Friday, May 25, 2018

Return to the Vertical

... our bud MG Sarah has been discussing venturing out as part of a group mountaineering trip (involving some vertical rock work as well) to the North Cascades of Washington State - maybe, maybe not - so we been giving her a hand refreshing some basic rock skills (she'll get the snow and glacier work there) - always a good thing regardless - until just recently, been a while around here since anyone's gripped even a ten foot boulder...

... rock was a bit wet last Sunday - good day to spring clean some ascending gear...

...and brush up on the knot work, rigging and rappelling...

... sure is a pleasure working with people when you demonstrate once and they run with it...

... didn't take long until they're running time trials - hey - is that some "scary Old Dad* climbing gear" that ZMan is totin'?!!...

... give 'em another day or two of refresher work and we'll throw 'em on anything...

... mid-week on the boulders...

... headed up to run some laps on the 'Rat' (aka: 'Workout Boulder')...

... one circuit will get ya' about 80 feet of climbing (although 100 is possible) - usually (used to) try to do at least a 240 foot minimum session...

... all crimpers and thin edging on the steep main face...

... a bit of variety, though - a pretty cool fingertip layback with sketchy feet (with a face variation below and over the small roof)...

... and a cool south face...

... with some bit stiff overhanging routes and variations thereof - that's the 'Mouse' yonder thru the trees...

... even had an 'Old Dad Bachar Ladder' that hung in the woods (left it hanging for posterity) - noticed it's gone now - thievin' pr*cks even shimmied the tree and snatched the rigging - should never had said anything....

*Ref: The Climbing Dictionary, Samet, 2011 - brilliant

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Ancient Times

... had some seldom seen late afternoon free time this past week, was able to get out with 'MG' Sarah for a few hour jungle gym workout...

... 'Fern' boulder located in the 'Hidden Grotto' - stuff here needs lots of brushing - obviously, no one's visited here for many years (although, you can walk right by it and never know it's there)... wasn't equipped for a major brushing project, so did what needed little work and moved on...

... some interesting old stuff on this short steep face - finger pockets and crimp side pulls with thin edging - even found a new project line we never noticed before...

... stopped off at 'Mr. Foley' rock on the way out - some good thin edging and smearing - a bit harder than it looks (and is remembered - at least for us)...

... we haven't really kept up with the local climbing activity for probably ten years (maybe less) - apparently, a lot has been happening as we've learned on line -  it seems SWPA has become a bit of a bouldering "destination"... in our 'Instagram' travels (none of that 'Facebook' stuff for us - that's for "old people" 30+ years) we've noticed images of local boulder problems sandwiched in between shots of Yosemite, Utah, Colorado and such rock (not to mention rock down south), posted by folks from such places... that's pretty cool... we've also noticed an image or two of past worked boulder problems (from "new" and "undiscovered" locations) with a pretty decent difficulty rating attached (we still gotta go and consult our official 'Climbing and Bouldering Grade Conversion Chart', tacked to our bulletin board, when referencing the 'V-Grade' system')... certainly a bit stiffer than what we'd have given it at that time... hey - we'll take it...

... here's a pretty cool 'Lepidodendron' from the same day:

... nothing to note for scale (wasn't thinking), but is a pretty large fossil...

... also a 'Sigillaria' found nearby - lots of this stuff to be found along the ridge if ya' look...

(Internet image)
... when this stuff existed: map of the United States - around 300 million years ago during the 'Carboniferous Period' of the 'Middle Pennsylvanian' age... you can see that the entire Mid Atlantic was mostly a gigantic swamp...

... here's a link to an earlier post: 'Lepidodendron and Sigillaria' ...

... the gigantic swamp has since receded to exist only in the immediate Washington, DC area in these modern times...

Saturday, May 5, 2018

As Above, So Below

... a chilly day in the forest - return to the 'One Thing'...

... warming up some cold digits - 'Hermes' boulder...

... and a bit of fun working some light weight eliminates...

... over to the 'Emerald Tablet' boulder - 'Unus Mundas'...

...  and alternate 'Intervention of Grace'...

... bit of a reachy dyno...

... a bit later over at 'Thoth' boulder - 'Deeper Order' here... right side route 'Tall Man' is an old classic - had seen only one ascent out of many tries from a few very good climbers back in the "dark days" and then a second during "medieval times" - no idea how it's fared in these recent "modern ages" - probably a trade route now - maybe not... caution: will comment that by divine voice of the 'Antigone' all attempts are to be made ground up - the extra 3 to 5 inches afforded a crash pad is considered a violation of this divine law... it's said that any successful attempt in violation of this rule will result in the instant eradication of the violator by a single lightning bolt hurled from the heavens by the mighty Zeus himself!!...*

... got a lot accomplished on a few boulders - but didn't take much to cook a few sausages once thawed...

... opted for the scenic route on the way out...

... a short and very pleasant, albeit rugged, hike through a beautiful small gorge with tumbling brook set in a riparian forest of thick rhododendron and hemlock...

... with flanking slopes of large sandstone boulders (that's 'Floyd Little' boulder in the far)...

 ... and massive sandstone blocks...

*... bit of an "in-joke" there - having some fun with the individual who threw a total sh*t fit when he could no longer (and only) slap the small horizontal hold without launching from a pad - he knows who he is...

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Sunday with Newton

... some Sunday fun up on 'Newton' boulder...

... always thought that this would be a cool stone to have in the back yard - just gotta' figure out how to pick up and move a 400 ton rock off a ridge, through the woods, across a river and then transport by road three miles to home... don't think that he's goin' anywhere anytime soon...

