Lets Bring Back The AVP Boulders!

12 Sep

I couldn’t be more excited to be writing this. Let’s bring back the AVP Boulders! Please help secure climber access and conservation to the AVP Boulderfield at Grayson Highlands. It has been well over a year since I broke the news that the AVP Boulders were closed to climbing. Ever since, through the hard work and dedicated efforts of the Central Appalachia Climbers Coalition and the Access Fund, we have worked with the landowners to negotiate a formal agreement for climbers to purchase the boulders. The survey, appraisal, and purchase agreement is complete! Now, with the community’s help, CACC is ready to acquire and permanently protect these fantastic boulders. CACC now has three months to raise the necessary funds to complete the purchase. If you enjoy climbing at the AVP Boulders, Grayson Highlands in general, or would like to support the conservation and access preservation of some of the best boulders in Virginia, please donate today! The end goal for this property is to allow GHSP to acquire the land, becoming an official part of Grayson Highlands State Park where bouldering is encouraged and loved. Please follow and share the link below and let’s make it happen!

CACC Donation Page for AVP Boulders

Also, check out the Access Fund AVP Page and their awesome write-up!

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NEW! “War & Peace” (V7/8)

17 Jun

DSC_0200While there has been an incredible amount of new boulders and boulder problems added to the mix in Grayson Highlands over the past several months, here is a brand new one on a longstanding and popular boulder in the park. “War & Peace”(V7/8) was added to the Rock House Boulder on Tuesday, June 13th by Elijah Kiser from Boone NC.

This boulder problem climbs the steep face of the Rock House Boulder to the right of “Dark Horse”(V7) and climbs into the rarely traveled “Medicine Man”(V4) to finish. Look low and left under the steep face for the deep jug (which was formed from a thin flake which broke and fortunately left a solid jug). Below the steep jug you will find a flat crimp edge and an even lower thin in-cut undercling which serve as the start holds.

DSC_0203Pick up off the start holds (or match start the flat crimp, your decision) and dyno into the jug. Travel to the right past more crimps to the upper right of the face and link into the start to “Medicine Man” to finish with a mantle over the upper right of the boulder.

This line is a fantastic addition to the boulder and only a stone’s throw away from the parking lot (seriously, you could park and easily hit this boulder with a rock, but why would you want to do that?) . Keep this new line in mind on your next visit to GHSP.  Be sure to bring a couple of spotters and plenty of pads, the landing is rough. With the appropriate amount of foam this new line is excellent!

Here is the link to the Mountain Project page listing “War & Peace” and all the other great lines on the Rock House Boulder: War & Peace


2017 GHSP Bouldering & Stewardship Weekend Re-Cap!

29 May

The 2017 GHSP Bouldering & Stewardship Weekend was such an amazing time and an absolute success! Having been a part of this big climbing community family for over a decade I still can’t help but to be blown away by the amount of hard work and dedication that we climbers bring to the table during stewardship events like these. With a collective of 30 phenomenal volunteers we went right to work toward some tough objectives and quickly accomplished them all.

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This year we worked on the Luminary Area climber access trail all day on Saturday. The approach down to these wonderful blocks used to be one of the most grueling in the park. We met up at 9am to collect tools, gear, and to get a short trail work overview. At 10:00 we got set up and started the day’s work. A crew of dedicated stair makers focused on a heinous slope at the start of the approach trail, hand laying massive slabs with uncompromising precision. The result is one of the best set of stone stairs in the park! The majority of the Saturday crew worked on roughing in and perfecting the slope for the access trail down to the Luminary Boulders. We laid well spaced stepping stones through a spring seep and constructed a few more stone step-downs as needed. The night and day difference in accessibility is unbelievable! Now you can cruise down to some of the most exciting new blocks in the park with ease. After the trail was finalized we improved the landings to many of the Luminary Boulders and climbed for several hours before dinner.

