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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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Where the hell have I been?????

Where the hell have I been?????

Seems like my last post was yesterday…but it’s been like 2 months. Time has flown by lately, with all kinds of different responsibilities and distractions taking precedence over spending an hour on the computer. But I finally have a chance to catch everybody up on what’s been going on in the bouldering side of things…like some fun new development in the Bearfields, a few trips I took recently to the Wintergreen Boulders, 107 Boulders and Stony Bald (the latter 2 getting a Local Spot post here real soon with beta on everything you need to know to enjoy them yourselves), a post on the Dirtbaggers Deluxe Wal-Mart Bouldering Kit, and an upcoming review of the incredible new Rocktown Bouldering Guidebook! The Local Spot post on the 107 Boulders is almost ready, as is the post on the Wal-Mart Kit, and the Stony Bald Local Spot post will be ready within a few days also. I’m pretty stoked to get back to writing a little and getting out some of these articles I’ve had in my head for a while…I hope you enjoy them too!

Trip Reports and Local Super Fun Day Recommendation:

Before those additions though, let me fill you in on a few trip reports. Since I’ve been focusing more on family life and raising my awesome 14 month old daughter (and taking care of a dog that lost a fight with a bear one morning while we were out hiking), it’s been tougher to find time to get out and climb for more than an hour or 2 every now and then. Luckily I’ve got so many spots within a 15 minute drive of my house to boulder, and I’ve always got a project or 2 around the corner to keep me busy, that an hour is enough time to send a quick circuit or nab an FA every now and then. As spring turned to summer and the temperatures started rising, I started to paddle a lot on the lake and hit the Keowee Wall several times a week. If there is something that I like better than bouldering, its deep water bouldering…and if there is something I like better than that, it’s getting a good mountain bike ride in beforehand! One of my favorite 2-3 hour local trips is to park at Keowee State Park, ride the Slick Rock mountain bike loop listed in the Upstate Bouldering Guide, come back and put in the kayak at the new launch on the lake, paddle and explore around and up into Eastatoee Creek and hit the deep water bouldering wall on the way back, before taking out…if you’re into the mountain bike/kayak/climbing thing, I highly recommend it! Don’t forget to check out the Jocassee Gorges Visitor Center in the park before you leave, and if you have anything left, get a great hike or trail run in on some of the most underrated trails in the area. Even though the routes on the Keowee Wall aren’t that tough (5.5-5.9), all those laps, paddling and biking got me into somewhat good sending shape…so I decided to do a little development that I’ve had in mind for a while up in the Bearfields.

The Bearfields:

Access to the Bearfields is currently being explored, with the possibility of purchasing land for a parking lot and trail access along with other alternatives. While the access a private land owner has allowed me to enjoy is still in their possession, I decided to head up there and clean out a whole bunch of slabby routes I have never got around to sending. My wife has been bugging me for a while to name some routes after the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, especially the name Heroes In A Half Shell, so I decided to satisfy her with the first set I developed. Only 2 boulders are in this area, with a total of 8 routes from Vb-V5/6, with the powerful and technical problem Heroes In A Half Shell being the hardest. I also enjoyed sending Master Splinter V4, an early top out version of HIAHS, and The Shredder V4/5, a test in flexibility and reachy crimps. After finishing up these boulders, I decided to take a second look at some big bubbly slabs nearby that I had passed off as unclimbable for years. Out of big selection of shapes and sizes of bubbly slabs, I found only 2 boulders with any potential. I decided to counter Katy’s Ninja Turtle idea with one that was just as awesome (or lame depending on how you look at it), but still a cartoon favorite of mine as a kid…the Thundercats. Oddly enough, I felt that same kiddie excitement of watching a cartoon and running around the living room reenacting it as I started to send the slabby highballs. With 9 routes, ranging from Vb-V5, these are some great slabs for the friction freaks. The highlights of the area are Lion-O V4, a fun slab with a few crystals to help out, Mumm-Ra V4, a sketchy bad landing flash or trash kind of problem, Giant Font Sloper V4, a problem revolving around mantling onto an impossible giant sloper and Sword Of Omens V5, a variation to Giant Font Sloper that traverses into blanker territory before mantling onto some giant crystals. After finishing the Afternoon Cartoon Boulders, I headed to another area I had passed over many times before. There are only 2 good problems in this area, but in my opinion, they are both pretty dang good! The first is called Space V2 and climbs a sweet finger crack that heads up a steep slab. The FA took nearly 2 weeks, in which I ended up sending the route first go…kind of an odd situation. The crack had a lot of dirt in it and it took multiple trips to just clean and wash it out. Once I finally had the route scrubbed and ready, the weather turned rainy for a while and kept me waiting for a week before I could get on it and actually work/send the route. I was expecting it to be much harder than it was, but after it was clean, it had a natural flow and felt good to climb. The other route is Drums V3, which follows a nice layback arête up and around to a slopey cruxy top out. Because this area is right before the Friend Of The Devil Boulders (named after a Grateful Dead song), I thought I would name these routes after a trademark transition of Dead shows, Space>Drums…the point where the music envelopes you and sends your mind on a journey within itself, before bringing you back to reality. This development filled in the missing routes between the main Bearfields boulders and the old school boulder set of Friend Of The Devil, the last set of boulders on the trail. For me, this was a major milestone…in an area that means so much to me, there is some sort of finalization in development, something I haven’t thought of in the almost 10 years I’ve been bouldering there. I felt proud of finishing off a huge chunk of development and upset that I didn’t really have anything new on that side of the Bearfields to look forward to. So I turned my attention towards the other side of the Bearfields, past the Oak Tree and Scorpion boulders to the farthest boulders on that side. Once again, this was an area I had passed off time after time as having nothing of value to climb…and I was mostly right. With 2 easy slab problems perched on a steep hillside near the beginning of another private property approach, this was the final area in the Bearfields to be developed…and that same feeling of finalization flooded over me. I know that there are still plenty of lines in these areas to be developed in the future, but this was the end of the cherry picking and my systematic development of the obvious routes. It feels good to close this chapter of development in an area that I’ve spent around 365 days bouldering at over the years. As the main developer of the Bearfields and Jedi, I honestly feel that now all of the obvious lines have been sent in these 2 areas, for over 500 routes! Now the attention turns to access and how everybody can enjoy these boulders.

