Late Summer Throwback

I was just cleaning up my desktop and found a few photos from a day Melissa and I spent at Hawksbill this past September. It was a beautiful Saturday and we were the only people there all day--it was pretty amazing.


Injury On the Wane

About 2 weeks ago I got some new exercises from my PT for my shoulder and they surprisingly helped almost over nite. I've been hitting the climbing gym once a week since then and got out to Rumbling Bald this weekend with my girlfriend, Melissa, and friends Ben, Alex, and Katie. I didn't take any pictures because I was too busy enjoying myself and climbing worry-free for the first time in almost 6 months. I surprised myself by pulling Dime Crack (V4) first go, Rotator Cuff (stiff V5) second try, and Full Contact (V6) after a few goes. I also fell just short of the top of the Happy Ending for Kung Fu Grip (V6). In short, I'm feeling pretty good about things right now. Sure, I've got to log lots of PT time, stretch a lot, ice my shoulder and neck after climbing, and dose up on Ibuprofen, but it's all worth it to be climbing somewhat strong again. We ended the day on Patio Roof (V8), which Ben almost sent, and I floundered on. So I'm not that strong quite yet. :) But it's still early in the season...

Melissa whipped out the camera for a few quick shots of Patio Roof:


Busy, Busy, Busy

Instead of getting to play outside this past Saturday (which as sunny and in the 60s), I go to experience the joy of painting my house. Yes, scraping, priming, breathing in lead paint from the 70s--the whole deal. Interestingly, however, I think that using a roller is good PT for shoulders. I'm going to have to tell my Physical Therapist about that. Maybe he can send some people over to do the rest of the house in the coming weeks.

Since I've been so slammed with work and house stuff, I've been too preoccupied to go back into my images from a few weeks ago and get them all processed and uploaded. So I decided I just post a quick pic from a trip to Knoxville from 2 weeks ago, when we went to go visit Melissa's parents. By searching on rockclimbing.com, I found a lead on a bouldering area called Look Rock just 30 minutes from the house. We went and spent all day there and had a pretty good time. There's a good amount of rock there that's reminiscent of Rock Town; the main problem is that much of it is about 30 feet high or so. Kind of tall for bouldering, and almost not worth the trouble for TR-ing. And since the Obed's not far away, this place doesn't see much traffic. Still, it was a good find when I wasn't expecting much in the first place. I took some nice 15 foot falls off one problem, which made me feel like I got my adrenaline fix out of the place. This picture was taken with a cell phone...i forgot my camera that day.

Last weekend I finally got to climb Sitting Bear in Linville Gorge (near Hawksbill). I had never been up there, and it's worth checking out, even if the climbing is limited. It's a really bizarre 45-50 foot pillar sticking out of the ridge line. The original bolted route was once rated 5.8; it's now known to be 5.10 and it felt like a hard 5.10, too. I topped out right at sunset and the view down the gorge was pretty sweet. Too bad I forgot my camera on that day too. I need to get a smaller camera for these quick snapshot moments so I don't always have to carry a full D-SLR.

Check out this link for a pic: flickr.com/photos/99518199@N00/1375758285


Not Dead

Well, not all is as bad as whined about in my last post from some time ago. I've just been super slammed with work deadlines and some other personal junk too boring to go into. The good news is that the knee is doing very well and my shoulder has been (slowly) on the mend. The bad news is I haven't been climbing nearly as much as usual in the last 2 months and have probably slipped down to a V5 bouldering level on a good day. I got out like twice during all of October...cryin' shame. I do have some pictures to post soon from my 30th b-day bouldering party/outing at the N. Side of Rumbling Bald from the weekend of Oct. 24th. Stay tuned...will try to get pics up soon.


Bad Luck Con't.

Well, if it wasn't bad enough to have been dealing with a jacked up knee, shoulder, and neck over the last few months, I got wicked sick with a bad cold the week before Labor day, and it carried on through the holiday weekend. There have been times in the last few months when I've just been wondering, really, should I even keep doing this? I seem to just keep hurting myself, and getting sick only made my attitude worse. Still, after sleeping all day Saturday and resting on Sunday, Melissa and I decided to at least go to Grandmother for the afternoon. Since I was still recovering I stuck to the easy warm ups, while Melissa pulled of some pretty surprising sends of some tall-ish problems near Throttle. The most exciting part of the day came when I fell off the top of the Chainsaw boulder while manteling a slightly slick top out, missed the pad, and bounced off a big rock, and then landed backwards into a dead tree, tweaking both my wrists in the process. This really helped my morale.

The good news is my mood has improved late this week with the cooler weather and some new PT exercises that are really helping my shoulders, making me feel that perhaps not all is doom and gloom after all and that I may just be able to climb more than 5.8s for the rest of my life. If all goes well, I'm gonna try to head back to Grandmother this weekend. Hopefully both the weather and my mood will be improved over last week.

