01 March, 2018

Are These Annual Updates Now?

It’s been over 8 months since Evan or I posted. Which is a shame because I know both of us have been up to some fun stuff. I am going to try to give a brief summary of some of the things I have been doing recently. Last April I got pretty sick for a couple weeks, right around graduation, and my level of fitness plummeted. This ended up resulting in me not really climbing from then until late August, early September. And despite me labelling 2017 as “The Year of Paddling” in my mind at the start of the year, I only got in my boat a handful of times. Which is unfortunate! And while it has been too cold for me to hop on the water, despite the amazing flow, I have been climbing a lot recently. Note to self: Buy a Drysuit this year so you can finally paddle year round. I have more to talk about than I will be able to cover in this post, like entering the Spartan Summit (UNCG’s climbing competition), my last couple days of route setting for UNCG, and a few videos of kayaking with Alec from last year. But for this post I am going to focus on my outdoor climbing trips.

10/07/17 - Moore’s Wall

This was my first trip out on real rocks since April. Went out with Keisei, Hiroshi, and Mike (who was climbing outside for the first time.) I didn’t really climb anything new, but repeated a few problems. About halfway through the day it started to rain, so we took shelter underneath Stickman, and later Tsunami. I had never tried to pull onto a V5, so it was interesting. It definitely felt doable, but I didn’t want to spend the whole day trying the same thing over and over. So we moved on to Tsunami so Keisei could hop on.

Mike's first outdoor boulder? By The Beard of Zeus, a sketchy, surprisingly stout, tall V0. You're welcome!

Keisei working on Tsunami.

Hiroshi sending Stickman.

10/15/17 - Dixon School Rd Boulders

Keisei, Mike, and I went to Dixon to try to scout the area out and sample some of the climbs. Dixon proved to be an interesting place. I had always heard people complain about the sharp rock at Moore’s, but clearly they had never been to Dixon before. Not only is the rock just as, if not more, sharp - but the rock is extremely rough. Sessions there clearly wouldn’t last very long. My session was pretty much destroyed on the start hold to a V4 named Lucifer that I kept crimping onto two little shark teeth instead of holding it like a normal person. Was still a great trip, even if I hadn’t did something stupid and fell off on the final, easiest move f said problem.
Derek hand-foot matching the start hold of Lucifer.

Mike cruising through Classic Overhang.

Keisei pulling through the final hard move of Atlas.

10/22/17 - Dixon School Rd Boulders
This time I went outside with Andy, Matt, Hunter, and Isaac. Three of whom, had never climbed outside before. It was a great day, and I was convinced to disregard my fear of heights and hop on a few of the easy highballs out there. Was a great day.

11/06/17 - Crowders Mountain
Keisei and Hiroshi drove in from Greensboro to go check out Crowders Mountain. We climbed a few sport routes. It was interesting watching Keisei climb our warm up and completely disregard the fact that it was a mixed route and just didn’t place any gear except at the bolts. Until he was being lowered. The last thing we all got on was Electra, a sick, exposed line that was pretty much a jug haul. Unfortunately, my endurance and mental game still needed some work. Great place, can’t wait to go back.

Getting pumped on Electra.

11/11/17 - Moore’s Wall

Went to Moore’s again. Mike and I met up with Keisei, Hiroshi, and Jonathan. What I learned was I do not function well in the cold weather. Climbers always go on and on about how cold weather is perfect send temps. But for me it’s perfect “listen to my excuse to keep my jacket on” temps. For a few brief moments of warmth I hopped on Proper Modulation and Barb’s Bequest Stand to try to link some more moves. Barb’s Boulder might be one of the coolest looking boulders I have ever seen.

Looking up at Barb's Bequest Stand.

11/12/17 - Dixon School Rd Boulders

Hiroshi and Keisei drove back down from Greensboro to check out Dixon. It devolved into a day of mainly goofing around amongst the boulders. Climbing by becoming Edward Cam Hands, and doing some Highball Trad Climbing. (Ropes are expressly prohibited at Dixon, but they didn’t say Keisei couldn’t climb some highballs, placing gear as he went.) Right as we got to Classic Arete, it started to drizzle on us, which was unfortunate because I really wanted to climb that line. I still hadn’t topped a V4 since getting back into climbing, and I knew Classic Arete wasn’t too difficulty. It had one stopper move near the top, about 16-18 feet up. A move that 10’ lower would be nothing, but it was just high enough to make you stop and think about it. Luckily, all three of us sent it back to back before the rain really started to pour and we had to make our way to the gym.

And people say Southeast boulderers don't spot.

