Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Northwest Branch- So you want to find Long Wall...

"Where the heck is Long Wall?"

This is a question that many climbers at Northwest Branch, even some with plenty of experience there, have found themselves asking.  I think I was climbing there for two years before I figured it out.  Long Wall, Easter Egg Boulder, and a couple other nearby boulders, have 13 climbs listed on rockclimbing.com, but no information about the approach.  To remedy that problem, I now offer the official step-by-step guide to finding Long Wall:



Walk downstream until the boulders stop.  You'll see this sign.  Keep walking.

You'll see this stream.  Keep walking.

And you'll see this stream.  Keep walking.

When you see this, STOP!  Now turn left.

You'll see some rocks up the hill.  Walk toward them.

This is Curtain Call.  Stop here if you climb V10.  Otherwise, keep going.

Don't fall down the hill where the trail narrows.  Just around the corner now...

You made it!

Walk to the end of the wall and look uphill to find Easter Egg Boulder.
And from above...

Long Wall is one of my favorite places at NWB, though I generally only go there in the winter when I don't have to fight through much vegetation.  If you go during the fall, take your time once you turn off the main trail.  It's really easy to slip on the leaf-covered hill, and when the trail is at its narrowest, the hill below it is also at its steepest.  I don't know exactly how far down the river it is, but I think it usually takes me 15-20 minutes to reach the point where I turn off the trail, then a few more minutes to reach the wall.

In addition to being long, it's also one of the taller pieces of rock at Northwest Branch.  While I'm comfortable there by myself with a single pad on the easier sections, extra pads and spotters never hurt.  Spotters are especially important at the far left end, as the ground slopes pretty quickly down toward the stream, and someone to redirect backward momentum could be very useful.  If you decide that no amount of pads or spotters will make you comfortable, by all means bring a rope.  With all the big trees around, it should be easy enough to set up a decent anchor, and you'll get to enjoy some fun little routes instead of worrying about the fall.

While rockclimbing.com lists some of the problems,  I haven't yet taken the time to match them up to what I do when I'm there.  Long Wall is so big that it's a great place for just messing around or traversing, and the established problems are really just a sample of the possibilities.  One of my favorite lines there, not listed on the site as far as I can tell, is the crack right in the middle.  It's pretty easy, possibly not even hard enough to get a V-rating, but it has fun movement and decent height.  It's also a great place to practice placing trad gear.  I've gone out a few times and spent half an hour or more placing gear up and down that part of the wall without coming down.  The right end of the wall also has a couple good easy lines.  For something a little more challenging, there's a really fun problem on the left end starting on two crimps.  I think it's the one listed as Gabe's Problem, though it's hard to tell for sure.  In any case, there's a bunch of rock there, so find something and climb it!

Pennie Close (a.k.a. Mom) messing around on Long Wall

Me jamming the crack in the center

Me climbing a problem on the left end

3 comments:

Paco said...

Robin, during what month were these photos taken? I've been there before and would like to know the next time you plan on going there so that I can along as a spotter.

Robin said...

I think the approach photos were taken in December or January, and the climbing ones were in November. And spotters are always welcome!

Anonymous said...

The Long Wall can be seen from the trail now because the trees have less leaves covering it up.

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