Problem Of the Week #17: True Grit (V5)

22 Apr

The name says it all. To climb this GHSP classic test piece you certainly need some true grit (and maybe a little masochism) in your character.The Truest Grit Descriptive words that are routinely used for this line go as follows: sharp, heinous, razor blades, terrible, nope, and I’m glad I didn’t lose a finger. Most resounding of them all however, is “damn that’s awesome” as the problem is sent.  After first attempting this line in 2008 I had to return to the boulder to finish it, and after using half a roll of tape I simply couldn’t think of a more fitting name. SinceRonnie Black Jr. on True Grit this steeply overhanging blade embodies all that is GHSP and with its thin crimps, slim foothold options, and burly-ish nature it has become something of a rite of passage for many visiting boulderers. The V5 grade has been historically contested as either a hard V4 or easy V5, but the overwhelming consensus and requisite pain threshold needed to complete it has secured the grade as V5. The True Grit Boulder is the first visible boulder as you drive into the park, with its proud inclination able to be viewed from the car if looking up the bank to the left as you near the contact station pay booth.


Brianna Knaggs on True GritTrue Grit is located along the Split Rock Bouldering Trail near the Contact Station and Park Office, within the Contact Station Bouldering Area. Hike up the short Split Rock Trail (this takes maybe two minutes if you’re limping, its midnight, and your toting 8 pads), passing the Periscope and Ranger Rick Boulders. The True Grit Boulder will be the obvious, steep, overhung blade to the left of the trail (the SRT passes directly by the boulder’s corner, you really cant miss it). Find the chalky row of thin flake crimps in the center of the boulder and follow them to the low right for the starting flake.

Stand start low, matched in or around the lowest right flake feature (match, or configure fingers however you can to postShayne Messer sending True Grit up with your feet before tossing left to the thinner middle flake). Move left to the mid flake, and then decide on one of several possible beta sequences. I won’t go over them in detail, nor do I want to spoil the skin consuming fun of deciding what to do providing you don’t flash it (which is optimal if you really don’t want to go through the sequence of descriptive words previously listed). Move through the mid, and further leftStarting True Grit flakes, and then toss up higher to the side-pull. Continue to the upper jugs to latch the “glory jug” at the top for the easiest top-out around. The landing is flat, but rocky, so bring pads!

As far as the sharpness goes, well, that’s just part of it and something to expect. Its probably not a good idea to walk up to this one expecting smooth, friendly jugs, so after reading this (andTrue Grit the guidebook description), if you find yourself curled up on your pads whimpering, or throwing a frustrated temper tantrum about the sharpness, you’re on your own and have been warned. Expect it. True Grit is a hallmark boulder problem for many folks who visit the park. I feel that this certainly is one of the sharpest lines in GHSP, but if you get this rig figured out and dialed in, you can sit back in the flakes as you pull through much less painfully. Be sure to pencil this one in if you have the grit to see it through, and enjoy!


Sam Schiffhauer on True GritDon’t let the above “painful” description of True Grit discourage you from trying this classic. Its honestly one of, if not THE most frequented (and sent) V5s in the park, and has been a “first of the grade” for multiple climbers. Yes it is pretty sharp… But also awesome. Try it!

Mountain Project page: Grayson Highlands Bouldering Guidebook (page 60).

-Big thanks to CJ Yunger for all the awesome photos!

Seasonal Closure Updates; Listening Rock & Picnic Areas.

8 Apr

Hello folks!

Nathan Blakeslee and friends enjoying the scenery from the Buzzard Rock Overlook along the LRT

Some good news for anyone who will be visiting GHSP in hopes of wrestling pebbles and pulling crimps at 5,000ft. The gate to the Listening Rock Trail (LRT) is now officially opened for the season (providing another snowstorm doesn’t hit). The Picnic Area, however, is not yet open. The Picnic Area was hit pretty hard by winter weather and the park hasn’t yet finished prepping the area for this season’s visitation. Soon though! I will post as soon as I hear that Picnic too, has open access. Have fun bouldering on some of GHSP’s finest along the LRT, and as always, please be respectful of other park visitors and be mindful of appropriate ethics anywhere you go.

