Sunday, February 13, 2011

Columbia bouldering- Murray Hill Boulders

Not many people know that there is bouldering in Columbia other than Earth Treks, but it is in fact home to a couple small spots.  Nothing worth going out of your way for by any means, but fun to stop by if you live in the area.  Probably the best place for Columbia bouldering in my opinion is along the Middle Patuxent River, in the area of Murray Hill Road.

From Route 32, take Broken Land Parkway south to where it intersects Guilford Road, and make a left.  Turn right onto Murray Hill Road and park along the side of the road when you come to the river.  For the boulder discussed below, stay on the north side of the river and walk west.  If you want a more scenic walk, stay along the river and walk past several small outcroppings until you come to the power lines, and you'll see the boulder on your right.  For a faster approach, walk north on the road until you see the bike path heading west.  Follow the bike path until you reach the power lines, then turn south toward the river and you'll find the boulder at the base of the hill.  There's more rock just around the corner as well, but it was pretty crumbly when I climbed it and I wouldn't really recommend it.  I would still suggest going around the corner anyway, just to see the wrecked car that someone seems to have driven or pushed off the rocks.  Ouch.

In the picture below, the parking area is indicated by the red star, and the boulder by the red square north of the river.  The blue square south of the river indicates another much taller boulder that will be discussed in more detail at a later date.

Once you reach the power lines, the boulder is hard to miss.  The rock is surprisingly good, and the scenery nice if you don't mind the power lines.  The west face of it has several possible lines, of which a few are marked below.  Probably nothing harder than a V2 or so, and none longer than a few moves.  The most fun lines are the natural ones using the diagonal cracks, but enough holds exist on the faces to allow a few straight up lines as well.

Murray Hill North boulder (explanation of number symbols here)

Problem #1 goes up and right along a diagonal crack.  In my opinion the best natural line on this boulder, with the most comfortable holds.

Problem #2 starts low and right on a jug, moves right along a big crack, then follows a thin diagonal crack back left to join Problem #1.

Problem #3 moves up and right along a big crack, then around the corner to top out.  Probably the easiest of the three.

Me on Problem #1

Emily getting a few late afternoon rays

Broken down car above the boulder

And a car around the corner

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