I find that the problem with being passionate about something like climbing and having it be a main motivator and passion in your life is the havoc in can wreak when it's taken away. And I think that idea, more than anything, was the main driver behind my feelings of doubt about climbing lately. I think there's a voice in the back of my head starting to say, "if you don't have this anymore, what do you have to look forward to, what's next?" And I think it's scary not having any real answer to that.

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Rainy Sunday

This has been by far the wettest summer I can remember in the 10 years I've lived in WNC. Great for bringing the water table back up after the droughts, not so good for the climbing. Ah, well. You take the good with the bad. Melissa and I still tried to get out and find some dry rock, and we met up with Zach and Heath at a wee little cliff Zach's been developing that stayed dry for the afternoon, even during a good downpour at one point. That's the thing about climbing in the South--specifically here in WNC-- if you're determined to climb, it's possible almost any day of the year if you work with the geography.

My shoulder's been feeling better so I tried the two brand new lines, a 5.11- and a 5.12- (those grades are estimates at this point), and I got within about 2 feet of flashing the 5.12! So not too bad for having not trained at all for the last 2 months.

Even though it wasn't a balmy day, we had to partake in the sick water slide nearby. It beats any other water slide I've seen in the region for it's length and magical ability to somehow not hurt your arse. Be sure to check out the corny super hero pose we copped in the pool at the bottom.

As for pictures, I'm loving the new Canon Rebel T1i I just started using. It really captures colors well, especially on cloudy days like this one. I got some really killer shots of Heath on the 5.12 by getting up on a nearby boulder. Check out the crazy flag move where he's basically parallel with the ground!

A reminder about the photos: to see them larger in the sideshow, click on the 4 arrows in the bottom corner to see them full screen. And if you like some and want to download em, click on the image and it'll bring you to my flickr page where you can save them to your desktop.

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Rangers @ Grandmother

I was at Grandmother boulders climbing this Sunday, and for the first time in 10 years of climbing there, I saw not one but two Forest Service rangers go by on the trail together near Throttle. Whether you think this is a good thing or bad thing, it's simply something to be aware. Whether rangers are there or not, it's always good to be on your best behavior while at Gma (as it is at all climbing spots). I'm for sure not the preachy type so I won't go into details--all climbers should know what's acceptable behavior and how to pick up after themselves. Just thought I'd pass on the news...

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Blue Hole, TN

Good news! There is, in fact, rock climbing within a half hour of Johnson City. For anyone who doesn't know, I live in Asheville and my girlfriend, Melissa, lives in Johnson City--a place not exactly known for climbing. So when I'm there visiting, I'm generally planning how we can get to Boone for the day! But at an hour away, it's not always practical. So when we heard rumors from a friend that this swimming hole called Blue Hole had rock, we were more than skeptical. Simply put, non-climbers don't know what climbable rock looks like. For example, we recently drove past a chossy quarry with one guy from JC and he said, "Hey, can you climb that?! You use those steel-toed boots with the nails on 'em, right?" Yes, it's 1945, pal!

Anyway, we drove up to Blue Hole thinking we could at least get some swimming in--and were surprised to find a lot of rock there. It's a strange mix of quartz-like rock and a sandstone conglomerate I'm guessing. There are a few boulders and some low cliffs, some with overhangs and most slabby, but all waaay dirty! The route and bouldering potential is limited, and time investment is probably high thanks to moss, but it's mentally calming somehow to know there is rock near at hand. (I know, I've got a problem!) Even without the rock, Blue Hole is a pretty neat area--kind of a mini, mini gorge with a cool swimming hole and a couple of small waterfalls. I'm sure we''ll be heading back soon, fat toothbrushes in hand. And to watch locals do back flips off the cliff above the falls. Check out this blog for more info and directions.

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Melissa's Big Day

The last time Melissa and I climbed at Table Rock was in May. We did Jim Dandy (5.4) and the Cave Route (5.5), two classic beginner climbs. Melissa did well on both of them, but admitted to being freaked out on Cave Route. Well, she got some redemption this Sunday. We went back to the Cave Route and she not only cruised up it easily, but also did her first multi-pitch climb by doing the second pitch of the route as well. And the good news is she wants to do more...so she didn't get scarred for life or anything. We wrapped up the day by going to Beacon Heights, where we were lucky to run into Zach L-H, his mom, and Ron Dawson. Zach just got back from the Cirque of the Unclimbables in Canada and it was great to see him back safe.

Gearing up in the Table Rock parking lot.

Melissa on the first pitch of the Cave Route.


Gearing Up for the Fall Comeback

I've now done two very light climbing outings, one at Blowing Rock boulders a couple of weeks ago and another in the ETSU climbing gym, and the results are pretty encouraging. The shoulder and neck are a bit sore, but my knee is feeling about 95% back to normal. So I'm thinking I'm definitely getting close to be back up to speed (about time!). I'm going to try some easy multi-pitch at Table Rock this weekend with Melissa, and possibly some light bouldering. If all goes well, I hope to be back at it full speed by the end of the month. Fingers crossed, ya'll...


