Friday, September 7, 2012

Welcome to The Acre

Sometime around February, I took a walk through the woods near Frederick to check out some possible rocks I had spotted while looking at aerial images of the area.  Roughly a mile from Bushwhack Rocks, I was prepared to make the walk for even a couple new boulders, but was shocked when I saw how much was really there.  Rather than two or three decent lines, there was obvious potential for several visits worth of climbing.  While much of the beauty of Bushwhack bouldering was in short powerful lines, most of the obvious lines along this ridge were slabby to vertical, many in the 15 to 20 foot range.

As I walked around, I noticed that several of the trees in the area had been cut down at some point, but oddly had often not been fully detached from the stumps.  Whether that was done to prevent some infestation, or maybe to open them to view from above as a landmark, I never really did figure out what had happened.  Judging by how many of the trees were left against the rocks, and the lack of broken holds, none of the tree cutting seemed to be related to climbing in any case.

I climbed several problems that day, a few of which I edited into the following video.

A few days later, my mom and I went out and did several more appealing problems, eventually joined by Emily as well.

I made one more trip there in the spring, not doing as much climbing myself that time, but enjoying watching Vince and Myqe going to work on the blank canvas.

After that a few months passed without returning, as I mistakenly thought the approach would become too overgrown until colder temperatures returned in the fall.  One day in July, Dan and I decided to check it out anyway, and found that it was in reality a perfect year-round climbing area.  Once I returned from my summer roadtrip, we got out a couple more times, with others including Alison, Ian, and Bryan coming along to add their own touches.  It was during this period that the area's potential started to become really apparent, with the number of problems climbing quickly from somewhere around thirty to almost double that.

We started to explore a little further down, finding several problems in the jumbled pit just down from the main concentration of boulders, hosting a fun variety of short slabs and overhangs, as well as a couple of taller problems and some really cool offwidth options.

One of our favorite problems in the pit area was Crimps for Breakfast, a slightly overhung crimpy face that made use of a slopey right inner arete to reach a good right hold before the topout.

Part of what made the problem so fun was the completely different beta that Dan and I used to get through it...

We also started to clear out some of the fallen trees up in the main area, opening up several highball lines in the Beehad corridor, named for the apparent religious war between the bees and hornets taking place at an already unnerving topout on an earlier visit.

I've been meaning to post about this place ever since the spring, and sadly the main thing keeping me from doing so was not knowing what to call it.  After talking to several people about it, and eventually considering Indy's advice to just steal a name from Lord of the Rings, I ended up taking another literary route.  Since I (along with my brother Chris) am named after Christopher Robin, and these are the woods where I go to play, I said half-jokingly that we could just name it after the Hundred Acre Wood.  When Dan said that he would just call it "The Acre" for short, the name just stuck.  So barring any reemergence of lost ascentionists from decades past, The Acre it has became.

At some point this fall I'll put together a mini-guide of the area to post on mdguides, but in the meantime here's a little video with footage I've compiled over the past several months.  Welcome to The Acre.

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