Friday, September 7, 2012

Summer life in SWPA

Hello to all my climbing buddies out there.  As most of you know I usually only post about the winter climbing here in SWPA.  Well I've decided to mix it up a bit (different meaning to my winter climbing buddies) and write a bit about this years summer climbing life.  Don't get me wrong.  I love the winter season... Its my favorite time of year for climbing.  Give me waterfall ice, frozen turf or some slightly frozen rock any day.  I'm in heaven.  I haven't posted any summer climbing activity because summer climbing hasn't really existed for me the over the last few years.  Why?  Its been a voluntary choice.  I've been taking the summers off to recover and train specifically for the upcoming winter season.  During the summer I spend the majority of my time running countless miles though the woods and ridges of Pennsylvania's forests.  I really enjoy trail running and have learned that long distance running is a great way to stay in top cardio shape for climbing regardless of season.  I used to run races and did fairly well.  This year I gave up racing, I just ran to run.  I even held off from doing my favorite "good cause" 5k runs like The Mountain Laurel 5K at Laurel Hill State Park.  Instead I just ran for fun.  I even stopped more than usual along the way to check things out.  I always enjoy the early morning birds and scenery.  Don't get me wrong, I put in a lot of elevation and speed work.  I've run a gazillion 800's at the track, etc... but the most enjoyable running I've done has been in the woods.  Mostly on the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail.  I enjoy covering anywhere from 10 to 50 miles a day depending on mood and current physical condition.  Some days I push, others not so much.  All in all running has become a serious passion of mine and a great training tool for climbers.  It also teaches you about the importance of nutrition and hydration while expending mass amounts of energy.  Another great tool for striving climbers.  So if you're a climber and you want to get better and stay lean and in shape, start running... The further and longer the better.  Climbing lighter is climbing smarter! Since last ice season was a bust and we did very minimal climbing.  I decided enough was enough and dusted off my rock shoes and started summer climbing to make sure I remembered how (in case we never get another winter).  I started back slow and spent some time bumbling at the familiar, local spots.  Having a great deal of fun each time I went out.  Our days have been spent cragging and working at crags to clear and improve areas so that people can visit/revist and enjoy our local spots.  

Doing work at Breakneck
In August I spent a couple weeks rebolting Breakneck Crag just outside of Connellsville.  The bolts were getting old and a bunch of generous climbers raised enough money to purchase new hardware.  I pulled the old rusted 3/8" bolts and replacing them with new, BEEFY 1/2" stainless steel ones. All the climbs now have ring shuts to lower from (even the lower slab).    

Laura and I spent a great deal of time doing work at the Lost Crag in Dunbar.  We cleared and remarked the entire "Upper Easy" approach trail.  Much effort was spent at the crag itself improving the area and opening up some choked in areas around the rocks.  Along with working there, we also climbed a few days with my son Skyler and good friend Cal Swogar.  Neither one were ever there and really enjoyed the climbs.  On different days we climbed Drill Queen 5.4,  Preacher Norm 5.10, Evil Edge 5.7, Psycho Driller 5.6, Lichenville 5.7, Lame Duck 5.11, Chimney Sweep 5.4 and others I'm sure.  Some routes were a little dirty other required a little scrubbing to make them a little "friendlier".  We installed a new rap anchor on top of the Short stack to make getting down a little easier.  If someone has stolen said anchor, feel confident that we also cleared the shelf that makes getting onto rappel at the shuts of Reunion safer and easier.  If you've never been there, get directions from or or email me and I can hook you up with some proper ones.  Its a fun place to visit and deserves to see more activity than it does.  The routes tend to be shorter, but there are plenty of them.  They range in difficulty from 5.4 to 5.12+ most folks seem to say they're a little stiff for the grade.  Go enjoy! 