Time Off is Working

This weekend was another with no climbing. Tough, seeing the weather was incredible with highs only in the 70s. Just had to keep telling myself that it's only a weekend or two in the summer and I'll be much better for it come the fall. (For those who don't know, I tweaked my shoulder and knee in separate climbing incidents in the last month.) Still, I had to get outside this weekend, so Melissa and I went to Courthouse Falls outside of Brevard. It was a great choice with easy hiking (since my knee is still rough). Once we got there, we pretty much had the place to ourselves, which was sweet since it can be very crowded.

The image below was taken using a rock as a tripod and a very slow shutter speed, hence the slight blur!

Now I'm off to get some stretching in tonight. I'm realizing that with all of the training I undertook in the last year, I foolishly let stretching slip from my routine over time. It's probably a large part of the reason I'm having to take time off now. Stretching's like vegetables: you might not like it, but it's good for you so you gotta suck it up and do it.


Still Resting

It's been a little over a week with no climbing, and the rest is going a long way so far. My left knee is feeling much better, and so is my left shoulder--although the pain there has moved from the collarbone area down and around to the left shoulder blade. I guess it's migrating. I'm working the PT and Ibuprofen steadily, so hopefully another week or 2 and all will be reasonably well.

The flipside is that I went kayaking this weekend instead of climbing--which was a fun diversion. I went down the lower Nolichucky (class II) and it was pretty exciting and very scenic. Melissa did a great job on her first river kayaking trip--she only came out of the boat once at the bottom of the biggest rapid, and that's mostly b/c her kayak was full of water (no skirt on her boat). She really impressed me...it seemed as if she had been doing this a few months already the way she had a handle on the basics of paddling and finding the best lines. I'd like to go back and do the upper section (class IV) in a guided raft later this year. I hear it's one of the prettiest runs in WNC/TN.


Nite Bouldering / Area E

Since I was off work on Friday for the Fourth weekend, I thought it would be sweet to finally hit up some night bouldering in Boone on Thursday. Ben Newton, his gf Courtney, and me headed to the high country at about five pm. The weather called for a 0% chance of rain, but when we got there the skies were low, dark, and the weather felt about 15-20 degrees cooler than it had been in Asheville and the wind was blowing. It was almost too chilly. Luckily, the front passed with just a few drops of rain and we had a pretty good session at small boulderfield called Area E off the 221 circuit. I took a bunch of flash photos, but the ones using just ambient light were definitely the coolest. Pictures #1 and #3 in the slide show are by Courtney Ford.

As a side note, I'm thinking about taking a couple of weeks off of climbing. My left shoulder's been bothering me for a month now, my left knee is a bit tweaked from my weekend at the new, and I think I'm developing a hernia. So as fun as last nite was, it was made somewhat less enjoyable by the constant stiffness and pain. So hopefully just a little rest will go a long way.


New River Gorge

I've been a complete slacker about posting lately. Must be the summertime is making me lazy, or at least less inclined to sit in front of a computer processing photos and blogging. Since the last post, I went to the Red over Memorial Day weekend, Hawksbill mtn, and the North Side of Looking Glass. I also just got back from a 3 day trip to the New last weekend, and while the climbing was good as usual, swimming and deep water soloing in Summersville lake was the most fun. Here's a pic of Ben Newton getting airborn off the diving board rock at the Coliseum. More pics to come soon...if I can get myself in front of the computer again, that is.

Updated Pics:


Barnardsville @ nite

Went out to the Barnardsville boulder again on Wednesday with Robert, and Josh and Chris were there when we arrived. It got dark pretty soon after we arrived, but we set up some lanterns and got some cool night shots. Here's one of the best, of Josh on the way overhanging backside of the boulder with Chris standing by:


Back at it

About a month ago i totally bottomed out energy-wise from too much training for Purgatory (5.13a). I never did send the route, party due to temps getting too warm and partly due to breaking a hold in the crux at the end of the season (and probably partly cuz it's hard!). I actually lost 5 pounds in the training process, which is a lot when you're 6 feet tall and only weigh 160 to start with. Anyway, I ended up having to take about 3 weeks to a month off of training, and i spent a lot of the weekends doing fun laid back stuff like going to Table Rock with my girlfriend, Melissa. I'm just now getting back on the training routine (though I've modified it) and started climbing a bit hard again. This Sunday I went to the Barnardsville boulder with Howie and Ben. It's a fun place...but you've gotta be a V6 climber to get much out of it. I got a couple of cool shots of Howie and Ben on the sick roof on the frontside of the boulder:


Picture on Climbing.com

I just saw that one of my images has turned up on Climbing.com (thanks for the heads up, Zach!). Very cool. It's a pic of Dave Sharrat sending his new 5.14b route The Bad in Hickory Nut Gorge. Dave also climbed the crack to the left of the route, and it's a 5.13+ trad line called The Good. See the whole article here


College days

I'll be posting more about the last few weekends soon, but I wanted to post these pictures a friend sent me from climbing in Boone during my first year of college...in the late 90s! Thanks to Matt Bielejeski for sending these images my way (and for the nostalgia)...


