Although many aspects of this article are either dated or wrong, this is a very nice write up from DPM. Some corrections that I can point out are: There are 390 listed problems in the GHSP Guidebook (we cut down the number toward the end, there will be many more in the 2nd edition), James Litz did FA most every problem in the AVP Area, but after discussing the problems with James, I know of no double digit problems. Litz explained that he climbed most everything he could at AVP and he does not remember climbing anything within the park proper… I hope someday it comes to my attention that the legendary Litz put up a slew of V12/13s throughout the park however, that would be amazing! The hike to the LRT that Jim Horton explained, if you were to actually do that on foot both to and from the parking at the the Highlands Area, where it normally is closed, it is less than 4 miles round trip (dont ever do that however, its a really bad decision). If there is a massive snow storm and a gate is closed at the entrance of the park, congratulations on making it that far. Now turn around and go home.
I have been living here in my cabin in GHSP since May, and for the past month and a half in-between trail building, other boulder projects, powerful thunderstorms, park programs, guide trips, multiple black bear encounters, and book-read rest days, I have been exploring and developing a truly spectacular new area. This area (home to well over 13 new boulders and blocks) boasts some of the most exciting new problems I have ever chalked up. Thus far I have been only been able to clean, send, and document close to 40 new lines here, and I have the overwhelming sense that I have touched only the outer edge of what is to be climbed in this obscure but easily accessed boulder strewn nook of GHSP.
I’ve separated the areas (check Mountain Project) into the Church Boulders area, and the Hinterland. The Church Boulders house a few easy-going blocks and a handful of bruiser lines on steep terrain. There are currently V-1 through V-9 graded problems that I have thus far been able to clean and do in a day session or less, and I still need to clean and climb many of the other (what appears at least) easy or warm-up problems. There are at least two projects that I suspect will go at V10 or more, and I’m excited to devote another entire session to these very soon. I likewise have not explored the entire extent of this row of boulders to the base of the ridge (and much less above), so who knows what megaliths may lay in the lofty or deep…
The Hinterland is so good I feel almost embarrassed as to not have known about it all before now. That being said, I am at the same time glad to have been able to dedicate efforts to all of the other locations in GHSP, not having these boulders and projects brooding in my subconscious. The Hinterland is a wonderland of steepness. It has AVP and Contact Station-like steepness with nice features and quality landings throughout. These boulders stretch both above and below the approach trail and litter the above hillside with a line and cluster, and then another tier of blocks above that. I have only developed 4 out of the 10+ boulders I know of, and I do stress the “know of” because I have not exhausted the landscape surrounding this area whatsoever. Problems here range from V0-V9, and that too corresponds with not having spent more than one session on the problems here excluding “The Declaration”(V9) which I did have to come back for the send (Mark Mellette and I worked this rig at the end of a session and it required some interesting, taxing, and thought provoking beta which we worked out, but couldn’t quite put together. The following day I returned and sent 3rd go and grinning ear to ear).
This new area (Church and Hinterland) helped push GHSP to the 800+ boulder problem realm, and I feel quite confident that it too will help the park surpass the 900+ in the near future. Dan Brayack and I have already begun compiling information here, and this place will no doubt grace the pages of the 2nd Edition GHSP Bouldering Guide. Looks like I will be spending another focused and solitary summer season, good health and luck allowing, in Grays-Land’s mountainous Appalachian boulder fields.
Mountain Project link to the area: http://www.mountainproject.com/v/up-area/108170330
I can see it. The light at the end of the tunnel that has been my 1st semester of graduate school here at Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C… It has been one hell of an experiance, and hopefully I have done well. I have been able to climb quite a bit despite my heavy workload this semester, but, this is my last week and the summer is about to kick off. Ill be moving back into the cabin amongst the boulders in GHSP, and my list of projects has never been greater… I have multiple new boulderfields under development, the GHSP Trail Days Event that I am hosting, and more hard projects than ever. Likewise the guidebook is coming out this Friday (!!!!!!!) and I’m getting a lot of great feedback from that (I’m always nervous right before my work goes before public scrutiny). I’m psyched to take a breather from all of this academia, from all of the planning for the Event, from the Boone bouldering populous and hype scene (I love Boone bouldering and -most- of the climbers here, but the hype and ego, as with living in any popular climbing scene, can be overwhelming at times), and get back to my solitude and bouldering roots. The roots of development and personal drive.
