“We don’t know who we are until we see what we can do.”
There have been countless climbing challenge ideas thrown around amongst Boone climbers, ranging from the stupid (e.g. “the 24 challenge”) to the silly (e.g. naked climbing), but last weekend Carson decided to celebrate his 21st birthday by laying down the hammer on 21 of his favorite v5 boulder problems around Boone.
The Bakker boys, two Zachs, and myself set out on this grand undertaking. It was a big dream and we knew it would take the whole day. With a puppy in tow, we set off, unsure of our chances of success, but determined to spend a beautiful day among trees, rocks, and friends.
The final numbers at the end of the day were 21 climbs completed in 11 hours, with ~10 miles total hiked up and down and around virtually every single area of Blowing Rock, 221, and Grandmother. We left around 8am and made it back to Boone a little after 7pm. Carson and Drexel day flashed every single boulder except for two, and each one of them blames the other for bad beta.
I was impressed by Carson’s commitment to staying true to the goal of exactly twenty-one v5s. Besides our initial warm-up, he did not lay a finger on a single other grade. I don’t know how doable this venture would have been if we had picked a higher grade or if Carson had just turned 50 years old instead of 21, but it surprised all of us how easy this was. Okay, maybe not “easy” but it certainly wasn’t as brutal as we had imagined. I only spotted a couple chicken wings and the guys actually cruised through the last few boulders of the day pretty smoothly, versus the dramatic pumping out and screaming and grunting one might expect after a long circuit day.
Highlights of the day, according to Drexel, were Cocaine Highway (a tall, scary rock face that is so unnerving Carson giggled like a little schoolgirl at the top) and finishing the day on the Long Wall classics.
The weather was perfect all day. Fall called and said she had a good time visiting and will be back in a couple weeks for a longer stay. I can’t wait to spend many more weekends in Boone getting my skin and psyche ready for prime climbing season! Don’t forget to register for Hound Ears!
Check out the photos of our day and see if you can name every single one of the climbs. Is there a v5 you think we missed? Let us know in the comments below.
Drexel is still on the road, doing his best to keep the cross country crimpers alive and crushing projects left and right. He claims his fingers are so sore from climbing that he’s unable to write any of his own entries, so here’s a quick list of his latest sends: Osiris V10, Bubba Gump V10, Bread Loaf Factory V10, and the most epic, Western Gold V11.
I mainly know about these sends because I’ll be at work, in my “big kid” job as a therapist, in a session with a client who is yelling or crying or throwing things, when my phone will blow up with ten texts consisting primarily of exclamation points and excited emoji faces. My first thought when I hear the continuous earthquake vibrations of my phone is, “Uh oh, someone else is in crisis!” so I’ll find some excuse to check the screen. Lo and behold, Drexel has triumphed again! “I did it! I did it! I did it!” he texted.
This past weekend I was lucky enough to join Drexel, Carson and Jeff on a lovely outing to Dixon School Boulders. If you’ve never heard of this place, check out this neat video starring Zach and the Bakker boys talking about Dixon and sending some of the classics. As Zach says in the video, it’s definitely worth checking out, spending a day amongst the trees and rocks on a beautiful, quiet mountainside with gorgeous views.
Dixon boulders is a small bouldering area owned by Crowders Mountain State Park near Kings Mountain, NC. It’s maybe 1.5 hrs from Asheville, 2.5 hrs from Boone. It’s a metaconglomerate rock, which might mean nothing to climbers except that the grain size and quality changes drastically from one end of the boulder field to the other. There are maybe 40-50 total climbs, with only 20-25 being high quality and a couple big projects still waiting for a strong climber to give them a name.
We first warmed up at a large chunk of rock containing countless fun v0-v3s and also a tricky barndoor problem courtesy of Ian Rogers called Barnyard Banshees v5. From there we moved up the hill to Classic Overhangv3 and Beelzebub Roof v5. Zach makes this climb look easy in the video and Jeph flashed the pants off of it, but I struggled pretty hard to gain momentum to reach certain holds and still have enough power to clamp down on the pebbles up top. I flailed a bit, grunted, sighed, told the group we could move on, started to pack up, and then had a sudden burst of angry determination that I was able to ride to a final send. WHOOSH. Sometimes there really is power in a “last go, best go” gritty determination.
We tromped our way up and over to one of the best boulders at Dixon, Atlas v7. It starts with a really fun traverse leading up to a tricky face slab. Lil Bakker wistfully projected this boulder back in the day, and now he’s a lean mean climbing machine who eats v7s for breakfast.
For the record, I have never felt so supported in my entire climbing life as I did on Atlas. After everyone else sent, Carson, Jeph and Drexel became the world’s best support crew. They showered me with compliments and offered wild incentives that tapped into my deepest desires. Here I was on the brink of complete life satisfaction, and…. nothing. This might be my biggest deathbed regret.
Next up was Drexel’s biggest project, the terrifyingly tall Leaning Tower v8. It’s arguably one of the best lines at the park, but is also extremely tall and intimidating and has a very committing last move. In the end, the fear factor was too much. This is a really good example of how sometimes climbing is more mental than physical – if this move was only a couple feet above the ground, it would be a relatively easy dyno. Take that same dyno and move it 20+ feet off the ground and that’s another story.
We ended the day on Venom v5 and Venom Direct v6, completing Jeph’s Dixon circuit experience. We marched back to the Crowders Mountain State Park parking lot with smiles on our faces. We all agreed that the pebbles hurt, but our skin looked a lot better than it had before. My gym skin definitely needed some good pebbly scraping to get it ready for next weekend’s trip to Rumbling Bald.
Back at home, we had a lovely night with Drexel and Carson’s family, even when arguments got a bit heated. I felt bad, but we even pulled his Nana into the argument. In the end, it was hard to find a clear winner of “What is the cutest baby animal?” We’ve narrowed it down to five top contenders: Dik-Dik, Slow Loris, Wallaby, Wolf, or Panther. Please vote in the poll below so we can figure this out once and for all.