Grayson Highlands Bouldering & Stewardship Weekend, 2014

28 Mar


GHSP Event PanoKeep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.”
-John Muir
This upcoming Memorial Weekend, the 24th and 25th of May, 2014, will mark the 2nd GHSP Stewardship and Bouldering Weekend. Last year we all got together and tackled the goal of building Virginia’ very first State Park Bouldering Trail. With 40 volunteers and the Access Fund Trail Crew we accomplished our goal. This year we will not be building trails, but rather cleaning up trash in the park’s boulderfields, scrubbing chalk off of the most popular boulders, and hardening select landing areas to prevent future erosion. If you are able, please bring your own water gun to the event to help wash chalk off of the boulders!-Free one-night camping for volunteers (night of the 24th)
-Free park admission (24th-25th)
-Chance to support the new Southwest Virginia Climbing Coalition and win some great swag in the raffle!
-Climb VA’s steepest crimps with friends!Saturday, the 24th, we will focus on rock armoring the landings for some of the most popular GHSP boulders, and boulderfield trash pick-up. Sunday, the 25th, we will spread out throughout the park and scrub chalk off of the most popular boulders (bring a water gun with you to the event!).

After we accomplish out stewardship goals on the 24th & 25th, probably around 1:00 or 1:30pm, we will stop working and climb some boulders until the sun starts to set. As the sun sets on the 24th we will have a raffle in support of the newly formed Southwest Virginia Climbers Coalition (SVCC).

Currently sponsoring the event and raffle are HippyTree, Giddy, and Evolv. Likewise, GHSP Bouldering Guidebooks and boulderfield maps will be included in the raffle. After the raffle we will all hang out around the fire, or dance and sing and stomp and play music (<ahem> if you play guitar, banjo, or fiddle bring yours and play that thing) around the cabin and have a good time. The 2014 Stewardship Weekend will be quite informal, grassroots, and is in no way a competition aside from the prize for who collects the most trash. This will purely be focused on stewardship, hanging out, getting to know other climbers, and climbing some awesome GHSP boulders together. If you are planning to attend, please click and indicate that you are here on Facebook!

I would like to thank every volunteer who came out to the event last year, and ahead of time, any of you who want to come out and volunteer your time this year. I feel it is vastly important for us all to pitch in and help out at our local and favorite bouldering areas, and this is the perfect time to do so in GHSP. While I will be posting more info as time grows nearer, here is some need-to-know info and answers for frequently asked questions:

CAMPING: Feel free to reserve a campsite online (be sure to call if the online site shows no vacancy), or use the special, free, event-only campsite that GHSP allows the Stewardship Weekend guests to use –free of charge- for the night of the 24th only.

PARK FEES: It is free for the Stewardship Weekend volunteers to enter the park and climb on the 24-25th.

FOOD: Bring your own. The closest restaurants are the Log House Store where you can purchase some Mom & Pop style country food, as well as the Fox Creek General Store (north of the park on Hwy 16) which sales delicious sandwiches and food.

RAFFLE: The raffle tickets will go at $10 for one ticket, and $5 for any additional ticket.

DOGS: Dogs are allowed in the park, but please be mindful of the 6ft leash regulation. Clean up your dog’s poop.

WATER GUN: Bring with you a cheap (or expensive if you’re really into water guns) water gun/spray gun/ super soaker/ whatever, to blast water at the chalk-covered boulders here in GHSP. If it is hot and you feel like instigating a water war, go for it! Some of us will have brushes and others super soakers. Once the boulder get’s blasted, the chalk brushes off very easily.

WHAT TO BRING: $10 dollars (or more) for the raffle, Gloves, Closed-toed shoes (we will be moving big rocks), Food, Water, Super Soaker/water gun, Bouldering gear, Tent/Sleeping Bag, Guitar (if you have one and would like to play), Delicious Cold Soda-Pop.



Responsible Climbers

13 Mar

With the GHSP season nearly upon us, this Access Fund picture is a great reminder of the ethics that are so vitally important to adhere to in Grayson. As Grayson Highlands is a State Park, and a very popular one at that, it is important to keep in mind that there are a variety of user groups visiting and enjoying Grayson. Most of these folks are not climbers, and their user experience is crucial. The beauty and natural experience is of the utmost importance. Loud music, shirtless temper tantrums, tick marks, loose dogs, the loose dog’s dog poop, damage to vegetation, and any manner of gear strewn about will no doubt diminish other folks user experience and reflect badly upon climbers and climbing in GHSP. Please don’t be that guy or gal. Lets all strive to respect the park, park guests, and mother nature while visiting GHSP or any climbing area this season.



