Thursday, May 8, 2014
Summer is almost upon us here in the High Country of North Carolina. To those of you who are fortunate enough to be in the know this brings to mind a few things every year. First of all, Florons begin to clog up every major thoroughfare from now until the time the leaves fall in late October. Secondly, route climbing season begins here, at least for me and my friends. Finally, its the time to hike into the gorge to get the beatdown bouldering on the Linville River. Number one on this list is a necessary evil bringing both commerce and aggravation to the local population. The other two, well those are what this rock climber first thinks of when summer rolls around in Boone. My recently married best friend Josh came to visit this week. Congratulations on the nuptials Shepherds and a big thanks for bringing the psyche needed to cajole Cody and I into an impromptu gorge bouldering and camping expedition. Josh decided that God's Country was the area he was most excited about so we packed up the truck and headed into the gorge. God's Country is located on the Linville River trail located right off of the Babel Towers trail on the west side of the gorge. This time hiking in took us 50 minutes with a 70 minute exit hike. Now, the three of us have quite the history with gorge boulders since Josh and I first visited in 2008 spurred on by vague descriptions on Rockclimbing.com and this enigmatic username "paleolithics." We had to know, was the bouldering any good, and who is this mystery man? The answers were yes, the climbing is unique and varied in a beautiful setting with not only bullet rock but amazing lines. And the second answer was Mike Stam, a name that would become synonymous with Linville gorge bouldering. Mike along with Joey Henson and company has established over 1500 boulder problems in the bottom of the gorge. After we met Mike this area really opened up a new world of climbing possibilities home not only to thousands of blocs, but more importantly an element that I find lacking in the modern day incarnation of our "sport." This element is adventure, and send or no send every trip into the Linville Gorge is an experience. The sometimes brutal hikes and the fact that a lot of things in the gorge have a way of becoming epic make this no mere jaunt to the mushroom boulder. Aside from the fact that insects, giant rats, and raging whitewater are all things to consider this only enriches the entire experience. As skiers so aptly put it, in the gorge you have to "earn your turns." Despite the fact that I have been working the problem in the next video since sometime in 2009, I still have yet to send. At least sixteen miles of hiking, one spring break, and over four years have passed since the beginning of my saga with "Stranger than Friction" and I'm still hooked. I know I'm crazy, maybe this just proves it. So there you have in, in the last several years I don't think I have sent more than a handful of problems down in the big ditch. That's okay by me though, going down there isn't for the faint of heart but it does pay dividends. I really do believe that it is a privilege to climb in relative solitude in a such an amazing boulder field. If one enjoys a good epic adventure check out the gorge this summer for a bit of bouldering and swimming. It may not be for you but at least it's something different. Plus, you'll never know unless you check it out for yourself. If you want a better picture of the climbing in the gorge than my words can do justice look up T.C. Webb's video on Mike Stam. Go to vimeo and look up "Fear of Commitment."
Thursday, April 3, 2014
Well, things are heating up here in the High Country bringing us to the end of yet another bouldering season. After spending all winter coaxing incremental progress out of our projects in the cold now we can bask in shorts and lazy days. That being said its also the time to not necessarily try so hard but maybe try to find some new stone in the transition between bouldering season and the time to rope up. Some of the photos you don't recognize are a reflection of this current psyche. In other news, despite being at the ever present disadvantage, I have been mining out some V5's and currently are one up on Mr. Purpur at 184. Your move Erich.
Thursday, March 6, 2014
"Damn, we're out of beer, who's going to drive to the kang?" Little did Mr. Brys realize the the utterance of that mere question would lead to what happened next. " I bet you $20 that you can't run to the kangaroo, get beer, and be back in less than ten minutes." Of course once the challenge was issued Cody was off and running, making the initial dash in 6:58. Then, the challenger Brennen responded with a time of 6:02 and the challenge was born. Since this first night 21 people have run what has come to be known as "The Kangaroo Challenge." Rules 1. Start from 632 Queen St. exiting the back door and run to the Kangaroo on 421 2. Retrieve a PBR Tallboy from the Kangaroo as proof of your visit. 3. Return to the Queen St. house as quickly as possible. So there is a lot more to this run than one might initially think. Running down to the Kangaroo demands a solid strategy as well as running prowess. If you get stuck in line or the conditions are terrible its going to be tougher to post a solid time. However, the record tying time was set after a Thanksgiving meal, at night, in the rain. So buck up, Buttercup. Currently Nick Pendergrast and Peter Grill hold the record at 4:29. It has been speculated that a sub 4 minute kang can be run. So to that I ask, who will be the next, is it you?