Today I made my first trip out to Coll's Cove with Joel, Pete, Mike, and two people I met there. I originally contemplated going because it had rained the night before and there was no way of knowing if it was dry or not. However, sending temps came in this weekend putting an end to constant 90 degree temperatures and it was definitely worth crawling out of bed to go there.
It was a mellow drive. I missed two turns. Didn't really take too much time correcting that and I arrived shortly after everyone else. Our first objective was finding the main area with the "hot-off the computer printer" guide books. 20 pages of Guidebook v0.3. The actual guidebook is still in development and is anywhere from 3 months to 3 years away. On our hike in, we ended up missing the first main turn in due to tall grass covering it and ended up bushwhacking 100 yards later to meet up with the same trail. We found some tree markers and were well on our way.
About 5 minutes of walking later, we came to the start of the Main Area and it is promising. We immediately went for a decent warm up boulder and on our way scoped out the area classic Stingray. Definitely put that on our agenda. We reach the YouTube boulder and immediately started climbing everything and anything. We knocked off all of the "established" problems, ie in the guidebook, and then started doing link-ups and eliminates, and contrivances. There was also one project listed that started on two terrible slopey edges and moved into an undercling feature you had to catch with your thumb. Not my cup of tea. Joel ended up firing that one off and point out a dyno in the middle of the face. It was a huge move from good edges, okay feet, to a sloper over the slight bulge. I ended up using low feet and pogo to nail the sloper. FA of Call Me Maybe (it is the Youtube boulder afterall) and the grade is similar to that of Sloper Dyno at Cooper's. Harder to hit, but easier to stick. V4+/V5 seems about right.
While climbing at the Youtube boulder, the rest of our party arrived and we decided to head up to the boulder we passed on our way in which containted Stringray, the Croc Hunter boulder. We set up our pads and dove into the hole for the start of the problem. A few weeks I realized how inflexible my IT-bands are. This boulder problem did not help much. It required a far left heel hook and a far right toe. Not something I do everyday. After a few tries I had to give up on the start. I tried it from 2 moves in and everything went nicely. I decided to do the stand start (which was two moves further in), which I flashed, and try my hand at the right arete, Croc Hunter. On my first burn, I move slowly and cautiously through the first pocket and slopers. There wasn't much to get my heel and but I forced myself to trust it. Sure enough, my feet were. I ended up campusing the crux move of the problem. However, moving as slowly as I did caught up to me and I could not hit the jug on the next move. Took a small rest and fired the route second go, this time with my feet on (it makes a difference.)
Shortly after I did Croc Hunter, I was looking at the problem again and thought about manteling over the arete and finishing up the slabby face. Fun fun problem. Short and requires a lot of leg strength. Alligator V2. I jump down from that and around the same time, Joel starts walking up Stingray from the sit. Likely the 3rd or 4th ascent of that classic. (Not too sure)
We all decided to move on and Mike and Pete gave us a tour of the area. First stop was the Sharma Stats Project and Bloody Hatchet. The project is hard. I've seen some hard climbs and this is harder. Whats nice is there are actually holds though so it isn't just a blank face. It's hard. We threw ourselves at that for a bit and Joel and Mike were able to do one move. Sort of. It gets kind of fuzzy after that point. After about 20 minutes, we move the pads for Bloody Hatchet, a feature that juts off the top of the nearby slab. Mike ran up it first. I followed suit. Joel flew up last. It was originally given a V7. I think that might change. The down climb was sketchier than the climb and probably about as hard when you are trying not to step in mud with your climbing shoes.
After our escapades on the project, we ran around while Pete and Mike just showed up climbs in the main area. We saw some ridiculously aesthetic lines that eventually led to a decision where Joel and I stayed behind while Mike, Pete, and the rest of the group went to develop across the ridge. When we split, our first stop was Like the Dickens, a roof climb that follows a seem out to a lip encounter. I was not too keen on starting all the way in the back so I just worked on the original start. I ended up getting all the moves and am saving it for another day. On the same boulder, there was a lip traverse. On my first go, I made it to the end and fell on the last move. On my second go, I got pumped out 3/4's of the way through.
Next up was a problem Nathan Walker put up at a V10 hidden in a corridor. My gymrat hands started to disagree with me about here. Joel worked it from the start. Meanwhile, I climbed the V1 slab behind us. For about 30 minutes, we stayed in this corridor discussing beta for the V10 and attempting various things before moving on to Sir Mantlelot and Rattle Battle. Like the name suggests, Sir Mantlelot is a mantle. It goes at a V8 and has an obvious sit project that is probably in the neighborhood of the difficulty of the sharma status boulder. Conceivable but not in the ballpark of what I can climb. I tried the mantle several times but to no avail. Just scraped up arms. We had better luck on Rattle Battle and were able to do all of the moves. It is an overhanging V7 with slots all angled the wrong way. It is a pretty cool climb and I will definitely be back to tick this one off.
Somewhere in between going from Sir Mantlelot and Rattle Battle, we bushwhacked up to the cliff line and started walking around. Despite only being 50-70 foot climbs, they are all on pristine and clean rock. It is all dead vertical or slightly overhanging and very contrary to most of the climbing in the region where you get blocky overhanging cliffs such as at parts of the New River Gorge or Ohiopyle or the several other places in the immediate region. The cliff line stretches on for a couple hundred yards and it is all just solid rock hosting hundreds of potential lines. It just makes you want to rappel down with a drill and go at it. Although, theres a problem with that which I will not get into details in this blog. On top of the immaculate walls, the top of the cliff line is maybe 30-40 feet above the tree tops and offers a spectacular view of the endless forest and mountains (more like hills) of South Western Pennsylvania.
When we got done exploring, we went to warm down on some easier problems around the thumb-wrestling boulder. I did Thumb-wrestling, Joel ran laps of moderate variations on another boulder, and we headed out.
I shall return in about two weeks weather permitting as I have a competition next weekend at Sport Rock in Alexandria. We will see about photos and more.