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.

1 comment:

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