This week’s POW (Problem Of the Week) is all about “Frites & Cassoulet”(V9), found on the Olympus Boulder in GHSP’s Picnic Area. 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).
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. 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.
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”. My 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.”
Wiki 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.
Some 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!
Strength Generator is a new one from this past summer. I put up a sit start to the classic highball ”strength in numbers”(v5) which I called “Strength of One“(V8). Further to the right is another classic line called “The Next Generator“(V4). Both the V5 and V4 are original GHSP lines done in the early 1990s by Jim Horton and a few other NC crushers. I thought that linking the tough new sit start moves of “strength of one” and trending right to gain the start of “generator” would be cool, and the holds were there. After exploring the moves I realized the line was going to be pretty tough for me, and ended up taking a couple of weeks to figure out and finish. Since it involved moves from “Strength of One” and “Next Generator” I named it “Strength Generator“(V10~). So far it has not -to my knowledge- seen a second ascent, owing to the fact that it was done after the release of the guidebook (look for it, and “strength of one” in the 2nd edition!). If you do it please let us know what you think!
Strength Generator is on the Front Wall, a 2min walk from the LRT parking lot. The sit start is in a low undercling. Make a tough move off of bad feet to the higher bad crimps. Make a big dynamic reach far and right out to a perplexing pocket/crimp/pinch hold (the hold is formed by a pink colored dropstone). Move into the crazy side-pull hold to the right, and then link into the juggy start for “next generator.” Finish out the highball-ish V4 through crimps and jugs up high. 15+ moves and a jumbled landing, so bring plenty of pads!
While not listed, the location of this line would be found on in the GHSP Bouldering Guidebook on pages 110-111. Mountain Project page link: http://www.mountainproject.com/v/front-wall/107282005
I received notification from GHSP that in 2014 there will be a fee increase for several aspects of park visitation and use. This increase is coming from somewhere “above” in the VA State Park system, so increases could be seen in other state parks across the Old Dominion as well. For camping, standard sites will stay the same but electric and water campsites will be $30. Parking fees will be $4 on weekdays and $5 on weekends.
GHSP is working to limit the increase for overnight backpackers as they have very limited use of park facilities. While this doesn’t help out visiting climbers (unless you are going on an overnight Mt. Rogers bouldering expedition, which you totally should), the increase will help out the state park system in the long run and that certainly is a good thing. The best way to go about this, if you are a frequent GHSP climber, is to cough up some dough and buy yourself a parking pass. A parking pass pays for itself after eight visits.
Moonlight Sonata is one of those problems that you do every chance you get. Its highball, but not so highball that you think “what the hell was I doing” once the adrenaline wears off. Its scary, not because you would be seriously injured if you fell, but because the spice of the problem waits at the top. Its also one of the most unique rigs around because you get to not only paddle out a surfboard-like feature, but you can shimmy in-between the “surfboard” flake and the boulder for a full-on recliner rest (eat your heart out Moonshine Roof) midway up the climb. Anyway, Moonlight Sonata is the berries, and make sure you try it out next time you are around the LRT.
Moonlight sonata starts off at the base of the huge overhang, to the far left, on an obvious jug/chunk for the sit start. Work up and into the long seam that forms the huge plank/surfboard/flake feature. Campus, dangle, or heal-hook your way to the end of the surfboard or until you can reach the holds above it.
Take some time to hang out on the surfboard, or continue on, following the good holds up and left to the obvious juggy, chunky goodness at the top left. While topping out, there is an added bonus. Use the small Yellow birch tree at the top to finish the climb. While it is obviously up to you to use it, the climb is rated as such with the tree “on” to avoid having to remove and harm any further vegetation. If you don’t want to use the tree, that’s fine, but don’t clean the boulder any further please!
To the right is a much bolder V4 called Bad Moon Rising which I’ll be sure to cover in a later post. Moonlight Sonata and surrounding problems located in the Grayson Highlands Bouldering Guidebook on pages: (147-149). MP page link: http://www.mountainproject.com/v/moonlight-sonata/107612757
Enjoy the Thanksgiving Holiday!