I went back out to the new rocks out at Burkes Garden a couple of weeks ago and did a new one called “Entelechy” (V10FA) and saw endless potintial while up there (specifically for a new sport crag). I also have started going out to GHSP more recently, honeing in on what all Ill be putting up this season. I got back in this past weekend and had my first “no fall project day”… I had tried a few projects a long time ago and swept through over this last session and did them all first go. Its not that I ever really aim for this, which is why it was pretty cool to me to do (It didnt occur to me that I never fell until my buddy Kent said “dude you never fell, nice job”). I think three of these were v7s, one v6, and one v8… All were really cool, especially the new one on the Shanghai Boulder I called “Dark Knight”(V8) which begins low from the standstart and the end of an ascending crimp seam. The sequence opens up with a hard move off of two opposite facing fingertip crimps (on a 45degree boulder) with terrible feet. Tossing to a hard gaston rail, you can force a hard match or do a cool “rose move” through and under to a better hand. Finish the rest of the 15ft climb through v-easy moves to a mantle top out.
Sweet. Well, one more exam to go! I’ll be moving into the cabin soon, which happens to be just across the road from my all time greatest goal of the summer in terms of FA projects. The Truth Project. I have avoided sessioning this line until I move in. I want to give this problem my all. I’ll finish up the semester at the end of this week and move into the solitude, boulderfields, and mountains thereafter. Ill hopefully get loads of photos, video, and ample time to write updates here. But then again, if my memory serves me well, I tend to get absorbed by all the wilderness and unclimbed rock more than I like to admit, and fail to capture as much film as I wish I had. Which isn’t a bad thing too. Psyched.
This post will be fast and cover a lot, but a lot has happened lately! To start off I want to extend a massive thanks to Hippy Tree Surf & Stone. If you haven’t been able to check this company out yet, Hippy Tree is a nature inspired surf and outdoor apparel company dedicated to designing products and graphics that embody the surf & stone lifestyle. This company’s rugged apparel designs and hand drawn graphics feature waves, mountains and wildlife, reflecting the company’s passion for surfing and the outdoors. Marked by their “tree” logo, HippyTree is committed to softening its environmental impact by using eco-friendly materials and manufacturing, which is a virtue every outdoorsman should appriciate.
HippyTree gave me a sponsorship and an outdoorsman earlier this season, and I couldn’t be prouder to be a part of the HT Tribesman team, represening the company here in the Southeast. The products they shipped out to me couldn’t be of higher quality and I have never received as many complements as I have while wearing HT apparel. I have worn some article of HT clothing basically every day and certainly for every session since the package arrived. Awesome designs, unmatched durability, and environmentally conscious, super functional style.
Earlier last month I received the first print of the GHSP Bouldering Guidebook. I have been on a steady heightened level of psyche since I opened the first page. Dan Brayack was truly a wizard of photography and editing. The GHSP Guide is beautiful. I’m so excited to see this finished product representing the culmination of my 5+ years of development and 2.5yrs of work on this book with Dan. I cannot wait to see what the next couple of years bring!
The month of May will be a huge for GHSP Bouldering. The release of the guidebook, and the GHSP Trail Days Event on May 25th-26th should mark a new era for bouldering in Grayson. This event will be much more than I could’ve expected 5 months ago. Hippy Tree, Misty Mountain Threadworks, and Giddy Organics have been amazing in supporting this event by sending some gear and apparel out to raffle off for a new rental crash pad for the park. Redleg Husky, an awesome bluegrass bad out of Boone NC will be playing that night for the event. Volunteers for the trail get into the park and camp for free, and lots of bouldering will take place in the afternoons. The Access Fund Trail Team and I will be working on the trail all week prior to the event as well. I cannot wait to get this new GHSP trail underway! The State of VA and GHSP are really going above and beyond in terms of welcoming climbing as a sport in VA State Parks and being open and supportive of the climbing community. These are exciting times to be a climber in VA!
I have been able to send some cool lines here around Boone. I sent the classic “Flagyl” (v10) not long ago, and put up or got the 2nd of Thunderclap (v9/10) at Thunder Hill. I also had a great day at The Dump, flashing “Druid Roof”, “Black Magic Woman”, and “Pain”, all v7s. I did “Bumble Bee” (V8) quickly and put up a possible new one called “New Pain (V9).
