Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Stone Fort, finally

After trying at least three or four times over the past several years to check out Chattanooga's legendary bouldering, only to be rained out, sick, or otherwise shut down, I finally made it down this past weekend.  Technically for John's bachelor party, albeit a coed one where the wildest of us went to bed at 9:30 on Saturday night, I worried for months that my Chattanooga curse would strike again.  It looked like that would happen too, with Dana messaging me last week to point out the solid Thursday through Monday of rain in the forecast.  We lucked out though, and I pulled in to Stone Fort on Friday with more than an hour of daylight left to enjoy the dry rock that my friends had been playing on for most of the day.

Charlie on Jerry Rigged
After failing to make it there for so long, it felt like just walking through the rocks would have been enough.

Actually, I might have been better off just walking through them.  After almost ten hours in the car, with too much coffee and too little water, my climbing was depressing at best.  Feeling shaky and sketched out on everything I touched, I finally gave up and climbed the nearest V0, just so I could top something out on what might be the only dry day I ever experienced there.  Even that seemed like a mistake when it took me five minutes to work up the courage to get back down.

The next morning, fortified by a good Mexican dinner and a solid night of sleep, we got an early start to climb as much as we could before the rain that was supposed to roll in around noon.  As it turned out, we were able to climb until well after 5:00, and I even managed to get my first sunburn of the year.

Deciding to go for volume over difficulty, I warmed up on several of the problems on the Bowling Ball before doing Kingpin, which I have to admit renewed my appreciation of slopers.  I took a couple shots at the beginning of I Think I Can, but realized it would ruin me for everything else, and went over to finish Watermelon Slab instead.  From there we all went down to Super Mario, which I was happy to find was actually as good as its reputation.

John on Super Mario
Justin on Super Mario
We hung around there for a while as people tried the different variations, and Mike developed a small obsession with running up the nearby slab.

Moving on, Charlie and Mark knocked out Deception in a couple tries each.

Mark making the reach
Charlie looking smooth...
...and going big
Then over to the Cyclops and Monster boulders for a few minutes.

Dana on Cyclops
Energy was starting to run low at that point, but we had good daylight left, and John and I still wanted to get on The Wave.  Unfortunately the hip/groin muscle/tendon that I had strained at GS a couple weeks ago was starting to act up again, and it locked up on me after I had matched the rail and turned onto the slab.  Even though I was only a couple easy moves from the top, I panicked and jumped down as all of the muscles around my hip started to fire in response to the pain.  Knowing I couldn't handle another attempt, I instead tried to cool down on a nearby jug line, only to find that even the easiest things in sight hurt too much to climb.  Oh well.  At least if I ever get back down there, I know I'll be able to finish it up in my first try or two.

                                             Me on The Wave                   Photo: Mark Profeta
That was it for me, and I contented myself with walking around while everyone else did a cooldown of their own.  It really was one of the most beautiful places I've ever climbed, and even just walking through it would have made any afternoon an amazing one.  Can't wait to get back down again.

In the meantime, my hip is feeling a little better, and I'm hoping to climb again as early as Thursday. And even if it's not ready by then, I had my best hangboard workout ever yesterday, so I'd definitely be motivated to fit in an extra session or two until I'm all healed up.  Gotta take the small victories, no matter which direction they come from.

Happy Spring!

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