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Problem Of the Week #7: Gunslinger (V7)

12 Mar


This Problem Of [the] Week (POW) is all about “Gunslinger” (V7) in the Right Boneyard area of GHSP.

Gunslinger belongs to the “love it or hate it” category of boulder problems. The polarized opinions for short three-move problems are either “dude that boulder is so stupid, don’t waste your time” or “I #%&$ing love that thing!”gunslinger1

Gunslinger is low-ball, burly, and three moves long. Five moves long if you count starting and topping it out (which I would, as neither are particularly easy).

The problem starts low on a small, steep, knife-blade arête fin. Shane Messer (the first ascensionist) and I found this line to be worthwhile by simply trying to start it, and considered naming it the “thigh master” due to the squeezing necessary to get off of the ground.

To begin Gunslinger you start matched on an impossible looking, barely present, horribly slopey, feint bulge on the left side of the boulder. Your thighs have to “steel trap” either side of the acute arête, squeezing like you’re trying for that shiny dinner-plate sized rodeo belt buckle of your dreams, and with feet anywhere you can manage them. From the start you bump to the right twice and follow through with your left to establish on two equally terrible sloper lumps. gunslinger2This is followed by the “gunslinger move” which is a large, fleeting, Hail Mary toss to the nice fin jug at the tip of the boulder (and avoiding the deal breaker dab on the adjacent boulder as you orbit out). From there, a toss over mantle press-out gives way to victory.

The landing is good and the problem is lowball, but you probably want two crashpads just to cover the bases.

Shane Messer put this one up on 11 March 2011 and aptly named it, as this one has sent many a climber out onto their crashpad. Be sure to give Gunslinger a go if you’re ever in the Right Boneyard. Regardless of what category you lump short three-move problems into, I think you’ll be psyched to top this one out.


Here is the link for the Gunslinger Prow on Mountain Project:

Problem Of the Week #6: Never Have I Ever (V5)

3 Mar

This POW (Problem Of [the] Week) is all about “Never Have I Ever”(V5) located on the Equinox Boulder that can be found in the clandestineNHE Luminary Area of GHSP. This area is still relatively unknown and will not be covered in this first edition guidebook due to a lack of trails and thorough documentation, but the second edition will cover it in its entirety. I think some of the best boulders in GHSP exist here.

Never Have I Ever is a technical boulderer’s dream-come-true. The line forces tricky movement and body tension over its intricate finger tip crimps and slightly over-hung face. Additionally, the line ascends 15+ feet to a finish move that gives the climber full appreciation of how lofty the top of the boulder actually is.

Never Have I Ever starts low on crimp rails (half pad) and commences through a beta intensive sequence past progressively “less juggy” crimps than the ones before. Eventually you hit the crux section that necessitates a cross-over on the worst crimps in the problem. These crimps are a quarter pad at best and on slightly overhung territory (at other boulderfields this inclination would be considered pretty damn steep). Once out of the cross over, good body tension gets you to larger rails for the final huck to the only jug on the entire face. Topping out Never Have I Ever is probably around 18+ feet. The landing is very nice however, and with enough pads this will feel like a walk in the park.NHE4

This problem gets its name from the drinking game “Never Have I Ever” that most everyone has played at some point (if you haven’t, you’re not really missing out on much). While cleaning and climbing this problem during spring break (2012) I only had one pad and no spotters (and this was an undeveloped, unknown boulderfield in GHSP at the time).


Although this was topped out without any injury or uncontrolled falls,NHE5 cranking down on what was then new holds that had never been pulled on (thin credit card crimps) and having multiple opportunities to fling out into orbit away from the pad allowed my thought process while nearing the last move on the problem to trend toward “Never Have I Ever… been so stupid.”

Here is the link to mountain project’s page for the Equinox Boulder:

Problem Of The Week #5: Cherokee Dihedral (V1)

2 Mar

This POW (Problem Of [the] Week) is all about the awesome “Cherokee Dihedral” (V1) on the Rock House Boulder in the Picnic Area of GHSP. Most everyone who has visited the Picnic Area of the park has spent a little time on this problem, and for a few folks this has even been their very first outdoor V1. I wish I could say that my first V1 was as awesome as this.Cher2

Cherokee Dihedral is a tall, exciting, full value boulder problem that can be accomplished by using any one of the numerous beta sequences that work to suit most any climbing style and wing span. Most everyone gets to span, layback, and skate feet while attempting to reach the “glory” jug crack below the lip of the boulder.

