Monday, November 23, 2009

Sunken Boulder

The sunken boulder is located just off the Rockhouse trail, headed east, towards the Blue Ash Rockhouse. After passing some minor boulders on the southern end of Crumley ridge, the path turns left, heads north, and overlooks the Athens Mall to the east. The sunken boulder is the obvious boulder in the little clearing just after the clear view of the Mall. The boulder includes three distinct and high quality lines. Although the stone is a bit sandy, it is not problematic. The boulder faces East, so it gets morning sun and will be shaded after about 11:00 in the morning.
  1. The rightmost pic shows the moderate face with the giant chicken head. It is a fun but brief moderate.
  2. Next is a sit down problem on the body tension packed arete. Technical footwork.
  3. The center of the face is powerful and includes a nice deadpoint. The face is fun with a standing start, and seems possible to start a move or two lower also. A low start would really increase the difficulty.
The holds over the lip are leaf magnets, so bring a broom and clean off the summit before your send attempt. There is some chalk on a giant jug to the left of the face route, which could be the start of a brief mantle exercise, but does not rank as an obvious line like the other three problems. If the stone were bullet hard the left jug would be the start of a brilliant traverse.

A couple different attempts on the deadpoint move from the face route.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Overview map: COAD to Sunken Boulder

This map shows the approximate location of notable bouldering areas between the southern terminus of Copperhead Ridge on the west, and Crumley Ridge to the east. Most of this area falls inside the Cucumber Tree drainage, and is accessed by parking at the Cucumber Tree Connector Trailhead.

How to get to the parking:  take East State Street to the east from 33.   Turn left on the road that has a traffic light and leads to Walmart on the right.   The OU credit union is on the left side of East state street, but will be on your right once you turn onto that road and head north.   You will pass some trailers, a house on the right and come to a small (8 car) parking area next to a small barn.  The trail leads up the drainage from there. After 10 min it comes to an intersection with a footbridge on the left.   Cross the footbridge to the left and then stay left on the main trail for about 10 min.   You will pass the emerald in the woods to the left and then turn the corner to the COAD boulders.  The dark green line on the map marks the trail.

(1) The COAD boulders are on the western side of the south end of Copperhead ridge.
(2) The emerald is a bit downhill from the eastern flank of Copperhead ridge.
(3) The lions head wall is at the top of the basin, and is best accessed above, just off of the Athens trail near the juncture with the Basswood Connector.  This wall has a vo warm up, high ball that you might not want to top out.  To the right are a couple of pocket starts, then a crimpy V10 well to to the right.
(4) The sun cave is a shallow rock house is east of the lion's head, and is clearly visible from there and from the major U bend in the Rockhouse trail.  These problems are marginal in quality except for a couple of easy slabs on the right.  The problem in the linked post is a fun slab on the righthand edge of the rockhouse.
(4.5)  Upper tier?  at about the location of the B in Boulder Cove on the map above is a tall, very easy and well featured boulder problem.  There are a few more moderate problems nearby.
(5) The commitment area is uphill from another major bend in the Rockhouse trail, marked by a low wooden bridge.
(6) Big momma and several other features mark the left side of the Rockhouse trail.
(7) The boxcar boulders are downhill from Big Momma.
(8) A crimpy corner problem marks the next major turn in the trail, with several small problems nearby.
(9) The mini- twinkie is high on the ridge after a fair bit of hiking.
(10) Pass a break-down and several small features around the southern end of Crumley Ridge for the sunken boulder, overlooking the Athens Mall to the east.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Long Autumn

Fall has lasted a nice long time in Athens. The walking sticks are enjoying the extra hunting period on the western slopes, under the fallen leaves.

Monday, October 26, 2009

East side of Copperhead Ridge: The Emerald

This gem of a freestanding boulder is located on the eastern side of Copperhead Ridge. Starting from the Cucumbertree Connector, hike westward on the Rockhouse trail, towards Copperhead Ridge and the COAD boulders. About 1200 feet past the wooden footbridge you will begin to see boulders up on the ridge. Soon after that, there is a small clearing on the left side of the trail with a 7 foot tall boulder with a triangular face. Turn left, walk away from the main trail, through the clearing, the Emerald is just out of sight, down the hill.

There are several interesting and challenging lines on the Emerald. Problems ascend dishes and pleasently rounded sidepulls on the green slab, next is a mostly blank gray face with a low, intermittent rail crossing it, and the overhanging back of the boulder includes a couple of short overhanging problems. Inspect the down-climb and the top-outs for fallen leaves before attempting the higher slab routes. Mantle finishes guard your escape. Punting off mid-mantle is not recommended.

The back of the Emerald sports a couple of the better (V3-5) problems in Athens County, characterized by decent quality stone with interesting holds and movement. However, because of the fragility of the local sandstone and the mantle topouts the Emerald is best saved until after a good dry spell. A couple scars indicate holds have broken, but prudent climbers can easily enjoy the problems while preserving the best features.

