2015 outdoor climbing session #1: Cooper's Rock

Yello, everybody.

I went to Cooper's Rock last weekend. I told myself at the beginning of the year I was going to get outside more, and I can see, in some ways, why I had such trouble getting out more last year! Working a full-time job prevents me from going outside during the week, and my weekends through April and into May are CRAZY BUSY. So I insisted I get outside last weekend and luckily the weather cooperated (it was perfect, actually).

This is a map of the bouldering areas at Cooper's Rock:

Every time I've ever gone, we end up spending a lot of time climbing in Upper Rock City (on the right) - and this time was no exception. The reasoning for that is sound, though, as there are a ton of really high-quality boulders of varying difficulties in a small area. The approaches are easy and short, and the fall zones - in general - are safe and easy to spot.  

For those of you that don't know, you use a printed guidebook to find boulders you want to climb - the guide book has maps, information about the approaches, the grades of certain climbs, descriptions of how to climb them, the 'quality' of the climb and sometimes photos of the boulders themselves. This is what part of the Cooper's guide looks like:

Bouldering outside is just what it sounds like. You do a brief hike (brief at Cooper's anyway) and you find really big rocks just chillin' out there in the woods, and you climb around on them. You take crash-pads with you, strapped to your back, and unfold them at the base of climbs to protect you from taking a ground fall. Climbers that have come before you (and contributed to the guide book) have mapped climbs for you on the boulder - you can usually see where the climbs are because there will be chalk in certain places on well-climbed boulders. Your guide book also tells you some general directions for how to climb a boulder problem outside, but one of the beauties of climbing outside is that your hands and feet can sort of go anywhere as long as you are following the general line of a climb.

Anyway. There's a boulder in Upper Rock City that is super popular called Ship's Prow, and that is where we always end up first. There are some good warm-ups around Ship's Prow, which is a super-sandbagged (graded way easier than it actually is) V5 that starts in a low-hanging cave. It turned into a giant party boulder this weekend, so we moved around a lot (and spread out since there were a bazillion of us).

We also worked George Washington's Nose, a classic V5 around the corner from Ship's Prow, that looks like this:

Stacy on George Washington's Nose, V5
And Tomb Raider, a V5-V7 in the same area, that looks like this:

^ Elan's first Cooper's V7, by the way (not Elan in the photo).

Aaron on Tomb Raider V7, Photo courtesy of Jesse Kinney
Several of us also went into an alcove off of Ship's Prow and worked on this really interesting slab boulder that has three pocket-heavy problems on it, off the beaten path enough that I had an impossible time tracking down the climbs in my guide book to write this post. This boulder is sandwiched in a little alleyway that allows enough room for safe spotting and falls, so it's nice and quiet and not as heavily trafficked as Ship's Prow and Tomb Raider, but still accessible. It has three problems on it, all options stemming from one another - the shortest being a V3, the next being a V4 with the addition of one really sketchy reachy move and a V6 with the addition of a long traverse (basically climbing sideways along the wall rather than vertically). (I will come back and update this if we figure out the name of this mystery boulder.)

This is me on the mystery V3-V4. Photo courtesyof Jeremy Kinney
I did get to work on another area at Cooper's on this trip, which was a nice change for me! We went over to the Picnic Table boulder, aptly named as it sits just off the road from a picnicking area. It was pretty awesome - just a wide open field with this huge boulder right in the middle of it. Primarily some high-intermediate to more advanced climbs, plus a classic V3 that we got to play with that was fun. This is what the Picnic Table boulder looks like:

Elan on Beta Monster, V5, on the Picnic Table boulder
Anyway. That's my weekend update! Since all my weekends through mid-May are booked SOLID, I may not get to climb outside again until the third weekend in May (sad panda). Gotta dedicate some serious time in May and this fall to getting outside more! Or, maybe going north? Is there legitimate climbing in Maine?? 

Luckily, my husband and I are planning a long weekend out west somewhere to do some hiking and -hopefully - climbing, maybe in Joshua Tree or Red Rocks. Wander lust forever.


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