2018 Grayson Highlands Bouldering & Stewardship Weekend

30 Mar


Grayson Highlands Bouldering & Stewardship Weekend

Memorial Weekend, May 26-27th, 2018

Hello Folks! It is time for the 6th annual GHSP Bouldering & Stewardship Weekend! Thank you all who made it out last year’s event and past events as well. Together we have made a huge difference at GHSP and helped set precedence for how we can be greater collective stewards within State Parks and the wider climbing and outdoor community as a whole.

This year will be an awesome one and a celebration of the newly purchased and protected AVP Boulders. While the AVP Boulders are absolutely open to climbers right now, we will get to officiate the opening of AVP with signage and improve the existing trail while providing some much needed TLC to the landing areas, setting the stage for the season ahead. We will also put in some hard work in the Picnic Area Boulders and the nearby, newly developed Outlaw Boulder. Both AVP and Picnic Areas are some of the most popular bouldering locations in the park, and this stewardship event will offer landing area erosion prevention and more sustainable access trails. We will work on trails in both locations (including improving the access trail to the massive Outlaw Boulder in the Picnic Area), rock armoring landings, trash removal and removing tick marks and built up chalk.

As always, this is a low key grassroots stewardship effort. There is no competition or on-stage events. There are no concerts or food vendors. This is simply an annual organized collective effort of people who want to put in the dirty work to help sustain one of the best and most beautiful boulderfields in Appalachia. For event volunteers park entrance is free, as is Saturday night’s 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:

-Before the event checklist:

  • Click on FB Event Page or message if you are able to attend
  • Pack gloves and closed toed shoes
  • Pack food, water/drinks
  • Pack tent/hammock, sleeping bag
  • Pack climbing gear!
  • Pack a water sprayer/super-soaker if you have access to either (washing off chalk)
  • Raffle $$ and food $$ if you plan to go out for food at all

Day of and duration of event timeline:

  • Meet at 9:00am at the Picnic Area parking lot on Saturday the 26th
  • Carpool in the van to AVP and improve trails and rock armor until 2:00pm
  • Climb in the Picnic Area or anywhere else until dark/dinner time
  • Hang out/night climb and camp
  • Meet at 9:00 at the Picnic Area parking lot on Sunday the 27th
  • Work on rock armoring the Olympus Boulder and establishing trail into the Outlaw Area until 2:00pm
  • 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 CACC Raffle! You can get delicious food at the Grayson Highlands General Store, so bring $$ for that if you want to pick up some food or supplies!

-For a longer description of this year’s work agenda read below:

Saturday the 26th will start at 9:00am at the Picnic Area parking lot. We will gather tools and begin trail work down to the awesome Outlaw Boulder and the surrounding blocks. Please bring food & water, and work clothes. If you plan to stay and climb at the Outlaw Area, bring your crashpads and gear as well! We will establish a small footpath throughout the main boulderfield and improve landings there. Likewise, a small group will remain at the main Picnic Area to rock armor the Olympus and Rock House Boulders while picking up trash and scrubbing off tick marks and chalky holds. 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 Outlaw and session on one of GHSP’s proudest blocks.

The night of the 26th 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 27th starts at 9:00am again and we will hold the raffle before heading out in the van for The AVP Area. We will do much needed trail work and rock armoring and well as focusing on scrubbing off tick marks and picking up trash. After 2:00pm, the event will informally end and we will all 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 our awesome sponsors. Raffle items this year will include swag from Patagonia, Evolv, Black Diamond, Mountain Sports Limited, Misty Mountain, Scarpa, Organic Climbing, Grayson Highlands Boulderfield & Landscape Maps, swag from Center 45 Climbing & Fitness and a Hatchet Coffee prize pack.

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, as well as all of the wonderful sponsors that support the event. Also, a huge thank you to the hard work and dedication of the Central Appalachia Climbers Coalition and the Access Fund. The CACC and Access Fund pulled out all the stops and made the AVP Boulder purchase a success. The CACC has done tremendous work for climbing advocacy in the Central Appalachia region over the past several years. Amazing stuff! CACC representatives will be at this event for the entire duration so be sure to say hello and find out about more upcoming events. Raffle proceeds will go directly to the CACC, so be sure to take part and win some nice swag along the way!

Directions to the Grayson Highlands Picnic Area: Here

Below are some shots from the AVP, Picnic and Outlaw Areas which will be the focus during this year’s stewardship weekend. See you all up there!




6428674525_58e7f7d417_bFront Man(V5) Kai Böttcher PhotoOutlaw 2







True Grit: A broken hold and new grades

25 Oct

Brianna KnaggsHey folks! A crucial hold broke on True Grit during the month of October 2017. The hold that broke is the right-hand side-pull after the lower flakes. All is well, but it does change the game a bit.

