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Problem of the Week #18: “Indian Outlaw”(V3)

18 Feb

Indian Oulaw

This popular and ridiculously easy-to-access problem is one you don’t want to miss out on if you haven’t climbed the line multiple times already. “Indian Outlaw”(V3) is located on the Rock House Boulder in the Picnic Area of the park. This boulder is directly beside the parking lot and the trailhead sign post for the Rock House Ridge Trail. The boulder takes its namesake due to the fact that Cherokee artifacts were found by the Rock House Boulder and it is rumored that the rock itself may have at one time served as a house or shelter.  The name of the climb can be traced to Tim McGraw’s country song, “Indian Outlaw,” which found a place on the Top 10 Billboard Country Singles charts in March of 1994. Both this song and the boulder problem have some controversy. The song’s controversy being that it fairly harshly perpetuates a profusion of Native American stereotypes. The boulder problem’s controversy, by comparison, is almost not worth talking about… However, being Grayson Highlands Bouldering and all, we will cover it at some length at the end of the write up. You’re welcome.

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This line works out from the initial steepness to a few edges and then up a right trending ramp. At the top of the ramp is a thin horizontal and a bigger move to a sloper, followed by a nice jug for the top out.

With the boulder being literally beside the trail, if you have never taken the entire Rock House loop trail before, its well worth your while. Virginiaoutdoors.com writes that: “Rock House Ridge Trail is a 1.4 mile, moderate difficulty loop that is accessible near the picnic area. At the trail head stands a large rock, the far side of which slants inward creating a shelter. Cherokee Indian artifacts were once found near this rock. During May and June you can find the pink lady’s slipper orchid, or moccasin flower, growing in the woods near the ‘rock house.’ The trail winds through thickets of rhododendron along a narrow path, working uphill and downhill through hardwoods and mountain laurel and, for a short distance, alongside the Wilburn Branch Trail before returning to the trail head. This trail is closed from November 1 to May 1”. While on the subject of the trail, please take caution not to obstruct Park visitors from hiking. Be mindful of your crashpads and move them if hikers are obstructed from walking by.

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The trail description above is right on the money. The rhodos form awesome tunnels all along the way. Nice sweeping mountain views can be had as you hike past open fields and the terrain is mostly easy going. Also, an obscure block called the Fluids Boulder is a short distance up the trail with some funky, rarely traveled lines to try.

Do miss out on the Rock House’s other amazing, park classic problems either! These include “Ghost Dance” (V7), “Cherokee Dihedral”(V1), “Arrowhead Arete”(V3), and “Dark Horse” (V7-).

Now for Indian Outlaw’s minor controversy (to be more accurate, its a minor and not important climber argument). This stems from the arguable “correct” start hold. Is it the true sit start jug down low, or the slightly higher side-pull jug? I’ll tell you my view on it all which is that the lower, butt dragging sit start does not add a grade so it really isn’t much of an issue either way. But, if you are a purest in that you like to start as low as possible on a boulder and finish by walking off of the back, please do the sit start… I personally always elect for the sit start, but view it as an option. Sometimes it is nice to not start sitting, especially when the grade doesn’t change whatsoever. Both views are legitimate and the discussion really is pointless at the end of the day. Probably the best thing we can do is collectively rally behind how awesomely terrible the song Indian Outlaw actually is, and choose our own personal best start holds for “Indian Outlaw”(V3).

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Problem Of the Week #18: Shang-High Knight (V6)

14 Jun
Crazy "Shanghai Knights (2003)" movie poster!

I can’t promise that when climbing this problem you will look as cool as Jackie Chan or Owen Wilson in the above “Shanghai Knights (2003)” movie poster. Close for sure, but not quite.

The problem “Shang-High Knight” (V6) is a classic, both for the grade and for Grayson Highlands Bouldering in general. The Shang-High Boulder is a tall-ish, dark, steep boulder along the Listening Rock Trail (LRT) below the SLS Boulder. This line involves steep compression climbing leading to a fun crux dyno halfway up the face. Following the dyno are comfortable, deep holds that lead up to a standard mantle over the high lip above a flat landing.

