I hate to admit this but climbing at the gym has grown on me. Actually, nix that, bouldering at the gym has grown on me. A year ago that would have been an unspeakable thought but now I’ve learned to appreciate bouldering in the gym for what it is.
Since moving to Seattle I have been going to Stone Gardens on a semi-regular basis. One of the unfortunate side effects of moving to a new city is that I didn’t have a go to climbing partner. That has since been remedied but at first I was flying solo so to speak. Without a belayer I took up bouldering.
In the beginning it was rough. I would thrash and dangle on the easiest of V0’s and my forearms would pump out on even the slightest of overhangs. On the all day climbs in North Carolina my Mythos performed wonderfully but on the plastic of the gym my feet wouldn’t stick like they had on the east coast. It would’ve been easy to blame it on the rubber or the slippery holds but I knew better.
It was frustrating but it all changed the instant I learned the drop knee. When that happened everything just clicked. Soon enough I was keeping my weight over my legs. I could take the time to place my feet instead of thrash for holds. I was making progress and though it wasn’t the same as looking down on the birds on a long route in NC, it was fun.
Now that the weather is starting to turn in Seattle I am getting outside more. The single pitch stuff I’ve been doing hasn’t been fantastic but I find myself ho-humming up 5.9’s, dancing up easier 5.10 friction, and even sinking gear in a splitter 5.8 in marginal weather a couple of weeks ago. Even though these are moderate achievements, they are half past amazing for me considering a year ago I was barely sketching up 5.7.
Bouldering in the gym has allowed me to break through a barrier in my progression as a climber. Not only am I stronger but I have learned how to move, how to balance and how to visualize the sequence. In a couple of years I’d like to be able to TR 5.11d, I’d like to lead 5.10c and I’d like to be confident that I can pull through the bouldery crux thirty feet above my last piece of pro. Maybe I’ll get there, maybe I won’t. What I do know is that without the gym I’ll never get there only climbing two weekends a month.
I recently found the treasure trove of beta called Clint Cummins. This guy has been absolutely everywhere and has documented everything. He compiled a guidebook to Index in 1993 and is freely distributing it on his website. That kind of generosity is truly amazing.
On his website the topo’s are scanned page by page and he has posted quite a few of them. I wanted to print them out and instead of doing it one by one I combined them into a few PDFs. While my 30 minutes of work pales in comparison to the work Clint did I’m sharing them with you for your printing ease.
Seriously though, check out Clint’s site. The amount of info there is staggering. (site)
An unknown climber wrote this comment on an old post of mine. I think he or she has a really good point.
Climbed at Moores Wall, NC last week and there must have been 10 people waiting to rap down the sentinel anchor. There were two people on Zoo View, two on Air Show and at least 6 on the ledge.
There is a big discussion on rockclimbing.com about putting in more anchors around Moores Wall. This issue has been discussed for years and seems to never go anywhere.
So does anyone actually know if they are going to put in some bolted anchors above certain one pitch routes to make it easier to get down so we can do more routes in a day instead of waiting for 45 minutes to get down????
I would put them in myself since I have bolted a lot of routes an CO but everyone around NC states they will be cut.
I think the next step is to call the Hanging Rock State Park and explain that there are more and more inexperienced climbers coming to Moores and someone is going to hurt themselves if we don’t get safer anchors up.
I have been climbing for 12 years and I saw some very unsafe issues this weekend.
As rock climbing becomes more popular in North Carolina the standard exits are becoming overwhelmed which is creating a real danger. The ledge referenced above is fairly substantial, maybe a large pickup truck bed, but six people on it is getting a little too cozy. What are your thoughts? Should Moore’s Wall get new bolts?
I recently headed up to New River Gorge to do some rock climbing. Considering I had never been there it seemed like something I should do before I move from the east coast to the PNW. Planning is not my M.O. but I was meeting a bunch of my brother’s friends at New River Gorge and this was the only weekend that fit everyone’s schedule. The downside to planning a weekend in advance and what I use as an excuse for not planning is that you are at the mercy of the weather. The gamble on this weekend did not payoff and we got rained on pretty steadily which sucked.
