After finding a parking space not filled with random deer bones (yes, tis still the season), I was glad for the still un-vegetated walk as I went to join some of the Rockville setting crew, who were putting in some burns on Stink, Stank, Stunk when I arrived.
We only stayed there for a few minutes before walking down to Life is Beautiful. With an eye-catching finger crack running out the bottom of an overhung block and then up a nearly blank face, it was one of the most memorable things I saw on my first trip out there, and I was excited to hear that Ryan Shipp had climbed it as part of the Great Pennsylvasion a couple years ago.
Physically, it's not a hard problem. The real issue is the feeling of exposure that starts a couple moves into the crack and never really goes away, making a boulder that's probably only 13-14 feet feel way taller. I never ended up putting my shoes on, but Charlie and Ward made it look pretty, even campusing through the bottom of the face for some extra fun.
Somehow we only had an hour left by the time we finished there, and at my request we headed back toward the fire road to get on Full Atonement, which I had been wanting to see Charlie get on for months.
So why was I more excited about watching someone else climb than getting on the rocks myself? I guess it comes down to the fact that as excited as I was to do Full Atonement back in September, I hadn't talked anyone else into repeating it yet, and Charlie has continued to crush just about everything he touches. A couple months ago he easily put down the first ascent of the Sykesville Monster, a link into Guillotine at Sykesville's Levitation area that would almost be better graded as a route.
Check out the Sykesville Monster FA video from Ryan Jones here.
He's also worked his way quickly through several of Maryland's harder established problems, including the coveted Moby Dick at Rocks State Park.
moby dick from Charles garcia on Vimeo.
His sending spree hasn't just been limited to local rock. Even though our trip to Chattanooga fell through last weekend, he recently had a strong few days at Rocktown, culminating with a send of Golden Harvest (around 11:00 in the video below).
4 Days in Rocktown from Will Anglin on Vimeo.
If Full Atonement was going down again, this was the day. In hindsight, I probably could have let him suffer a little more, considering the three sessions it took me to find the right feet for the first move. But I was excited, and with his permission I showed him the key foot, hoping the remaining hour of daylight would be enough for him to figure the rest out. Turned out he only needed about two minutes. Yes, the problem that took me a total of six sessions to complete, he put down on his second go. Then repeated it for the camera. This guy is a monster.
With conditions finally getting good again, it'll be exciting to see what else our little rocks have in store for us, especially with so many strong climbers getting out. When I first started bouldering, we only had a handful of hard problems to aspire to, and even fewer known projects. Now I struggle to prioritize all of the things I want to climb, and it seems like the list gets bigger every day. People out west laugh when I say that one thing that keeps me in Maryland is the climbing, and while I understand their confusion, I'm glad to be surrounded by friends who see what I see. Yeah, I think I'm here for a while.
Here's some great video of Tuesday's sends, courtesy of Ward.