Shang-High’s steep compression climbing is somewhat unique to many other compression climbs in that your left hand must slot with precision into specific sections of

Matze Bär on Shang-High Knight (V6)

Matze Bär on Shang-High Knight (V6)

a diagonal crack. Some portions of the crack, when accurately hit, are quite deep and juggy. If the nice sections are missed, it can be difficult to continue  on with the sequence. On the opposite, right side of the compression line you climb past smooth open handed slopers and pinches to the high hold (another sloper with a thin

Derek Samples on Shang-High Knight

Derek Samples on Shang-High Knight

crimp thumb-catch). At this point, the classic beta is to huck to the high jug rail and hold the dyno’s swing. This original beta, still my favorite, is what gave the grade its v6 points years ago. Many other beta sequences have materialized since the First Ascent including hard heel-hooks and the use of the higher, tiny, left

Nick Love (right hand with the thin thumb-catch) on Shang-High.

Nick Love (right hand with the thin thumb-catch) on Shang-High.

crimp. This beta more-or-less avoids the core intensive dynamic move to the rail. While avoiding the dyno,  the newer beta sequence is still quite difficult (Jackie Chan would still be proud) and consensus agrees that the beta still earns a V6 grade.

A particular descriptive phrase in the GHSP Bouldering Guidebook illustrates one aspect of the boulder problem, and I would like to share the background of that description here (Steven Lovelace I hope you don’t mind). Several years ago one of my best friends Steve Lovelace was projecting Shang-High Knight. Steve, a meticulously technical climber with fingers strong and thin enough to make most any section of the left crack feel comfortable, had the entire sequence memorized to the point of effortlessness. Steve could smoothly execute the

Steve Lovelace dyno-ing for a flapper on Shang-High Knight (V6).

Steve Lovelace dyno-ing for a flapper on Shang-High Knight (V6).

line up to the dyno crux with ease. He could likewise pull onto the sequence at the point of the dyno, jump for it, and finish the problem on command. The downside was that when attempting the line from the sit-start he had developed an unconscious habit of stepping his foot down to the pad when launching for the jug. While compiling the Bouldering guidebook, Dan Brayack, myself, Steve, and several others went to the Shang-High Boulder while Dan shot topo photos. Steve jumped at the chance to send his project while Danno was capturing guidebook shots. Steve breezed through the low section, set up for the pounce, and landed it with feet swinging out free from the pads. The swing however, resulted in one of the nastiest, bloody flappers you can imagine. This flapper precipitated to the guidebook description, “will leave your hands looking like a baloney sandwich got into it with a belt sander.” This  injury isn’t the norm however, but as with any dyno to a rail-like hold the chance for flappers isn’t out of the question!

Be sure to stop by Shang-High Knight and the rest of the fun problems on the Shang-High Boulder on your next visit to the LRT in Grayson Highlands State Park. For more info on bouldering at the Shang-High Boulder, check out pages 128-129 in the Grayson Highlands Bouldering Guidebook, and Mountain Project: http://www.mountainproject.com/v/shanghai-boulder/107282069

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!

P.S.

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: http://www.mountainproject.com/v/true-grit/106483563. Grayson Highlands Bouldering Guidebook (page 60).

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

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.

Problem Of the Week #15: Strength Generator (V10)

6 Dec

Strength Generator is a new one from this past summer. I put up a sit start to the classic highball “strength in numbers”(v5) 1 Strengthwhich 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” 2.5 Strengthwould 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 it3 Strength 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 2min3.6 Strength 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, and5 Strength 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

Problem Of the Week #14: Moonlight Sonata (V3)

26 Nov

Beethoven Moonlight Sonata

Moonlight Sonata is one of those problems that you do every chance you get.3 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 2Moonlight 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 holdsMoonlight 3 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!