We went to the NRG to climb and climb we did, weather be damned. We originally planned to climb at Bubba City but as the heavens opened up that plan was quickly derailed. Hoping that the rain would pass we all huddled under overhangs in a rather futile attempt to stay dry. There was a brief break in the rain and Dave decided to put up a top rope on a damp 5.7 but other than that it was a bust.
As the weather continued to deteriorate the consensus was that we should head over to Bridge Buttress and climb under the shelter of a gigantic roof. When we got there I was pretty impressed by the size of the roof. It had to be at least 30 feet deep. The crazy thing about the roof was not its size but rather the fact that the roof was bolted. I can hardly imagine climbing a roof that deep and that steep.
Dave got on the rock a little before me and started putting up the first pitch of High Times at 5.10c. In good fashion he started hiking it but struggled at the top which involved some friction steps. The rock was sweaty and the crack was in his words “moist.” Last I checked friction moves don’t go along with wet rock but he assured me the rock was fine after he scrambled to the anchors.
I’ve been trying to suck it up lately and lead more, especially when I’m scared and conditions are less than ideal. There happened to be a very short 5.7 crack on the wall (Horton’s Tree) and I decided that I had to force my way up it. After racking up and making sure my chalk bag was full I started up it and by “started up it” I mean slid off the start about a dozen times. Despite the pit in my stomach I was resolved to get up it. 1/2 a chalk bag later, the crack went from wet to damp and the feet went from slick to sweaty. Despite my poor form, in the end I thrashed and dangled my way up it and to me that is what counts. Funny thing is, about an hour later I TRed it smooth like butta.
I don’t typically climb with a large group at popular crags so I rarely see bona fide strong climbers working hard routes. Prior to the New River Gorge trip I had never seen someone put up a 5.12 line. With a top rope already set up on High Times, Dave danced his way up Let the Wind Blow at 5.12a. I have to say that I am now inspired to climb “hard” and even though I probably will never be able to climb harder than say 5.11 on TR, I am determined to become a 5.10 trad climber. Maybe that is unrealistic but with some serious gym time and a bit of miracle gro to put hair on my chest it just might happen.
The rest of the day we climbed on other classics such as Zag (5.8), a generic 5.6 and Jaws (5.9+) which is an incredibly awkward corner crack and much like wrestling a bear. Despite the weather, it was a good day and a great introduction to New River Gorge rock climbing.
I am down for anything once. Life is too short to pass up on experiences just because they are scary, unknown or taboo. This attitude has gotten me in a lot of trouble in the past but it has also exposed me to the “fringe” and that is where the action is at.
I mention this because I have been reading a lot about Vedauwoo lately. Alpinist issue 20 turned me on to the area but the blog ColoCalders.com hooked me and put Vedauwoo on my hit list. What sealed the deal was this little quote from Kate –
“Five short hours in Vedauwoo, and we were sliced open by razor-sharp rock, beaten up by overhanging crack climbs, drenched in icy water, hailed on, and fell down wet slabs. It was a good day – let the Vedauwoo season begin!” (link)
Vedauwoo sounds like an adventure but more importantly it sounds unique. Sure there are many places that can chew you up and spit you out but an area known for its fierce offwidth climbing has to have something magical otherwise why would anybody climb there? I mean how many people have a rack of #5 & #6 camalots? Those things are monstrous! I know some people are offwidth aficionados but I can’t imagine there are enough of those people to make an area renown.
As I make my way cross country next month as I move from the slabs of North Carolina to the volcanoes of Washington I might have to make a pit stop in Vedauwoo just to say I’ve been there. Maybe I’ll find a partner, maybe not but either way I have a feeling I’ll experience the magic.