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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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Too Busy To Post Lately!

I have just been overwhelmed with life lately to do much typing and blogging...in fact, Its taken me 2 weeks just to get this post out! Work is always pretty hectic, but as a college professor, the end of the semester is always a whirlwind of craziness...and this semester hasn't been any different. Besides that, I've been working hard on various access issues in the Upstate area...meetings are set up for a couple of weeks to discuss bouldering in the state parks AND I'm working with a land owner to hopefully help the CCC aquire a piece of property that practically backs up to the Bearfields and pretty close to the Jedi boulders. This is the big break the CCC has been waiting for and I just hope that they will be willing to purchase a tract of land to provide parking and access to these absolutely amazing boulderfields!!! After the successful trail days at Table Rock and the Jocassee Gorges, these 2 opportunities will hopefully cap off a VERY successful access push in SC over this past year...I honestly cant tell you how excited and honored I am to be involved with this!!! There is a lot of growing interest in South Carolina lately and hopefully this will also correlate to people wanting to help out with this access push, not just folks wanting to climb/boulder and not give back. Over the past year or 2 working with the CCC on these access issues, climbing and bouldering has taken on a completely different meaning for me...its not just about me getting mine anymore, its about getting more for everybody. And it feels really good to know that I've helped make a difference on the access situation in my immediate area especially! I want to challenge everyone that reads this to think about what climbing and bouldering really means to them, and think past your current project or desire to FA a new route and give back to the areas and places you frequent. If you are scalping areas (climbing or bouldering at areas that are NOT officially open) please think about working to officially open these areas instead of simply just continuing to climb there...if you are climbing at established areas, think about giving back during a trail day or just go out and beautify these areas when you have the time. If we show land managers how much we care about the areas we visit, they will be more inclined to let us use the land for recreation. Please don't take your chance to climb or boulder as a right, but instead a privilege, and try your best to do something to deserve that privilege...I'll guarantee you that your future sends will be filled with the best karma possible:)

I haven't had much chance to get out and boulder since the Jocassee Gorges Trail Day, but did get a quick trip down to Mt Yonah to do some bouldering a few weeks ago and the weekend before last, I had an awesome trip to the Highcountry and Boone area!

YONAH
Mt Yonah has always been a favorite area of mine and I wish its incredible blocks were closer for me to hit more often. After getting married and having a daughter, its tougher for me to get out and travel to go bouldering...and Yonah is one of the spots that I am frequenting much less lately. The highlights of the Yonah trip were sending The Saint V4, The Sinner V4 and Detached SDS V4. I always forget how good of a problem The Saint is until I climb it again, but I have to say that this is my favorite route at Yonah, by far! Perfect crimps and overhanging edges lead to a great top out...super fun problem!!!

Bridge and small set of Bridge Boulders

I also spent a lot of time resending routes on the handful of Bridge boulders, seen above, uphill from the metal bridge above the Hilltop Boulder...there are some really fun routes in this area, but there doesn't ever really seem to be too much activity at these boulders for some reason. The best boulder up there is the V-3 boulder (named because of the painted "V-3" on the best route on the boulder), which has around 7 problems ranging from Vb-V3/4. Below is a picture of the V-3 side of the boulder and 3 good problems that always seem to get overlooked.

V-3 Boulder
I'm working up a topo and route descriptions of these boulders to provide a little bit more info on the area besides what is already available. Keep a watch on this website for the new beta soon!


THE HIGHCOUNTRY
I've made quiet a few trips up to the Highcountry of North Carolina, an area rich with boulders around 30 minutes from Boone and Appalachian State University. Usually I end up going to Grandmother's Boulders and almost every time I go, I feel disappointed with the routes that I've sent...they just didn't feel as classic as most boulderers imply. So initially I wasn't super stoked to head that way, but still excited to have a chance to get away for a few days and boulder none the less. While getting prepped for the trip, I did the usual Internet research of watching videos and collecting info on problems I wanted to try and I started to get psyched on some videos of Lost Cove I had seen over on BooneBoulders.com. I hadn't been to Lost Cove before and so I thought that would be the perfect place to hit first, while I was freshest, so I could enjoy the sends better. After collecting enough info on Lost Cove from the web and some older bouldering maps I've had for a while, I remembered the Hidden Gems article in Climbing Magazine, which detailed some of the best spots to hit on Highway 221, between Grandfather Mountain and Blowing Rock. After another round of info hounding, I had enough beta to get me to around 10 different bouldering areas and find some of the well known classics on 221.