Problem Of the Week #13: New Problems on the (also new) Arachnid Boulder

11 Oct

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I haven’t posted a new POW (Problem Of [the] Week) in quite a while, possibly a couple of months. I’m well into my 2nd semester of grad school here at Appalachian State University in lovely Boone NC and I’ve been pretty swamped with assignments.  I figure a great way to make up for the lack of posts is by listing a brand new boulder in a new location (for bouldering anyway) in GHSP, and the 3 awesome new problems found there.IMG_4358

Early on during my summer spent living in GHSP (this past summer) I guided a nature hike along the Cabin Creek Trail. On the loop out from the creek and waterfalls below I noticed a craggy spot higher off the trail and a clearing. I ran back after the hike to investigate. I found several smaller, blocks that I wasn’t very psyched about, and then further on a big, steep, proud block. On the face of the block was a huge, intricate spider web and a colorful, fat, feisty Orb Weaver spider that seemed indifferent to my flailing as I climbed past.

The rear (slope facing), steep, tall, main face is incredible and the taller of the twoIMG_4371 sides has a fun, easy, juggy, vertical to arching warm-up crack. The rock type is the same as the Highlands Area, only this boulder has been more sheltered from the weather over the years. This boulder is coarser than most of what is in the Highlands. The opposite side needs some cleaning and may reveal another easy line or two. Further around from this may be a one/two move wonder to a tall and easy slab/scramble… Other than these possible climbs still in the rough, I FAd three great ones; Black Widow, Orb Weaver, and Recluse.IMG_4374

Recluse (V0/1): There is only one large crack on the boulder to the right of the the arête. This line begins on a large side-pull jug. Toss up to the huge crack, and you climb up until the crack trends left. Follow the jugs or massive knob/bulges to the easy top. This line is easily protected with a single pad. The landing is level, and the holds throughout range from big to huge.IMG_4384

Orb Weaver (V5/6): This problem was a lot of fun to discover and climb. It has a little of everything. The problem starts on the right side of the main steep face. Sit start at the good one-handed jug chunk (right hand), and with a left hand below the jug, pinching the angular, left facing, smooth side-pull. Make a huge move to deadpoint the deep three finger pocket. I thought this move would prove easier, but I was wrong! Following the deadpointIMG_4400 pocket, work directly up the face through tricky beta and crimps to good holds and the big ledge feature. At the end you can expect to top out through beautiful jugs.

Black Widow (V7): Crimps! This problem is a crimp masters dream come true, and a crimp haters worst nightmare. The holds here are small, but not particularly harsh. The texture is smoother than most ofIMG_4418 GHSP. Black Widow is to the left of the back main steep face. Start low-ish with your right hand in the interesting, deep, right facing, dark colored jug. Your left hand is a slightly higher crimp. Post a high right foot and blast up to the higher (right) in-cut crimp/pinch. work directly up through more crimps and nice jugs to the tallish top. The top out has really nice jugs as well… This was a summer time send, so I graded the problem expecting it to feel easier in the Fall.IMG_4429

Directions to this boulder: Hike down to the split in the Cabin Creek Trail (~5min once you enter the rhodos from the field) and at the split in the trail, head right (don’t follow the left trail with the small “cabin creek” arrow sign). After the split, follow the trail for approximately a minute and break off of the trail, uphill, to the craggy area. There will be an old, rusting fenceIMG_4359 (to keep the wild ponies from making there way down to the waterfalls I presume) that is easy to step over near the boulder. Past the fence, look (walk) right for the big steep boulder.

I cleaned and put up these problems in a day, and aside from searching for other boulders in the area, I haven’t returned to this block. I plan to return this Fall, but would love to hear your thoughts and see photos! I don’t spend a lot of time considering grades to new problems, so please let me know your opinions.

-This boulder is not listed in the Grayson Highlands Bouldering Guidebook-

Mountain Project Page: http://www.mountainproject.com/v/cabin-creek/108154594