Thursday, November 10, 2011

Disappointingly Good Weekend

I've been admittedly slow in posting a trip report for this past weekend's latest adventure, due in no small part to simply being busy.  Don't believe me?  Three days later and the apartment still looks like this:

Despite my negligence in letting the world know about it (which is undeniably a rather narcissistic pursuit anyway), the latest adventure on Southern sandstone was really quite stellar.  Susan and I jetted out of town as soon as she got done with work Friday afternoon and headed to Horse Pens 40, "the South's best-kept secret."  Horse Pens 40 is home to a full-service campground, a natural amphitheater, bluegrass festivals, and hundreds of high-quality bouldering problems on stellar stone mere yards from the camping.  Owing to this near-perfect set-up, Horse Pens 40 is also the site of the third and final leg of the Southeastern Climber's Coalition and Carolina Climber's Coalition's annual Triple Crown Bouldering Series competition.

Garrett on "Genesis" (V3)
We met up with my good friend, Sam Latone, and his girlfriend, Stephanie, at camp Friday night and waited for the arrival of my younger brother, Garrett.  Garrett was registered to compete in the men's intermediate competition, meaning he would be attempting to climb the 10 hardest routes possible between V3 and V5, with more points awarded for the completion of harder routes.  My younger brother, being the exceptionally motivated undergraduate he is, would be going to class and working all day Friday, driving 6 hours to join us late Friday night, climbing at his physical maximum for 8 solid hours on Saturday, and driving back 6 hours Sunday morning to meet for a group project and work Sunday night.  Did I mention he was flying out for a job interview on Monday?  He got the job :)

Daniel on "Uniball" (V4)
While Susan, Sam, Stephanie, and I waited by the fire in the open-air barn for Garrett to arrive Friday night, we were approached by a young German Ph.D. student in materials science.  Daniel Siegismund had arrived in Nashville, Tennessee a few days earlier for a conference and was taking advantage of a university-provided plane ticket to travel to Horse Pens 40 for the bouldering competition. He was attempting to determine the conversion between French "font" bouldering grades and the "Vermin" bouldering scale used in the United States.  He stopped by our small gathering with his inquiry.  One napkin, a leaky fountain pen, and 5 minutes of deliberation later and we had composed a wholly illegible and barely useful conversion scale of dubious accuracy.  That didn't stop Daniel from being psyched to explore the boulder field with us that evening.  He would be joining Susan, Garrett, and I the next day for the intermediate competition.  Susan and I would serve as spotters while Garrett and Daniel competed.

While Garrett was disappointed that he did not place in the competition, he and Daniel still dispatched a large number of difficult climbs, each completing a couple V6s in a few attempts and a V5 on the first try.

Daniel on "Out of the Box" (V6)
On Sunday, we found ourselves at Sand Rock, about an hour away from Horse Pens 40.  Unbeknownst to us, apparently the rest of the country switched from daylight savings time back to standard time Saturday night.  There was some confusion when we woke about the time.  While we were a little upset about missing our extra hour of sleep, it instead meant an extra hour of climbing time, so we decided we couldn't really be upset.

Sam after the FA of "Pardon Our Progress"
The project of the day was a potential first ascent (pretty much everything has been climbed at Sand Rock at one time or another, so the odds of a true FA are close to nil) around the corner from "Dreamscape."  The line in question begins with a short highball of dirty conglomerate and is followed by a series of discontinuous flakes, horizontals, and cracks for another 40 feet to the top.  I scoped the line with Sam about a month ago and had been biding my time since my surgery until I was back in fighting shape for the lead.  I determined that this past weekend I had finally recovered my fitness sufficiently to attempt an on-sight climb of the new line.  "Pardon Our Progress" ultimately went with one fall near the top (much to my chagrin) and the tentative grade of 5.11-

Daniel on his first trad lead of "Knob Wall" (5.6)
Sam and Stephanie, both hacking up some nasty green things from their lungs, had to depart around noon for some needed food and rest, just as Daniel arrived to join us for the afternoon.  We spent the better part of the day doing laps on "Knob Wall" (5.6) so that Daniel could do his first trad lead.  We were all psyched when he clipped the anchors.


  1. I've never gone climbing, but I have been to Sand Rock. I miss the South soooo much! It looks like you had a great weekend!

  2. I am interesting in climbing, bit I am a little scared of heights, big heights though, I "think" i might be able to handle not so tall things.

  3. Matthew: It was definitely a great weekend, much more so than I originally anticipated.

  4. Big Daddy: As far as the heights are concerned, I find that when I'm climbing I'm much too preoccupied with the climbing in front of me to even notice the height until I get to the top. In other words, the classic advice of "don't look down" really works!

  5. thanks for the extremely nice weekend - was so much fun
    back in Germany with temperatures under 50°F

  6. Glad you had a good time. Look us up if you are ever in the United States again.