I also had a great couple of sessions at the new area I have been developing in the Wildwood of GHSP. I have put up close to 40 new problems there from V1-V8 and I am now working a few V9 and V10 lines that will be amazing once I get them figured out. I’m also excited to work my project, The Truth, which I feel could easily be V11. I’ve done all the moves, done it in two parts, and now I just need some time to put it together…
I found a new major southern sandstone boulderfield just 45min off of I-81 in VA. This is the most exciting VA sandstone area I have ever climbed in. I only had 3 hours of daylight to session there, but I managed to clean and sent two fun ones, a V7 and V6ish line. What I saw there has been ingrained in my memory every day since. I would like to session there at least once more before summer sets in. I saw some of the steepest, proudest roofs in this area, more inspiring than any other sandstone area that I have been to in the state.
This is the “short” recap of the past couple of months, and I’ve had all irons in the fire lately, not allowing much time to write on here. This first semester of grad school is nearing the end, and I’m moving into the cabin at GHSP in less than a month. I’m looking forward to having some time to breath easy and catch up on some writing and first ascents… This will be a summer to remember.
Check out HippyTree’s website:http://www.hippytree.com/
And also the GHSP Trail Days on the new Grayson Highlands Bouldering webpage: http://graysonhighlandsbouldering.com/park-events/ghsp-trail-day/
The Grayson Highlands Trail Days event will be held Memorial Weekend, May 25th-26th. This event is a collaboration of efforts from an amazing community of dedicated climbers, the Access Fund Jeep Conservation Crew, Grayson Highlands State Park, Americorps, and VA State Parks. The Cracked Rock bouldering trail will be the first state park maintained bouldering trail in VA, and will connect and provide easy access to over 9 popular blocks and boulders near the Contact Station Area. The trail will be a one mile, scenic, easy to hike, loop trail that will start in the parking lot and end there as well. At the parking lot there are many amenities such as an indoor restroom, vending machines, and information center, rental crash pads, chalk for sale, and GHSP Bouldering Guidebooks.
Volunteers to this even will get into the park for free, get to camp in the park the night of the 25th for free, and the park has dedicated an area nearby the Split Rock Trail site as an exclusive camping area for volunteers so we can all be close to the site and away from the campground (which can be a little crazy during Memorial Weekend). That night we will get treated to awesome live bluegrass music by Redleg Husky out of Boone NC! This will be at the amphitheater in the campground and I’m sure tons of campers will be excited to join in on the show as well.
The plan is to work during the mornings and a little after lunch, but the afternoons will be dedicated to bouldering in the park. I will provide some carpooling assistance with the park van. The GHSP Boudering Guidebook will have just been released and available for purchase at the park office at the Contact Station. As long as the good weather prevails this weekend should be a great time and a chance for volunteers to come out and lend a hand in a part of park history. Come on out and help build a trail that climbers and park visitors will enjoy for years to come!
-Be sure to join the Facebook event so we can keep track of the number of volunteers or just message me if that doesnt work out.
Below I have attached the topo of the proposed trail layout from GHSP indicating the five main rock features (comprising of 7 boulders) that the trail will directly pass by, and nearby (not shown) are a couple other popular blocks that this trail will give easy access to. The topo shows mileage and the park office. Click the topo for a beter view. Ill will add photos of the boulders themselves very soon!
Creating a large-scale landscape drawing of the boulderfields of Grayson Highlands State Park is something I have always wanted to do since first laying eyes on the awesome Lineville Gorge prints by Joey Henson. I have always stared at the maps Joey illustrated and thought that “one day” I would do something like this. After moving here to Boone and seeing Jeffery Bonatti’s awesome work on the Ruff Guide map of the park, I decided to finally start something of my own. A lot of folks don’t know that once upon a time I was actually a pretty good artist, although I have admittedly not retained that skill set after nine years of not drawing or sculpting. As a high school student I had the option of heading to college on an art scholarship, but instead I went on a long vacation to Afghanistan with the 82nd Airborne and the rest has led me here (thank goodness). With that being said, I was apprehensive going into this process. Up until this I really hadn’t done much more than a few comical sketches of professors in my notebook during college seminars.