Pack It Out!

22 Feb


Problem Of the Week #16: Frites & Cassoulet (V9)

18 Feb

This week’s POW (Problem Of the Week) is all about “Frites & Cassoulet”(V9), found on the Olympus Boulder in GHSP’s Picnic Area.1790998_5259855_b If you have never been to the Olympus Boulder, this is a massive, steeply overhung monstrosity of a block located less than a minutes walk from your vehicle. Surrounding this boulder are two other easily accessible boulders loaded with wonderful problems, an indoor restroom, vending machines, a playground, and a nearby amphitheater where bluegrass shows can be found periodically during the summer and fall. Oh yeah, and there are outdoor charcoal pits and picnic tables next to this boulder as well, just in case you work up a hunger and brought along a picnic. Enough about the bouldering amenities for now though, lets get back to business with “Frites & Cassoulet”(V9).1

This climb is tough for sure, although probably on the lighter side of V9s in GHSP (my kinda V9!). Off the bat is a tough pull off of steep, low credit card edges, sharing the same start and second move of “Fulgora”(V8). From the wicked thin crimps follows another thin crimp leading to a delicate deadpoint to a shoulder wrenching, smooth, gaston slot/crack.4 Once established, the problem immediately trends right through a horizontal rail and then a triangular pinch/crimp. The footwork though these moves is my favorite part of the problem. Tricky dropknees and an intense level of core tension will keep you locked into the sequence. Once established on the pinch, the last crux is a big move to a nice “brick-like” jug. Hang onto the brick and top out over the lip.5

So why name a climb  “Frites & Cassoulet”? What the hell does “Frites & Cassoulet” mean anyway? The short background is that this problem used to be a V7 called “Athena” and was FAd by Shane Messer maybe 6 years ago (circa 2008/9). The start to this problem used to be a nice jug which likewise served as a critical foot throughout the line. My friend Steve Lovelace was working the problem and the start hold exploded off of the boulder, leaving behind nothing to work with. A few years later I had repeated “Fulgora”(V8) from the same start, but had not worked the line that was once “Athena”. 6My friends Esten and Art came down to visit two summers ago, bringing with them a strong Frenchman named Pierre.

Pierre focused in and worked hard to get what is now “Frites & Cassoulet”. When I asked him the name of the problem and described the general theme of the problem names on the boulder, being some sort of Greek god or affiliated with religion, Pierre replied with “I will name it Frites & Cassoulet.” When I asked what that meant, he replied “French fries and soup, that would be a pretty religious experience right now.”

7Wiki answers elaborates stating that “Cassoulet is a ragoût, or meat-and-bean stew, from Languedoc, a region of Southwestern France. The word comes from the Languedoc name for the vessel it is cooked in: cassolo. Frites are French fries.”

Whether or not “Frites & Cassoulet” is a culinary religious experience for you, I have no doubt you can find a path to enlightenment on one of the awesome boulders in the Picnic Area.

Winter Bouldering and GHSP Seasonal Area Closures

25 Dec

imageSome areas in GHSP typically close with the Winter season. These areas include the Listening Rock Trail and the sub-areas of the LRT; Moonlight, Ginseng, Wildwood, and Back of Beyond. Also the Picnic Area closes with the season. These locations are closed due to the difficulty in plowing the Winter snow accumulation which is often several feet deep and persists late into the Spring. If you are determined to climb at these locations you can trek in past the gate on foot, but this is certainly not recommended. The distance on foot through ice and snow to the LRT is tedious at best, and the walk out of the Picnic area  on foot is a bear even during the Fall.  The approximate timeframe for their re-opening is the 5th of May, but a light Winter and warm Spring can bring about earlier openings. Throughout the Winter, and if you are an intrepid cold-weather boulderer, there are areas in the park that never close due to weather. These areas are (excluding an apocalyptic snow storm, where you couldn’t reach the park without a snowmobile or dog sled team in the first place); AVP, Boneyard, Contact Station, and the Highlands. Happy climbing, and happy holidays!


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