Day 1:
Lost Cove was my first stop of the trip and when I finally got there, I was excited to see a new boulderfield!  Lost Cove is divided by Roseboro Road into the Upper and Lower Lost Cove boulders, and when I first got there, I scouted out the Upper area first and then looked around the Lower area before I loaded up the gear and packed in for the session.  I had heard and seen a lot about the routes around the Patio area, including Patio Arete V4, Lost Cove Cranks V4 and Lunatic Arete V3, all of which seemed within my sending range right now.  I warmed up with some easy routes on the boulder just before the Patio area and then went to work on Lunatic Arete V3.  I sent that sucker first go, including the slightly sketchy top out!!!  What a great start to the trip!
Lunatic Arete V3


Here is a great video of Lunatic Arete (with a nice Blind Melon tune) from BooneBoulders.com...check out Matt's video stash for beta on Lost Cove Cranks and other great Lost Cove routes on the website.



After that, I was feeling invincible, so I headed over to crush the Patio Arete V4...but instead, I could barely make the first moves and couldn't really figure out any of the beta.  So, the Patio Arete crushed me instead...and so did Lost Cove Cranks V4, which I had absolutely nothing for.  So real quick, I learned that there were some routes that suited me and some that really didn't.  Feeling a little dejected, I started sending some easier routes to get loose and into a groove for the 221 Circuit I was planning on hitting after Lost Cove.  I sent quiet a few really fun SDS warm up problems to the left of Patio Arete and on the wall to the left of Lunatic Arete. 
Routes to the left of Lunatic Arete, Conditons is at the far left past the crashpad
I had sent like 3 different routes, including the super fun, but short, crack problem to the left of Lunatic and started working on the route to the far left, thinking it was around a V4 or so...after a lot of grovelling and refusing to let go in the crux, I ended up reaching the top lip and the tough (or at least at that point for me) mantle to top out.  I was stoked to have sent such a fun line, and felt confident that the route was harder than Lunatic Arete, but I had no idea which route it was until later that night, back at the hotel, I saw a video of someone sending the same route and learned that the route was called Conditions and then found out it was originally rated a V6, but most folks on RC.com thought it was a V5.  I was stoked to send one of the hardest established problems I had sent in a long time!  From there, I packed it up and headed back up Roseboro Road to the Blue Ridge Parkway and headed past Grandmother's and to the 221 Circuit.  Here is a great video of Lost Cove with Conditions V5/6 as the first climb (and Patio Arete V4 towards the end)...check it out.

 


221 Circuit
After finishing up at Lost Cove, I headed to what is described as the heart of the 221 circuit at the Fight Rock/Dungeon/Ominous Roof area, in the Hidden Gems article in Climbing Magazine.  This is an easy place to start a visit on 221 because its pretty tough to miss and provides plenty of routes in a variety of grades.

Graffiti Rock and Ominous Roof on the left, Fight Rock is overhanging the road in the background and the Dungeon can just be seen off to the right of the picture before Fight Rock
 I immediately headed to the opposite side of the road from Fight Rock and down into the Dungeon, an amazing boulder with a giant roof and a super fun face full of slopers.  I jumped on the easy and fun arete problem (maybe V1) after realizing that I'd need more pads and spotters to try to work the Dungeon Roof V2/3 to the left of the arete.
Dungeon Arete V1(?)

From there I sent Sign Of The Times V5 from just past the crux to see how doable it was...and realized that I actually might have a chance on this problem.  After attempting the gaston lock off move down low, that is the obvious crux, a few times, I dialed it in and sent Sign Of The Times V5...and it was probably the best/most favorite send of the trip!  I LOVE slopers and the slopers on this route, and this whole face, were incredible!  I sent another easier slopey route to the right of Sign Of The Times before I packed it up and headed up the hill past Fight Rock, in search of The Cube area.