I went to look at Joey and Jeffery’s work to glean more inspiration, and then the art supply shop here in Boone for some basic stuff. I decided to do my own unique portrayal of GHSP. I did the landscape in pen and graphite and wanted to capture the frontier, exploratory feeling I get every time I go to the park. Both in part from the Appalachian frontier vibe Grayson has kept alive in the historical aspect of the place, and too, in my own exploration of Grayson’s bouldering.
I sat nervously in front of the blank page for quite some time. Finally, with pen in hand, I put ink to paper and it was on. I worked on the map for two weeks and decided it wasn’t what I wanted and trashed it. Round two, I flipped the paper to a lengthwise landscape and was able to format it to suite the cascade of boulders better and to get the mountains of VA and NC in a more balanced position. This allowed me to capture over 200 various (popular and obscure) boulder problems and allude to new boulders and areas that are now under development. The park trails are drawn in showing the name and mileage (as well as the Appalachian Trail and the new Split Rock bouldering trail that will be constructed during the GHSP Trail Day this summer with the Access Fund). Many landscape features, park buildings and cabins, and park fauna are shown. I tried to include things such as restrooms, amphitheaters, bluegrass shows, blueberry patches, landing and highball aspects, and where to rent a crash pad and buy chalk. I wanted the person viewing the map to be able to stare at it for a while, but still see something new the next time.
I worked on the map every day until the 13th of February. After taking the original to Creative Copys here in Boone and getting the contrast down to the right level the final prints were ready to go! I have the prints listed for sale on Etsy (since they’re set up is much less expensive and headache inducing than other sites I looked at), and I’m going to take some prints to GHSP soon as well. Ordering off of Etsy requires a shipping fee included in the price since they will be mailed from here in Boone, but otherwise they are 15 dollars. Here is the link to order the print:https://www.etsy.com/listing/123760326/select-boulders-of-grayson-highlands
Or, just click the ”GHSP Map” page tab at the top of the screen and follow the link. I hope you all like them!
I have made a number of trips over the past few weeks, only weekend trips unfortunately, to the boulderfields of Rumbling Bald, North Carolina. Last weekend I worked Pilfer, a classic in the area, before trying this V11 called Dreamland with 4 friends of mine for about an hour. I worked the sequence and had everything dialed in but fell from the last hold (a huge jug) too tired to mantle up and finish the rig. It was on my mind all week and it plagued me throughout my seminars and courses at App State. I woke up today to the pouring rain here in Boone and hung my head… But to my surprise the weather channel showed no rain and 0% chance all day, with clear skies and 55 degree temps. I packed my stuff and started driving.
On arrival I headed straight to the boulder without stopping elsewhere and jumped on the end sequence to warm up. After “sufficiently warming up” I stretched out a bit more and pulled on. The boulderfield was all but deserted and my only encouragement was from the enthusiastic woodpeckers on the massive oaks to my left and right, and the excited chipmunks and squirrels that were raising a ruckus in the crunchy leaves on the forest floor. I faintly heard a couple “real climbers” working one of the amazing trad routes somewhere on the cliff line above. It was pretty nice considering last weekend in the “Terraces Area” in which Dreamland is apart of, there were close to twenty other boulderers (this is due to the enormously popular “Patio Roof”(V8) which is directly below Dreamland).
The sequence starts off at the base of an arête corner to the far right side of a steeply overhung “wavelike” face, leaning left on a nice crimp side pull. The start move is a reachy left dynamic lunge lock-off to a distant but meaty full crimp. After the left crimp were two rightward moves to a complex crimp. Once you get the crimp, my favorite move comes into play. Once on the complex (little staggered nubs that have to be “just right” to crimp) crimp you have to use a lot of core and “sink” into alignment to make a cross over into a massive roof pocket. Afterward you cut feet and work into some funky sequences that end with a burly “bear fight” lip traverse to a juggy seam to the far left for an often heartbreaker top-out (that can be warmed up on when fresh). After 3 attempts I topped out, packed my junk, and headed back to Boone (resisting getting on anything else to save skin for the next couple of days on some Boone boulders).
Some folks call this soft. I probably would too, but, I’m also short enough to see that this thing is very height dependant. The pumpy steepness and number of moves likewise caused this thing to feel pretty tough. Still yet, I did this one quickly. I could see this getting sandbagged to a stout v10, but I’ll agree on V11 all day!