Thursday, April 18, 2013

The New

The New River Gorge has long been on our list of places to climb, but up until this road trip a visit here just hasn't worked out.  We've been here for a week now, and we've climbed every day since we arrived.

The routes here are mostly single pitch, with a good mix of sport and trad, that climb a short cliff band running along the top of the gorge.  Getting to the top of a route often gives you a stunning view of the New River or the impressive New River Gorge Bridge.

Not surprisingly we've been mostly seeking out the awesome crack climbs. Here is our new friend Martin leading the impressive New Fangled Dangle 5.11a.

Kristal at the top of the first half splitter crack of Ritz Cracker 5.9.

Me heading up Springboard 5.10b.

The weather has been hit and miss, with scattered showers and some hot weather for the last few days.  Thankfully there are so many routes here that there always seems to be at least something that can be climbed.  Even in the pouring rain, some routes are capped by enormous roofs that keep them dry.

Though the hot weather doesn't make for optimal climbing conditions, it does make cooking and camping much more comfortable.  Kristal has been making some awesome meals, including this delicious chicken Quinoa salad with freshly baked Bruschetta.

We've really been putting our new camp stove oven to a lot of use. I even managed to bake a cake for Kristal's birthday with it.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Granite Domes

Over the last week we finally managed to tie into a rope and climb up some of the impressive granite domes of North Carolina.  First up was the 500-ish foot Stone Mountain.

Here I am on The Great Arch 5.5, which climbs an impressive continuous corner for several hundred feet.

We were told it was one of the best 5.5's in the country, and we can't really argue.  Here's Kristal approaching the top of it.

Aside from two large corner systems, the climbing at Stone Mountain mostly involves climbing friction slab, with very little in the way of anything to actually hold onto with your hands.  Here's Kristal on some nice runnout slab near the top.

And the few from the top.

After getting back into slab climbing shape we were psyched to go climb Laurel Knob, a huge dome (1000+ feet high!) hidden in Cashiers Valley and plagued by a long history of access issues.  The cliff is now owned by the Carolina Climbers Association, but is surrounded by private property.  It's a bit odd to have to hike for an hour and a half to access the cliff when there is a nice private road going right up to the base.  You also lose that remote climbing feel when you are surrounded by million dollar mansions, especially when construction crews are building a new one right below you.

Regardless, it turned out to be an excellent day.  We got an early start to try to beat the soon to be sweltering heat of the day.

We decided to climb one of the many classic routes up the cliff, Fathom 5.10a, which came highly recommended.  Thankfully the cliff is somewhat west facing, so we were able to stay mostly in the shade for the first 5 pitches, which climbs up along this obvious diagonal crack/seem for 600-ish feet before climbing over the steep headwall.

Here is Kristal coming up the spectacular 6th pitch.

And at the top of pitch 7, after sucking it up and climbing the fun, but full of running water, water groove.

Sadly the top of the cliff is also private property, so none of the routes officially climb to the top anymore.  After rappelling down in the heat of the sun, on what can best be described as a large granite frying pan, we were excited beyond words to find this beautiful waterfall/swimming hole on the long hike back to the car.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Bouldering Crusade

It's been almost 6 weeks now since we left Ottawa, with every intention of immediately starting to climb some long routes in North Carolina. Looking back now, it's a little hard to believe that we have spent that entire time bouldering.

It all came to an end yesterday though, when we finally packed up our home/camp at Rocktown. After 14 days of bouldering there over the last few weeks it almost felt like we were locals, helping people find boulders and showing them cool problems. But with some warmer weather rolling in we are finally making our way to North Carolina to tie into a rope. Hopefully we won't be too terrified!

We had a lot of fun at Rocktown, climbed a lot of awesome problems and met a lot of really great people. Here are some pics from the last week.

Me starting up the Little Bad Boulder V5.

Kristal with one of her many heel hooks on Full Circle V5.

Me executing some super cool tall man beta on Drug Test Policy V7.

Kristal on Super Mario V3.

Me on the classic Golden Shower V5, on one of the most beautiful boulder faces anywhere.

Kristal on the cool Blue V6.

Me on the awesome Campus Punks slab V5.

Kristal catching the swing coming out of Red Belly, V4.

and working Contrail V5 on the beautiful Comet boulder.