My inspiration to come to Boone in the first place came from Joey’s maps of the Linville Gorge. After flaking on a visit last year, I bought one of the lovely, large, wall-worthy maps last winter and took it everywhere with me so I’d stay inspired. And here I am!
On Monday I got my first taste of the glorious gorge at the God’s Country area with Tilly and Mike. It was a….mixed experience. It’s a 1.5 or so mile hike downhill on a good trail – easy in, tiring out – then a few somewhat treacherous river crossings to get to different boulders. Mike and Joey and a few other local folks started seriously cleaning and finding problems down there about 8 years ago. Before that I think the Linville Gorge was popular with hikers, kayakers, campers, and rope climbers on the higher sides. It’s been the find of a lifetime for the southeast, and I’m just saying that. There ya go. They’ve established hundreds of problems of all difficulties and styles. Lots of sloper bulges and tricky mantles, some huge, strong roofs, and terrifying aretes. Some of the features were clearly made by god for us to coat with chalk. It’s solid, whitish stone in a gorgeous setting with the raging, loud river right next to you. Some problems come and go with the water level, which I always like because it reminds me of Lake Travis and because I think it’s nice to have some limiting factors lest we be overwhelmed by the possibilities.
Anyway, I fell in the water at one of the crossings, and started to cry a little, and I kept banging my knee on this one problem called The Devil, which is a two-move, Mckinney style line that was super goodtimefunparty to throw myself at. It feels like Queer Junkies, with a standing start on a kinda-jug and a teeny pinch, use a stupid high foot to pop to a huge but somehow completely unHOLDable crimp, then jam yer foot up high and botswana to the lip. Not sure I’ll ever get to try the Devil again, or if I care. But after doing 20 new boulder problems at the Triple Crown comps so far, all of them at or slightly below my limit, working a single hard move over and over felt like coming home to the climbing I love. I stuck the move and hung on 3 or 4 times, but never for more than a second and never long enough to wrap the crimp up and make another move. Yarrarar. I also fell onto my back at one point on it, and another time my ankle missed the pad and fell into a hole. It was a rough day, made up for by enchiladas, a wood-fire hot tub soak, some chocolate and a watching of Mama Mia. That = southern hospitality. Hoping to go back to the gorge this weekend, to Dreamland, a more densely developed area with better river crossings.
All these pictures are by Mike
Ya know what would be so, so great is if my left foot stayed on. That foot hold, let me describe it to you, is two warts. One is about the size of a pencil eraser, the other is smaller, and they are set diagonally to each other aiming down and right. The right foothold is a just chalk mark indicating a nice place to smear.