Digital Masters: Adventure Photography

I haven't been posting too much lately because I've been busy with some non-climbing related stuff (trying to buy a Subaru hatchback!), and also because I have been busy wrapping up my editing work on a very exciting book: Digital Masters: Adventure Photography by Michael Clark.

I realized there was a market need for this book last year when I started getting more into climbing photography and couldn't find any books on the subject. Luckily, I work for Lark Photography Books, a division of Sterling Publishing, and I decided to get one made! I did a lot of research on who was out there creating killer images of outdoor sports and contacted Michael, a 15-year veteran of the industry (Michael has shot for almost everyone, from the climbing mags and National Geo Adventure to ads for Patagonia, Nike, Adobe, and more). Luckily, he was game to jump into the book when I contacted him and he did a really great job cranking it out over the last 5 or 6 months. Micheal's images are great, and luckily for me, his writing is top-notch, too! He was also a great guy to work with during the process. I think we're both very proud of the book, which will be available towards the end of 2009 or early 2010, and can be preordered from Amazon here.

The book covers tons of general information about shooting action in the outdoors, then gets into specifics about how to shoot the top sports like kayaking, climbing, surfing, mountain biking, and more. And yep, that's Chris Sharma deep water soloing on the cover. Great stuff! I can't wait for this book to hit the shelves.


The Last Two Weeks

I haven't been shooting any photos or videos the last few weekends, instead trying to focus on wrapping up some of my projects before things get too warm. I was at the Bald on the last weekend in March and had a great day sending a bunch of V5s and V6s, and then sending a V8 slab monster called Momma Lick A Boo Boo Day (Or something like that. Sorry for butchering the Bald names, Chris!). If you've been at the Bald in the last few weeks, you know it's been pretty amazing. Sure, it's getting warm, but the Trillium and tons of flowering trees are blooming, and the after all of the rain, there are little creeks running through parts of the field and Hickory Nut Falls is running strong. Very nice.

This past weekend I tried to finish Purgatory (5.13a) in Hickory Nut Gorge, but got shut down hard. Why? Because I broke off a key hold in the crux! Oops. (Time for Weight Watchers.) Luckily, there are 2 ways to go through the crux with left and right sequences, so the climb isn't any harder. I was going with the right trending sequence...until now. I worked the left sequence and got through most of it after a couple of attempts. Maybe with this recent drop in temps I'll have one more go at it before things get too hot.

The picture below is of Robert Holcomb climbing a 5.10 crack in Hickory Nut Gorge recently.


Spring is Here

The time is getting close to start heading up to the High Country for some warm weather climbing. These pics were sent by Mike Stam. I'm looking forward to getting down into Linville Gorge soon and doing some more adventure bouldering.


Purgatory (5.13a)

Went back to the 5.13a in Hickory Nut Gorge on Saturday with Howie, Robert, and Heath. The weather was perfect--sunny and in the 60s (that may be warm to some, but I like to be able to feel my fingers). Both Howie and Robert finally sent, while Heath and I made some serious progress. I was finally able to put all of the moves together in a couple of hangs and make it to the shuts. Now if only I can get back before it gets too warm...

Robert Holcomb on the Crux of Purgatory (5.13a) from Frixtion on Vimeo.


Patio Roof on Wednesday Evening

Well, I finally got on my last tick list project for the season, and all I can say is: dammit...

(warning: the following video contains humorous grunts and some bad language...)

Patio Roof, Rumbling Bald (V8) from Frixtion on Vimeo.


Great Weekend

The weather couldn't be much different this weekend compared to last weekend's rain and snow storm. In a few days we went from full-on winter to about, um, early summer. We may be totally screwed as a planet environmentally, but it was a great weekend for bouldering. I took a half day off work on Friday to get in a good day at the Bald before it closed again sunday nite. I finally sent one of the projects on my tick list--Brackish Water, V8. A good crew also went to Boone on Sunday, and we basically had the whole place to ourselves.

03.07.09 Rumbling Bald
The three climbs seen here are Brackish Water (V8)--it's the overhanging, crimpy climb, Trad Boys (V5)--it's the highball, and a V5 problem on the back of the Power Pills boulder.

03.09.09 Grandmother
A perfect day in Boone spent with Howie, Pascal, Robert, & Ben. We warmed up in the Valley of the Kings, did some highball stuff at a place called The Tower (i think that's it...), and then got on Have Guns Will Travel (V7). We also attempted an unkown V8 to the left on this long wall, but none of us sent. We ended the day at the Mighty Mouse area. It was cool for me to finally repeat this climb; I haven't done it since about 2002 back before my shoulder blew out, and it's always been on my tick list to get back to.

Some video of Grandmother:

Pascal Tops Out Mighty Mouse (V5) from Frixtion on Vimeo.

Pascal pulls off the tricky top out on Mighty Mouse (V5) at Grandmother after a long day of bouldering.


