While I've been finishing up the guide, I've been reclimbing a few routes I haven't sent in a while, and forgot how fun some of these are! I've climbed West LE Fadaway V4, Sasquatch V4 (only the 2nd ascent of this route), Space Together V4, Rocky Bottom V3, and Dark Star V3/4....all of which are included in the upcoming guidebook. While I was sending these guys and getting a few new action shots to use in the book, I worked a long time project at Little Eastatoee that I've recently dubbed, Long Strange Trip. This route starts on West LE Fadaway and instead of traversing out right and onto the shelf, it heads straight up, past a crimp rail and over a few cryptic moves to attain a very odd transition onto a slab. I've been working this route for years and years and had given it a project grade of V6/7 after all of my flailing failed attempts. I originally thought the route would be in the V4/5 range, but after getting thwarted so much, I decided to bump it up to try to get some stronger boulderers to send it and establish the problem.
In my haste to take some pictures on one of my recent trips to Little Eastatoee, I ended up sending the rig before I really knew what had happened! I was alone and trying to get a few pictures of routes nearby using the self-timer feature on the camera...I'd set the timer, run up to the route and send it as quick as I could, while the camera snapped a shot of wherever I was at the time. I had finished taking a few shots of nearby routes, when I decided to turn the camera onto the project route and try to just get a shot of my working it. During one of the attempted pictures (eventually my camera died while snapping these photos) I ran up to the route, with unusal and confused beta, and stepped up onto a different foothold than usual, got a handful of whatever I could grab and launched myself up the rock, dynoing to a small sidepull I had never been able to hit when trying the problem static...needless to say, I was in complete shock when I realized that I had actually stuck what I thought was going to be the toughest move on the route. From here, I grovelled my way around to be able to step up and through the weird transition onto the slab and I sent that joker in complete shock of what I had just done! I wanted to let out a big yelp of joy after sending, but there were some hog hunters in the parking lot that were already giving me an odd look, and I didn't want to give them any reason to pull their guns out;) I'm not one to chase grades too much...I'm pretty happy to send a V3 and just enjoy the movement and freedom of bouldering, and I'm no where near in the shape I used to be when I could project and send V7's. So, it was a giant shock for me to send the hardest route I've sent in a few years! I haven't sent anything harder than a V6 in a couple of years and this was definitely harder than any V6 I had ever sent before. Because the hardest grade I've ever sent is a V8, and I felt that the moves and technique needed to send this route were much more difficult than any of the V7's I had ever sent, I decided to stick with the V7 grade for Long Strange Trip...at least until somebody comes in and repeats it and gives their opinion (yep, that's a challenge). This is now the hardest problem in the book and the last problem recorded in the new guidebook...that's why I thought it only fitting to call it Long Strange Trip after all of the weirdness involved with the send, but also for the fact that it took me years to send the thing and it puts a nice ending on the upcoming guidebook. It has been a Long Strange Trip developing most of the boulder problems in the area and I've enjoyed every minute of it! As I mentioned, the camera died before I could get a photo of the route, but I'll try to get a snapshot of it soon to post up for folks to see...until then, get your preorders in for the upcoming guidebook, which is now finished and about to head out to the printers! I'll post this weekend or early next week about the new official preorder info (if you've already sent me an e-mail about a preorder, then you can expect a PayPal invoice in your inbox soon to reserve your copy) for the guidebook and hopefully some more solid info on the upcoming Jocassee Gorges Trail Day! Til then folks...send as much as you can before the temps get any higher and summer takes our bouldering opportunities away!!!