I wake up rather groggy with the faint light piercing my eyelids. I don’t remember leaving a light on before I went to sleep. Brrrr! It is chilly in my room, I must of left the window open last night. I open my eyes and realize I’m not at home where I have curtains and base board heating. I’m in the middle of “who knows where” Tennessee, under a three-sided wooden shelter, with rectangle shaped dog named Rabies sleeping near me, wrapped in a zero-degree sleeping bag I rented from Outdoor Pursuits. I came to my sense and dressed as quickly as possible in the below freezing conditions and practically ran out of the shelter to start the fire. Once I got moving I started to warm up. Welcome to the first morning of the “Tour of the Dirty South Climbing Trip.”
We started our “bouldercation” at Lily Boulders in Tennessee in the Obed Wilderness Area. Tim, Shay and I were leading the trip and T.J., Justin, Louis and Maria were along for the ride. Sun shine and temperatures in the fifties made an ideal setting for bouldering. We warmed up on Crimp Creole(V3) and Warm-up Dyno (V2) and moved on to Buddah’s Belly a V4 with awful slopers and terrible feet, it was a very cool problem. The group separated and Tim, Shay, Louis and I started to work Flex Boulder. Flexorcise (V7) is a great over hanging problem that starts on nightmarish micro crimps, pulls over a lip and to an easy top-out. We sent a couple variations of the original problem, but not it. Next we headed over to Hemlock Boulder. Hemlock Arête (V4) is a classic climb with pretty high but solid top out. A couple of us worked Jack Slap (V7), but we were shot down pretty quickly. We had to call it a day and head down to Rocktown in Georgia.
One cold night and cold morning later we were climbing in Rocktown. Warmed up our muscles at Hueco Simulator wall and warmed are tips on the propane heaters provided by Outdoor Pursuits. A couple of us worked on a hard V6 Skingraph and then made are way over to Croc Boulder. This is a tall boulder with a intimidating but beautiful line called Croc Bloc (V5), a classic of the area. After a great session there we headed over to the Orb area. We watched people attempt The Orb (V8) in between goes on Soap on the Rope, a hard V4 that was spitting us off left and right. While we were there Jimmy Webb sent The Orb like it was a V2 pumping everyone with such a sweet send. Day two at Rocktown started much the same as day one. After warming-up at Hueco again we headed over the Sherman Roof. Shay and I worked Nose Candy (V6) for about three-hours or twenty goes. This thing kept spitting us off at the same spot. Finally after changing our beta for the fifth time we both sent back to back. This was Shay and I’s first V6 so we were pretty pumped. After that the group cooled down on Police Brutality (V4) and Triple Slaps (V3). We said by to our new friends that we met through out the day and went back to eat dinner and get ready to leave in the morning.
Horse Pens 40 is hard to describe, because when we got there it was so dark I couldn’t see much. In the morning I was surprised to see a boulder field from our campsite, within walking distance. It is a truly beautiful area with bright green moss lichens covering everything that hasn’t been cleaned off for climbing. It was not a very good climbing day with the overcast skies, slight rain and thick fog. We decided to throw some discs at Rainbow Connections Disc Golf Course, a really cool technical course with some drainage issues, it was built on a swamp. The weather improved the next day and we got a climb on. Warmed-up on signature sloper problems like Eight-Ball (V2) and Chasers (V2), then Shay and I headed over to Redneck (V6+). After numerous goes and plenty of rest breaks Shay I sent back to back again our second V6 problem ever. Lets just say we were feeling pretty good. We climb all over the place the rest of the day. Attempted The Kiss (V7), Drainpipe (V7), Ivy Boy (V7), and were shut down by many others. T.J. and Justin did New Years Eve night sends of Bum Boy (V3) and Maria sent Dope (V2). Shay and I got Man with the Slow Hand (V4) an awesome balancy arête problem with crappy feet and a high top out. At the end of the day we were all pretty tired and ready to head home the next day. Tim and others made a delicious burrito line-up and we all sat around the fire and rubbed lotion into our raw fingertips.
I have never been further south then Red River Gorge to climb, so this was very cool opportunity for me to try out some new areas. One thing that separated this trip from many others I’ve done in the past was food. Outdoor Pursuits provided breakfast, dinner, and snacks through out the trip. Those of you who have been on trip with Tim know that he is culinary genius when it comes to camping food. We ate better then I eat at home. We made chicken parmesan, loaded macaroni, burgers, hotdogs, with sides like salad, bake beans, garlic bread, and potato salad. For breakfast we ate like royalty with omelets, egg muffins, pancakes, cinnamon rolls, and burritos. Every meal had a delicious vegetarian option for myself and others. We even made upside down orange cake and no-bake cookies. Climbing and just staying warm burns so many calories, it was a good thing we had more then enough to eat everyday. This trip consisted of eat great and sending hard with great friends. I wouldn’t have any other way.