Ever since I watched videos of Dave, Jon and other friends climbing in Arkansas making a trip down to check out the amazing sandstone was on the list. Nalle and I were both engaged and psyched with the idea of climbing, developing and getting to know the southeast. After a brief stop in Hueco Tanks, TX we were all motivated to climb on the friendly sandstone of Arkansas. After speaking with our contact Cole Fennel about some of the new bouldering areas that needed development, we knew that Arkansas was going to be A-MAZING.
We arrived at the Horseshoe Canyon Ranch pretty late because pulling a camper can take time plus some. The camp grounds at night were pretty tricky to maneuver a van and trailer. I proceeded to spend the next half hour in drive and reverse going up and down gravel hills trying to figure out where, the hell I should park my trailer. Frustrating to say the least! Finally after running into one of the ranch guides I got “good” beta to the camp sites. I then had to commit to drive my camper up a very steep bumpy dirt road which I ended up being wrong. Forcing me to back down a very narrow steep dirt road and to top everything off I now began to attract a crowd of people who stood on their balconies to stair and watch… I thought that world cup competition was presser.
As v7’s go this is one of the better ones I have ever climbed, this climb is the epitome of a beautiful line. The problem starts on good crimps high off the ground, you might need to stack some pads to start this one, then it moves across a perfect rail makes it way up and left with comfortable holds. It involves technical foot work, the colors scheme is stunning finishing with a tall top out. This is a must do and is definitely worth telling mom about especially if she’s into high ball boulders.
This is a compact fun boulder but, even more fun if you like pulling on monos. It starts close to the ground on small awkward holds and might take someone a few tries to figure out the first move, unless you can power your way into the balance point. After the crux first move you grab a good left hand you lock down, and grab a good crimp at arms reach. Next, bring your foot up and grab another crimp with the left hand. Find your “zen” as you stick your finger in the mono for a last showy move to a sloper and top out. If you’re going to try Grand Dragon you might as well do this climb they’re both area classics.
Lost In The Hood
Lost In The Hood was great and I was really happy with how fast I could tick this problem, a personal best for me. V14 in a couple hours! Lost in the Hood fit my style and with Nalle Hukkataival to bring in more energy it’s not hard to believe that we took it down. This is a short powerful line with the first move being the crux. You have a jug for your right hand and a really small crimp for your left hand. You place your foot almost next to your hand and do a hard power move to a crimp. You next make a blind foot move and stand to a small, but good crimp. Then make a full extension move to a left hand crimp, do another hard blind foot move, drop you right hand down and reach a key foot placements. You then make a hard match and go big for the finish hold! Top out on an un-cleaned high ball finish. A stunning line and a great boulder!
Being one of my better flashes in the dark I have to say that it was great to have good friends there to shed some light on the problem, literary. With some love I think that this boulder could top out and I wish I had more time to spend in this cave. Definitely classic worth doing!
Jes and I flew home for the holidays, it was a quick needed rest and always great to spend time with our families.
While being shown some of the bouldering areas around Arkansas, Cole Fennel pointed out this project located at the Heaven Boulders. At first glance you think that it’s a hard sharp crimp move and not much fun but, after giving the move one go we decided that the boulder would be best climbed as a dyno. Not many boulders have an all points off dyno like this one. You think it’s just about jumping but, no it’s actually a hard dead point move that takes some practice. Both holds you go to are crimp jugs but kind of separated from one another. You have to grab one and just hope your other hand finds the mark. I can’t wait to see this on the video.
Better Babies Club
Watching talented climbers make moves look super easy is amazing it makes you feel as if you too can easily make that move, very deceiving. This boulder is located on the HCR by the Idaho boulders, the tall arête has to be one of the more obvious fetchers in the area. Tall and scary, this boulder is more technical then anything and if your feet can’t stay on then you can’t. We first found the boulder while taking a day for Jes and Amy to enjoy some of the better moderates. The boulder is tall and scary with some awkward moves high off the ground which adds some fear factor but, if you can suer come that it’s a great climb.
Another great accent Nalle and I put up back to back, in the dark, while others held headlamps for us to climb is located at the Heaven Boulders. this line is a few crimp moves out a roof to a big jump off a sharp slot. The crux is holding the swing after a dynamic move. You top out on less then clean sloppers but, we can see this being an area classic soon enough. Thanks again Cole for showing us this area!
Illusion of Safety
This was the big one and the king line of our trip. Taking a few hours of cleaning and vision this amazing problem unfolded after working a difficult project next to it. A tall beautiful arête with a hard committing lock off at the end gives you goose bumps to just looking at it. Requiring many pads and a rope to rig them in the right spot this climb is not for the faint of heart. The hard crux is at the start but, you get pumped as you move up the twenty five foot boulder and top out on less than perfect protection. The starting holds are obvious and amazing. Each move is unique involving power and technical movement. I was more than psyched to have completed this boulder after our first cleaning session we thing the grade is around v13.
Off the Rails
What a line complete with great movement! This is one of the best boulders in the country and is one of the highlights of our trip. Amazingly obvious starting holds leading you along incredibly fluid movement to a technical mantle. It is an area classic and was a pleasure to climb.
While spending time with Cole bouldering we checked out what he called the Daniel Woods Boulder. This boulder had two lines on it, Trackman and Stackin Paper both Nalle and I flashed Trackman back to back and never tried the other. A really good climb with some hard compression and a cool hand jam if you can find it. This boulder is all by itself and, worth checking out if you’re in the area.
Last day with only hours before we packed up the camper Nalle and I headed out for one last session on the sandstone. With almost no beta, less psych, and even less skin. It was going to take some seriously good music to get this day going. Never the less we rallied and both sent after a few epic goes and probably the worst possible conditions you could think of. No water, every hold in the sun and not knowing that one of the key holds had broken off in the past, topping our was heaven like. We could not believe we actually pulled it off.
Tember and Fancy Pants
During a portion of the filming with Chuck Fryberger Films I got the chance to work with one of the ranches horses Fancy Pants. He was trained by Tember Hursh, one of the guides at the ranch. It was awesome getting to get to know Tember and Fancy Pants during our trip and was one of the ultimate highlights, especially since she gave me the chance to canter and gallop, so sick! I am definitely looking forward to going back and hanging out with Fancy Pants some time soon. Fancy Pants was pro and did everything we ask without question. Never once did he get spooked that I had a crash pad on my back, cranes swinging around, and a crowd of people watching. Thanks again Fancy Pants and Tember for the life experience! Jes and I keep thinking about getting a horse now, some day.
I feel very lucky to have friends like Nalle and Amy who flew across the world to climb around the country with Jes and I. Our trip started in Utah and ended in Arkansas where I got the chance to film with Chuck Freburger films. We worked with Nellson and Ben for a part in the upcoming film called The Network look for it this summer! We filmed the new boulders we put up and had a great time just messing around when we created a skits and filmed the Horseshoe Canyon Ranch madness. I want to say a special thanks to Morgan McNeil for getting us set up with four-wheeler’s and guns on our days off of climbing. I can’t wait to get back and throw down on some more projects and blast off some assault-rifles with friends.
Camping and Climbing at the Horseshoe Canyon Ranch was sweet joy and I have nothing but good things to say about the guides and facilities at the ranch. It was nice to hang out in the barn and get to know the crew that makes the ranch what it is. Thanks again for the hospitality and making our trip so great.