Saturday, November 30, 2013

Bouldering with a 4 year old in Rocktown

Most people that have been climbing with me recently knows that 4 years ago my essential climbing gear grew substantially and has been growing every since.  Of course I'm talking about my daughter Nalani (aka Hammie).  Quitting climbing has never been an option for me so when Nalani came into my life it meant packing up that little bundle of joy and heading out to the rocks.  Sure it takes a bit more effort and there are some areas that aren't practical (although I still managed to stuff Hammie in my crashpad and hump it up to Chaos Canyon) but having Nalani along makes life better.  More than a few times a big hug from my little girl has made me let go of some climbing frustrating and just enjoy the day.  Hammie is a pretty amazing crag kid (while nearly perfect she does have her moments) and resentfully has even shown an interest in climbing herself.  We'll see what comes of that but I'm hopefully.

Here is a little video of some bouldering in Rocktown where Hammie made her presence known.

Rocktown: Bouldering with a 4-year old from Walker Kearney on Vimeo.

Friday, November 29, 2013


Rocktown had been my favorite area from my trip to the South 10 years ago but after this trip I'm not sure if I prefer the climbing in Rocktown or LRC.  Both area are roughly the same size but Rocktown is a bit more spread out and the climbing tends to be steeper.  The thing that might give Rocktown the edge is that you can camp there and it is cheaper (there is still a small fee to climb).  It was nice to not need to drive and there were multiple problems I failed on those many years ago that I was excited to finally finish off.  We climbed 3 consecutive days and after making short work of the old projects I ran around ticking as many other classics as I could.

Chris and Hammie hanging in the parking before heading out to the boulders

 Golden Shower is a beautiful problem.  The problem to the right is called Golden Harvest and is one of the problems I'd like to go back for.

Center Croc Block is an awesome highball and should be high on the list for anyone visiting Rocktown.

Aaron on Standard Variation.  The iron bands in the the sandstone served as the grips and make for some awesome aesthetics.

 Aaron on a cool highball.

Brown Eye Left had some awesome shapes and pleasing movement.  This wall was one of several that offered a slew of variations.  We opted to climb the most straight forward lines and skipped the linkups.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Little Rock City

Chattanooga is one of those cities climbers flock to as there is endless rock scattered around.  There is still tons of potential and while most of the areas are small there are a couple that are more substantial, with Little Rock City (aka Stone Fort) being the largest and most popular.

Little Rock City in some ways is a model for access as the boulders are located on a privately owned golf course.  Yes, you have to pay $5 to climb but it beats having the place shutdown and as a added bonus the folks at the club-house (where you park and pay the fee) are super nice.  And of course the climbing is good enough that you'd gladly pay to sample some of the sweet sandstone.

The rock in LRC is generally bullet and the climbing offers something for everyone from beginners to hard-men.   While it is perhaps Chattanooga's largest area it is still pretty small and you could easily see everything in a day (though it will probably take more that a few days to climb everything).  The approach is short and everything is pretty easy to find which is why there was always people climbing there.  Pretty much everything is fun to climb on as the stone has awesome shapes and is skin friendly.  Fortunately for those driven by aesthetics there are also several amazing lines to get worked up about.

We spent 4 of our 8 climbing days in LRC and every day I climbed on awesome problems and met good people.  I just wish the area was a bit larger.  Here are a few pictures and Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.

Celestial Mechanics was one of my favorite problems from 10 years ago.  It was as good as I remembered.

Super Mario is one of those popular climbs that seems to always have pads under it.  Fun steep climbing with a slew of "choose you own adventure" variations.

Bedwetters is a long steep climb with the crux coming at the end.  This wasn't a problem a was initially drawn to but when you find pads under a problem it can be hard not to partake and I was glad I did.  Here Niko eyeballs the crux hold toward the end of the climb.

Cheech fingering the "good" hold on The White Face.  This rig is a crimp fest and one of the few problems in LRC that will wreck your skin.  After a couple good attempts I decided to save skin for other climbs but I'd like to come back for this one.

Walter gets oh so close on Shiver Me Timbers Direct.  This one is also a little sharp and but is a great line.

This was one of the most beautiful pieces of stone I saw in TN.  Deception is the awesome climb that climbs right up the middle.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Highs and Lows

As my brief time in Tennessee has come to an end I once again begin to reflect on the trip, areas visited and general experiences.  It's also interesting to compare current impressions with those from 10 years ago when a much younger me last visited the area.  Before I get too much into my take on the bouldering I thought I'd list a few highlights and low-lights from the trip.

A few Highlights (in no specific order)

  • Getting hissed at by a opossum.  What a nasty little creature.  Still made my evening to encounter something that is best described as a "giant rat that hangs in a tree".
  • Southern BBQ.  Delicious, what more can I say.
  • Southern Hospitality.  Climbers in general are generous and at times I felt like a bit of a charity case as I surfed coaches, loaned an assortment of gear (tent, stove, pads, guides, sleeping bags, etc...) and hounded folks for beta.  I guess having an adorable 4-year old along tends to soften hearts and we are ever so thankful for all the wonderful folks out there.
  • Southern Accent.  The opportunity to listen to folks talk had me looking forward to even the most mundane encounters.  "Would ya like paper or plastic?"  Oh, I don't know. Can you ask me again?  And even in the rare cases when someone was being condescending it still sounded so sweet that I couldn't even get irritated but would simply respond with a goofy smile.
  • Climbing.  More on that later
A few Low-Lights (also no specific order)

  • Mexican Food.  I knew mexican food in TN would be bad but I didn't know the extent of it.  Maybe I just found the worst restaurant possible but it's safe to say I won't be eating any more tacos until I return to the Southwest.  
  • Weather.  We actually had quite a few good days but no trip to the South is complete without being chased away by rain.
  • Pay to Play.  It seems that many of the areas in the South require a user fee.  Don't get me wrong, I think it is awesome that climbers have good relations with landowners and a small fee can be appropriate but $5 a day starts to add up.  
  • Poison Oak.  For some reason I was under the impression that I didn't need to be on the lookout for poisonous plants this time of year.  Well apparently the don't lose potency after a freeze and it is a hard learned lesson.
  • Vomiting.  Don't think this one needs much clarification as being sick on a climbing trip just sucks.  My girls definitely got the worst of it.  
So that's just a few things that stuck out from the trip and I'll be posting more about the climbing soon.  

Poison Oak sucks.  The spot on my back is the worst but legs arms and stomach weren't spared from itchy torment either.  I've found it hard to sleep with all the burning and itching, but fortunately it should go away in a couple weeks.

Chris knows the importance of hydration.  Maybe that's why he was the only one from our group of 4 to not lose his lunch.

When not hindered by rain or sickness there was a good deal of climbing.  More on that soon

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Wave, LRC

The Wave is one of the many classics at Little Rock City and this one certainly deserves a climber's attention.  Aptly named, the sloping arete is pleasing in terms of both movement and aesthetics.
The Wave.  Love those slopers

Katie working The Wave.

Max on the subtle crux at the end of the Wave

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Not all sunshine and unicorns

My primary concern when planning a trip to TN was the weather.  This place is known for getting some moisture so it came as no surprise that we got rained out Friday.  Fortunately the forecast only had rain in our future for 3 days and while I wasn't looking forward to so much time off it could be worse.  The good news is Nalani and I had a place to stay as we bombed up to Nashville to crash in a hotel with Lina and  picked up my good friend Chris to join our adventures.  The only major bump of these forced off days was a night hovering over the toilet ejecting a giant hamburger from earlier in the day.  But now that is over and we can look forward to getting back at it as the forecast is looking up and I'll be lugging a few less pounds up the rock.

I'll spare you more details of projectile vomiting a post a few pictures from Stone Fort (aka Little Rock City).

 Two patties, 4 slices of bacon, 4 slices of cheese and all the fixings.  GBA.  

Max fires the classic Genghis Khan, one of the first problems you encounter at LRC

Niko on his nemesis, Cleopatra  

 Jackie (sp?) feeling out the slopers on Spanky

Max on an awesome highball

The Pinch is one of those problems that might not look like much but the 
features are so cool you want to climb it.  

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Tennessee, Tennessee. There ain't no place I'd rather be.

It's always a relief when you touch down on your last flight after 20ish hours of travelling with a 4 year old.  We had escaped Sweden and were ready for some good southern hospitality and lots of sandstone boulders, only 2 days in and we've found plenty of both.

Chelsey and her son Ezra have been gracious hosts and it's nice for Nalani to have another little person to hang with (even if he's "only" 2).  Generally Nalani's trips with just her dad involve lots of dirty boys so the chance to hang with other kids makes her transition into climbing mode easier.  The climbing has been awesome and my knee seems to be holding up as long as I'm selective with what I climb on.  Now the main downside to the injury is that I haven't climb for so long that strength and skill is now lacking.  No matter as I've thoroughly enjoyed failing and will hopefully pull myself into some semblance of shape before our time here is over.  Just have to avoid wrecking myself which could be a problem with so many great problems.

Here are a few pictures from the first day at the Apartment Boulders.

Niko on a fun lerp dyno.  The rock here is awsome

The Brain is one of the cooler problems I've actually managed to do.  Niko fires this awesome slab

The gem of the Apartment Boulders sits off by itself and alone would warrant a visit.  I'm hoping to return to this one after miraculously getting back in shape.  I think it is called Solaris or Polaris or something like that.  

Greg working the problem.  Anyone actually know the name?