Saturday, October 22, 2011

Competition Climbing

This is the time of year when all the competitions start up.  I have never been a competitive climber at heart.  Competitions are great and I always have a blast participating in a comp but when it really comes down to why I climb its to be outside, enjoy my friends, meet new people and see amazing new boulders and routes.  Those are all the things that drive and motivate me.  This weekend is a little different, I am headed to Delaware to climb in their annual competition.  I am psyched to pull on some new problems and rep for PA.  I hope to be back outside this week or the following weekend to see some amazing new routes at one of our local western pa crags.  Here are some through backs from Elk.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

FA - Bubba Ho Tep

Here is some footage that Kyle Adams got from our weekend at NRG.  Thanks Kyle.

Bubba Hotep V10 FA - NRG from Kyle Adams on Vimeo.


October on the east coast marks the start of climbing season.  The mountains are painted by the changing of the leaves and temperatures are prime for firing projects.  Conditions on the east coast vary so much through the year from frigid winters to hot and humid summers that fall is a welcomed change.  One of my favorite places to spend fall climbing is the New River Gorge WV.
Its gorgeous at the New this time of year.  All of the trees are in full color and the views from the bridge are incredible.  This weekend the weather looked great so we decided to head down to check out some of the new development being done. NRG has some of the cleanest sandstone boulders that I have seen, sometimes 30-60ft sandstone blocks sitting in the forest with no holds.  Other boulders are more appealing in the sense that they do have holds and are in a good height category that falls into my comfort zone.  The rock is different from southern sandstone, it has a glassy feel from being water polished and the rock formed under different pressures so it lends itself to a slightly different climbing style then southern rock.  Maybe the best way to explain it is a combination of grit stone techniques along with gymnastic movement.  To top off the unique quality of the rock look no farther the quantity of rock.  I think it can be summed up like this, NRG is stacked with stone.
We arrived in Fayetteville late Friday night and met up with Nic Spruill to do some night bouldering.  Nic took took us to the Ali Bubba roof at Beauty Mt.  to try some fun established climbs and show us some projects.  We warmed up and quickly dispatched some lines and started working on a project towards the far left of the roof.  It went down quickly once we figured out the beta and we called it Bubba Ho Tep v10.  After our night adventure we headed back to Nic's place to kip for the night.  We woke up bright and early the next morning and headed back to the Ali Bubba roof to warm up and so Nic could fire Bubba Ho Tep.  Nic sent Ali Bubba and came damn close to firing Bubba Ho Tep.  I put up another new line on the farthest end of the roof and called Prince Ali v11. Ryan Scrufield joined us half way through the day and I showed him the new lines and sprayed him with beta.  He managed to do Bubba Ho Tep quickly and found new betta on different holds for prince Ali that clocks in at about v9.  The new beta uses some extra holds out right that for some reason i just didnt consider using. Nice work!  We finished up the day by hiking around looking at boulders and ended up at Pat Goodman and Jessa's house to have a cook out.
Sunday we woke up early again to capitalize on the cool morning temps and fire the Mellifluous project at fern.  Ryan dispatched in about 15 minutes or so and named the line Master of Manipulation.  I put up another new line to the right on the same boulder and it clocks in at around v9.
Every trip I make to the new reminds me of how much we have on the east coast.  Its different in many ways than other places that I have climbed in the sense that you definitely need to be up for an adventure in order to climb.  The rock is very inspiring too.  Some of the prettiest formations I have seen are on sandstone and the new river sandstone is no exception.  Our trip was good and I learned a lot.  I cannot wait to get back down to the New River and put in some more time developing such a great area.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

New River Bound

Its been decided, a crew is headed to the new to throw down this weekend.  I am planning on leaving tomorrow or early friday morning.  See you all down there!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Minotaur v11 Johnstown PA
This past weekend I traveled to another Pennsylvania grit stone area to snag the third ascent of Minotaur.  This line follows pinches, pockets, slopers and crimps to a proud mantle at roughly 18ft.  Trevor (FA'd the line) was nice enough to give me the run down on beta however; I decided to use a slightly different version of moves to send.  This line is an instant classic anywhere and is just another testament to the quality of Pennsylvania bouldering.  Its good to be home on the east coast.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Newness in PA

