Saturday, after our plans to do so fell through last weekend, Indy finally showed me around the Hunt Valley Rocks, along with Penny and a few other friends. Literally located next to McCormick Road at the edge of the Hunt Valley Towne Center, what these slabs lack in height and atmosphere they more than make for in texture. Composed of some form of quartzite, further east and way more folded and banded than I've ever seen, they offer the best pure friction climbing I've seen in the state.
We only set up in a couple spots, but every route I did was fantastic. I started off on the Grey Face, thoroughly enjoying myself on Avoid the Temptation, which follows a beautiful slab up through a couple undercling pinches, with a good left arete available for those who don't quite trust their smearing skills yet. The arete was also really fun as a layback called Daylight Dancer on the vertical face to the left.
|Alex starting up Daylight Dancer Photo- Mark 'Indy' Kochte|
|Penny approaching high step #1 Photo- Mark 'Indy' Kochte|
|High step and mantle Photo- Mark 'Indy' Kochte|
The slab on the right of the Grey Face called to me as soon as I saw it, and according to Indy it hadn't been done yet, which explained the number of holds that snapped on my first few attempts. The bottom is almost entirely blank, but several sharp crystals come quickly within reach for hands. Once I finally found a few that could support my weight, it was easy enough to work through underclings and side pulls and then straight up the right arete. In absence of any other known ascents, I decided to call it Banks of McCormick as a tribute the first ascentionist of Silver Spot, and in keeping with the history of that climb have decided that 5.10 is as good a rating as any for this one.
Sunday's climbing was entirely different. Bryan and I started off the day at Gunpowder, where I hoped to climb the slightly contrived but fun looking Honey GoGo. Didn't happen. I tried to start it three times, but quickly realized that I wasn't nearly warmed up enough.
Meanwhile, Bryan was playing on the flake over on the right side of the boulder, and I decided to join him for a couple minutes before we abandoned Gunpowder for our backup plan of Rocks. Somehow two hours passed, and Bryan and I found more and more ridiculous sequences to exhaust ourselves with.
It was actually very freeing to forgot what we knew about the problems on the boulder and just climb. With all the options of holds, I almost felt like we were on a nearly horizontal system board, and from a training standpoint I'm sure it was just as good for us since we so rarely get to climb on such step terrain. Here's my favorite sequence from our session.
Still wanting to make a stop at Rocks before we were entirely exhausted, we headed on down the road. Once there, we didn't do as much as I'd anticipated, starting off on the Right Cross problem and never really getting any further. Again I walked away without finishing it, again because I figured out what to do after I was too tired to do it. At least this time I was smart and wrote a note in my phone about the foot beta for next time. Now all I have to do is remember it's in there!
Tomorrow was supposed to be the start of our trip to Chattanooga, but it seems the rain has decided otherwise. I'm sure we'll find plenty of other local fun to get into.