this is my third post today and that is like a record. December 13, 2011
Mike, aka “Carl”, made a pretty awesome fall round-up video of Linville Gorge bouldering, and I’m in it TWICE!
One time is a time-lapse of a day that I spent 3 hours in my (amazing new Marmot4Ladies) sleeping bag (that I won at an ABS comp) rolling around while everyone got up and got motivated.
The other time I’m ignoring Mike while he does a totally amazing FA that starts on my project and goes into another problem. Out in the west, they’ll tell you to move the hell out of the frame. In the cordial southland, however, they just let you sit there and play with leaves, and add some ken burns effect in editing.
And peep this awesome picture I got him to send me of a pile of rocks he piled up one day.
southeast bouldrin’ woundup December 5, 2011
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.
planning my plans, and the red report November 20, 2011
Because when it comes to your climbing trip plans, you’ll encounter your share of naysayers. Have you ever noticed this? Wherever you’re headed, you’re going at the wrong time, the weather/crowds/star alignments are not optimum. I field a lot of ish from folks when I describe whatever my latest plan is, and if there’s nothing to naysay about my actual locations and timing, it’s the pure fact of having a plan that’s wrongheaded. Maybe it’s just annoying to hear someone else’s plans, and it’s like spray to share them. Maybe I’ll start answering the question “where to next?” with “Houston”. Because there’s nothing like “Houston” to throw a wrench in a rock climbing conversation’s flow. Except maybe “Jacksonville.”
I’m thinking about this because I’m in the Red during prime time, and I still got naysayage over a potential freeze out. Turns out it’s the rain that’s been hard to cope with. It seems to keep to a 4-on, 3-off schedule, and with my (less than) trusty tent proving no match for the mud pit that is rural Kentucky, I may take off a few days ahead of shcdule and hit Horseshoe Canyon Ranch over the Thanksgiving holiday. On the way to Houston.
But my sport climbing session in the Red has been a blast, despite the rain. I did another of my hardest sport climbs, this time shaving a full day off the time, sending after 2 days and about 8 goes. This one is called Stunning the Hog at Left Flank, and is a perfect route for me. Steeper than a lot of lines at the Red, a bit shorter, with big moves and lots of heel-toe cams. Cletus told me that the line doesn’t see very many female ascents, and that gave the accomplishment an added bit of sweetness/rationalization for the excessive eating of ice cream. The second day on it I was out with Eric from Ohio, Elodie from France and Andy, who works at Miguel’s. We put some serious time into determining our climbing spirit animals. Turns out I’m a bat.
I haven’t fallen as hard (so to speak) for another line here yet. I tried one called American Dream about three times, and was psyched to send as the light was fading, but then Cedar accidentally pulled my rope down. The route starts up on a death slab and it was a total debacle to get the rope hung through the first, and just couldn’t muster the time/will to reset it. No big deal though. I can’t imagine a better reason to not be able to get on a route one last time.
Yesterday I took two goes to do this amazing, perfect slabby crimp line called There Goes the Neighborhood. It felt just like the terrorist face climbing of Ceuse, but with twice as many bolts. I’m super proud to have done it, and I think my limit for face climbing is still pretty moderate. I was eager(ish) to try its bigger, longer, harder brother, Orange Juice, but the weekend crowds at the Red are insane and I didn’t get a turn.
Which reminds me of how I bailed on the whole project last weekend and went to the OBed with Dan Dan and his friend Spiral. I’ll make that a separate post.
In conclusion, my sport climbing trip the Red has been a climbing success. I did another hardest sport line, and climbed fearlessly on faces and slabs, and took big falls. My body feels great, and most of my bouldering tweaks (left forearm weakness, elbow fire, hamstring death) have begun to heal. I’ve also made a few amazing new friends, and had a long and awesome catch-up with John Garcia, Bentley and GMFB when I randomly put my stuff down next to them. What a nice shock that was! I got to spend some quality time with the Pigeons, further streamline my car camping setup, and met my major Red River Gorge goal of not getting a Miguel’s shirt, even though there are these awesome thermal ones that taunt me daily.