One of the many perks of a session at the picnic area and the Rock House boulder is that you get to be lazy. Very lazy. The Rock House boulder is literally an easy stone’s throw (effortless toss really) from where you park, and the approach may take 30 seconds if you’re really dragging your feet. Additionally, there is a nice picnic tableCher1 thoughtfully situated beside the boulder, so those of you who have really fancy gear don’t even have to get it dirty by laying it on the leaves (heaven forbid). If this isn’t enough, several camp grills are set up nearby the boulders. so hey, why not bring steaks for an after session victory meal?

Cherokee Dihedral starts low on a massive jug and works up several similar large holds as the face becomes progressively steeper. A transition over to the right face and a cruxy foot switch/slide/swing to a better foot ledge to the right gets you into the “glory crack” jug holds. Once there, a reach to the juggy top of the boulder and an easy (lofty) mantle finishes out the line. A few pads and some spotters go a long way on this one.Cher3

The name of this problem and most of the other lines on this boulder relate to when the Rock House boulder was used by Native Americans as a home and shelter. Logs were situated against the steeply overhung boulder and provided a nice place to live and escape the often harsh weather of the region. I’m sure they put up the first ascents of all of the most classic lines in the Grayson Area too.

Mountain Project Page for the Rock House Boulder:

Problem of The Week #4: Slabacious (V0)

26 Feb

“Slabacious”(V0) is in the spotlight for this week’s POW (Problem Of [the] Week). This overlooked but exciting problem in the gorgeous Highlands Area of GHSP deserves some long overdue notoriety. Slabacious is a tall, featured (but not TOO featured) slab/dihedral located on the prestigious Highland Highball boulder.

First off, any climb on this boulder gets an instant star for aesthetics simply for being located where it is. Situated in what is easily the most beautiful landscape VA has to offer, almost any problem gets my vote for at least one star (if you’ve been there I know that you are nodding in agreement). Secondly, the height of this one and the “scary but fun” factor probably constitute adding one more star. I wouldn’t really go beyond that though. Certainly being just left of what is the best V2 in GHSP (or Virginia as a whole) “The Highland Highball” makes Slabacious a worthwhile climb to run up.slabacious

Slabacious stand-starts in the noticeable dihedral that is a few feet to the left of the “Highland Highball” and is fairly difficult to protect with pads (but having a couple on the ground is necessary for sure). The start and mid section of the line are mostly easy-going with tiny, slopey, angular edges to press and pull off of. About three-quarters of the way up a couple tricky maneuvers (and the use of the left wall) lead to an airy reach above to the juggy top edge of the left dihedral face, giving way to the easy-ish topout.

Once you find yourself at the top of this boulder you realize why this climb, along with most any other climb in the Highlands, is so dadgum perfect. Windswept views overlooking miles of open Appalachian Mountain ranges, boulders and rocky peaks in every direction, PONYS, and a sense of awe that any climber will experience make this problem pretty rad. Be sure to give it a go whether this is your warm-up or hard climb for the day!

Problem Of the Week #3: Lifestyles (V9)

14 Feb

“Lifestyles” (V9) is on the road-facing end of the AVP boulder, located in the AVP Area next to the Boneyard. With a short 2-3 minute hike, and a plethora of other problems with grades of every difficulty from v0-9, this area is hard to pass up. Lifestyles may well be in the list of best problems in Grayson. With a good landing and a height that excites but doesn’t qualify as a “scary” climb, this is a sought after boulder problem for anyone.life3

This line was thought of as one of the harder testpieces in the park and went undone (un-attempted actually) for several years. Jimmy Webb came out with a crew of badasses and swept through the park sending several harder established problems and putting up a few in the process. life5While here I suggested he stop off and topple this rig as well.