The line, which will still be called “True Grit” is now graded (V6) and is a step up in difficulty as compared to what it was before. Now you need to use a higher, much smaller ripple as opposed to the -now gone- large side-pull.

The biggest difference is that now, “True Grit Left” is a much better and more intuitive sequence than before, and I think it is now the best line on the boulder. With the side-pull gone, “True Grit Left” is now (V5) and the movement is wonderful.

Ronnie Black Jr.It’s always a bummer when a crucial hold breaks on a classic, but in this instance, we are fortunate that what resulted is just as great to climb on. I would like to add that while I do not know the nature of the hold breakage here, I did notice multiple holds that had broken recently in the area. I did not visit the Contact station over the month span when these breaks occurred, but I saw at least 5 broken holds on area classics at the Contact Station. That month was a rainy one.

While these broken holds did not affect the general difficulty of the lines, we must recognize that it was extremely lucky that other crucial holds didn’t likewise break off. PLEASE DO NOT CLIMB IN GRAYSON WHILE IT IS WET! Holds become friable and weak when GHSP gets a lot of rain. I don’t think this was nefarious in any nature. I feel that these holds were likely broken due to folks attempting to climb on wet rock. Lets try to avoid that!

AVP Boulders & Landscape Map: Help Bring Back The AVP Boulders

21 Oct

AVP Map 1The new AVP Boulders & Landscape Map! I worked on this thing consistently over the past couple of months in hopes that I would be able to take it to print while the AVP Boulderfield fundraising was going on. The prints are finished, ready to mail out, and every penny will go toward purchasing the AVP Boulders! These prints are only available through a $50 donation to the CACC for the AVP Boulders Purchace. The link can be found here, and with your donation you will get the map and CACC stickers as a huge thank you for supporting the AVP Project.

The map showcases over 25 of the most popular boulder problems in the area, including the AVP, Hero, and Sidekick boulders. The map illustrates the gorgeous GHSP forest setting and some of the popular fauna (yes some ponies are on there:) from the region. Thank you so much to anyone who has already donated, and if you have already made a donation and would like to make and additional donation in order to get one of these maps, please do! Just shoot us an email indicating that your two donations equal $50 or more and we will send you a print and stickers right away.

This project simply isn’t possible without the amazing support from the climbing community, and thank you all so very much for all the support and donations thus far. It’s incredible what we can accomplish as a collective and  projects like this are a fine example of exactly that!

AVP Map 2

Problem of the Week #19: “Lullabies For Little Criminals”(V6)

24 Sep

—-Hey! This post is about a boulder problem in the AVP Bouldering area at Grayson Highlands. If you have climbed at GHSP in general, if you have climbed at the AVP Boulders and enjoyed it, if you ever think you will visit the park, or if you just like climbing on boulders that are open to the public, please consider donating to help the Central Appalachia Climbers Coalition! The CACC is trying to purchase these boulders in order to open them back up to the public. Its a great cause, these are great boulders, and even $5 will go a long way (but if you have $500 to donate thats really cool too!). Here is the link: Save the AVP Boulders, and thank you for being amazing!—-

Lul5It is impressive to me that “Lullabies for Little Criminals” is even possible. Typically when you hear one climber say to the other something like, “Goodness gracious Bobby Joe, how are you climbing on those credit card crimps” you don’t visualize them as thin and small as actual credit cards. For Lullabies, expect credit card small. Envision American Express Platinum Blacks pasted to a slightly overhung face. This climb is technical, thin, sharp, and still to this day impressive as hell when I watch anyone make it to the top. If you are one who fancies yourself a technical crimp aficionado, welcome to heaven.Lul 1

Lullabies can be found on the wonderful Hero Boulder which finds is home just above and beyond the AVP Boulder. You will walk past great lines on the front face of Hero such as “Saves the Day” and “Crimptonight” to name a few. Round the corner of the boulder and look for the crack line called “Cumulonimbus Crack”. Just to the left, look closely to find the heinous crimp chips that are side by side. This is the start to Lullabies. Upon first sight it is alright to weep. Dry your eyes and with the help of a high foot, pull on and start crimping you face off.Lul 4

Toward the top of the line you can find better holds that lead to a nice top out. Congratulations, you truly are a great crimper. Now go try “Finger Confusion” and “Ramulus” which are to your left on the main face of the Hero Boulder. If you all three in a day I will buy you a chicken biscuit at the Grayson Highlands General Store. Enjoy!Lul6Lul7

Here is the link to the Mountain Project page where you can find even more problems on the Hero Boulder: Lullabies for Little Criminals.

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!

Help Bring Back The AVP Boulders (1)


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!