Cragmama "Not all who wander are lost…" JRR Tolkien

In the Name of Climbing…er, Research!

This weekend’s mission was all about guidebook research…and by research I mean lots of climbing.  On Saturday Steve, Cragbaby and I met up with knowledgeable local Eddy Ramirez, who was kind enough to give us a tour of some of the lesser traveled areas of Crowders Mountain – namely the Resurgance Walls.  While sitting at home writing about climbing can get tedious at times, the cooler temps and low humidity levels have made my “research missions” a delightful escape.  As if I’m not already motivated enough to explore my new local crag, Crowders is probably the one area out of the four that is in most dire need of an updated guide.  Numerous routes, and even entire walls are neglected in the NC Select guide, and receive no more documentation than a label on a hand-drawn topo in the most “recent” comprehensive guide (published in 1995, now out of print).

Dewey Used to Love It (5.10R)

This means that the vast majority of climbers congregate only around the classic routes, which although popular for a reason, aren’t the only routes worth climbing at Crowders.  I’m hoping that by documenting all of the legally climbable routes in the area (a few areas are off limits due to park management issues), it will spread folks out across the entire mountain, rather than clogging up the higher traffic areas.

Of course anyone venturing into more obscure terrain had better be prepared for a little more adventure…

1.  Holds Breaking – Most always when a route is first established, there is a fair amount of loose rock that needs to be cleaned off.  As a line gains in popularity and sees more and more traffic, the bad rock is trundled and what is left is a clean, high quality line.  Although holds can break at any time on any route in any area, be extra cautious when you are climbing off the beaten path.  Keep all Cragbabies and animals far from the line of fire, and if you deem it necessary, suggest that your belayer wear a helmet.
2.  Sharp Rock –   This texture can change over time, as more and more hands grope the holds, and more and more microscopic rubber particles are left behind from climbing shoes.  The rock at Crowders tends towards the sharp and jagged end of the spectrum, rather than smooth and polished, and this is even more apparent on routes that don’t see a lot of action.  While the more popular lines might leave your finger tips feeling a bit raw by the end of the day, after a few laps on the routes less traveled your hands may very well feel like they’ve been squeezing pin cushions all day.
3.  Bushwhacking – When you climb in areas off the beaten path, be prepared to beat your own path.  Brush and undergrowth can be pretty persistent when there aren’t hordes of hikers traipsing through on a regular basis.
4.  The Unknown – Obscure areas tend to have routes that no one knows anything about.  Maybe that line of bolts was drilled to help an outdoor club learn to lead climb many moons ago – or maybe it was someone’s abandoned project.  Who knows – use your best judgment on unknown routes, and always be equipped to bail if need be.

Guidebook research is hard work.

That being said, while the Resurgance Walls are in definite need of some TLC, I’m pretty sure that a few trail days (there is already one scheduled for October 1st…) and a new guidebook will go a long way towards a resurgance in this area.  Here’s the lines we checked out…

Unknown (5.8) – Good warm-up slab.
Dewey Used to Love It (5.10R) – Quite a run between the 1st and 2nd bolt, but an enjoyable route all the same on steep pockets.
Unknown (5.10) – Short but burly grunt-fest on a layback flake.  Not in any previous guides, definitely worth looking into.
Plane Above Your Head (5.10) – One move wonder pulling over a bulge.  Well-protected, and would be a good first 5.10 lead.
Unknown (5.10/11) – Two undocumented variations on one bolt line next to Plane Above Your Head.
Chromagnon Crack (5.5) – A well-protected trad line that does NOT utilize the bolts on its too close for comfort neighbor to the right.
Rocky and Bullwinkle (5.10c) – A few hard moves to the first bolt, followed by moderate terrain.
Rawlhide (5.10) – Great classic line, might be my favorite in the whole area.
Unknown (5.11) – Another undocumented line, just right of Rawlhide, very tricky sequences and powerful moves

Pretty skies over the Piedmont...

All in all, a delightful day.  I made a lot of progress on route descriptions, cliff photos, and overall familiarizing myself with the Resurgance Area, so I definitely feel the day can be deemed a success.  There’s still a ton of work left to be done, but the best part is that prime climbing season is just beginning, so hopefully the rest of my research can be completed under fall sunshine and autumn leaves!  (Note:  To keep track of all the latest guidebook happenings, join the Facebook group here…)

 

 

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“Not all who wander are lost.” —JRR TOLKIEN