The slab has at least three lines, increasing in difficulty from left to right. The left arete of the slab has potential for an easy route as the leaves and vines reveal some pleasant rounded holds.

The gray face probably has a line that cranks off the left hand side pull / undercling all the way to the fragile looking chicken heads. It looks awkward but doable.

The steep side has two distinct lines, the "Emerald Arete" that ascends the pictured prow with pockets, pinches and edges. The second problem cranks off a sidepull horn to a matching pinch, then slaps the rounded lip. Boost the difficulty of the arete by off-routing the two pockets.

A fun moderate (V1-ish) lowball is possible by starting at the far right end of the rail, and traversing left until it peters out and you can establish your feet on the detached rock under the left edge of the gray face (i.e. no topout). Contrived but fun.

Copperhead Ridge: Roof to Slab

This problem ("Pot O' Gold"?) is near the right hand end of the established problems at Copperhead Ridge. The roof part is fun. The top-out is a bit of a thrutchy reach. I guess some people like that sort of thing. As far as eliminates go, I am a fan starting at the ledge-jug, pinching the block around to the left, and deadpointing to the sloping jug on the lip.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Witches Rocks: Dimpled Slab

This balance slab is enjoyable and very moderate. Children will enjoy topping out, while adults can give a good spot by bouldering up a couple feet on the very easy lower section. Downclimb is good for kids too, follow the summit down to the left.

Witches Rocks: Keyhole

This arete is located uphill from the Cube on the main cliff line. This and the reverse side of the arete offer fun moves, with a medium high top-out. A bit sandy.

Witches Rocks: Cube Boulder

This boulder is featured in a couple of youtube videos. Basically both of these problems test your open hand power while either heel-hooking or maintaining body tension around a corner with smallish foot holds. This boulder is the obvious tilted cube boulder about 100 feet into the woods after cresting the grass-ridge approach. The next couple entries talk about nearby problems.

Witches Rocks

 Witches Rocks has a few interesting problems. Most notably, there is a tall arete on the main cliff line (just uphill of the tilted-cube boulder). That arete can be climbed on both sides of the corner, and allows for a number of interesting eliminates.

The tilted cube boulder is home to a couple of fun, low-ball problems, that appear on several videos posted on athens bouldering. The so-called "Witches Traverse" starts left of the arete, moves along the angled lip of the boulder before firing up the arete. The other problem, starts on the left, and after a friction scum on the side, fires up the arete.

In general, there are several moderate problems and a couple of interesting medium hard problems. This can be a fun place to take young children because of the easy featured slab routes in the vicinity of the routes mentioned above.

Getting there.  Witches is on the hilltop to the SE of campus.  See overview map for location. From the KFC / Sonic, head east on Stimson, turn right before passing under the highway. Then turn left onto Rock Riffle road (rather than getting on the highway). Pass under the highway, part in the turn off on the left-hand side of the road. See map view photo below. Head towards the exit ramp, and follow the obvious climbers trail up the hill.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Copperhead Ridge: Wall of moderate face problems

On Copperhead Ridge there are several sections of the main cliff line with near-vertical, somewhat featured rock. This is one of the better sections. The landing is mostly flat, the holds are solid. The arrows indicate some of the more obvious face routes that you might try. The crack on the left can be climbed too.

Bring a brush. As with all the walls with soil up above this one sees some water run-off and may be a bit dirty. The wall is behind and a bit to the East of the 'three star boulder'. Once again, I don't really know what these are called. The top out to the right of the tree is pleasant and relatively clean.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Two Fingers on Copperheadridge

This route climbs directly up the left side of the slab, and is marked by an interesting crux committing to some delicate edges for your feet while underclinging the pocket. An easier variant moves right to the more slabby and featured arete.

Three Star Boulder

Once again, I don't know the actual names of these problems. I just made these up. Also, the grades are approximate, based on my faulty memory and out of shape body. Regardless, these are some of the more pleasant boulder problems because they take obvious lines, are on good stone, and have fun movement.

This corner is a good place to drop your pad, especially if you don't have a spotter, since you will have several distinct lines in close proximity and these are all easily managed solo with a pad and sense of when not to fall. If you are first arriving at this area from the described approach, these boulders are about 75 feet further along the main trail after the first climbers trail breaks uphill. The corner faces away from you as you approach from the East.

Three Star V0

I don't know what other people call this problem. It seemed like a tiny version of Twinkie at the Red River Gorge. It is a high quality, moderate, overhanging route with actual pockets for holds! That is the default condition at the Red, but in Athens County, that type of rock is almost always too chossy to climb. This problem is a nice exception to that rule.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Boxcar Boulders in Boulder Cove

The traverse of the blog title pic is pretty fun and can feel pumpy, partly because some of the footholds are somewhat smeary. The left side of the main boulder has a couple fun moderate problems with big holds.

The Cuban boulder at COAD / Copperheadridge

The Cuban boulder and the boulder to the right represent some of the cleaner and more pleasant problems on Copperhead ridge. Because they are freestanding the do not see run-off they are free of the sand and dirt that often coats the cliff-band boulders. The slab is brief but fun, mainly due to the technical footholds.

East State Street Area

Getting there: Head east on East State Street past the Krogers to the Wallmart. At the traffic light for the entrance to Walmart turn left (away from Walmart) up a street marked by the OU Credit Union Building on the corner. Pass a row of trailers, drive to the end and park in the faintly marked spots (~8) near the renovated barn, next to the semi-obvious trailhead.

Hiking to boulder cove: From the parking lot next to the barn, hike uphill on “Cucumber tree connector” until you reach the Rockhouse trail (about 10 min). Follow the rock house trail to the right, away from the footbridge. After about 5 min you will see rocks on the left. Keep hiking past several outcrops, until you see three medium sized boulders downhill on the right. These decent warm-ups are about 75 feet away from the trail, but clearly visable.

Boulder Cove, aka “Trailer Park” boulders includes several outcrops and a few free standing boulders. This area is basically the rock band on the western side of Crumley Ridge, beginning near the area marked as “Boulder Cove” on the topo map provided by Athens The primary area is uphill and to the Northeast of McLaren pond. The features in the main cliff band include, “commitment or birds nest” area and, further up the trail “Big Mamma” which is pictured on a Climbing Mag Blog. The commitment area is located uphill and to the left after crossing the small wooden footbridge, soon after this climbers trail you will pass a low, trailside roof, and after 10 more yards, a path downhill to the right to the boxcar boulders. The crimpy corner, and the mini-twinkie uphill of the Rockhouse trail as you approach the rockhouse, but before you pass the apex of Crumley Ridge.

Hiking to Copper Ridge, aka, COAD: Same initial approach, but turn left and cross the foot bridge. Follow the trail around to the south until you get to the obvious boulders that surround the trail. This will happen soon after the trail turns sharply right at the end of the bluff, and you can see out over stores on East State below. These boulders are located on the Western side of the Southern end of Copperhead Ridge. They are directly behind and uphill from of BigLots. There are several good free-standing boulders here, and several of the problems are composed of solid stone (for Athens). The emerald, a true gem, is located on the way to Copperhead ridge proper. About 1000 feet beyond the footbridge, watch for boulders high on the ridge, and a low triangular boulder on the left. The emerald is downhill on the left, head into the woods and downhill immediately prior to the low triangular boulder.

Find a couple reasons to come to Athens

Overall: Athens is not a top destination for bouldering.  The rock is sandy and the problems are scattered. However, if you are traveling through to the NRG from Columbus or other points NW of Athens, or you are coming to Athens anyways, perhaps for some live music, drunken revelry, or a friendly visit, you might want to bring your bouldering gear. Serious climbers will find a few gems worthy of their attention, along with a slew of ok problems that have a bit of loose rock or dirt runoff. Check out Athens on Wikipedia.

Season and Rain: The best season is fall, but any time that there has been a dry spell of at least 2 days will work. Very little of the climbing is rainproof and all of the rock is weak and easily damaged when wet. Indoor climbing options are limited to“Ping” the tall but narrow, Entreprise top-rope fest in the student Rec Center.  Another similar wall is located at Hocking College.

Concentration of problems: Low to medium. The East State Street area (with COAD and Trailer Park) has the largest collection of established problems within moderate walking distance. Witches is more limited, as are the formations near Dow Lake and the Richland Ave exit ramp. The best problems in the area are widely spaced. However, people who are willing to accept some contrivance, are not averse to spending time on easy slabs and traversing, will find everal of the areas to have enough to warrant a visit.

Biking angle: In addition to drunken revelry (to make the visit worthwhile) cross-over athletes should bring their MT bikes. Many of the better boulders are accessed via bike friendly trails. A Mountain bike / bouldering biathalon is a great option for getting the most out of your visit. Throw a minimalist pack on your back and start at Sells Park, and do a circuit heading east on the Rockhouse trail, hitting the COAD boulders, then the various stops at Trailer Park. Then either reverse your path or bomb down cucumber tree connecter to the road and return via the pavement. GOOD single track trails abound in Athens (though they are closed when wet).

Check out the new overview page.  

Overview Map

The in-town bouldering areas are scattered around. However, your best bet is to start out at Boulder Cove and Copperhead Ridge (4 and 3). Parking is the same for both of them, check out the detailed post on those areas, below. Witches is likely the second choice, although it has much more limited options.