Cal Swogar on Preacher Norm 5.10

Cal Swogar on Preacher Norm 5.10

Skyler Anderson on Evil Arete 5.7

Laura taking a break below Brutal Orangutan

Slopers in the rain face

River's End Crag, Ohiopyle State Park
River's End is one of the downstream crags at Ohiopyle State Park.  It's located (although not labeled) on the Ohiopyle State Park Map. available at the old train station or the park office. Climbing areas are indicated by the climber symbol on the map. I've been asked by several folks the order of the crags going down the bike trail  here they are for clarification: The first area listed on the Ohiopyle map is located 1 mile downstream on the bike trail (just after white mile post 73).  Unnamed to my knowledge, its primarily used by the local rafting companies to take very new climbers, boy/girl scouts, etc. for a day of top roping.  Its short and closest to town.  Perfect crag for beginners.  The second crag on the map is River's End Crag.  It is located about 3.75 miles downstream from the train station it is locatable by finding the DH marked brown and yellow marker on the river side of the bike trail.  This DH stands for Double Hydraulics which is the name of the corresponding rapid on the river.  River's End Crag is located between the DH (Double Hydraulics) rapid marker and the RE (River's End) rapid marker.  The crag is on the left between these two markers.  It is very visible from the trail.  The Third crag downstream on the map is Schoolhouse Crag.  It is located 4.25 miles from the train station, just before the SH (school House) rapid marker or the 76 mile marker.  The fourth crag downstream on the map is Maple Wall.  It is slightly less than 1/2 mile past School house.  It is easily located at the end of the long straight away on the bike path right after passing School House.  There is a pull off and a bench directly across from the access trail up to the crag.  The fifth crag downstream on the map is Bruner Run. It is easily located.  As you head further downstream past Maple  Wall you will come to a hardtop road crossing.  As you cross the road the light blue blaze for the access trail to the crag is visible on your left.  Follow the access trail up to the crag, which is about a 10min. hike up from the bike trail and Bruner Run Rd. access point.  If in doubt walk up the road about 200 yards the crag is visible on your right.  Currently those are all the downstream crags offered at Ohiopyle.  There is plenty of serious bouldering to be found along the river and bike trail.  Some really nice stuff is at mile post 1 on the Laurel Highlands Hiking trail heading out of town near Falls Pub for those interested in seeking it out.  Here's a photo of one of my favorites not far from Bruner Run.

This is what you see from the trail
a little closer, pretty cool
The really sweet uphill side!
River's End Crag... Laura and I have been cycling in regularly and improving things there.  We've created a bike parking area on the river side of the bike trail to keep climbers bikes from crowding the trail.  We worked on improving the access trail up to the left side, (still needs a little work).  Old routes have been cleaned and new routes have been equipped and should prove to be great additions to the climbing in Ohiopyle.  Here's a few photos of the crag and climbs waiting for your ascent.

Me standing below the left side of Rivers End Crag
One of our new lines Snail Trail 5.6 trad, left side
The left side of Rivers End Crag.

The petrified log on the new line Petrified 5.11- Sport, left side

On the first ascent of Petrified 5.11- sport, 5 bolts, left side

Me tying in for the new climb
Carl's Bunnies 5.9 sport, 3 bolts, left side
An amazingly fun new line (Laura's favorite)
 The Bee's Knees 5.10+ sport, 4 bolts, right side.
Follow up slightly overhanging flakes to the shuts.
My super partner after a hot and humid day!
Here's a couple of shots from a few years back highlighting the route B.O.P. 5.10c R at River's End Crag, Right side.

Carl Samples climbs B.O.P (Birds of Prey) 5.10+ sport
at River's End Crag in 2009.  The route Carl's Bunnies
on the left wall is a reference to him
Carl Samples at the shuts on B.O.P at River's End Crag
in 2009.
The Knobs a.ka. Rob's Knob, Dunbar, PA
We've been up here a few times this season.  We cleared the trail and restacked the carins on the way up the hill.  Most of the climbs are in good shape as far as needing cleaned. We did quite a few of the 63 or so routes that exist here.  So many have been recently brushed and are ready to go.  Most of the bolts were replaced just a few years back, so everything is solid.  This place deserves to see more traffic.  I'm sure only a handful of people actually climb here each season.  What a great crag to visit if you are comfortable placing a little trad gear.  Some fully bolted climbs exits, but you'd be missing some of the best lines if you don't bring some trad gear for the mixed and pure gear lines.  If you've never been there, this crag should be on your list to visit soon.  We added a rap station on the Can I touch it block at the top of I think I soloed that 5.6 to help in getting down off of this block.  Another rap station was added on top of Oriental Lickmaster block.  It is between the corner climb Way Up 5.8, trad. and Gagging on the Shag 5.11c/d trad. since the tree normally used for rappel is now mostly rotten.  Some pics of The Knobs or a.k.a. Rob's Knob.

Climbing Way Up 5.8 trad

Christian Mason on Take a Stab 5.8 trad

Gagging on the Shag 5.11c/d trad
Mungo Jelly 5.10c, mixed, 1 bolt
Laura belaying me on Can I touch it 5.11c  sport 2 bolts
Laura and I relaxing at The Knobs photo Ray Burnsworth
Terror of Tiny Tim

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