I think most non-climbers probably assume that picking your climbing destination for the weekend is pretty straightforward – what kind of climbing do you want to do? What distance are you willing to drive? Pick out a place that answers those questions, and go there, right? Au contraire my friends. If only it was that simple. Yes those questions are important ones to consider, but the most important factor of all is totally out of your control and only mildly predictable – the WEATHER. For the weekend warrior, watching the weather forecast and planning around it can turn into quite a job in the days leading up to the weekend.
Our original plan was to climb at the New – but then long about Wednesday the forecast turned from fairly decent to cloudy with a high of 42, and a 40% chance of precipitation that very well could be in the form of snow…not a good decision for Steve and I, and a ridiculously bad decision with Canaan. So we began to look at other options and realized that it would be chilly but sunny out at Rumbling Bald.
Steve and I had never been bouldering there, but have been wanting to ever since the guidebook came out a couple of years ago – but given that the season for the Bald is in the winter, and the past two winters for us have either involved pregnancy or injuries, the opportunity had never come up.
We decided that lows in the 20’s (with the highs barely scraping 50) was not good camping weather with Canaan, so we splurged and went in with friends on an “apartment” at the Hitching Post Campground. It was by no means luxurious, but was warm and cozy and was a perfect solution for Canaan.
We got the tour de Rumbling Bald from our friend Matt on Saturday morning. We warmed up by playing around on the Trailside Boulder for a bit, where we ran into Michael and his son, Zion. Then we headed over to the Devil Boulder. There we got on Unknown (V0), and Unknown (V2) – which had a move that Christie and I felt was WAY reachy for V2…Crescent Crack (V2) was next – a beautiful problem that follows a very aesthetic crack shaped like a (you guessed it) crescent. The moves aren’t really hard, but the topout is pretty heady and high off the ground, making for an exciting finish.
Then we made our way over to the Fun-Filled Boulder, which did in fact live up to its name. We did My Adidas (V0), One-Hand Arete (V0), and a handful of other Unknown V0’s. We also worked an Unknown V3 on the back side of the boulder that Christie and I were happy to finally send. We made a quick stop at the Liza Minelli Boulder so Matt could send his project, which was the namesake corner – then we waited out the random cloud of drizzling sleet (where was the weatherman on that one?!?) which barraged us for about 15 minutes. Then we headed over to the Run and Jump Boulder, where we did Short Arete (V1), Left Arete (V2), and all unsuccessfully flailed on Go-Go Gadget Arm (V3).
We ended our day at the Cave Boulder, where we did a very tall but straightforward Unknown (V1), and an interesting traverse, Unknown (V2). We played around on some other stuff while we waited for the sleeping C-bear to wake up, but fingertips were burning, and motivation was low, so no more was sent that day. That night we all headed back to the apartment where we had a Mexican feast followed by Swiss Cake Rolls, hot chocolate, and what else – the highlight reel!
The next day was brilliantly sunny, and felt much warmer than the day before. I dont know whether it was because my fingers had defrosted or because I had gotten more accustomed to the rock there, but I felt way stronger and more confident on Day 2 than I had the day before. We started our day on the Simpson Boulder, which my friend Ben had recommended to us. A funny, unassuming little boulder, it had several fun lines on it that were named after Simpson’s characters. There was Marge (V1), which we all started on, then Homer (V3), but Christie was the only one that wanted any part of the heinous mantel topout. Then there was Lisa (V1), a short little problem on the other side of the boulder that Steve and I enjoyed. I enjoyed Maggie (V2), which traversed all the way around the boulder – starting on Homer, and ending around the corner on Lisa! The only problem we didn’t get to was Bart (V1), since the C-Bear woke up and was ready to get on the move!
We ended our weekend at the Gateway Boulders, which was definitely my favorite area of the whole weekend. Steve and Christie played around on the easy slab while Canaan had a snack, and then we all did Unknown (V0), which was a fun and casual romp up some really cool-looking diagonal fins. Christie was starting to get some elbow pain from her bout with Homer back on the Simpson Boulder, so she was done for the day.
I climbed the arete just to the right of it, Unknown (V3), a tall and technical line with a couple of committing moves up top. Then I worked another Unknown V3 on the same boulder that followed a funky crack system to a crimpy rail at the topout. I blew off about a million times before finally working out a sequence through the crux just before the top, but finally was able to send it. 🙂
I’d like to give a shout-out to Steve for all the good, patient spotting on that one as well as Unknown (V4), also on the same boulder, which also took numerous tries to send. The V4 was probably the most interesting problem I sent all weekend. A battle to keep from barn dooring at the start, then some tenuous moves to some small diagonal sloping slots, then a big WAP to a sloping bulge and a left hand crimp, and it appeared to be over…but the fun was really just beginning. Instead of your typical “press-it-out” topout, this one was sort of a series of mantel presses and slab paddling that seemed like way too many moves for the height of the boulder. Then we crossed to the other side of the trail where we ended our day at Unknown (V1) – it had some big moves at the bottom to some cool diagonal rails, and a somewhat committing topout.
The boulders at Rumbling Bald turned out to be quite nice, and I think we’ll definitely try to make it out there again before springtime hits. It would have been pretty overwhelming to navigate the boulderfield on our own, so big thanks to Matt Bielejeski for giving us a tour on Saturday, and to Ben Newton for recommending some areas to us as well! I wish we would have remembered to take more pictures the first day, but oh well. The only thing that we both found annoying was that so many of the problems in the guidebook are still listed as “Unknown.” It made it hard to differentiate among the different problems that we did.
A lot of the topouts were more committing than what us roped-climbers were used to, but we worked it out, and by Sunday, Steve and I were feeling a lot more comfortable on that unfamiliar ground. It was a treat having the apartment to hang out in Saturday night instead of being out in the cold, and going in with several folks knocks down the price to almost what we’d be paying for camping anyway. So I guess the only question now is…who’s in for next time?!?