Over here at rakkup “World Headquarters”, our homes in Seattle, we are climbers and we love climbing. But like many climbers, we live near the mountains and love playing in them in a variety of ways, and we have winters to get through. And in the Pacific Northwest, we have plenty of precipitation which turns into an amazing amount of snow at elevation.
Early Days – transitioning on a Voilé split, 2005
So, it’s only natural that Rob and Todd love to get out on the snow. While we both have skiing in our history, we’ve become pretty hooked on snowboarding. We can even claim to be pretty early splitboarders; here you can see a picture of Rob starting a transition in the Herman Saddle zone near Mount Baker in the winter of 2004-2005. What we can’t claim to be is snow experts. In December of 2005, we managed to demonstrate our lack of expertise by spending an unplanned overnight near Stevens Pass. (That epic led to our first purchase of a GPS, which eventually became the very unit we used to make the first rakkup rock climbing guidebook!)
We have had friends tell us for years that our app would be a great fit for backcountry snow. In the last year, two pieces came together to make that idea irresistible to us. The first is that our awesome partner, Wolverine Publishing, told us about the success and the quality of their guidebook Backcountry Skiing California’s Eastern Sierra. The book’s author, Nate Greenberg, was interested in the potential of his content combined with an app, too.
Meanwhile, Rob had taken a couple of snowboarding trips to different zones in Alaska, with Jamie Weeks as his guide. As Rob and Jamie became friends, Jamie wondered aloud about what a great guidebook app would look like for the ski terrain near his home in Jackson Hole, and expressed some enthusiasm for the project.
Jamie Weeks doing the guide thing in AK
Nate is the director of the Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center, and Jamie is an AMGA certified snow guide and avalanche educator, well known for his work as Teton Splitboarder. What Rob and Todd lacked in experience and technical expertise, they now had in their partners. All four shared a passion for the project.
Together we bring you the newest update to rakkup, and our first two guidebooks for backcountry skiers and snowboarders: Teton Pass Descents and Backcountry Skiing California’s Eastern Sierra, a digital enhancement to the existing print title from Wolverine Publishing.
Lots of work went into developing guidebooks that are clear and easy to read, with symbology and maps that let you browse and choose quickly. We added topo maps with contour lines, a necessity in ski terrain. We are especially proud of our filtering feature that lets you apply criteria from your local avalanche center to eliminate runs in higher-risk terrain based on slope angle, aspect, and elevation and choose from the runs that remain.
Best of all: Search for terrain, or Filter based on critical information factors (like those presented in an avalanche advisory).
We’ve already been told that this app is the most compelling and exciting backcountry ski app yet. Yet we know that this is just a beginning. For one, we have many more guidebooks already in the works, from respected and talented authors all over. (We are always looking for more! Let us know if you want to write a guidebook.) Secondly, we have plans we think you will love, from sharing your adventures with friends, to visualizing the latest reports and information to keep safe. We’ll be adding features to make this app a tool you won’t want to head into the backcountry without!
So, get out there and shred your own patch of pow! Give one of our guidebooks a spin and tell us what you think.
-Rob, Todd, Nate, and Jamie
Backcountry Skiing and Snowboarding — a new adventure for rakkup was last modified: September 25th, 2017 by rob
When people think of Arabia, they tend to think of big sand dunes with Lawrence of Arabia standing in a pose with his hand on his hip and maybe a falcon on his shoulder for good effect. They don’t think of the mountainous country that is Oman. Peaks as high as 3000m and shear faces of up to 1000m, which should appeal to climbers everywhere. While it is literally covered in rock, due to the tectonic plates being pushed up from the Indian ocean, it is difficult to find good rock or at least the kind that appeals to sport climbers. Oman is, in fact, an incredibly beautiful country that makes for a great escape for those climbers stuck in European or North American winter weather. Pretty much guaranteed sunny weather all year round with ample amounts of climbing and other activities, it’s hard to think of why one wouldn’t consider coming to Oman.
Historically speaking, climbing in Oman is relatively new. The first mention of climbing in Oman was when Frenchman Raymond Renaud climbed the aptly named French pillar in 1979 with siege tactics to tackle Jebal Misht (1100m). Rumor has it that the Sultan had a helicopter pick the team up from the top and whisk them off to a celebration to commemorate their ascent. While this seems unlikely, it wouldn’t be the first time something outlandish happened in the gulf. Renaud and other French guides have been coming to Oman ever since and indeed have been behind much of the early development. There were also a number of British developers as well. Jeff Horby for one, who developed many adventurous routes up Jebal Misht and elsewhere.
In more recent news, Oman has had several famous climbers come and climb and get media coverage. People may remember Alex Honnold’s visit to the coast doing some DWS. Along with Jimmy Chin, Hazel Findlay and Mark Synnott, they made a short film about their climbs in Musandum, Oman.