... need some warm up this day - been a while - no one here's gripped any rock for nearly ten years...

... Newton descent route...

... as far as we know the old guy himself hasn't been dusted with climbing chalk for probably twenty years...

... Newton North Face (referenced to nearby Yough River north, as are all the valley boulders).... there's probably a grip or an edge every square foot across each face - considering eliminates, you can work out some pretty difficult sequences of moves if ya' want...

... borderline "highball" with a difficult and committing 'mantle' move to pull the top - a bit of an awkward tumble if ya' miss... however, a bit better in these "modern" times - a 'crash pad' back in the day consisted of a 2'x2' carpet square...

... Newton Northwest Arete...

... Newton is well loved...

... some great rock this side of the valley - a short stop at 'Roadside Attraction' on the way out...

... although not highly regarded for tall rope climbing (all less than a rope length - but still good), SWPA is blessed with hundreds of great boulder problems... haven't updated our "secret map" (south c'ville topo quad) for probably twenty five years, but when we left off we were up to forty eight combined rock (roped), ice and bouldering locations - right off the top of our head we can recall at least fifteen to be added since then - and that doesn't include adjacent quad's nor many "one off" boulders we've visited over the years...

... final stop at 'Mojo' boulder...

... and the south face 'Mantle Wall'...

... a succession of short "dyno" moves off small side pulls, crimps or pinches...

... to snatch the summit rail...

... lots of old friends to revisit...

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Rob's Knobs

... had to grin after recently reading an on-line description of 'Rob's Knobs' as a climbing area "apparently belonging to Rob"...

... dug up a few not too recent photos from this place - decent images, thought we'd post 'em up - not doing any good setting in a computer file... used to have a bunch of old '80's era prints in the archives but couldn't find 'em - probably have the negatives somewhere in the negatives binders, will search thru 'em one of these days... file information for these digital images say '08 - doesn't seem that long ago... time rolls along..

... two separate visits from back then - tagged along with Tim and Laura (Hahn) Anderson on both... that's them in the images unless noted otherwise...

... stumbled across this place in the early 80's by accident - was actually following vague directions, given to us by a geologist our buddy 'Rob' knew, to reach another rock outcrop called the 'Lost World' (known now'days as the 'Lost Crag') - took a wrong turn and wound up here... the area had recently been timbered, and you could view the 'Lost World' setting on the adjacent ridgeline across the hollow - was highly impressed with this place, so saved the Lost World for a later date... was pretty stoked - phoned Rob immediately upon arriving back home to inform him of the find (no cell phones back then) - we were back the next weekend with climbing gear...

... not a large area - a few very large boulders - but what is there is all high quality with lots of climbing to be done - definitely one of the best small crags anywhere...

... we put up maybe a dozen routes over time (pictured above is actually the first route ever done back then - Tim's buddy, Christian, climbing this day) - we weren't really into naming routes and gave pretty much vague ratings to what we had done - on top of that we were working probably two to three other area crags and were floating between each mainly on the weekends (along with paddling, biking, caving and other endeavors) - so we didn't get a whole lot completed...

... Christian and his wife Rayna above...

... we put up mostly what would take gear because that is what we were in to (no previewing or working moves on top rope), besides, you couldn't get to the top to most of the (good) stones otherwise... rating wise, we compared everything to High Rocks (Derry PA), so anything of difficulty we called 5.10... placing bolts* was definitely a sacrilege in Rob's book, which didn't matter anyway - he was a fanatic of as well as a master in small gear placement and loved fiddling with RP's and contrivances such as Lowe Balls, Sliders, Tri-Cams and such - one short roof crack that he climbed as such was subsequently bolted and repeated by others and rated at 5.12 (definitely then one of the first area climbs rated so) - he did everything in impeccable style - never hanging on the rope to rehearse moves, and any fall was repeated ground up...

... Tim working above some nested small cams and making Rob proud (5.11c/d)...

... Tim again with a few trees providing some nice framing...

... anyway, as it went, Rob eventually "turned the place on" to a friend who in turn "turned the place on" to some friends - eventually pretty much every route was bolted - bolts were added to established gear routes - with the whole series of events infuriating Rob who in turn pronounced the entire area desecrated ground and vowed never to return... to this day he never has.... 

... Rayna on a steep boulder start...

... so that's the 'Legend of Rob's Knobs' if you want to consider it that... 

... Laura and steep face climbing...

... ditto for Tim...

... anyway, to (possibly) give a bit of solace to Rob's angst (after lo so many years) - last fall we had the experience of witnessing three strong (young) guys from down south ripping the place... we had pulled in to the lot to park next to a large Ford van with Tennessee plates and a few whitewater boats strapped to the roof racks - lots of gear supplier stickers plastered on the van - we were unloading for an MTB ride with nothing in particular in mind so figured to ride up to the crags - first the Knobs and if no one there then the Lost Crag... ran into the guys from the van at the first stop Knobs - they were totin' seven crash pads between the three of 'em and had rigged a few stones only for rappel lines - they were on-sighting some hard lines (while we were there - including the above) and said that they intended to boulder (unroped) every route on their map - (??!!) - a pretty impressive feat if they ever accomplished it... if they're viewing, would be curious to find out...


*... to the uninitiated, the mechanical drilling and permanent fastening of "eye bolts" (basically speaking) into natural rock formations for the purpose of providing a "safety anchor" (basically speaking) in the event of a fall while attempting to climb the exterior face of said rock has always been and always will be a controversial act to many, ethically and environmentally, with regard to the sport of rock climbing...