I have been back on the east coast for almost 6 days and I have managed to get out climbing 3 of those days and train one day in the gym.  Thursday a crew went out to Elk to check out some new boulders that Trevor found the end of last season and we never made it to.  I met up with Travis and Quentin in central PA early on Thursday morning and we headed north to meet Mike, Josh and Trevor.  We weren't sure exactly how much climbing was going to be done but the prospects of new rock, high quality grit stone and seeing good friends was enough to get us all to be psyched.  We were all surprised at how quickly we made it to the new boulders as Elk is notorious for having very long steep approaches that turn most climbers away to more accessible areas.  
The new boulders turned out to be amazing and 3 unclimbed projects remain with one line definitely in the (v14+) range while the others went completely untried but seem to have the potential to be equally as difficult.  Travis and I each put up a new line at the new area, both are really cool.  Helke Arete v7 and Travis's line which is probably close to v6 or v7 too.   
As the sun started to head west and our desire to climb on familiar turf grew we headed to the boulder garden across the road.  I managed  to get the second ascent of a great line "weasels ate my flesh" with slightly different beta than which it was established with. I added a new line at boulder garden its probably in the v8 or 9 range and called it "tragedy".  Mike managed to snag the FA of a new slab which I am not sure of grade or name but it was really fun.
Elk still manages to completely shatter my ideas of hard rock climbing as I cannot think of another area on the east coast with more unclimbed v13+ projects on clean rock that require extreme technical prowess and power.
I was able to make another western PA craig visit in the past 6 days and managed the third ascent of Minotaur v11 and I put up a new line Gorilla Warfare v10.  The weather has been pretty warm but we have been managing and its only going to get better for sending.  Its been bitter sweet leaving Colorado and the wild west but I am having fun and trying to climb as much as I can before the weather turns cold.

Monday, October 3, 2011


In my last post about the frontier of bouldering I started by saying that Wyoming is the next great frontier for new development.  Two days after my first visit to Bennett Peak WY I made a second trip back to Laramie to hook up with Bryan and Davin to explore another area of rock.  Both Bryan and Davin raved about the area known as Neverland saying that the quantity of rock was double or more what I had seen at Bennett Peak and the quality was unmatched.  I would be lying if I said I wasn't skeptical about what I was hearing.  First, what I saw at Bennett was incredible and I couldn't believe that even more rock like that existed almost completely untapped.  Second, I have heard about areas in Wyoming before from friends and about new development that has been happening all over Wyoming.  Most reviews have been excellent however mixed opinions do exists in the climbing community.  So I was definitely a little hesitant but I had to see this area before I left CO.  Once again my views on the potential development in Wyoming have changed.  
(Arial view from Bing Maps of a small section of Bennett Peak)
Crossing the river to what are known as the Rose Boulders..

Bennett Peak is around 1hr and 20min west of Laramie Wyoming.  To get there you have to travel over the Snowy Range which limits travel in the winter.  Once the pass is closed bouldering at Bennett Peak is improbable.  Based on Davin's feedback the pass stays open anywhere from mid November - late December but after the first heavy snow you are locked out until late spring.  The season for climbing at Bennett Peak would be anywhere from April - November with the prime conditions being early April/May and Late Sep - November.  The arial shot from above shows just a small section of rock from the entire mountain.  Access can range from no approach to 1hr 45min depending on where you want to go on the mountain.  We spent our day at an area that was never explored before and required us to cross a river.  I was up to my arse in water at some points and had to do the river crossing bare foot because I didn't come prepared but it was totally worth it.  We managed to put up some great new lines from v2 - v11.  
FA Southern Drawl v9/10
One line in particular is an amazing seam feature that goes out a steep roof and is in the v7 range with the crux move at the top around the 18ft mark.  Climbing up to the crux on is somewhere in the v3 range and is everything you could ask for.  Its not taxing but it makes you think and requires good foot work and a clear mind as the ground gently slopes away from the climb as you enter the crux of the climb and the most exposed section too.  I managed the FA on the seam and named it Faust and put up two more classics lines before the day was over Southern Drawl v9 or 10 and Metamorphosis v11ish.  Southern Drawl goes up an overhanging face on some amazing slopers to the crux move on some poor crimps.  Metamorphosis is a low roof with very gymnastic climbing to a large move to the lip of the boulder on a heel hook and a toe hook.
I am so grateful for the tour of Bennett and I am excited to get back to some of the other areas on the mountain to develop more of the amazing rock there.  

"Crazy in the Ocean" extension project
Neverland is an endless expansion gneiss very similar to RMNP.  Neverland is just another area of amazing rock that is within a 1hr 30min radius of Laramie.  
I traditionally find myself wanting to do my own thing and find my own way and I find a great deal of pleasure in developing new areas.  Exploration and adventure have always been a driving force and motivation for me. When Davin told me about Neverland I was psyched and made a trip back to Laramie to see what the fuss was about.  Thursday morning I met Bryan, Davin and Justin at the coffee shop in Laramie and we headed out.  We drove through so much rock before we reached our destination that I couldn't even comment, I just sat in the back seat and watched project after project roll by.  Our final stop was a wall at the top of a hill called the wood grain wall.  Davin put up a v10 called Crazy in the Ocean and wanted to show Justin and I the line and see if we could repeat and possibly link the line into a project on the same wall.  Both Justin and I managed repeats on the Crazy in the Ocean and started working on the extension project.  Both of these lines are incredible.  No one managed a send on the extension but we did work out the link and started putting pieces together quickly.
Wyoming is definitely not for the weak spirited or the for someone looking for the comforts of society however; if you are looking for adventure, high quality bouldering and more rock than you can climb in your lifetime than Wyoming is for you.