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Saturday night was a stormy one. Scary even! With blinding lightening, constant thunder and some of the hardest rain I have seen in the park I thought for sure Sunday would be a wash out. The boulder gods had mercy however and when we woke up Sunday morning the boulders were almost entirely dry!

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Sunday we were right back at it, rock armoring many boulders and improving some of the already rock armored blocks along the LRT. The Beast, Tiger, Hive, Warm-up, Alcatraz, Mike-N-Ike, Bicentennial, SLS, and Shanghai Boulders all got some love and stewardship. We also brushed and washed all the built up chalk residue from the boulders and the Contact Station Boulders as well!

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I don’t know how, but every year for five years running the GHSP Bouldering & Stewardship Weekends get better every time! A massive thanks to each and every person who has ever come out to the event, to GHSP for being the most climber supportive State Park ever and so welcoming to event volunteers, and a huge thanks to all the event sponsors: Mountain Sports Limited, Misty Mountain Threadworks, Footsloggers, Regear, Hatchet Coffee, Center 45 Climbing! With the event sponsors help and love we raised over $200 for the Central Appalachia Climber’s Coalition through the awesome swag and gear raffle. unnamed (7)

Thanks again to all the amazing event volunteers for the hard work, dedication, blood, sweat, blisters, bug bites, stinging nettle stings, dirty clothes and all the rest of the awesome things about the weekend. Stewardship events like these are vital to our continued access to places we all love and cherish. Lets keep it going, and I cant wait to do it all again next year!


2017 GHSP Bouldering & Stewardship Weekend (May 27th / 28th)

12 Apr

April GHSP Stewardship 2Hello! It is time for the 5th annual GHSP Bouldering & Stewardship Weekend! I would like to thank all the awesome and dedicated folks who have made it out and participated in this grassroots stewardship event over the past years and the great sponsors that support the event and Central Appalachia Climbers Coalition. We have made a huge difference and helped set precedence for how we can be greater collective stewards within the climbing and outdoor community. This year we will establish a climber path into the awesome Luminary Area which will be included in the upcoming Volume 2 of the GHSP Bouldering Guidebook, along with the amazing Back of Beyond Area and Wildwood Area which were the focus of last two years of Stewardship Weekends.

As always, this is a low key grassroots stewardship effort. There is no competition or big-time staged event. This is simply an organized group effort to help sustain one of the best and most beautiful boulderfields in Appalachia! For event volunteers park entrance is free, as is the nights camping (camping in the field is free, but if you reserve a standard park campsite the fee still applies) A short bullet point and summary for this year’s event is as follows:

  • Click on FB Event Page or message if you are able to attend
  • Bring gloves and closed toed shoes
  • Bring food, water/drinks
  • Bring Tent/hammock, sleeping bag (musical instrument if so inclined)
  • Bring climbing gear!
  • Raffle $$ and food $$ if you plan to go out for food at all


  • Meet at 9:00amat the LRT parking lot on Saturday the 27th
  • Work on establishing trail into the Luminary Area until2:00pm
  • Climb in the Luminary Area or anywhere else until dark/dinner time
  • Hang out/night climb and camp
  • Meet at 9:00at LRT on Sunday the 28th
  • Pick up trash and improve trails until2:00pm
  • Event will informally end after 2, but we will climb until the day’s end


Prior to Attending: Please message or click on the Facebook Event Page if you plan to attend. Please bring work gloves, closed-toed shoes (we will be moving big rocks), Food, Water, Super Soaker or water gun, Bouldering gear, Tent/hammock & Sleeping Bag. Consider bringing a guitar, ice cold sodas, and $10 or more for the SVCC Raffle! You can get delicious food at the Grayson Highlands General Store, so bring $$ for that if you think you might want some food or supplies!

Saturday the 27th will start at 9:00am at the Visitor Center/LRT parking lot. We will gather tools and head down to the awesome & exciting Luminary Area. Please bring food & water, and work clothes. If you plan to stay and climb in the Wildwood, bring your crashpads and gear as well! We will establish a small footpath throughout the main boulderfield and improve landings there. We will stop working at around 2:00pm, and if you would like to climb elsewhere feel free to do so! Otherwise, hang out and get a tour of Luminary and session on some of GHSP’s newest and proudest blocks.