Today I’m gonna take a 2-token shower, and do a few more of these captivating blog posts, a little internet moneywork, and tarot cards with Thomo. That is my plan!
like sandstone in the hourglass…. November 9, 2011
Heather says my life is a soap opera. It’s not really, but I think by the time I tell her about things, I’m so worked up over whatever it is that my dramatic emphasis has lent operatic overtones to the tale. Here goes:
Ok so remember how I was all not sure about entering the Triple Crown in the advanced division, because I’ve climbed a bundle of problems that have higher numbers than the range for advanced, which is 5-6? I talked to a bunch of folks about it. Everyone who had done a Triple Crown before was like, yeah no, go advanced for sure. Open is super hardcore and you’ll be in your own league one division down. Other folks were like, eh, you’re on the line, but there’s no way you can do more than 1 or 2 problems above that range in a day, so yeah. Advanced. So I entered Advanced, and got second place twice, trying super hard to put as many 6s and 7s on the board as possible. I lost to this girl Kati, and this other girl Jill, and figured that meant I was in the right spot. But oh man I wanted to win!!
So then I went to Horse Pens, which is suppose to be the hardest comp of the tournament with the lowest scores. Brutality. Four hours in I only had 2 climbs on my card and had fallen off of 4 top outs. Dan was coaching me. Poor Dan. Things were getting worse, I was getting tired and discouraged. So Dan takes me over to this area with what he insists will be some doable 5s. At this point, I cannot imagine it. But he stepped up and demo’d the betas, and I was able to flash a few problems. Yay, momentum! But this event was packed with strong girls. Those ATL chicks from the Athens comp were there, I had already seen Jill crushing, and every problem I managed to finish I saw another female competitor do. So much for winning, I figured. At this point I just wanted to finish the card.
Then this weird thing happened. After I did those easier problems, this stranger person came up to me, knowing an inordinent amount of detail about my climbing, kinda going off about how easy these problems are for me. Freaky. I got a very bad, psyched out vibe from the situation, and ran away as fast as possible. Because that’s just whack-whack, and I still have 6 problems to do and it’s freaking 1:45!
The rest of the day was ok. Most of my fingertips started bleeding. I met this funny dude named Doug. I climbed with Kai, the youth strongman who’s mom Connie is the trooperiest trooper of the triple crown. I did more problems, lots of falls, lots of punts. Got a heel-toe cam stuck and almost broke my femur, the usual. Finally finished my card, blood and tears all the way up a terribly hard 4 called Slush Puppy that took 5 tries. Then I ran, RAN, to turn in my card on time. My score was medium-low, and I was resigned to not place. Went and ate my feelings via smores at the Pretzl tent. Learned this joke for when you’re eating smores that goes like this:
You’re killin’ me, Smalls
So finally they post scores, AND I WON!!!!
Won by about 100 points. Oh my god, so excited to have finally won. AND I was sure I had a shot at being the over-all champ of the tournament for the advanced division.
So then Chad comes over and is like, ‘we need to talk’. He and Jim, the Triple Crown organizers and both super glorious dudes, are like, ‘someone came up here and told us that you did a v9 two weeks ago.’ Flummuxed, I was like, yeap! Two weeks ago, in Boone. My first one ever! It was so hard and awesome! Why do you ask? Well it turns out that one of the rules of the triple crown is that if they hear that someone did a climb at some point that’s rated way higher than the climbs in their division they get bumped.
Now, I don’t mind getting bumped from a prize-getting perspecitve, I don’t have room for another crash pad or jacket – I’m in this for the glory. But are they saying that I cheated? That I sandbagged myself by entering advanced and could have climbed harder than I did, posting a ton of 7s and 8s or something? Because, wow, no. At least I don’t think – no. I tried a bunch of harder-numbered problems during the event, and the two I managed were on my cards. And I kept getting second! If I were so out of place, wouldn’t I have been doing better? Oh, mercy the injustice!
No but really, I’m horrified to think that Jim and Chad thought I cheater sandbagged myself. Or worse, that I WAS being a cheater! And two, that someone stalked my 8a spraycard then cared enough to try and knock me off. Because that is creepy. And kind of mean, right? Granted, I stalked Jill’s after her LRC crushing and soothed myself by noting that she had some pocket problems out there. But I wasn’t about to go remembering that or telling anyone.