The CCC and I have been in contact with the land owner that has allowed me to park and use his land for access over the past almost decade. This gentleman is selling off the land used to park and approach the boulders and we are doing our best to try to purchase these lands to offer access to other boulderers and CCC members. Let the CCC know that this is a project you are interested in and are willing to donate to. The more interest shown by local boulderers, the more interest the CCC will have in pursuing a deal to purchase access. These boulders represent the biggest and possibly best bouldering in South Carolina, and trust me, will be well worth the effort! I’ve decided that the money I’ve made from the sale of the Upstate Bouldering Guide will be set aside as part of a potential down payment towards this property, or to providing a different access point for these boulders. There are still a few copies of the Upstate Bouldering Guide available if you would like to purchase one and add to the potential down payment on an access point to these incredible boulders!

Wintergreen Boulders:

On a hunch from a friend, I checked out a new bouldering spot called the Wintergreen Boulders a couple of months ago also. There are only a few climbable boulders and only one, with a great arête, worth mentioning. Upon first check with the land managers of this area, they don’t have any regulations for or against bouldering…but before I post anything else about them, I want to double check. So stay tuned for an update and possible new Local Spot post about this area in the near future!

107 Boulders:

Like all tech savvy climbers and boulderers, I keep an eye out on Mountain Project for any new stuff to go check out, and recently 2 new areas have been added to our area. The first area is the 107 Boulders only 10-15 minutes north of Cashiers North Carolina, right on the side of highway 107. After flying by these boulders on my way to paddle the Nanny or the Tuck for years and wondering if there were any routes worth climbing, Justin Biggs and Andrew Blease introduced the local bouldering community to this small set of worthy boulders. On a day away from Lily, I drove up to this boulder set and had a blast sending a variety of routes…the highlight having to be Carolina Bamboo V3. This thing has every requirement for being a classic route almost anywhere, except for the fact that it’s RIGHT by the side of the road. That’s really the main drawback to this area, that you are completely exposed to the traffic whizzing by, which can be more intimidating when you’re trying to focus on sending an intimidating mantle 15 feet up. After the stage fright, I really enjoyed sending all of the routes on the Front Door Boulder right beside the road…along with Saddle Up V2 and Horizontal Waterfall V3 and V4. A Local Spot post with beta, topo and route descriptions will be available any day now...until then, check out this video tour of the boulders and beta on Mountain Project!

Stony Bald:

Once again, Mountain Project turned me on to this new spot as well. Stony Bald is a short drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway from Asheville and Brevard and maybe 10 minutes from the popular mountain biking at Bent Creek and the North Mills River areas. A little higher in elevation, Stony provides slightly cooler temps, but the exposed nature of the hillside the boulders are on can make this place heat up quick. Only minor development has been seen at this area so far, but from the looks of the first few routes on the first few boulders, Stony Bald might spit out a few classics before it’s all said and done. I put up and repeated a few lines while I was there, including a slew of Vb-V0’s, Blind Justice Slab V0, a fun featured beginners slab, Wake And Bake V2, a short slightly overhung route up to a giant sidepull top out, Hollow Prow V1-2, which traverses low around an undercut prow to top out on good edges, El Swiper V2, possibly the best route I climbed there and sure to be a classic (see the video below) and White Squirrel V4, the other possible classic that makes a short powerful/campus move up to a sloping edge and follows it out to the mantle at the top. A new Local Spot post will be coming very soon to this area as well, so keep your eyes out for that…but until then, check out the necessary beta and routes to get you there and bouldering, over at Mountain Project.

Where the hell I been!

So there’s a catch up on where the hell I’ve been and what the hell I’ve been doing! Being a dad is a big responsibility and a good trade for time on the pebbles, but it’s always nice to take advantage of the small gaps of time off I get and enjoy pulling down as hard as I can. I hope that everybody who has read this far has also been able to get out and send a project or 2 or maybe check out a new area since I’ve last posted or at least been able to keep their psyche going by crushing some plastic! As I mentioned, the posts on the 107 Boulders and Dirtbaggers Deluxe Wal-Mart Bouldering Kit are practically done and should be up within a few days. Thanks for hanging on and hanging out!

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