Me: “Drexel, what would you like to say about your video?”
Drexel: “This is me. I climb’did a rock.”
[pause, he glances at the screen to see what I’ve written]
Drexel: Oh. Please don’t post that.
Me: Okay. [click]
More info, as written by Drexel on vimeo: This year I tried to escape the crowds of the Big 3 (Rocktown, LRC, HP40) and explore some of the smaller satellite areas. What I found blew me away. Although the quantity couldn’t match up to the big 3, the quality of the stone and the climbing kept me coming back again and again. It was extremely rewarding to figure out a few climbs that aren’t done very frequently and showcase them here. The South is a truly magical place and I know I will be back for years to come. Big thanks to Organic Climbing as usual and thanks to everyone I met along the way for the good times.
Last week a giant crew of Booners and Knoxvillians made their way to Rocktown to herald in the new year. For me, it was a vacation! For Drexel, it was just another day in the life. (Sigh.)
Words cannot describe the pure childlike glee of watching people casually crush their long-time projects like it ain’t no thang. Trey (seen below) walked Sherman Photo Roof V7 the way you can brush your teeth with your eyes closed. It takes a lot of confidence and tenacity to come back to a climb that caused so much heartbreak the previous year (he consistently made it to the last move multiple times before falling). By now, he could probably do all the moves in his sleep. I think many people would just throw in the towel and say “No way, I’m never touching this rock again!” But not Mr. Ronald Worley the Third. No, not him. This is a shining example of what a positive attitude can do.
Another example would be the tall, indescribable Mr. Ryan. He drove all the way to Rocktown, shivered himself to sleep in his tiny car (scientists are still puzzled how an 8 foot man sleeps inside a 6 foot car), and hiked around in the miserable mistiness. I had assumed everyone who dealt with the elements did so because they were determined to climb. It wasn’t until I had already left that I realized Ryan hadn’t climbed at all! Dealing with a shoulder injury and potentially needing surgery, he came out just because he was so incredibly psyched to hike around outside and cheer on his friends. He never once mentioned his shoulder. He never complained or seemed disgruntled with his lot in life. So HIGH FIVE Ryan. I know plenty of people, including myself, who have let an injury completely crumple their world. They become angry and embittered, slaughtering gallons of ice cream and muttering curses to the rock gods. Or worse, they try to climb through an injury, realize it hurts or is getting worse (no duh), and throw a temper tantrum. So next time you’re griping about your sore fingers, just think, “What Would Ryan Do?” (WWRD).
Another remarkable feat of tenacity was Carson’s return to Big Bad Right V8. Last year he took a bad fall and severely sprained his ankle on this very climb. Today, without even breaking a sweat, he cruised through the powerful moves and did a little dance at the top. Ian, not to be outdone, stole Carson’s beta and sent, riding high on his previous sends of Brown Hole V8 and Triple Threat V9, and then later got way too excited on Price is Right V8. For those of you who haven’t met Ian, first of all, I’m sorry. But he’s one of those annoying guys who can hop off the couch after not climbing for months, casually crush your project, and then tell a really good joke about it that makes you laugh in spite of yourself. Fun fact: he is also really good at dancing with his head pressed against the roof of a car.
My day at Rocktown was a success, despite not sending any new boulders. I was able to stick a difficult move on Sherman Photo that I had never gotten close on previously, and I tickled the top of The Tao V8. Spending a day climbing outside was an excellent motivation to keep training during the week and trying harder to be a weekend warrior. (Definition: a “weekend warrior” is a person with a big-kid job during the week who only gets to go climbing outside on the weekends.)
One of my favorite parts of this trip was taking a group of first-timers to Rocktown and showing them all the fun classics. Macee did her first outdoor v3 on the heart-pumping Mario. Hurray! It’s exciting to watch people overcome challenges regardless of the grade. If you can only congratulate someone on climbing a v12+, you might need to brush up on your invisible ethics of climbing.
After a hard day of climbing, we were all looking forward to stuffing our faces with Mexican food. Everyone knows one of the best perks of Rocktown is eating at Los Guerrero’s afterwards. Alas, it was closed! What were we to do?!?!? In a small town like Lafayette, there’s really not much else except McDonalds. In this small town, I’m sure the sight of six cars driving around an empty parking lot looked pretty suspicious. Luckily we own things called smartphones, which led us to small, off-the-beaten-path chinese buffet down the street. It wasn’t amazing, but it was food, and they had seating for all 12 of us. Right alongside bottomless greasy lo mein and peanut chicken, they also had an entire array of stereotypical American fried foods. With all-you-can-eat ranch dressing. Mmmboy.