The night of the 27th we volunteers get to camp for free in the field above the Park Office. After climbing we can set up camp, hang out, and afterward we can all go night bouldering, or just hang out at the campsite fire ring.

Sunday the 28th starts at 9:00am again and we will hold the raffle before heading out for picking up trash along trails, scrubbing off chalky holds with water-guns and brushes and rock armoring landings. After 2:00pm, the event will informally end, and we all can go climb!  Thank any and all of you who plan to attend, and feel free to message me here or through the Facebook Event Page with any specific questions!

Raffle Swag: Proceeds from the raffle will go to supporting the efforts of the Central Appalachia Climbers Coalition and are made possible by out awesome sponsors. Raffle items this year will include three of the new Grayson Highlands Boulderfields & Landscape Maps, some swag from Center 45 Climbing & Fitness, a Hatchet Coffee prize pack, and swag from awesome local gear stores.

Below are some shots from the Luminary Area which will be a big focus during this year’s stewardship weekend. See you all up there!

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Grayson Highlands State Park Boulderfields & Landscape Map

31 Mar

Hello friends! I just finished the GHSP Boulderfields and Landscape Map. This project took me two years to complete, so needless to say I am very excited to share it! The map lists over 500 individual problems, 11 areas, GHSP and greater Appalachian land forms and elevations, park attractions, trails, streams, flora and fauna, and the myriad of other wonderful outdoor recreational opportunities that GHSP has to offer. This map represents over a decade of experience exploring and climbing in GHSP.  I wanted to convey the overwhelming vastness and natural wonder that I have had out there, and that anyone can experience while visiting. I hope you enjoy getting lost looking at this map, just as I enjoyed allowing myself to get lost amid the boulders, mountains, creeks, ridges and rhododendron while exploring the amazing climbing and wilderness in Grayson. For the avid GHSP climber, you might find some exciting new boulders to explore if you look carefully!

Grayson Highlands State Park Boulderfields and Landscape Map

Good Signs and Updates for the 2017 GHSP Bouldering Season

21 Feb

Hello folks!


Tyler Hoskinson on the FA of “Key To The Castle” (V8/9) in the Luminary Area, GHSP

I haven’t posted much since last writing about losing access to the AVP Boulders. It was a painful reminder of how fragile climbing access can be and how cognizant and proactive we as a community of climbers must be. Climbing at AVP is unfortunately still prohibited, but the State Park is home to thousands of spectacular boulder problems and many exciting developments are under way. Moving forward and into a new year and new season I am happy to say exciting things are on the horizon and Grayson Highlands State Park is as always, one of the most amazing places for bouldering -and climber access- for so many reasons. Below are a few updates and events that are already underway for the upcoming 2017 season.

The Grayson Highlands Bouldering & Stewardship Weekend is planned and set again for Memorial Weekend 2017. This is always an exciting event! Working on trails and stewardship initiatives and getting to hang out and climb with fantastic folks from near and far is such an awesome experience. Stay tuned for more info as we get closer to the month of May, and plan for the event for this upcoming Memorial Weekend!

The expanded Second Edition of the Grayson Highlands Bouldering & Landscape Map is nearing completion. The first GHSP Boulderfield Map turned out well, but wasn’t inclusive of some features of the GHSP landform, and soon after it’s completion many new bouldering areas were explored and documented. Now, over a year after beginning to work on it, the Second Edition map is almost finished and its looking great!

Work toward the 2nd edition of the GHSP Bouldering Guidebook is likewise underway. This is a long process, but much of the documentation has already taken place. This year we will be compiling that information and starting the layout, photography, and design work. I have no date or estimation for release, but as we move forward I will absolutely post updates as they occur. At least five additional areas, and updates for existing classics and areas will be included!

