I really want to write about Hueco! And how cold it is! And so slippery! And I have the standard enormous list for this season, and they’re already going down! But I feel like I need to do a southeast round-up first. Here’s where all I went, and how it was:
Little Rock City/StoneFort: This whole, go climbing on a golf course thing is very unusual. It feels like you’re going to a petting zoo or a resort of something, whereas usually going bouldering feels like going on a hike in the woods. It isn’t a bad feeling, and I think we’re suppose to be super grateful because access is a gift, and then donate our first born to the access fund or something. Climbing-wise I found this place well worth its hype. It’s crowded usually, but it’s a super nice, friendly local crowd. I think the trick here is to hike all the way (along the golf cart trail) to the back, then move forward. Everytime I went I never got to where I’d wanted to go because there was so much else to see before I got there.
Good: Easy navigation, super nice people everywhere
Less Good: Whining children who, sorry mom and dad, just aren’t that into climbing.
Lousy: Camping is far away, sketchy and/or pricey
Rocktown: Local word is that the rock here is less awesome than at LRC. I thought it was awesome. Kinda different, more jugs, which to me means better but whatever. Takes all kinds. The climbs here are perfect, and the landings are good for solo or limited-pad situations. This might be my favorite place. Very small, easy enough to see it all in a couple days as long as you don’t get too caught up in the front area. The real pull here for me is the camping, which is free, beautiful, and very close. And aside from the occasional benevolent redneck huntin’ coon in the next hollar over, it’s quiet. Rocktown has its own google location page, which is nice.
Amazing: Camping, boulder problems, setting
Not amazing: Unreliable beta, hard to find or ID newer climbs without local help
Hound Ears: This is the super restricted access area that’s only open for the Triple Crown every year. I think this, and having Fucyo gives Hound Ears a reputation for being super amazing, but I didn’t find it to be the best of Boone by any stretch. The bouldering is kind of mixed. Wildly mixed, actually. Some walls are just perfect – Flash or Trash area at the front, the Heretic boulder, for example. And some are just garbage, and some are in between, like the Blade. Probably the best view in the southeast. I feel kinda down on Hound Ears, just because of it’s weirdly inflated rep. There’s pricey camping really close, so that’s kinda nice I guess. For someone. Else.
Good: Fun problems, high psych, view
Meh: Not worth getting all desperate to get in over, no published beta
Grandmother: I wish I’d given myself more time here. Grandmother is huge with a thousand amazing problems and varied angles and styles. Take a local guide along, and be sure to park “at the top.” I love that problem ToxicBox.
Good: ToxicBox, the hugeness
Argh: Not enough time in life for all this place has got, no published beta.
Blowing Rock: Probably my favorite of Boone, this place has two zones, colloquially speaking: The Mushroom Boulder, and The Rest of Blowing Rock. The Mushroom Bouldering is, Rachel Scheffe told me, probably the most popular boulder in Boone, and I think that’s because it is the best. Something of every hardness and angle on that thing. The rock is mostly perfect brownish yellow sandstone, but a few zones at Blowing are that black and white blocky stuff. I think if you only got to go to one place in Boone, it should be here.
Awesome: The bouldering, the access, the approach
Lesser Awesome: no published beta, lots of bro-bra-age, comparatively.
Lost Cove: This is a tiny, two-zone area in Boone with a dense concentration of amazing problems with hard top-outs. I love this place. I wish I’d gone here another time or two, because I never got to visit the uphill side. Oh well. Pictures!
Glorious: easy approach, intimate setting, incredible rock
Whatever: nowhere to run ;0)
Linville Gorge: I already wrote about the Gorge, but here’s a picture of my project that I didn’t get to return to.
Yay: Camping, downhill approach, setting, bouldering, swimming
Nay: Arduous hike out, raging rapids
Horse Pens-40: I was told to look out for the owner of this place, as he can agitate the hippie masses. I found him quite pleasant, however. But dude, this place has the vibe of a bouldering concentration camp post-redneck apocolypse. The bouldering is lovely, a style all its own, like wrestling with those giant novely beach balls. I’d like to have tried the Litz Pocket Problem, but I think I can live without it if it means I don’t have to go back here. Too expensive, too many rules, weird vibe.
Good: That man with the guns is nice
Not so much good: pretty much everything. And it’s in Alabama
Rumbling Bald: This place’s name is hard to remember when you have to remember the name “Blowing Rock” also. Not sure why. Rumbling Bald is the metro-Ashville mixed/trad/sport area with a huge boulder field. Apparently it was developed largely by this guy who’s married to this woman Anna Sharret, who is the sister of this guy Anders who I hung out with a bit when I lived in Chicago because he was a music writer and my boyfriend at the time was a musician. So it’s an interesting little small world connection there. Rumbling Bald is pretty awesome. I think it’s…. granite? Super hard sandstone? It’s hard to tell. There are some gorgeous problems there and I will definitely go back because Ashville is SO COOL.
SO COOL: Ashville, sticky rock
whatever: Trad climbers everywhere, rough on the skin and body so second day on was impossible
Lilly Boulders, Obed: This place is a mess, but I like it. It’s a hot mess. There are tons of moss covered boulders around that look every bit as potentially good as the ones with problems on them, but the foliage here is relentless. Moss, mud, tree roots, choss, maybe it reminds me of home? The warm ups are amazing and fun, and the hard-hard problems are wonderful and, natch, hard. As for the in-between it seemed all over the place. Some super easy and soft stuff with slopey pockets and sneak kneebars, some cryptic and difficult lines with very high, chossy, scary top outs or jug-drop offs. Overall kinda strange, but I’d go back and try hard things again. Camping is fun and lovely, but a little pricey at $5 for a parking spot.
Good: Access, warm ups, testify, navigation, wildland
Medium: jug drop-offs, questionable rock stability
I think that’s all. I couldn’t be happier about my trip, unless it had lasted longer and I’d returned to more places more times to climb on more boulders. I didn’t get to go to Little River Canyon in Chattanooga, or the 221 circuit zones in Boone. I can’t tell if I want to go back soon or not. I can say for sure that I’ve been spoiled stupid by frictive climbing, and the last two days climbing at Hueco have been hilarious. My feet just don’t stay on anything, and all my new open palm, sloper skills are completely useless. So I’m campussing. Campusing. Campus ing. Hm. Spell check does not approve of this gerund.