Friday, March 9, 2012

Rock Creek Park bouldering, take two

*IMPORTANT NOTICE 3/25/12- It has come to my attention that climbing in Rock Creek Park is illegal under regulation 36 CFR §2.1.  This post remains for historical purposes only.  Please do not climb in Rock Creek Park!*

With yesterday's temps breaking into the 70s, it was a great day for another trip down to Washington DC for some Rock Creek Park bouldering.  On Tuesday I had seen another boulder off Beach Rd just a little south of Wise Rd, and wanted to get a closer look at it.  I parked in the first lot I came to on the left, indicated by the red star on the map below.  From there I walked upriver toward the clearing where the boulder was (yellow star), noticing a couple other short boulders (blue star) visible from the road along the way.

Reaching my destination, I was a little let down by what I found.  What at first looked to be an impressive roof was practically devoid of holds, though the face on the south side did look like it might have a fun problem or two.  Still, the rock looked a bit flaky, and I didn't feel too inspired to go back for my crash pad.

I did, however, stop at the two short boulders for a few minutes on the way back to the car.  The boulder on the right had lots of good incut holds, which combined with the reasonable height would make it a good place for those just getting into outdoor bouldering.  There were also some smaller incut crimps down low, providing a more difficult sit start for those wanting a greater challenge.  The boulder on the left I did without using the other nearby boulders for feet, making it more contrived but maximizing the overhanging aspect, and still leading to a delicate sloping topout.

Driving down the road, I intended to check out another boulder we had seen in passing, but the sight of multiple police cars pulling over a cab and calling in more backup convinced me that another time might be better.  So I ended up back at the slab where Vince and I had climbed on Tuesday, which was just as fun the second time around.  Interestingly, I also figured out why I had previously failed to locate the awesome looking compression problem Pick a Side and Commit, which Chris had confirmed to be on the same boulder in a comment on an earlier post.  Take a look at this photo and compare it to the one below.  As it turns out, I was unable to find the problem because it's now buried under at least three feet of sand, rock, and debris.  I kept thinking there must have been a mistake until I noticed the identical lichen on the rock at the bottom of both photos, which has moved up three or four feet relative to the boulder.  It's hard to comprehend that much of a change in the six years that passed between these photos, and the amount of water necessary to bring it about.  It's also disappointing to think that in addition to a great compression line being buried, these incredible slab problems would originally have been taller and done from a more overhanging start.  And being on National Park land, I'm thinking an excavation to reclaim the original starts would probably be frowned upon!

That mystery solved, I took a few laps up the line straight above the notch that Vince and I had climbed on Tuesday, as well as one farther over on the left side.  These two, as well as the two from the short boulders, can be seen in the video below.

I still can't get over how much I like this slab.  And as I said before, I'd love to hear more about these boulders from anyone who has climbed them in the past, especially knowing what I do now about how the physical landscape has changed.  Makes me wonder what other climbs won't be around years down the road, but I definitely feel privileged to be on them right now.

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