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 awesome 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). By now, he could probably do all the moves in his sleep. I think many people would just throw in the towel and say “F*ck it, 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 puzzled how an 8′ man fits inside a 6′ 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 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. This year, 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, he’s one of those annoying guys who can hop off the couch after not climbing for months and then crush your project into tiny little pebbles. He is also really good at dancing with his head pressed against the roof of a car (fun fact of the day!).
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 done previous, and I tickled the top of The Tao V8. Since I’m not getting any taller, my only hope is to keep getting stronger. 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. Yay life.)
Oh yes! And of course it was great fun to take first-timers to Rocktown and show them all the fun classics! Macee did her FIRST OUTDOOR v3 with the heart-pumping Mario (or is it Luigi?). HURRAY!!!! Rocktown has something for everyone!! (And if you are scoffing at this, please 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 the nearby Los Guerrero’s. Alas, it was closed! As was the Italian place across the street! What were we to do?!?!? In a small town like Lafayette, there’s really not much else except good ole trusty McDonalds. I’m sure locals were confused by the sudden conglomeration of six cars in one tiny empty parking lot. I know I was. Luckily our noses (slash smartphones) led us to a chinese buffet down the street. It wasn’t amazing, but it was food, and they had seating for all 12 of us. And an entire array of American fried foods (with ranch!) right alongside their greasy lo mein and peanut chicken.
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! YEEHAW. (Please feel free to comment below with encouraging words for Drexel to write a blog entry. If we get at least 5 comments, I bet he will write something about how he lives in his van and climb rocks.)
Normally I’m not doing anything noteworthy that is climbing-related. But. This past weekend I took the long-but-not-too-awful drive to Chattanooga to hang out and climb with Drexel and Melise! (Yay!)
Saturday was kind of grey and gross, but we got out for a nice hike with the pupsy 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 was ROCKTOWN!!! I haven’t been back there since the good ole days of our road trip. Besides one chuffery (can that be an adjective?) day at Blowing Rock, I haven’t touched real rock since… a long enough time that I don’t have the patience to calculate it. So it’s been a while. Words cannot describe the rock star exhilaration I felt walking up to the Hueco warm-up area and finally touching sweet sweet sandstone. (Mmm.) Maybe a picture can do it justice?
The only thing more fun than exploring Rocktown is sharing Rocktown with a climber who is there for their first time. — I still fondly remember Zach S. hiking into Rocktown for his first time and getting psyched to throw his pad down at all the chossy stuff we passed on the way to actually climbable rock. We had to promise him that there was more, so much more to come if you keep walking five more minutes! — 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 V6, Sherman Photo V7, Helicopter v6, Standard Deviation V6, Golden Showers V5 (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 so much faith in his sending powers that I videotaped it with my dinky-yet-sturdy Lumix (a camera I highly recommend for a roughing-it-road trip), so stay tuned for that lil thang. Please let me know if you have song suggestions!!!! Right now I’m thinking Beyonce…
I had no impressive sends for the day. In fact, I couldn’t even re-send some of my easy climbs from last year. And… I think that’s okay. It’s humbling, but it’s nothing to beat myself up about. Still recovering from a bad ankle injury and a lack of any serious climbing/training, my goal for the day was just to regain my confidence and psyche climbing outside on real rocks and re-learning how to find feet without neon tape. And I did that, so I guess my day was a success. (Confidence tip: Set the bar suuuppper low and then exceed expectations no matter what you do!)
My other goal for the day was to teach Rumi how to be a good crag dog. Except for that one time that something snapped in his little furry brain and he went into crazy run-in-circles-as-fast-as-possible-omg-run-run-run, he was pretty good at staying off pads and playing well with others.
Overall, a great day. We had been planning to hit up the Hot Chocolatier in the evening, and Melise had even racked up 50+ V-points, earning herself AT LEAST THREE liquid truffle drinks, but the shop was closed on Sundays. I don’t understand why, except maybe there was a petition by local churches to close the shop and improve service attendance? Is it blasphemous to worship chocolate?!? I say NO WAY. But put away those sympathy notes — we were sneaky and managed to create our own truffley-fudgey-deliciousness back home. 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)