I remember a night, maybe five years ago, raw fingers cooling on a hoppy pint at the old Frisco Grille as my friends discussed an early morning trip to Governor Stable. It was just into Pennsylvania, they said, about half the distance of Coopers Rock and its winding mazes of gritty delight. And it was diabase, whatever that meant. Somehow all my mind could conjure up was boulders made of something akin to concrete, but my friends promised it was fantastic bouldering, and conditions would be optimal with a forecast high of 41 degrees. "Next time," I promised them, unaware that Governor Stable would soon be closed to climbing for the foreseeable future.
Although I mourned that missed opportunity, the news came a couple years ago that a group of local climbers calling themselves the Friends of Governor Stable were leasing the land and reopening it to climbers from 2011-2013 during the months of January through August. Access is limited to annual members or those who have purchased the $10 day passes from the web site, with the money going to help pay the lease and insurance, as well as the cost of maintaining walkways through an otherwise muddy approach. Volunteers are on site not only to ensure that climbers are registered, but also to answer any questions or offer advice about the climbing. They've also put out a great guidebook, written by Ryan Shipp and Kevin Catlin, about which my only complaint is the lack of an index for the 370 problems listed.
Despite my plans to make the most of the three year lease, I didn't make it to Governor Stable at all last year. Even as some friends planned nearly weekly pilgrimages there, and Art's tantalizing photos popped up continuously on Adventures in Pebble Wrestling, it was February of this year before I finally made the trip. From the first boulder I saw there, I could understand the hype, even if the crowds did lend an outdoor gym feel that was vastly different from the more solitary bouldering I preferred. Still, I've often said that climbing is about the people I'm with, and I had a blast getting to be with so many friends who I've only ever climbed with at Earth Treks. I did a few really fun problems like The Egg, 45 Traverse, Casablanca, and Pyramid, got a decent start on Open Circuits, and finally had a chance to climb with the APW crew for the first time since their entry into the blogosphere (read about their adventures that day here).
|Rounding the corner on Open Circuits Photo: Jon Alexander|
|Highstepping through Pyramid Photo: Jon Alexander|
|Pennie Close on Kid in a Candy Store|
|Kat Butler leans hard on Balarete|
|Jon Alexander on Private Slabby|
|And Pennie Close gives it a run|
|Kat Butler dances up|
|Emily Close on Corner Slab|
|Emily wants a Royale w/ Cheese|
|Jon Alexander reaches up Herr's Left Photo: Jon Alexander|
|Emily considering Herr's Left... and deciding against it|
|Photo: Emily Close|
|Photo: Emily Close|
|Photo: Emily Close|
|Pennie Close takes care to avoid fern trampling Photo: Emily Close|
|Pennie Close dominates Dominate|
Just downhill from there we did the three problems on the B.C.B boulder, particularly enjoying Hacker on the slopey left arete.
|Emily Close squeezes up Hacker|
|Pennie Close on Pyramid Photo: Emily Close|
|Jayce comes close on The Egg Photo: Jon Alexander|
|But it wasn't to be|
|Paul gives it a shot|
|And another Photo: Jon Alexander|
|Esten Abell is sure to crush it, right?|
|Maybe next time...|
|Kat Butler rocking up|
|And another one spit off!|
|Pennie Close enjoying the solitude on Coffee or Tea?|
|Seth channelling his inner Buddha|
I should clarify that although I refrained from getting on The Egg that day, it's a problem that I absolutely recommend doing at least once, especially if you want something entirely dependent on balance. It's also a great equalizer for mixed groups, since despite the V5 rating I think veteran climbers and those with minimal outdoor experience are equally likely to succeed.
Governor Stable is a beautiful area with an impressive variety of climbing. Whether you like slab or overhang, technical cracks or sloper traverses, thin crimps or compression aretes, you're sure to find something you'll love. Is it worth the $10 for a day of climbing there? In my opinion, absolutely. Will I be going there all the time? Probably not, but at the same time there are so many amazing looking problems that I feel it would be foolish not to take advantage of the area while it's open. A huge thanks to Friends of Governor Stable for opening these boulders back up, and best of luck to them in keeping that access going!
(Click here for more photos and stories from the day, courtesy of Adventures in Pebble Wrestling)