Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sport Climbing in North Carolina

As I stated in my last few posts, I am now living in North Carolina.  The climbing here is fantastic.  The climbing here also known for its traditional ethic and lack of bolts on climbs.  Supposedly at Stone Mountain, the bolts are 30 feet apart on some routes. Well, today I went to a place that is unique in this state.  I went sport climbing

Today I got to hang out with two fellow guides, Karsten and Linsay.  They also had a friend of theirs, Sarah, join us.  The four of us set out to this newer crag to get on some steeper bolted routes.  Now around here steep is kind of a relative term.  You see, a lot of the climbing that we have been doing lately has been on the slabs of Looking Glass.  After driving for 1.5 hours, we parked the car and set off down the trail.  From the looks of the trail this place hasn't seen a ton of traffic yet.  Then when we got to the rock, it short.  The routes there were 40-60 feet tall on a metamorphosed sandstone or a quartzite type of rock.  There are good solid edges.  The only thing is lacks is friction.  The routes here were steeper than anything else I had seen in the state so far but that isn't saying much.  There were a few roofs and some climbs overhung a few feet for the entire route.  Basically, it isn't the Red River Gorge in terms of steepness.

After deciding which routes to start on, I went up a route to set up a fixed line so that Karsten could get some photos of us climbing on the route.  I didn't onsight the route but came back later to put it down.  It climbs up small edges with occasional big holds and longer moves.  It was fun.  the other route we got on was a tips crack that you face climbed around.  It wasn't too hard and since you didn't use the crack that much it seemed to lose its appeal. After those two routes we hung out at the first climb getting photos and having a few laughs.

After that I eyed a fist crack around the corner I wanted to try.  I grabbed some gear and went up it.  Unfortunately I didn't have any gear big enough to fit the crack.  Luckily, there was a small crack to the left that took small marginal gear.  As I started up the crack I realized one thing, the inside of this crack is as smooth as a countertop.  I am not joking.  This crack lacked any friction.  Also a few inches into the crack and you were getting into some wet stuff.  Despite these set backs, I managed to find a technique for jamming the crack with my elbow and groveled my way to the top.  It wasn't a bad climb but needs to get climbed more because at the moment it is super dirty.

I then moved over to a sport route that looked like it was an easy 5.11 from the ground.  I started up the route and the moves were comfortable until the third bolt.  Right after clipping it I realized all of a sudden that I was getting into the hard stuff.  After a few attempts, I managed to pull the first hard move, clip the next bolt and scope out the last few moves.  The most powerful move is right after the third bold but after the fourth bolt, you have a dynamic move then there are no more foot holds.  Typically I would start to smear, a move where you paste your foot on the wall and use friction to stand up.  On this rock you can't do that.  There is no friction.  So the last few moves were just attempting to smear and move up to the next good hold.  Finally, I made it to the top and came down to rest for another go.  The second attempt wasn't much better but I made it up it with less falls.

It was nice to check out another crag.  I managed to get some pictures and Karsten seemed to have gotten some good ones.  We had a great time giving our arms a work out instead of our calves.  For those of you interested, you should check out some of Karsten's photography.  He is a very skilled photographer and guide.  He as managed to blend those two passions well.  His site is  Here are some of the shots that I got. 

No comments: