We had planned to hang around Chattanooga for a few days and take in some of the excellent nearby climbing. Unfortunately both of the areas we planned to visit just happened to be closed! Tennessee Wall due to a hunting closure, and Stone Fort in order to prepare for the upcoming Triple Crown competition. We weren't in the mood to sit around idly and wait for them to re-open, so we headed east into North Carolina. We would be back.
While we were in Horse Pens we heard a lot of talk about Rumbling Bald, so we went to check it out first. There was plenty to climb - trad, sport and bouldering - but with the recent rain and chilly temps we decided to stay off any roped cimbs. We spent 2 days sampling some of the bouldering. Having climbed exclusively on sandstone for almost the last 2 months it was quite a change to be pulling on granite again.
Here is Kristal on a nice warm-up slab.
And again on The Basetball Mantle V3.
We had a great time climbing with Brian and Keeling from Illinois, and had a blast with some ridiculous vines hanging from the trees. Here is Brian in mid-swing about 12 feet off the deck.
Next stop was Looking Glass Rock, which is a cool granite dome litterally covered with these crazy 'eyebrow' features.
We decided to jump on a nice looking 4 pitch moderate called The Sundial Crack 5.8. The cold and wind almost had us abondoning after the first pitch, but we pushed on and made it to the top. The climbing itself was incredibly fun, and it would have been a stellar day had it been a little warmer.
Here is Kristal leading up the second pitch.
And again belaying me up the last pitch.
And at the top, trying to conserve some warmth before heading back down.
Despite the cold temps we were planning to suck it up and spend another day at Looking Glass, but some rain in the forecast changed our minds. Instead we headed up to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. After waiting out the rain for a day we decided to go for a hike along the Appalachian Trail. The weather once again changed our plans, as enough snow had fallen in the mountains to close the road to the trail head. Thankfully The Great Smoky Mountains are full of hiking trails, so we easily found a nice one we could get to. The freshly fallen snow in the forest made for a beautiful hike.