5.13 Ain't Easy

If you read enough climbing magazines, a funny thing starts to happen. You see enough pictures of 12-year old girls onsighting 5.13, and you start to believe that it's easy. Add to that the fact that the top of the grade scale is now around 5.15b (this week, anyway), and 5.13 doesn't seem so far up the charts anymore. I guess I let this seep into my brain over time. And living in a land of boulders, I never have the chance to sport climb. Seems like if you can boulder V7-V8, you should be able to climb a 13... And these mental rationales are exactly why 5.13 is kicking me in the arse.

It's been a goal of mine since about 1997 to climb at least one 5.13 before I die. In the last month, I started working my first one. And so far it's not going so well (OK, make that pretty piss poor). After two full days on the line over a week-long period, I haven't even done all of the moves yet. I hang at almost every bolt. My bouldering arms are destroyed by this 5-bolt route. And now I'm having to get really serious about (ugh)--training. And even worse, endurance training.

I've been hitting PT bands at least 3 times a week, the climbing gym at least once a week (focusing on enduro and power moves), stretching, doing sit-ups, push-ups, and even doing laps on a crappy outside stone wall when weather permits. Even though it's time consuming to do so much training, I can feel the benefits even when I'm not climbing. The best benefit is just feeling more loose from the stretching. We'll see if all of this work over the last 2-3 weeks makes even a dent of difference on the route. Anybody got any additional training tips for making the push to 5.13? Maybe I should call my 12-year old niece and ask her...


This Weekend: Rumbling Bald

Here's the newest update on the State website for this weekend:

last updated 2/27/09 10:56 a.m.

Access is expected to be open to public use beginning Saturday February 28 through 5:30 p.m. Sunday March 8. Site preparation is near completion and site construction is to begin soon. Unplanned closure may occur if the site becomes unsuitable for pedestrian and vehicular traffic. Due to on-going site preparation, parking is limited. Visitors are asked not to park in areas that may impede emergency traffic along the entrance road and in turn-a-rounds. All vehicles must be out of the park by 5:30 p.m. on Sunday March 8 to allow for gate closure. Overnight parking and camping are not permitted in the state park. Please consult this Web site for the most up to date information about the Rumbling Bald Climbing Access before planning your visit.



Exciting Stuff

I took this picture of Chris D. about a month ago at Rumbling Bald, and it's going to be used in a camera-specific guidebook to illustrate the use of fill flash. Pretty Cool. Here's the book:


Sunday in Hickory Nut Gorge

02.15.09: Went back to the new climbing area in Hickory Nut Gorge on Sunday. Because I'm still not sure what the access is, I hesitate to name the place and give too many details until access is secured. Right now, it seems wide open as no one is paying attention. But more and more climbers are showing up, driving way up the road past the obvious first parking lot, and new bolts are going in at high speeds. While I'm pro development and love to see people climbing in a new place, I can't help but worry that all this activity will bring the attention of whoever does own the land now. With our highly litigious culture, no one wants climbers around when they could be a liability! So hold your breath, because this place is great and deserves to be open for years to come.

In the images below, Pascal Robert, Robert Holcomb, and I climb a 5.10 trad route, and then spend the rest of the day on a truly amazing 5.13 (which Robert and Pascal are already close to sending!). The 13a is the orange-streaked wall. (The pictures of me were taken by Robert.)


RB Closure Update

The Bald is closed for climbing this weekend, everyone. So do your part to keep climber/park relations friendly and respect the closure. There's been word of people parking at the gate and hiking in--and that's definitely not cool. Consider some other south-facing options: The Linville Cavern Boulders, Little Lost Cove, a trip down to the Asheboro boulders, or even the Obed or LRC? Drop me a comment here if you need beta on any of these places, or if you have other suggestions for folks. As a side note for exploring new areas, check out this blog: http://upstatebouldering.blogspot.com/


Linville Cavern Boulders

02.07.09. What a day! Going to a new area defines the climbing spirit, which in a nutshell comes down to exploration. I'll never deny that Rumbling Bald is awesome, but going to a new, remote, relatively unclimbed area really gets the climbing psyche freshened up. Somehow it gets you beyond just pulling hard and helps you get back to why you started climbing in the first place--for the adventure and the challenge. And with one of the worst approaches and hikes out of just about any boulderfield I've ever been to, it certainly was adventurous. Combine this with great, sunny weather and a crew of good friends, and it's hard to ask for more. It might just have been one of the best days climbing I've had in over a year. By the end of the day, there was a pretty big crew from Asheville and Boone: Zach (who showed us they way!), Ehrin, Melissa, Ben, Chris D., Howie, Robert, Jon, another Ben, and me.

The Linville Cavern Boulders are on a mountainside in the valley bisected by Highway 221 on the way up to Boone, near the Linville Caverns (hence the name). To access the boulders, you have to park at the top of the mountain, off the Kisler (sp?) highway in National Forest, and hike straight down the mountainside for over a mile. If your knees can make the approach, you'll be rewarded by sweet sandstone-like rock and an adventure bouldering experience, complete with small, windy trails, undeveloped problems, and a waterfall. And for now, no crowds!