Anyway, I went back to Chad and Jim and told them I was over it and fine with a bumping, but that this whole thing was rather subjective and slip-shod. They said they hate divisions anyway and want to have no divisions among adults at all but give prizes for the top 15 placers. Then they said that when they bumped me into open, I ended up getting 3rd for the tournament.
Wow. How did that happen? I think it was the psychotic consistency. Because I was never close to the open scores at an event, but going to all three comps and posting reasonable scores, then being a little ahead at Horse Pens, I managed to eek in there. So it ended up basically rocking. I won a pile of gas money, and got to see myself ranked with actual, very very strong boulderer women. I decided that it all meant that there was a hidden cost to spraying on the internet. Dan decided it meant that I had arrived. So hey, I’ve arrived. Hi.
blargtown October 25, 2011
In the last week, I have come up against some kind of less-than-stoked wall. I think one reason is over-exposure to plastic. On some spiritual, biological level, I am allergic to indoor climbing. It gives me stabbing pains in my fingers and a watering in my eyes and an over-all malaise in my life when I do it more than a few times a year. Which has been great the last two and a half years that I haven’t been doing it. But this ABS thing had me crimping neon three times in the last 6 weeks, and it’s caught up with me something awful. My hand hurts, and I’m having these rogue thoughts that rock climbing is not that awesome after all.
Which is odd, because I swear I had a genuinely awesome time at the Athens comp at Active Climbing, the coolest gym ever with the silliest name. The owner is super low key, non-ego guy named Adrian, psyched on having a gym that serves the folks of Athens. He reminds me a little of Luis from La Posada. The setters and workers all seemed happy and talk about how awesome their gym is even when they’re outside. And the lines I did that day were some of the funnest, hardest gym lines I’ve played on before (special props to the brown dihydral (O-3 I think), and the pale blue overhang in the kiddy room (O-17, which I could not do sogood!!!). So it was an awesome day on fun routes. I got creamed, like, creamed corn in a blender, by a couple of high school girls from Atlanta. What’s with me always getting beaten by enormous German women? Remember the dyno comp? I’m sayin! God bless them they were fun to climb with all day. They live for plastic and don’t know anything about the world of outdoor climbing or, apparently, their approximate geographical location. So the day was decent. But with no swag and only one modest cash prize, I was annoyed to have gone all the way down there for one expensive day on plywood. I told my mother about it and she said,
“Well my dear, this is only the beginning. You shall suffer many more defeats at the hands of the young.”
Another awesome thing, however, was that I got to climb with this amazing girl in the Youth D division named Helen. Helen is – I’m callin it right now – the future of climbing. We met when I complimented her outfit. She had on argyle tights and a sparkly skirt with her team t-shirt, and a Chimp Crimps owl chalk bag. She was quick to tell me she has an endorsement deal with Chimp Crimps and touted the value of their stuffed animal chalk bags. At the end of the comp, Alex pulled down his circus silk and trapeze, and showed his skills to the chilluns. Helen, it turns out, is also a skilled circus acrobat, and did some pretty radical, terrifying tricks while we waiting for awards time.
That’s one thing that’s been a real blessing from the ABS comps – getting to spend time around kids. I miss teaching gymnastics, and having that energy around me of young folks crushing at some athletic something. Also, always at these comps, kids and parents approach me with the most amazing compliments: that they were super inspired or enjoyed watching me or were pulling for me in the finals and stuff like that, which is so SO nice to hear and definitely stokes the climbing fire. ABS has been overall a very encouraging, fun and validating experience. But I’m glad to be done with the plastic game for a looooong while.
I’m not sure why else I might be feeling the blargs. A few visits to Blowing Rock this week and, hopefully, some project fun, will probably snap me out of it. Oh! Alex and I went to LRC on Sunday and I got to finish a couple things I’d ignored on Triple Crown day in favor of high volume. I also found a project that I am in love with. It’s called Grimace, and it’s a series of sloper rails, like a slightly longer Gibbs Cave. I did all but the last move to a jug, and I hope I get back there soon to finish it up. It’s in this lovely, tiny cave and hang on I’ll look for a picture of it to show you….
- I can’t find one, but it’s a very popular line. I’ll take a picture next time I go.
- Alright I feel a little better now. Mom and I, whenever we talk lately, have been consoling ourselves through trials by remembering that sooner than later, we shall be in Hawaii.