When I first took on the endeavor of climbing all the documented routes at the Main Areas of Crowders Mountain State Park, North Carolina, I was fooled by the hard men of the past. With most routes being traditional I assumed the bulk of my project would be a cake walk. But I soon learned that these traditional routes are tricky with gear and chossy with rock quality.
|Onsighting Fortress Fingers (5.10 trad) with tri-cams only|
The less traveled traditional routes that I had assumed easy have been physically easy but mentally challenging.With the harder and popular sport and mixed routes being frequented and top roped often, they are cleaned of most bad quality rock, unlike the trad routes I mentioned.
|Arborsit (5.11+ trad)|
While climbing several of the obscure traditional routes I've had rock crumble in my hands, I've had to bail, I took a fifteen to twenty foot whipper because of a rock hold breaking. I've had 'oh shit' moments, I've climbed hidden gems, I've climbed routes I will probably never climb again. All of this in pursuit of what? I just wanted a goal. I live two hours from the nearest climbing and Crowders is the nearest outdoor rock. I figured I could try and climb something new every visit.
|Axis Bold As Love (5.11c/d mixed)|
Crowders became and is my training grounds. The hike in alone is a challenge to do while keeping pace and not stopping. A great warm up as you gear up for the first route of the day and a great way to get in shape for some of the longer hikes at other climbing areas.
|Prick-A-Digi Ow! (5.11b/c trad)|
|Plain On The Left (5.10+ sport)|
|Fashion (5.12b sport)|
|Onsight the obscure Respirator (5.8 trad)|
|Onsighting Playing An Eliminate(5.10- trad)|
|Heady Areteddy (5.9+ trad)|
It is a dying art that many of the die-hards have fought hard to keep in North Carolina but with the introduction of the indoor climbing gym and the 'instant gratification' attitude, people want to climb hard and safe right now. The day of putting in the time to know your ability enough to climb the 'R' and 'X' ratings is making way for the 'add a bolt' in order to remove the 'R' or 'X' rating so that it can be climbed now. In England a person would 'headpoint' a route in order to obtain the mental capacity to climb the 'R' or 'X' rated routes.
|Silence The Critics (5.12b sport)|
I try not to judge because now a days there are everyday weekend warriors crushing at the harder grades. Before you had to dedicate a lot more to become an elite in the climbing world. Now a couple of days in the gym and a couple of weekend outdoor trips is all it takes to achieve what would have taken a lifestyle change in order to achieve the same in the past.
|Slimebelly Snakeass Sodhole Skunkpie (5.12a mixed)|
In trying to hold myself to a standard set by hardmen of the past I've gained a lot but at the cost of time. As I mentioned before, I want to climb many years to come and if pacing myself in order to stay healthier physically and being able to climb long into my older years than I will gladly sacrifice a little time in order to gain years of pain free climbing. Efficiency is my goal.
|Hemingway Elementary School Brick Wall Training Traverse- Ketchum, Idaho 2003|
Enough talk, I'm off to practice being a smooth, balanced, powerful, mentally strong climber! Off belay!