We spent the day in 3 areas. I have no idea what the names of these areas are, or most of the problems' names for that matter. And that's just fine by me. I like to wander around and just get on what looks good. With no preconceptions, possibilities are limitless. I beta flashed a V5 because I thought it was a V3 when looking at it. Sweet! This place has everything from really nice v0-v2 warmups, to undeveloped lines that are just waiting for suitors.

The end of the day brought the last adventure. Melissa's dog got sick, like puking sick, on the way out and we had to carry it almost all the way out. Add to this Melissa's delirium and singing at the moon, and the hike out turned out to be the crux of the day. By the time we got to the parking lot, we had been hiking under the light of a full moon for twenty minutes. The day was celebrated in true climber style with a PBR toast (thanks, Robert!) when we all finally congregated at the top. Ben wins the day's Burl prize for carrying the biggest F'in crash pad up the mountain.

As for pictures, the camera got passed around all day, which was sweet. Zach and Robert did most of the additional shooting. Thanks to them, I got some awesome viewpoints I never would have shot, and even a few pictures of me in there. This is by far the heaviest shooting day I've had--we filled up my 2 gig card. That being the case, I decided to post in quantity to show the climbs and the area. I've spent no time working up the photos in Photoshop.

More to come soon from others' cameras that were used that day.

Here are some pics from Chris Dorrity:


Rumbling Bald Update, Take 3

What an emotional roller coaster ride it's been! But here's the last official word on the Bald for the next few weekends, as posted on the CCC site:

Open dates this month: 2/7 & 2/8, 2/14 & 2/15.
Please make sure to check the state website to check the weekend of the 14/15.

Remember, Rumbling Bald offers the best bouldering in this part of Western North Carolina for much of the year. Please respect any closings and do not jeopardize access for everyone.


Summer Vibes

In the depths of winter (it's snowing outside as I write this), these images of warm summer splendor bouldering are offered up by Mike Stam of Boone. Mike, and many of his close friends like Joey Henson, have logged a lot of time exploring and developing the wild bouldering along the Linville River in the Gorge. I went down there once this summer, and it's adventure bouldering at its finest: A 2-mile approach in (at least), healthy amounts of bushwacking, and snakes. But you also get these great boulders to yourself in one of the most amazing settings anywhere on the East coast. Enough said--Mike, if you have anything to add, leave a comment below and I'll add it into the post. Thanks for the pics!

BTW, if you haven't seen the related article in the online mag Dead Point, check it out. It's all about Bouldering in the Gorge and Mike's work developing the area (go to page 24). Plus, it's just plain crazy to read a magazine online like this. You actually have to turn the page on the cover:



Saturday @ Rumbling Bald

1.30.09. Finally, it's starting to feel like last season at the Bald! Temps were probably in the 60s and the sun was out all day. Definite t-shirt weather for part of the day. It's been such an intermittenly wet and cold season, it was nice to get a warm day in the sun.

I rode down to the Bald with Robert, whose transmission is in a bad way and about to blow up on him. My clutch is also about to blow, and somehow we decided it was better to take the bad transmission over the bad clutch. Anyway, send Robert some good car vibes.

After warming up on the Gateway and "Retarded Girlfriend" (aka "Family") boulders, we rolled over to around Shady Grove and found Chris. I got close to doing Propeller Head (V4 going on V6), but just didn't want to dig in that deep for the lock off on my right shoulder. We all also tried Mamma-Lick-Your-BooBoo-Day (WTF?!), a V8 slab monster. Check out the pics--we had a hard time getting much past 2 moves up it. It's balancy and strange.

Next we headed up the hill. I did Lost Cause (V5) first go--the shoulder must be getting better! There was a whole mess of people up there, and we all worked various problems in that area for awhile, including a really, really good V5 that has no name in the guidebook. It's the only problem on this boulder, and it's a good mix of crimps, slopers, and heel hooks. I highly recommend it. It's maybe 20 yards right of Lost Cause, just over the slabs. Meanwhile, Robert kept working "Born Slippy", a relatively new V9 below the V5 just mentioned; it looks like a great climb. I put up a new V2 traverse on the lip of the Born Slippy boulder and called it "Birth Defect". It's actually pretty fun. Maybe it's been done before--who knows.

We cooled down on "The Nut" or something like that--it's a funky V1 wrestle uphill of Shady Grove.

AS for pictures, it was a hard to get too much today. Since we showed up at noon, it was super high contrast b/c of the bright, sunny weather. But I got a few decent shots, especially at the end of the day.

All in all, another great day made somewhat bittersweet by the imminent closure.

A note on pictures: Some people have expressed an interest in wanting to download the images in the slideshow. To do this:
1: Click on the Flickr link in the top left corner of the slideshow. This will take you to the Frixtion flickr page.
2: Click on the picture you want; this will load the big version.
3: Right click and download the image. They are all low-res so they won't print worth a damn. Let me know if you want a hi-res version.

If this doesn't work for some reason--just leave me a comment!