Sign Of The Times V5

After taking a steep trail straight up the hill behind Fight Rock, I came to the old road bed and saw the Cube area off to my right.  I was feeling pretty worked over at this point, but I was still able to send the Cube Arete (anybody got a definite grade on this route, please drop a comment and let me know), which felt pretty easy, but gave me a little trouble in my worn out state.  I sent a few more easier routes in the area before giving up on looking for the Iceberg/Texas Boulder and heading back down to the car.  I ended the day by sending some easier slabby routes on the boulder to the right of Fight Rock and a deceivingly sketchy left hand slopey arete that got my blood boiling on the top out.  I packed everything into the car and hobbled to the hotel, feeling thrashed but completely satisfied with an incredible day of sending, in a few new bouldering areas I hadn't been to before!

Day 2:
221 Circuit
I really wanted to explore more of the 221 circuit and at least try to send a few routes at each of the main areas.  I didn't really check out Mack Truck because it just seemed tall and I didn't really notice too many other boulders nearby, so I headed past Mack Truck to Area E.  Area E was another pull up boulder spot with a less than a minute approach.  I sent a few easier routes before ticking off a couple of great routes...the Area E Arete/Bavaria V2/3 and Prow Warm Up V0.  You can see Prow to the left of the picture below and the Arete to the right of it, traversing up and left.

Area E...Prow V0 is protected by the pad and the Area E Arete V3 is to the right of the Prow
 I packed my gear and headed to the next stop along 221, the Drive By boulders.  I hopped on a couple of easy routes and sent before heading on to the next stop.  Below is a great shot from the parking lot of the Drive By boulders...you can see the backside of Grandfather Mountain and to the left of the picture, you can see the Linn Cove Viaduct, hanging off of the side of the mountain.


I then checked out a couple of fun routes at the Riverside boulders, including a really fun V2'ish route that started on the side of the boulder facing the road...didn't get a photo, but good crimps and rails to a nice slightly slopey top out.

From here, I headed to The Dump and checked out the rope climbing area before sending a single easy boulder route and heading out to the next stop.  This wrapped up my time along the 221 Circuit and I felt somewhat accomplished to send at least one route at almost every boulderfield in the circuit.  I snapped a shot of Table Rock and Hawksbill from the Dump...


Blowing Rock:
After finishing up on 221, I continued on towards Blowing Rock for another 15 minutes or so to the Blowing Rock Boulders.  Along with Grandmother's, the Blowing Rock boulders are considered to be the one of the best boulderfields in the Highcountry.  I was running on fumes at this point in the trip, but I wanted to at least stop by and check out a few routes I hadn't worked on yet.  I started out by heading to the Mushroom Boulder, but realized that my skin was screaming too loud for me to try The Fin V4 or Monkey Brains V4, so I headed on past Smart Tom and stopped off at the Pump Wall.  It took a few tries to make it through the crux of the Pump Wall Traverse V3 (from right to left) and then I reversed the route and sent the other version of the Pump Wall Traverse V4 (from left to right).  Both of these were pretty fun routes, but not quiet as classic, in my opinion, as most folks have indicated.  From here I didn't really have too much left in the tank, but I headed down to work Harvester Of Sorrows V4 on the backside of the 5.10 Wall.  I just couldn't stick the weird mantle to top the route out, but I did send a more direct version of the route that topped out to the right of the original problem...felt like a V2/3 but some folks have told me that what I did was Harvester Of Sorrows Direct V5.  If anybody has any info on which route starts on Harvester but heads straight up and mantles using a nice rail/sidepull, please drop a comment or e-mail and let me know.  Feeling whipped, I cooled down on some of the best V0/1's you could ask for on the 5.10 Wall and finally packed it all up for the long drive home. 

It was the end of one of the best bouldering trips I had had in a while and I had the biggest grin on my face for the full 3 hour drive home!!!  I have a new outlook on the Highcountry after checking out some new places and spending a lot of time on boulders and routes I had never seen before...and I cant wait to get back up there and find even more great routes!  I'll leave everyone with some nice shots of triliums and other wildflowers I saw while I was in the Highcountry...it was a nice addition to the bouldering to have the sweet smells and beautiful colors of spring popping all around me!  Enjoy...

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