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...

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Big John

... Gilgamesh, wherefore do you wander? The eternal life you are seeking you shall not find. When the gods created man, they allotted to him death, and withheld eternal life for themselves...

-The Epic of Gilgamesh
... lots of interesting times (to say the least)...

(old guys - hangin' up on the ridge, around 2011)
1944 - 2017

... can't recall many that would be considered "General Audience" material, but do recall a few...

... very long ago...

... had been hanging out down along the railroad tracks with our buddy, Vince J. ("the Juice") - shooting .22's and plinking bottles, tin cans and whatever else we found lying between the ties...
John: "Hey Vince - shoot this can off my head!"
Vince: "Aww John"
John:"C'mon man, shoot this can off my head"
Vince: "Aww John"
John: "I mean it man, shoot this can off my head!!"
... so, reluctantly, Vince walks over, puts the barrel of the .22 right against the can and 'POP!!'... *
John: "OK, now it's my turn!!"
----------
... long ago...

... we'd been backpacking for several hours... although I had offered the borrowing of some modern, lighter gear, John had insisted on totin' along his own Vietnam-era, marine corps issued stuff, including arctic-style sleeping bag, which itself had to weigh at least thirty pounds... along with food, water, .22 rifle, fishing gear and whatever else (including our survival kit of several bottles of 'Smirnoff'), he was packin' a heavy load... walkin' through a particular swampy area, and each lost in his own thoughts, the loosening of his pack shoulder strap went unnoticed until it finally let loose, swinging the pack violently sideways and John along with it, almost taking him to the ground... don't know where his thoughts had drifted prior to that moment (John was a Vietnam veteran with combat experience - I'm sure that the chest-high marsh grass we'd been moving through had elicited some memories), but he reacted as if being woken from a nightmare and looked at me saucer-eyed, asserting "Man - I thought I'd been hit!!!"...

----------
... not so long ago...

... hadn't seen him in quite a few years - he'd been living near Baltimore - he found out I'd been working in the area and invited me over to his Maryland home to visit... arrived at his place one afternoon to find a note taped to the door - "Had to go pick up the kids at practice. Door unlocked. Beer in the refrigerator"... made myself at home and am sitting in what is definitely John's lounger, sipping a Pabst Blue Ribbon and reading the daily newspaper... eventually hear the slamming of car doors outside, the opening of the front door and and then a herd of footsteps rushing up the stairs (it's a walk-up living room)... before I could even lower the newspaper it's kicked from my hands straight into the air, pages showering the room - directly to the front and on both sides I'm confronted by three young girls, each dressed in karate uniforms, and each in zenkutsu-dachi counter attack mode... a familiar voice from behind suggests only that I "smile"... easy thing to do - John's home...

... anticipating more interesting times ahead - hanging together again with an eternity of wandering throughout the cosmos... 


*Disclaimer: Expert marksmen and firearm handlers (aka: couple young dumb punks) - do not attempt at home or school