|Photo Paul Robinson|
Another trip has gone by and another climbing area praises a tick on the list. The South-East of the United States was one of the few outstanding classic zone where I still desired to go. I have been waiting a lot for a good occasion to go to Tennesee, but the chance took a while to come.
Last October, Paul told me he was going there for the full month of November; The spread out area seemed to be amazing for shooting a section of the new film that Alex and him are producing, “Uncharted Lines”. I knew It would have been one of those rare occasion to go, because, for a reason or another, this place seems to be out of the radar for most of the European climbers. Moreover, I would have spent a trip with Paul and Jimmy discovering new lines, developing, cleaning and establishing. I was sure we were going to have a great time. The idea excited me and I got the first cheap flight to head to Chattanooga right after my weekly trip to Sheffield.
The trip basically ran over three different weeks.
Our first week was terrible. Delta Airlines lost my baggage and I hadn’t my goods for some days. The Temperatures were insanely warm, the humidity was high most of the time and the woods were still thick and green. The summer was giving its last signs. Climbing was almost impossible, excepted for a couple of days where we attempted to go out, but the rocks were very wet because of the condensation and the high moisture. The positive side of the deal was that I had time to recover my jet-leg and to go shopping to get what Delta didn’t give me back. I got some amazing underwear, socks, pants and all the basic stuff I needed. We also checked a couple of wet rocks in Cumberland area, Little Rock City, Rocktown and some other hidden gems in Chattanooga. The rock seemed amazing even when it was wet and I couldn’t image how good it would have been once the sky would have cleared up. I was anyway excited.
The second week the weather improved a lot. Sky started to clear up, some decent days came and we saw the first dry rock. Unfortunately to me, skin and shape didn’t seem positive as I wanted. The first never stopped sweating, while my body felt somehow faint.
Before the third week started, I took a couple of days off. The rest worked well and I got some good skin while the first touch of winter was coming. Perfect timing. The last seven days have been amazing: a lot of climbing, first ascents, cleaning, but also classics, moderates and really amazing sandstone climbing. I have been checking many areas from the southern to the northern Tennessee, with the addition of the classic zone of Rocktown, in Georgia. The South-East can be considered like “the Font of America”, like some climbers like to name it. The definition is generally appropriated, but I feel to note some other good points.
What has been special to me is obviously the rock quality and, way more, some of the hold shapes. Most of the times the climbing depends on the quality of these two features. So, if they are cool, the climbing is probably gorgeous too. It is incredible how the climbing and the sandstone change from sector to sector and how many nice styles of bouldering is possible to have. The texture many times is similar to Font, while in other parts is more comparable to Albarracin, or to Peak District or to Ticino’s granite. Secondly, according to the rock, even the holds package is really various. The boulders are hence really different, but the variety keeps most of the times an awesome quality. And, last thing, the potential is big too.
During the trip I stood several times in front of new blocs; some of them were still to clean, waiting for some chalk; While other ones were ready to set a first ascent. I obviously love the process of the developing, since it is probably one of the activities that makes me more excited about climbing. It is something more special and different than the simple execution of a boulder; It is creative, it includes art, vision, inspiration, doubts, vain attempts, efforts, work and so on. It is something that when you complete it, lets an indelible sign inside. I hardly forget good FA experiences. I anyway dislike to go out and climb something just to claim the first ascent or to add a new one randomly. When I look for a new line to clean, it has to stimulate my senses and to be like a white sheet where I can draw my vision, following the “rules” of the rock. It has to be a special bloc to me, otherwise I let it there. Once I see something I know is going to be magical, everything turns on and I usually don’t care about how many hours of effort I should invest in “work”. Everything is just exciting and motivating. Once the fresh chalk shines for the first time, I just feel alive and satisfied. That’s maybe one of my favorite feeling in bouldering and reaching this emotions in the South East has been sweet.
In two boulders I had been able to transfer my vision and my abstract imagination on the real rock. It first happened for “Ebano” and then, right after, for “Hell was made in Heaven”. By the way, the second one is just next to other two amazing lines freed by Paul and Jimmy.
Beside the first ascents I have made, I tried also some classics. I especially climbed on some good old problems of Jimmy Webb, which were still unrepeated at the date. Before showing some shots of the trip, I would like to put clear that many blocs are in secret areas or on private lands and I take occasion to remind to everyone to put at first the respect of the environment and of the rock, everywhere we go. Enjoy.
|Jimmy Webb on "Point of View" V11 (FA). Photo Paul Robinson|
|Jimmy Webb on "Southern Drawl" V14 (FA). Photo Paul Robinson|
|"Ebano" V11 (FA). Photo Beau Kahler|
|"Hell was made in heaven" V10 (FA). Photo Beau Kahler|
|"Little Foot" V13 (SA). Photo Alex Kahn|
|Paul Robinson on "King of contortion" V14 (SA). Photo Beau Kahler|
|Paul Robinson on "Knocking on Heavens door" V8 (FA). Photo Uncharted Lines|
|Photo Paul Robinson|
|Photo Paul Robinson|