July 3, 2010

High Country

Driving up to Chattanooga on Tuesday I just had that feeling... feeling of good. I knew it was going to be good. I was singing and dancing to every song that came on the radio. Looking off in the distance, wondering if anyone has checked out that cliff or boulders. No where to be at any time until the following Tuesday at school.

I drove in just in time to meet up with my buddy Matt Ginley at the Terminal, a local brewhouse that serves one of the best IPA's I have ever let my taste buds mingle with.

We had a few beers and talked about the plans for the week. More like ideas. We were both just ready to climb. Looking at the forecast for North Carolina, we were set. But first we had to drink more beer and talk more shit.

The next morning we decided to get our route climbing on in Chatt as we are waiting on Matt's car to get tuned up. Turned out to be a fantastic day with great people. Love checking out all these new areas around TN there is just so much rock, and plenty of motivated people to tend to it.

After the shit show of waiting around the next morning to get the dealership to call us. We were packed and on the road for the High Country. On our way to Banner Elk staying with a local Pat Goodman. We got there just in time to meet Pat and get some mexican. Two pitchers of SUGAR margaritas and I was dreaming all night of the infamous NC bouldering.

Pat Goodman

We loaded the van with unlikely July 1st gear. Bouldering pads, chalk buckets, and jackets. It was 55 degrees and windy. It was a mighty big difference the morning before with temps in the 90's around AL and TN. We parked off the side of 221 to see how "splitter" the conditions were gonna be. In the back of our minds, knowing it's July, it can't be that good. But it was. Completely dry and kinda crisp. My excuse list started diminishing.

The day was brutal, filling our tips with some of the best stone in the South East. The soft skin from plastic pulling just wasn't up for the task on this sharp stone. These routes don't have many tricks to them, just straight pulling. We finished the day with a GIANT sirloin and a ton of sauteed vegetables. Not to mention great beer. By the way, Pat almost burnt the house down using "white gas". A little more flammable than the standard lighter fluid.

The next morning I woke up almost 11 hours after I had been to sleep. In a bouldering coma I guess, very VERY unlike me to sleep in. It really didn't matter as we all rolled out of bed a little late, we all decided we were out of shape for bouldering. Skin hurt, shoulders, back... well everything hurt. But the unreal temps were still here and a trip to Grandmothers was in need.

Warming up nice and slow, we started jumping around from problem to problem. More unique than the last. EVERY problem in NC looks easier than it is, don't let that fool you. It was such a good change to jump into the bouldering game 3 months earlier than I ever expected. The companionship you get from people you have known for minutes is unreal and some thing that is truly hard to beat.

"Have guns will travel" Grandmother Mountain

After a long day at Grandmother. We set at the highest point (kinda) and looked off at one of the best views I have ever seen. Drank a beer and headed out for another night of sitting on the porch telling stories and drinking PBR. Making yard art after every can.

Wrecked after 4 days of climbing. We went back to the brutal 221 circuit. This time we headed for the dump. After the dump we checked out a problem Pat put up about 6 or 7 years ago called bedaphile. 3 or 4 moves out the roof to a weird clam shell hold. Matching that as an undercling and throwing down and out a roof... odd. The jug you throw to isn't so juggy. After countless attempts of throwing my beaten body and tips, we left with something to come back to in the fall.

One more night on the porch, another case of PBR, and more BBQ. We felt more American than ever with a full belly and fire works lighting the sky up all around us. Since we were on the mountain it wasn't hard to see.

Monday morning waking up, feeling like a 90 year old man after a triathlon. Me and Ginnley went to the long wall at Lower Grandmother. A great warm up wall with plenty of nice holds to hop around on. The skin couldn't take much more as we walked around and dreamed of feeling fresh. We closed the day down at the Mad Hatter, and decided to head back to Chatty.

Recap on North Carolina Bouldering.

The shit is hard. No doubt.
Top outs seem to all be scary and dirty.
People are great and the locals have all the party tricks in the field.
Lowes has the best pre made sandwiches on the planet.
Masochist and instinct are two of the most impressive boulders I have seen.
Pat's home wall is better than most peoples dream wall. . . Un real.
Wearing a jacket in July is a new experience to me. Traditions start this way.
I can't roll a cigarette even if I wanted to. I don't smoke but every man should know how to roll.
PBR isn't that bad after all.
Thanks Matt for the trip and Pat for the tour!!
I love NC.... Going back in September.