When we couldn’t fit any more fried donuts and ice cream in our bellies, we lined up at the register to pay. They must have miscounted our party number, because when the last person was lined up they demanded payment for two. Flustered and unsure of themselves, the person said, “Oh, there’s someone still in the bathroom” and quickly beelined for the door. And as the last car squealed out from the parking lot, a little Chinese lady ran after them, screaming and waving her hands in the air.
I suppose I’ll keep the blog ball rolling, since certain people (cough Drexel cough) have avoided carrying their share.
This past weekend I took the 3.5 hour drive to Chattanooga to hang out and climb with Drexel and Melise. A drive of 3-4 hours is just long enough to make you antsy, but short enough that you could probably survive without stopping if you were determined enough.
Saturday was kind of grey and gross, but we got out for a nice hike with the pup to look at the surprisingly impressive and proximal Apartment Boulders. I won’t tell you where they are (just in case this is supposed to be a local’s only secret) but I bet you could find out if you were persistent. It’s crazy to see boulders so close to civilization, until you stop and remember that the boulders were here first, so it’s less “Whoa, how did those boulders get here!?” and more “Whoa! Why did someone build apartments so close to large rocks?!”
Sunday we went to Rocktown. It felt very nostalgic after our month of calling this place home. It was also an incredible feeling to touch real rock, when my weekly training consists solely of plastic. It’s hard to describe the pleasurable experience of your body going through familiar movements on warm-ups as beautiful and textured as the Hueco area, but maybe a picture can do it justice?
The only thing more fun than exploring Rocktown on your own is sharing Rocktown with a climber who is there for their first time. There is a strange satisfying joy that comes from showing someone all your favorite climbs. And even moreso, seeing someone flash the pants off of all your favorite climbs. Because honestly, that’s what happened when Melise met Mr. Rocktown. By the end of the day, Melise was victorious, and Mr. Rocktown had no pants on.
One by one, they fell before her – Hueco Simulator V-scary, Nose Candy, Sherman Photo, Helicopter, Standard Deviation, Golden Showers (second-go, the only non-flash send of the day)… It was INSANE!
Not to be outdone, Drexel sent Triple Threat V9, one of the few remaining Rocktown climbs on his ticklist.
I had no impressive sends for the day. Confidence tip: Set the bar super low and then exceed expectations no matter what you do!
My main goal for the day was to teach Rumi how to be a good crag dog. He did a pretty good job, except for that one time something snapped in his tiny furry brain and he went into crazy mode of run-in-circles-as-fast-as-possible-omg-run-run-run. I believe the term I’ve heard other dog owners use is that he got the “zoom-zooms.” Regardless, he had fun and made some new friends:
Overall, a great day. We had been planning to hit up the Hot Chocolatier in the evening after inventing a point system in which Melise had earned herself at least three liquid truffles for 50+ V points, but alas the shop was closed on Sundays. But put away those sympathy notes — we were sneaky and managed to create our own truffley-fudgey-deliciousness back home using melted chocolate bars and cream. Crisis averted.
We thought this might be an interesting experiment:
We asked ourselves, “What have been our favorite climbs of the trip?”
It was difficult to narrow it down, but here are our five favorite climbs in each area (with heights and ape indexes shown to potentially explain preferences). Top five are listed in order of increasing grade, not order of favoritism. If someone of a more “normal” height would like to submit their favorites, please do so. Or just add your own can’t-miss climbs in the comments below! What are your favorite climbs in these – or other – bouldering areas?
The Southeast (Rocktown, Little Rock City, Middle Creek, Zahnd)
1.Full Circle V5 (Rocktown)
2. Harvest Moon V8 (Zahnd)
3. Deliverance V10 (Middle Creek)
4. Golden Harvest V10 (Rocktown)
5. Iron Claw Sit V10 (Rocktown)
1. Asphalt V4/5 (Rocktown)
2. Little Bad V5 (Rocktown)
3. Nose Candy V6 (Rocktown)
4. Standard Deviation V6 (Rocktown)
5. Jerry’s Kids V7 (LRC)
(Horseshoe Canyon Ranch, Cowell)
1.Le Beak V4 (Cowell)
2. Kung Fu V8 (HCR)
3. Jeff’s Prow V9 (HCR)
4. Ab Lounge V10 (Cowell)
5. Off the Rails V10 (Cowell)