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: