear organized and waterproof in case of the random summer thunderstorm. I started packing gear in these out of necessity because every time I went bouldering at the North Side of Looking Glass one summer, I always got rained out of the place…and once ruined my cell phone. So I wanted to get a lightweight dry bag to put my phone, wallet and keys in so they would be safe in a storm. I bought one small dry bag at my local outfitter for around $15, but it quickly wore out after a couple of months of heavy use.


So I looked around Wal-Mart for a more economical solution and found a set of 3 dry bags in the sporting goods department for cheaper than the one from the outfitters. I use the smaller of the 3 to keep my phone, wallet and keys dry, and I use the largest of the dry bags for snacks, water bottle, extra long sleeve shirt, guidebooks and to hold the smaller dry bag for a double dry cell phone.


The middle sized bag makes a PERFECT chalk bucket too…add an old wash cloth from the closet, a chalk ball, a denture brush and some chalk and you have a spill proof chalk bucket for 10% of the cost of an Organic or Flashed rolltop chalk bucket!!!



It’s easy to unroll and get a handful of chalk and after your send just roll it up and attach it to the large dry bag and toss it all in your crashpad.


There is even a perfect place to tuck a gun cleaning brush next to the buckle for convenience.

This is still the basic bouldering kit I use to this day…and if I ever have to replace any part of the kit that wears out, its very economical to do so! Here’s the rundown on the Dirtbaggers Deluxe Bouldering Kit…

Brush Kit includes Denture Brush, Gun Brush, Brass Brush and 3 Grout Brushes          $9.44

Stick Brush/walking stick/monopod                                                                                +   $19.48

Chalk Bucket & Gear Bags                                                                                            +    $9.96

Total Bouldering Kit…just add chalk, shoes and crashpad                                               $38.88


There is a kinds of fancy gear on the market nowadays, but when you dont have the cash flow to afford it, the Dirbaggers Deluxe Bouldering Kit fills in nicely or provides cheap options to add to your existing kit!