Mad Rock Splash

I originally had to order these shoes as an exchange from the Mad Rock Outlet store for a pair that did not fit my girlfriend. I figured that for 50 bucks, they'd at least be decent gym shoes.

The good news is, the shoes are surprisingly good, especially considering the price. They are made of a synthetic material that provides for a lot of stretch, thus making the shoe really comfortable for all day wear. (I ordered a half size down from my shoes size, and this was perfect. I'm an 11; ordered a 10.5 mens.) The synthetic material is also the biggest downside of this shoe, however. It does not breath well, and by the end of a long day in them, they can be a bit soggy. I had this same problem with a pair of Mad Rock Flashes, too.

So far, I feel these climb better than the Flashes. I've done a few v5s in them and don't feel like they slowed me down at all. In fact, they are pretty sensitive, which is a good option on some problems/routes. Just don't expect them to have high-performance edging. I break out the Sportiva Miura VS for those times. But lately, I've been climbing most of the day in the Splashes and saving the rubber on my more expensive Miuras for when I really need them.

Bottom line: Good shoe for the price (only $50)--great for beginner to mid-range boulderers and sportsters, and probably a decent multipitch trad shoe thanks to the comfort. Just be aware that they aren't rally high performance and will make your feet sweat on hot days. Some sizes are already selling out from the Mad Rock outlet store online.

RB Access Update

There seems to be a lot of confusion about the exact details of this closure. Is the Bald open on Weekends or not? Is it closed for all of March? Well, info is a bit hazy, but here's the official notice on the State Park's website:

"This Rumbling Bald Climbing Access site is being closed to the public intermittently during February and March 2009 to allow for a significant improvement project. During this time, staff of the state parks system and N.C. DOT will realign the entrance road and create a parking area on the site. Beyond improving access to this area of the state park, the project will protect the natural resource by controlling erosion and protecting vegetation and will improve security and emergency response.

Current plans call for the access site to be closed on weekdays in early February to allow for brush removal and other pre-construction activity. In late February and perhaps in March, more intensive road construction by DOT will require the access site to be temporarily closed on weekdays and weekends.

During these intermittent closings, the public will not be allowed on the property nor may vehicles be parked in the vicinity.

We apologize for the inconvenience, but this project is very necessary to manage and enhance this outstanding recreation asset. Access to Rumbling Bald Mountain will be an important component as a master plan for Chimney Rock State Park is developed in coming months.

Check this site regularly for updates on access to the area. And, please share this information with others who could benefit."

Here's the address to check for access updates:


Rumbling Bald Closed to Climbing

Well, it was going to happen sooner or later. But starting on the first of Feb the Bald is closed so the state park service, which now owns the area, can do road maintenance (much needed!) and other official bizness. Everyone is saying this is to the long-term benefit of climbers, and it's a short-term closure, so we should definitely keep climber/park relations friendly and respect the closure.

For more info, check out: http://www.carolinaclimbers.org/


Rumbling Bald-A few from the West side

1.25.09. Even though my shoulder's still being a wanker, I had to get out this weekend. Saturday looked killer (from inside my house, where I was cleaning) and the forecast for today, Sunday, looked even better. The forecast was dead on--perfect temps in the 50s or so.

Howie and I met up with Zach, Ehrin, and Ben after we warmed up and climbed Red Sleigh Down (soft V6). It wasn't too bad on my shoulder b/c of a knee bar and then a heel toe jam at the crux took a lot of weight. After that, we were around the Shady Grove boulder with the crew, and finished the day at dusk at the boulder whose name I'm spacing--but it's got the KK Corner on it, a fun, high v4-ish thing.

I borrowed an off-camera flash from work and tried experimenting with real flash photography for the first time. I don't really know what the hell I'm doing--the flash was mostly on Auto, but I did get some cool shots. I've also been shooting in RAW lately, which allows for a lot of color and exposure correction on the image file. I think it has helped some of these shots have a bit more punch.

This is also the first time I've tried using the flickr slideshow to display the pics you see here. It seems like it's easier to do than the slideshow creator i was using, plus the pics can be viewed full screen. This aspect was key as I wanted to display the pics bigger. Click on the arrows in the bottom right of the slideshow to go to fullscreen mode. Also, click the Show Info link once you are in full screen mode to see notes on the images.

Off to take some Ibuprofen...


Private Stash

So my brother bought a house and some land in Marshall a couple of years ago, and I pass by this boulder every time i drive to his place. It's like 20 feet tall (or taller), overhanging, and 20 minutes from town. it's also on his "crazy" neighbor's property; apparently she worships the rock, has given it a name, or something along those lines (this is all info from my bro). So I haven't gotten up the nerve to ask if I can climb on it. I thought I'd share my frustration with the rest of you. And sadly, my bro's property is boulder-free. Though he probably wouldn't allow climbing either; he's crazy in another way...