I saw a few days later that, to my surprise, that he called this line a V9 (as opposed to the v12+ grade we all assumed it to be) and that he gave it 3 stars. I couldn’t believe it and I just had to go up to see for myself. Sure enough, with the holds chalked up and the knowledge that this this was climbed only a day or two prior, it went after about 35 minutes of work. This thing is  super fun, skin friendly, and exciting.life6

Sit start under the roof, deep in the left corner of the face in two staggered jugs.life7 Using inventive footwork, pull through the thuggy low moves with big tosses to nice, friendly, rounded crimps. Once out onto the still steep but not as aggressive face, work into nice jugs below the lip. Gain the lip of the boulder and work through to positive but thought provoking knobs to top out the boulder.
The name of this line stems from the PrAna crew that Jimmy was with who were shooting a short film for the company called “Lifestyles”.life8 It’s a great name for a great line. Come by and check it out once the weather warms up a bit, it’s a must do for the area!

Problem of the Week #2: Moonlight Sonata (V3)

13 Feb

While I know that “Problem of the Week” is supposed to only showcase on problem each week, I kind of want a good base of problems to kick off this blog.moon1 Likewise, as my semester ramps up and the weather warms (meaning I’ll be climbing when not studying) I may miss a week here and there… So, here is problem number two for early February 2013; Moonlight Sonata (V3) at the Moonlight Area in GHSP.

Moonlight Sonata holds a lot of weight for me, and this one is a personal favorite for the grade in GHSP moon2(Or anywhere for that matter). I would be hardpressed to think of a better V3 that I have climbed at any other destination, let alone get the First Ascent. So here is the description and the story. I hope you enjoy.

I found the Moonlight Area a while ago, but with all of the development that needed to be done elsewhere in the park I put off opening up the area for  development until I moved into my cabin at Grayson for Americorps, summer 2012. moon3 It was May 18th and I had cleaned this line and worked the bottom sequence out the week prior. I trudged down with two crash pads on my back and finished brushing the top hold necessary to mantle over. With two small pads and 25ft of steep climbing to do, I had to pick the crashpad placement carefully and hope that there were no loose holds (but it was such an inspiring line I just couldn’t wait any longer to try it). On the first attempt to send the full problem I had a nice sized chunk of  grit land in my eye. 35min later it hadn’t come out so I decided to try to send it regardless. It worked and here is the sequence:

Sit start at the base and make some fun, big moves out to the massive 6ft long flake/plank/diving board which you can campus across or work through with heel hooks if you want. Once at the end of the plank, you can literally “sit” inside of it and rest if you feel the need to, or want a photo-op (which I do not have an example of). moon4Afterward, you trend up and left through good but distant holds to top out at a notch at the edge of the boulder (and feel free to use the tree… it’s there and accepted). This thing is highball, steep the whole way, and I fully recommend many pads and spotters.

The name was inspired by Beethoven’s most popular piano composition, and I wanted something to represent this masterpiece of nature, so I found “Moonlight Sonata” to be pretty fitting.

Problem of the Week #1: Periscope (V4)

12 Feb


While not all Problems Of [the] Week (POWs for short) will be classics, this one certainly fits the bill and I thought it would be nice to start out with a three star line. Periscope is not only inspiring to look at, it is fun, techy, and addictive once you pull on and climb.

P1To find Periscope, check the guide of course, and head to the Contact Station Area. The trail from the parking lot will lead you directly to the problem and this is the very first boulder you reach (a whopping one minute approach).

The line is easily protected with a couple of pads and a spotter.

Sit start on a nice, obvious jug and throw up a heel hook to get things underway. The whole process for Periscope is to climb through a series of small crimp moves necessitated by a right trending seam. Your body leans to the right and you have to find the right sequence to gain the huge jug to the upper right of the seam.p2 The whole way your powering off of a left heel hook and hanging beneath a short, steep face.

Once you do gain the nice jug break at the tip of the small incline, you get to breathe easy and finish up a taller face to top out the line in pure, victorious ease. While this may feel like either V3 (as it was previously graded) or V4 (as it was upgraded to more recently) it is a wonderful, classic line and a must do for any climber visiting GHSP.

The name of this problem really wasnt inspired by anything more than trying to think of something that “ascends” or “goes up”, combined with the fact that it’s the first problem and boulder you “see”… Not a very cool history of the name, but there is the history none-the-less. Certainly add this one to your tick list for GHSP!


Here is a link to the Mountain Project page for “Periscope”:

Once the guide is out I will list page numbers for this problem as well.