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Kickstarter: Lets Bring A Climbing Gym To Boone, NC

25 Feb

For over a year now Keith Shockley, Chris Grasinger and I -with help from SO many others from the Boone community and beyond- have worked toward our dream of opening a performance bouldering and fitness facility that will act as a hub for all things climbing in the High Country of beautiful Western North Carolina. We hope to help strengthen our climbing community with talented area route setters, an inspiring wall designs and climbing surfaces, and to also offer yoga, strength training, and massage through the facility.

While at first glance this might not seem very GHSP related. But, with Grayson being so close to Boone, and the best warm season option for bouldering in Western NC, it does have an impact. This gym will be the closest indoor climbing facility to Grayson Highlands State Park, and a huge benefit for staging stewardship initiatives and for rainy day climbing session options if visiting the park for an extended time. Also, this is a huge personal dream for me, and one that will hopefully keep me close to GHSP bouldering for many years to come.

Please take a moment to check out our Kickstarter campaign page, watch the awesome video put together from our friends at Wonderland Woods, and if you’re able, please support the effort and help turn this dream into a reality by pledging and sharing this link with friends! Here is the link to the campaign page:

And you can tell friends to simply type “climbing” into the Kickstarter search bar, and Sender House will be there!




Grayson Highlands Bouldering Shirts!

8 Jan

Last night the temps in GHSP were indeed in the negatives and “felt like” close to -20 degrees. The whole park is basically a shiny, beautiful Graysicle right now. While this is brutal in bouldering terms, this is not at all out of the ordinary for the GHSP winter season. These terribly cold winter temps are what make GHSP the ideal and best summer boulderfields in the Southeast. Looking forward to the spring thaw, and to kick off the upcoming spring bouldering season, I learned this morning that GHSP will be carrying some awesome Grayson Highlands Bouldering shirts! While planning your spring trip, if you are able to pick one of these shirts up please do so! Purchasing one of these shirts will go a long way in supporting the most climber-friendly, welcoming, beautiful and boulder-strewn State Park in Virginia.

Pick up your Grayson Highlands Bouldering shirt at the Park Office or Visitors Center!

Pick up your Grayson Highlands Bouldering shirt at the Park Office or Visitors Center!


GHSP Bouldering Write-Up & Photos

15 Sep

Check out the Grayson Highlands Bouldering write-up on Rakkup’s website accompanying our recent release of the GHSP Bouldering Guidebook app. Big thanks to Dan Brayack for the beautiful photos!


Matt Bieljeski on Foot Kaput (V4), Lonely Boulder. Photo: Brayackmedia


New! Rakkup Mobile GHSP Guidebook App

3 Sep

GraysonMapiOSI’m excited to announce the new Rakkup mobile guidebook app for Grayson Highlands Bouldering. The Rakkup app includes full guidebook content to every area, boulder, and problem in GHSP along with powerful search and filter options to customize your climbing experience such as “all V5s in shade” or “V4-V6 in sun.” One of the most powerful utilities the app features is turn-by-turn trail navigation. Rakkup uses detailed trail mapping and GPS information to get you to any climbing destination in the park, so no getting lost trying to find boulder problems or boulderfields like Moonlight Sonata or the Crooked Road Boulder!



GraysonNaviOSAfter all of the GPS and trail data was collected I drove out to the park to field test the app. I had high hopes for the app or course, but this has far exceeded my expectations. Once I got to the park entrance I tapped on the Thews Boulder in the Middle Boneyard Area and hit “go.” The large compass arrow and GHSP map popped up with the road and trail highlighted. Driving toward the parking area, a black dot illustrated where I was as I approached the trail head. Hiking up, the distance count became smaller and with every approaching turn the directional arrow guided the way. Once I reached the boulder, the topo illustration filled the screen showing where every problem on the boulder is located. Tap the small arrow on the screen and there is a high quality photo and problem overlay. SO NICE!

GraysonFilterAndroidVisit Rakkup’s website, download the app, and purchase the GHSP Bouldering Guide with either a two month rental fee of $7.99, or buy it for three years for $15.99 (just a heads up on the three year situation, Rakkup is changing the format from three years to “forever” sometime this fall, and buying now will end up being a really great deal, so don’t wait!). There is also an option to purchase the print guidebook and app combo for a great price!

For one more incentive to get this awesome handheld piece of climbing guidebook technology, I will be occasionally updating the Rakkup app with brand new boulders and problems. Don’t miss out on the Rage Boulders, High Jump (V7/8), Hyper Monster (V11), the Outlaw Boulder, Outlaw (V10/11),Season Premiere (V6), and many more updates along the way…

Rakkup: Climbing guides, reinvented.

Rakkup: Climbing guides, reinvented.


Visit Rakkup’s webpage here to download the app today!

Problem Of the Week #22: Johnny Get Your Gun (V5), Crooked Road Boulder

27 Aug

Map of the actual Crooked Road from

The Crooked Road Boulder is huge. With the rest of GHSP’s clustered Boulderfields in perspective, the Crooked Road Boulder is a loaner; a recluse in the forest. Yet, concerning its size it easily constitutes several boulders at once. As large as the Crooked Road boulder (CRB) is, it can be difficult to locate. This unexpected megalithic boulder is a jewel of a rock though and worth a trip, even if exploratory, to find it. Tall, steep, and amply featured this boulder is awesome for any climber looking for easy to moderate boulder problems in a peaceful and uncrowded section of GHSP.

Katie at the start to "Johnny Get Your Gun"

Katie at the start to “Johnny Get Your Gun”

It was hard to pick just one boulder problem to cover for the CRB. “Life is a House” and “Narcolepsy Crack” both are a joy to climb, “Rosewood Casket” has that flow, and “Man of Constant Sorrow” still gives me anxiety when reminiscing about the top section. I chose “Johnny Get Your Gun”(V5) simply because it is a techy, steep, awesome line without a deadly fall and because it is challenging halfway through, into a juggy finish (what’s not to love?).


This little sign located somewhere in VA is not to be confused with the “giant sign” at the parking area.

The name of the boulder is based off of the giant sign at the parking area describing the history of and route that the actual Crooked Road follows. The Crooked Road winds through and links together almost 300 miles of scenic terrain and back roads in Southwest Virginia including ten counties, three cities, and ten towns. This region of Southwest Virginia’s Appalachia is steeped in bluegrass music and Appalachian heritage which is why many boulder problem names here are also names of famous bluegrass and country music songs. “Johnny Get Your Gun” can be traced back to WW1, but is also a –not so- historical, but good, Old Crow Medicine Show track.

Matt Bielejeski on "Big Timin' In The Jungle," another fun line on the CRB

Matt Bielejeski on “Big Timin’ In The Jungle,” another fun line on the CRB

“Johnny Get Your Gun”(V5) sit starts as per “Narcolepsy Crack” but breaks right after the start climbing through a powerful and technical crimp sequence. After crimps and a jug this line links into the fun and jug-a-licious finish as per “James River Blues.”

Aaron Parlier starting the FA of "Johnny Get Your Gun"

Aaron Parlier starting the FA of “Johnny Get Your Gun”

As mentioned before, CRB is tough to locate. Basically, pull into the convenient pull-off immediately to your left once you turn into the park entrance. Get out of your vehicle and walk up the hill behind the sign (over the rock wall, up the mowed grass, into the woods). Walk straight back to the logging road/firebreak that leads up hill (follow the stacked rocks). Trek up along the firebreak until you see the large block on the right (see diagram in GHSP Guide). Turn off of the firebreak to the right at the block and traverse the hillside until the massive, dark, ominous boulder appears (that would be the CRB).

Rakkup: Climbing guides, reinvented.

Rakkup: Climbing guides, reinvented.

All the approach confusion can be avoided however, if you wait for another short timeframe for the Rakkup smartphone GHSP Guidebook app to be released. This awesome app is equipped with turn-by-turn navigation (yes that includes turn-by-turn climber access trail directions) to every boulder listed in the 1st edition GHSP Bouldering Guidebook. With full color photos and interactive mapping you will be able to walk effortlessly to any boulder in the park… I couldn’t be more excited!

Join Grayson Highlands Bouldering on Facebook!

24 Aug

Join the Grayson Highlands Bouldering Facebook Community and share information, photos, updates, experiences and psyche!

Problem(s) Of the Week #21: Ranger Rick Boulder

23 Jul
Ranger Rick from Jellystone Park, probably saluting those who have sent the problems on the Ranger Rick Boulder

Ranger Rick from Jellystone National Park, probably saluting those who have sent all of the problems on the Ranger Rick Boulder.

Ranger Rick is without a doubt one of the most frequented boulders in GHSP. Aesthetic and hosting a series of varied starts and difficulties, it’s no wonder that problems on the Ranger Rick Boulder are often at the top of the Grayson Highlands must-climb list.

The Ranger Rick boulder is tucked away in the forest behind the Park Office with the rest of the Contact Station Boulders. Its name stems from the park ranger character in the classic Yogi Bear cartoon, and the boulder’s close proximity to the Park Office where you can usually find a friendly GHSP ranger.

Among the varied starts, Ranger Rick (V0) stand starts high in the lowest rail jug.