Bad Shoulder=Buzz Kill

I tweaked my shoulder about a month ago in the gym--I guess I was just pushing it too hard with training and climbing on the weekends, too. It's a real downer that climbing in the gym once a week and hitting the boulders once per weekend is too much training. I used to climb like 4 days a week in Boone (which is, really, what got me into this mess). I guess I just need to stay on top of the PT and stretching more to keep a good equilibrium.

It's hard staying motivated when you're in pain. It's hard to get psyched on a project or even getting out at all if it's just going to feel like climbing kid stuff. But then you've got to remember why you climb in the first place. It really is about more than pulling hard; in fact, a little time away from the rock only reinforces this. I've been dreaming about bouldering in my sleep. The action of it is totally hard wired in my brain, whether it's v1 or v8.

So I've been hitting the PT bands and the pushups hard, and throwing in some stretching for good measure. It's hard to be out at the top of the season here in WNC, and especially rumbling bald. Hopefully by this weekend I'll be getting back up to speed...


Rumbling Bald-good weather for pics

1.11.09. Even though it rained like holy bejebus on Asheville on Saturday nite, the conditions were good on Sunday, and the weather was perfect for pictures. Low sun=even lighting.

My shoulder was still feeling so-so; therefore, I kept it pretty easy for most of the day. We caught up with a big crew of folks on the East side, and spent most of the afternoon in the Slave Driver area.

The Bald seems to be growing in popularity. When I showed up at noon-thirty, the parking lot was packed out in a way rarely seen. But the east side was fairly low-key. It was a pretty killer winter day at the height of the Bald season.

To see all of the pictures, click on the 2 below the image thumbnails:


Twitter Conditions Report Info & Instructions

The Conditions Report uses Twitter (which is free) to create an easy way for all of us to get updated on our phones as to the conditions at different climbing areas. Here's how it basically works and can save everyone a lot of driving time and gas: Say it just rained on Saturday. So Sunday morning we're all sitting around wondering if it's too wet at the Bald to go climbing. If Chris happened to drive down there early, he'd only need to send one text message out to the number #40404, and everyone on the Twitter list would get it on their phone and on their Twitter page.

Now expand this idea to beyond just a small group of friends, and eventually it can grow to the point where we can be getting conditions reports for boulders in Boone, climbs at Looking Glass and Linville Gorge, and bouldering at Barnardsville, etc on any given day if people from all over WNC sign up. It seems like it has a lot of potential. And the best part is, you can turn the feature off for your phone if you don't want to get too many text messages. Then, you only need to check your Twitter home page on the days you want to go climbing and need to see conditions updates.

Also, if you haven't heard a conditions report but want to know what's going on at a particular place, you can just send a text to the number listed above and write: "Does anyone know if it's dry at the Bald?" Anyone who is networked to you and happens to be there can let you know. No more calling around or wondering!

Here's how it works, as far as I know now:

1: Sign up at for Twitter.com. It will prompt you to see if contacts from your email address are already on Twitter. Do this and add any climber you want to follow.

2: Add your phone. This step can easily be found on the links to the right of the page. This will let your phone receive updates and allow you to send them to the climbers while you are out at the crag. (This feature can also be turned off easily at any time.)

2: Go to the page at: http://twitter.com/frixtion and click 'Follow'. You will now be following Frixtion's posts and you will show up as someone following this profile. The Frixtion profile can be the "home base" to see everyone who has joined the report; they will all appear under "Followers" on the right side of the page.

3: Click on each of the Followers you'd like to get updates from, and click on the Follow button on their profile page. This will allow you to receive their updates.

And that's it--you are all set to get weather and condition updates from everyone you are following. I'll add more posts as I learn more about the process. Let me know if you have questions!

SE xmas trip Part 3: Horse Pens 40

Coming soon...


SE xmas trip Part 2: Little Rock City

A day of warmups in LRC because my shoulder was still all wacked out. Melissa did great though, and climbed hard, scary stuff for her experience level. Wish i had gotten some pictures of her, but i was too busy spotting!


SE xmas trip Part 1: Chattanooga/Rough Start

Melissa and I were going on a weeklong SE climbing roadtrip and I had everything packed up the nite before. Then, when i packed the car, i forgot to put the bin full of climbing gear into my truck. Genius. And i didn't realize it until 2 hours down the road! No climbing shoes, no gear, chalk bag or harnesses. I did have the crash pad tho and my truck smelled strongly of burning oil. I thought it better to just get to where M was staying with her parents to save my car climbing back up into the mountains.

On the 28th we had to buy climbing shoes at Rock Creek Outfitters so we could climb at all. It rained hard the nite before but the afternoon was clearing up nicely. A sales guy at the store told us about some boulders 10 minutes outside of town, so we headed there for a short afternoon session. To add to the good times, my shoulder has been feeling like crap lately, so climbing was limited to v2/v3 and below. But there was some cool stuff at this place, and it's literally right next to an apartment complex. Lucky apartment bastards. Chattanooga is definitely the home of close-proximity climbing in the southeast.

More to come soon, on Little Rock City.

Pictures of Chatty at nite and the Mountain Brook Boulders: