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, 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 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???