11/19/17 - Pilot Mountain

Met up with Keisei, Hiroshi, and Justin at Pilot. If I am being honest I was starting to question how much I enjoyed climbing around this trip. I was starting to feel a little lazy about it, again. Luckily while we were there I was convinced to hop on Any Major Dude, a route of technical face crimping that led up 30 feet to a small roof. I tried it twice on Top Rope, only falling once the second time. That route may have saved my climbing career, because it was so much fun I knew I’d be back to climb it again. Also dragged Keisei and Hiroshi to a slab climb, which I am convinced they were grateful for, even if they complained while we were climbing it. The hike out didn’t hurt either. It was cool to walk the long way out as the sun set. One of the more memorable trips I’ve been on. It’s worth mentioning that Hiroshi sent Any Major Dude that day, his self-proclaimed “Life-long project.”

Keisei on the warm up, Papa Bear.

Justin chillin' out on the Bears.

Hiroshi sending his life-long project with style.

Hiroshi on Born to Crimp, complaining about the slabby nature of the climb.

Derek, secretly questioning why he wanted to climb Born to Crimp.

11/24/17 - Dixon School Rd Boulders

Hit up Dixon with Justin on Black Friday. Steered clear of anything to hard since we only had one pad. But we hit up a few lines on the Incinerator Boulder on the way out. Third Degree might be one of the most interesting V3’s I have ever touched. Definitely worth the trip.

Just on Snake Jam.

Third Degree, one of the coolest V3's around!

11/26/17 - Moore’s Wall

Took Andy and Alex to Moore’s Wall to show them around, and do some bouldering. Neither of them had been there before. I went there planning to hop on Stickman again. I was pretty hyped to try that problem again. While we were warming up, I learned that R2-V2 is apparently a climb very much in my style- because I always thought it was pretty soft, but learned that I might be in the minority. When we got to Stickman, I decided I would try slightly different beta, and I pulled onto the wall, planning to gym drop once I got past the actual V5 section. But everything went so smoothly and I had so much adrenaline pumping through me that I decided to keep going and topped out the 25-30ft line. I held onto that adrenaline, planning to use some of it later, and started pulling the group towards The Valley. Along the way Andy got his first V4, Garden Variety, and Alex topped Gym Rat Kevin, one of my favorite boulders. Once we were in The Valley I pulled onto Proper Modulation Stand and began to work the moves, again using slightly different beta than the last time. Unlike Stickman, it took a few tries, but eventually I had topped it out- only to marvel that Keisei had had the courage to top out the Sit Start version as his first V6, by himself, with only one crash pad. The top did not feel super secure!

Stickman first

Proper Mod Stand second. Tacos third.

01/21/18 - Pilot Mountain
Took a large group of people climbing at Pilot. Too many to name because this post is already WAY too long. We started in the Three Bears area so they could hop on some easier Top Ropes to get used to it… Okay so we started in that area because I wanted to hop straight onto Any Major Dude again. I toproped it once, figuring out the clipping stances, and remembering the once section before the crux, where there was a hidden crimp I kept forgetting about. For the second time I only fell once, so when I got to the ground I rested a bit, and decided to fire it up on lead. I was pretty nervous, but excited. After pulling through the crux I knew I had just sent the route. It felt great! The rest of the day we moved over to the Amphitheater and got everyone the chance to try out some easy lead outside. Most people took that chance.

02/24/18 - Dixon School Rd
Made my way up to Dixon again this past weekend with Andy. We spent some time warming up before moving onto the sessions for the day. Andy fought through the terrible (hot and humid) conditions to top out Unicron. I remembered it being a unique climb from when I did it with Justin on Black Friday, but I got the feeling Andy liked it less than I did. Andy was then nice enough to stick around while I worked on Venom. I had heard that it was a sharp, technical, and crimpy V5 that you really wanted to climb when it was cold and dry. With it in the 70’s and unusually muggy for February, I probably could have chosen a better problem to work. But I am glad I didn’t. Once I remembered I was bouldering and not sport climbing, so I could use a lot of strength on the second move because, well you know, it's a boulder and not a 70 ft climb - I began getting to the second to last move pretty consistently. Unfortunately I struggled to get my balance just right and was finding it hard to get a solid right hand. Over a few attempts my left middle finger had begun looking like a spoon because the first crimp, easily one of the worst and sharpest I’ve had to really put all my weight on was making sure it was getting its fair share of skin tax from me. On my final, “last try” I managed to keep enough weight on left foot that I found a serviceable place to put my right hand. Not sure if I had the strength to bite down with my right hand and fix my balance I decided to throw for the next hold, which looked fairly slopey - not really intending for it to stick. Clearly I had forgotten how textured Dixon was, because once my left hand landed on the rock, it didn’t budge. While Stickman and Proper Mod Stand were probably more my style of climbing, it was really nice to send Venom- and to feel all the work I had done on overhanging crimps had paid off. It was a great trip, that was capped off with Andy sending a slough of 3s on the hike out… while I sat by wishing the process of farming skin didn’t take so long.

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