For me personally, the most exciting current GHSP update has to be the new Contactdsc_0234Station Boulderfield sign posts. These are so cool! There are now sign posts all along the Haw Flats Trail, positioned in front of the Contact Station Boulders (Periscope, Ranger Rick, True Grit and others) which describe the boulders, give boulder problem descriptions (all with full color photos and topo overlays), and list informative geology and nature facts. I don’t know if there are any other bouldering destinations with signs like these but there can’t be many! Basically, all you need to experience some of GHSP’s bouldering is a pair of suitable shoes and the courage to give it a go. You can rent crash pads and a bag of chalk at the trail head and find out all the bouldering information you need as you visit each sign post.

There will probably be a few more wintry cold snaps and snowfall before the spring GHSP Season truly sets in, but the conditions have been very nice lately. The gates to the LRT and Picnic Areas are still closed but the Highlands, Contact, Crooked Road, and Boneyard Areas are always open and it wont be long until the upper gates reopen for the season. Keep an eye on the weather and lets get out there!


13 Jun


Access Alert for AVP Bouldering Area: AVP AREA CLOSED TO CLIMBING

Please respect this area closure: Climbing and all visitation is prohibited.


With a heavy heart I am writing that the AVP Bouldering Area is now closed to all climbing and visitation. This closure covers the entirety of the AVP Area listed on pages 18-27 of the GHSP Bouldering Guidebook consisting of the AVP Boulder, Hero Boulder, Sidekick Boulder and their 40+ combined boulder problems. The Access Fund and Southwest Virginia Climbers Coalition are both assessing the situation. Until more is understood, Grayson Highlands State Park is asking climbers to please consider the area permanently closed and off limits to climbing and visitation as a whole.

Some background on the area: AVP could easily be considered the origin of GHSP Bouldering. It is likely that folks climbed on the AVP Boulder prior to the 1990s but without a doubt a scene developed in the early 1990s at what is now the AVP Boulders. James Litz and a strong crew of Southeastern climbers developed much of the boulder problems on the hilltop from the 90s forward, and crews from North Carolina and Southwest Virginia continued sessions there well into the 2000s.

Around 2010 Park Officials indicated that the boulders sat on what may be the actual park boundary and suggested that they were considered to be in a “grey area” due to uncertain survey lines and a lack of precise GPS and survey information for that specific location. As climbers had been hiking in to AVP for a long time, the access situation was viewed as stable across the board. After 2010 GHSP approved bouldering in the park master plan for recreation. In 2013 the GHSP Bouldering Guidebook was published, choosing the AVP Boulder out of hundreds of other park blocks to be its cover photo. After 2013, AVP’s popularity grew with the guidebook’s release, and two of the Park’s most sought after boulder problems became “Front Man” (V5) and Jimmy Webb’s “Lifestyles” (V9).

Early, June 2016 “No Trespassing” signs were seen posted near the boulderfield.  By June 9th, flagging tape appeared along the old fence line beside the boulders, and by June 12th the realty company’s sign was purposefully planted by the climber access trail alerting visitors that tresspassing is prohibited.

The landowners for the property adjacent to the park have apparently sold the house and 30 acres. The private property signs and realty listing indicates that the property line includes the AVP, Hero and Sidekick Boulders.

Please be respectful of this closure. This cannot be stressed enough. Trespassing here could bring ramifications for Grayson Highlands State Park and the VA State Park system. If climbers trespass here it will reflect badly upon climbers and GHSP Bouldering as a whole.

Losing the AVP Area is a substantial loss to the Grayson Highlands Bouldering Community. AVP is a deeply special location for so many of us, and classics such as “Front Man” “Lifestyles” and many others will be missed. Fortunately, thanks to the VA State Park system, we still have access to the vastness that is the rest of GHSP. There are still ~1000 boulder problems to climb in Grayson, and the Park isn’t going anywhere. Huge thanks to all GHSP boulderers for respecting this closure, and a huge thanks to the State Park for protecting the Grayson Highlands landscape for the public to enjoy and embrace.

-Aaron Parlier