Krista Holyak topping out the Ranger Rick Boulder

Krista Holyak topping out the Ranger Rick Boulder

Every hold above the start jug is deep and in-cut, while overhung, and the trickiest part of the line is finding the “juggiest” of the jugs to hang back on through to the nice top out.

Ranger Rick (V1) begins one set of holds below the V0 rail jug. The start holds are two side-by-side, in-cut crimp rails. This start can be a little perplexing in figuring out how to best position feet and bodyweight, but if you can pull onto the start holds you can definitely pounce to the higher V0 start and finish as per.

Ranger Rick -Sit- (V4) is a great introductory climb to other GHSP V4s. If you love crimps and are trying to break through to V4s

Brianna Knaggs reaching through to the next crimps on "Ranger Rick Sit"(V4)

Brianna Knaggs reaching through to the next crimps on “Ranger Rick Sit”(V4)

or want to quickly dispatch a climb of that grade, this one is for you. The line sit starts on the two side-by-side, in-cut, thin crimp rails below the V1 start. Figure out the feet, pull through to the start holds of the V1, and finish through the fun, higher V0.

Ronnie Black Jr on the start to "Ranger Rick Sit"(V4)

Ronnie Black Jr on the start to “Ranger Rick Sit”(V4)

Several other problems and variations can be found on the Ranger Rick Boulder, and in the area other classics like “Periscope” and “True Grit” are just seconds away.

Kevin Kelly, the park ranger who I first had contact with during the earlier bouldering development in Grayson, pointed me in the direction of many -then- obscure blocks. I showed Kevin the Ranger Rick boulder and he absolutely loved the name. Kevin mentioned several times that if he ever climbed one boulder in GHSP it would be Ranger Rick, and he would proudly do it in his park uniform. Since I first met Kevin, every ranger in the park has been not only helpful but pivotal to development, access,

Prenn Tran working through to the higher crimps on "Ranger Rick Sit"

Prenn Tran working through to the higher crimps on “Ranger Rick Sit”

and implementation of bouldering in the park. If you meet a Park Ranger or Park employee while walking to the boulders in the Contact Station Area, or anywhere in the park for that matter, you might take a moment to say hello or thank these folks who work so hard to keep the park beautiful, safe, and climber friendly.

A huge thanks to CJ Yunger for the great photos of the Ranger Rick Boulder and the many other awesome shots in the past!





Find these problems listed in the GHSP Bouldering Guidebook on pages 62-63. The Mountain Project link is:

Problem Of the Week #20: Billy Budd (V4)

2 Jul
While this Billy Budd DVD cover looks exciting, it's a safe bet that "Billy Budd"(V4) is a little more thrilling.

While this Billy Budd DVD cover looks exciting, It’s a safe bet that “Billy Budd”(V4) is a little more thrilling.

Billy Budd, Sailor is a Herman Melville novel that was published in 1924. The book was acclaimed by British critics as a masterpiece and quickly took its place among the canon of significant works in the United States. You can read the book if you like, but you’ll probably find that climbing the boulder problem “Billy Budd”(V4) is a little more exciting.

“Billy Budd” is located in the Right Boneyard Area on the Belgrano Blade (the name Belgrano following the naval theme) which looks sort of -maybe- something

Matt Paden on "Billy Budd"(V4). Photo by Dan Brayack.

Matt Paden on “Billy Budd”(V4). Photo by Dan Brayack.

like the bow of a sinking ship. To get there, follow the trail which cuts sharply to the right past the Thews Boulder. The trail drops through a wet-weather creek  -plenty of stones to step across, so no wet shoes- and then turns left and uphill (look to your right to find the often overlooked Flat Top Boulder at this point) to end at the Belgrano Boulder, HMS Block, River Patrol Prow, and Gunslinger.

Just as Melville’s novel is open to many interpretations, this line has several beta sequences that seem to work well for different climbers. In general, Billy Budd begins matched on a large, deep in-cut jug feature in the low left, dark, steep corner of the face. The line follows several nice crimps, a long rail, and then smaller edges up and right passing beneath the close tree at the crux, and finishes over the flat lip into the sunlight.Billy Budd4

The Belgrano boulder, while not massive or highball, can certainly be exciting when negotiating the crux in front of the tree just before the lip. With a nice landing and a few pads this boulder problem is quite protectable however, and with a spotter can be climbed with confidence. The steep nature of theboulder makes this sequence a powerful one, and the edgy flakes can take a toll of your fingers. Bring plenty of skin if youre projecting this one!

