Mountain Project Map - Harpers Ferry

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Bouldering Projects for 2012

If you've been following along then you know that 2011 brought the ascent of two spectacular boulder problems that were previously unclimbed. The first is Learning to Fly V8/9 in the Upper Highlands on Elk Ridge. This problem has been known about for close to 15 years but noone with sufficient strength to complete it had made the hike and put in the time to successfully climb it. 
Learning To Fly climbs the overhanging face along the thick shadow.

The second problem, The New Dawn Project, was completed less than a month ago from a stand start and awaits a
complete ascent from the obvious sit start holds. The New Dawn Project, unlike Learning to Fly, was discovered just about one year ago.
The New Dawn Boulders

These two problems are different in style. Learning to fly has small or downsloping holds on an overhanging face with few feet and precise movements. The New Dawn Project is more about compression and muscle on open handed holds with some crimping, and many more moves than Learning To Fly. It's also worth noting at this point that neither of these problems have seen a second ascent.

The sit start ascent to the New Dawn Project is an obvious target for the coming year(s) but what else
awaits motivated boulderers in the woods around Harpers Ferry? Well, there is the mega super project at the Balcony Rock boulders but I doubt this will be climbed any time soon. It is a pure power problem and I'd bet that it won't be climbed until someone of professional level strength is passing through the area.

What then is there out there for us regular climbers to get psyched on? There are a good number of projects of all shapes and sizes but only a few remaining gems. I propose three for the coming year and hold in reserve a few more for future years and for fellow explorers.

First up, The Iron Pickle Project. This thing is a highball about 25 feet tall. It sits in the Upper Highlands and is problem #76 in the bouldering guide. I've personally ascended to about the 18 foot mark which is out the overhang to the lip of the upper slab. Any further and you are beyond the point of no return. It isn't so much that the moves are too hard to crunch through. It's the height and the commitment involved. I've discovered that there is a secret hold that you can't really see from below or above and I'll leave the beta at that. It isn't as blank as it appears. Bring friends and pads. The landing is flat but it's a long way down when you are turning the lip and pulling the crux. By the way, this problem is most likely about V4 in difficulty. Unfortunately I can only locate one photo for this rock right now and it just can't do it justice.
Unfortunately, the view is from uphill looking down on the climb but maybe it will help you get psyched for it.
Second, we have the Cove Arete Project. The Cove, in the Outlying Area, is an aesthetic little area on the flank of Elk Ridge. The problem is probably V5, is #4 in the guide, the landing is flat, but you need spotters as the surrounding boulders pose a threat to you if you were to peal off the topout.  It begins overhanging and ends with a nice mantle on a sloping lip. Definitely a gem.

The Cove in the Outlying Area

Posing on the Cove Arete Project

Third, we have Problem #9 in The Tiers on Elk Ridge. This problem is only 20 feet from the road so the approach is as easy as it gets. The boulder is a long slender block about 18 feet high. The climb follows an arete to a small ledge followed by a long stretch of blank rock. But, up and to the right, a long way yet within reach, is a sloping crimp. The problem is reaching it with only the blank arete, and the landing is a jumble of blocks so you will want to bring friends and pads. I'd bet it is about V4. My personal highpoint was the far off crimp but without spotters and only two pads this one didn't get done. While you are there, try John Browns Body just to the right. It's stellar. The project and John Browns Body both begin at the bottom of the upstream face visible in this photo.
The left leaning, overhanging arete, cut halfway by a small ledge. John Browns Body starts at the bottom of the face and moves to the arete and ascends the arete to the top. Also of high quality is #13 The Secret Six, one of my personal favorites.
If you attempt these problems or any others for that matter, please send in your photos and stories (conrad @ harpersferryclimbing dot com). I can tell from the blog hit counter that the updates on ascents are a big hit with other climbers. We all appreciate the news, an escape from our daily grinds, and the inspiration it brings to our lives. 
Much success to everyone in this coming year and be safe out there so you can do it again tomorow.
Thanks and Peace

1 comment:

Brian said...

I'm down to climb on any/all of those projects.

Anyone can hit me up -