Be sure to stop by the Belgrano Boulder

Shane Messer using some interesting foot beta to finish "Billy Budd"

Shane Messer using some interesting foot beta to finish “Billy Budd”

to try out “Billy Budd”(V4), “Rights of Man”(V5), “Belgrano”(V2), “Cannonade”(V2), “Gunslinger”(V7), or any of the other fun lines in the Right Boneyard. The Constant Boulder and the newly developed Rage Boulders (Rage Boulders are not listed in the 1st edition GHSP Guide) are likewise nearby. Check out the Mountain Project page for more area climbs here: and pages 50-51 in the Grayson Highlands Bouldering Guidebook!

Problem Of the Week #19: High Jump (V7/8?)

25 Jun
Snoopy, the star high-jumping rabbit of the Jena Kaninhop club.

Snoopy, the star high-jumping rabbit of the Jena Kaninhop club.

You don’t have to be an awesome high-jumping creature like Snoopy the rabbit to complete the newly established “High Jump” (V7/8). However, If you are naturally gifted with the unusual ability to leap up & cling to small crimp edges -or just psyched to try out a new boulder problem- definitely stop by the Thews Boulder next time you visit GHSP!

High Jump (V7/8?) is a recently sent project in the Middle Boneyard Area. Listed in the Grayson Highlands Bouldering

A 2010 attempt at High Jump

A 2010 attempt at High Jump

Guide as “The Nab Project”, High Jump was a long-standing project in the area. This line had been occasionally attempted -off and on- since 2010 by several visiting climbers and locals but without many “serious” projecting efforts. High Jump was finally topped out on the 20th of June 2014 with a “best guess” for the grade at v7/8…

Six feet to the left of the classic “Thews”(V6), in the middle of the featureless, blank face “High Jump” begins with a foot pasted

Posing on the start after the FA of High Jump...

Posing on the start after the FA of High Jump…

on any of the small, smeary nubs at the base of the gently overhung boulder. The start move is a standing jump to the overhead rails just below the small overhead roof. The crux of the line is latching both of the small diagonal rails and hanging on, although the moves that follow are fairly sustained. Jumping up for the start, the first holds are a right hand “lightning bolt” shaped diagonal crimp rail, the left is a slanted crimp/pinch with a low thumb-catch. While the starting jump & deadpoint up to these holds is fairly low percentage, once accomplished the sequence afterward is a lot of fun.

Posing and doing the move to the lip after the FA of High Jump.

Posing and doing the move to the lip after the FA of High Jump.

After locking off on the crimps, smear feet on anything available and “campus” out to the pinches at the lip of the roof. Trend slightly left on the longer pinch feature and heel hook out to the right over the roof. Gain the high, vertical, right facing gaston and press out a dicey mantle over the roof to finish. While you could stack three or four pads up and simply reach up to the high crimps, the jump is considered part of the problem. Let us know when you repeat the line and if you have a better suggestion for the grade. Happy High-Jumping!

-Mountain Project link:

-GHSP Guidebook page for “Nab Project”: (pg. 42)

Grayson Highlands Stewardship & Bouldering Weekend 2014 Recap

3 Jun

happy-rock-haul_webThe 2014 Grayson Highlands Stewardship & Bouldering Weekend couldn’t have been more productive. With perfect weather (sunny with highs in the mid 70s) and a motivated gathering of volunteers, we got to work early on the 24th. Starting out at 9:30 on Saturday at the LRT Trailhead our goal for the day was to rock armor some of the most popular boulder along the LRT. armored-base_webWith tools for the job in hand everyone quickly got to work and rock armored the landings for 5 separate boulders which needed preventative protection for possible future erosion. Of those five boulders, the preventative armoring protected the landings of over 32 individual boulder problems, helping sustain the landings well into the future by preventing soil erosion and impact from frequent climber activity. Also on Saturday, volunteers trimmed back overgrown briars along the Listening Rock Trail,aaron-team-rock-drop moved fallen branches from trails and landings, and picked up what little trash we could locate.

On Sunday the 25th the focus was spraying off old chalk and left over tick marks. Over 10 boulders were sprayed with water guns, scrubbed, and chalk marks were removed from under the steepest sections of the boulders where rain and weather could otherwise not reach.aaron-rock-shimmer With the amazing effort from volunteers and the support from the Access Fund, AmeriCorps, Hippy Tree Surf & Stone, Mad Rock, and GHSP the event was a huge success. The afternoon raffle was able to raise funds to go toward the Southwest Virginia Climbers Coalition and the Friends Of GHSP Group.

Thanks so much to all of the hardworking volunteers who made the event possible and dedicated their memorial weekend to helping support stewardship efforts in Grayson Highlands State Park and continued access to Virginia’s primer bouldering destination. A huge thank you to all of the agencies and organizations that supported the event, and to all of the event sponsors who sent some sweet volunteer and climber swag in support of the event!