Interestingly many of these routes had already been climbed by a group of British climbers (Tim Emmett, Neil Gresham, Mikey Robertson and Seb Grieve) and local strong men Read Macadam and Toby Foord-Kelcey.
A short time after that, Chris Sharma and Stefan Glowacz came to Oman to climb out of a cave, literally! They called the route, what else but “Into the Light”. This was the same name that Read Macadam and Jacob Oberhauser called the route they climbed out of at a nearby cave a month earlier. As unoriginal as these names seem Red Bull had an issue with two routes being called the same name. As Red Bull paid so much money and spent so much time organizing the trip and expedition, Read and Jacob graciously renamed their route “Out of the Dark” (Has to make you smile, right?). Both climbs were filmed and are available online:
However, as far as sport climbing in the Muscat goes, it wasn’t until Patrick Cabiro and Nathalie Hanriot were commissioned by the Ministry of Tourism that Oman started to see its first modern sport routes (2008). In fact, they were the driving force in the development of Wadi Daykiah and “La Gorgette”. They were also the first to bolt in Hadash. More importantly, they gave the impedes to local residents to start developing their own routes close to Muscat.
Hamza Zidoum on Abracadabra 6c (5.11a) Wadi Daykia Photo credit: Natasa Silec
Enter Kim Vaughn and Bill Huguelet, two local residents keen to develop routes close to home, who developed several routes in Kubra Canyon. They spent a lot of their own time and money developing these routes. We have a lot of thanks to give to Bill and Kim as Kubra is still one of the best afternoon crags. It’s also a great place to start your climbing trip in Oman with lots of moderates and a great bolted multi-pitch. Bill and Kim first called Kubra “Secret Canyon” as they kept the development a secret from the now bustling climbing group. One weekend they surprised the group with a new crag! A nice surprise to a have an additional 40 some odd routes added to your climbing inventory.
Natasa Silec on The Bulge 6c (5.11a) Kubra Canyon Photo credit: Miguel Willis
So in a few short years, Oman went from about 5 sport routes to about 80. The only problem was that most of these routes were in the French grade 6 range (5.10). Very few 7’s (5.12) and no 8’s (5.13) had been developed. Not to mention one of the more picturesque crags (Hadash) was generally over looked. Here comes the Canadian influence, Read Macadam and Larry Michienzi. In a few short years Larry and Read started to develop Hadash to its fullest and easily doubled both the number of routes and a number of harder climbs in Oman. While Kubra and Daykia are home to some great moderates, Hadash is home to some of the hardest routes in Arabia and as the altitude of Hadash is 1500m it is a great place to climb from October to April.
Photo Credit: Natasa Silec
So while Kubra has some great moderates and Hadash has some great harder climbs Daykia is still home to the easiest approach (if you have a 4X4☺ ). You can literally belay out of your car if you want. It also has some fantastic 6c’s (5.11a/b)! and some nice moderates as well. Check out the slightly run out Turbo barbeque (6c/5.11a) and Agath Exit (6c+/5.11b/c) if that’s your jam. Insiders beta: head to Daykia early as it goes in the sun by mid-afternoon and even in the winter it can be quite warm.
Hamza Zidoum Gets beta from Local Photo Credit Natasa Silec
Wadi Bini Alf is a scenic drive up a wadi that many tourists are drawn to. Climbers have the added benefit of some spectacular climbing as well. Not only is the climbing and scenery a huge advantage, so is the fact that many of the crags are quite accessible in the summer. When temps in Muscat and Dubai are near 50 C it is often in the mid 20’s at Wall of Shadows (afternoon shade) or Brikat Al Sharaf (morning shade). Depending on the season, certain crags are better due to the position of the sun. In the spring and early summer the Wall of Shadows and Brikat Al Sharaf are the best bet for cool temps. However, in the late summer and early fall Le Reef (afternoon) and Makhta Jaber (morning) are better for shade.
As nice as it is to have these summer crags, La Gorgette is by far the cherry on the cake. A beautiful slot canyon with an amazing atmosphere and even more amazing climbing. Walk to the end of the canyon to check out the quaint village of Balad Sayt and camp below the date palms for a full Omani experience. On rest days, take a walk down Snake Gorge (with either rappels, longer version or just pool jumping with the short version). This crag is best from October to March.
Camping at La Gorette
Interestingly, the crags are also divided by difficulty and while you can find a little of something for everyone at all of the crags, certain crags seem to be better for certain grades. Le Reef and the Wall of Shadows have excellent moderates and beginner climbs but both crags also have a few harder climbs as well. On the other hand, Brikat and La Gorgette lean toward the harder end with many 7’s (5.12-5.13). In the middle, is the newest crag in Oman, Makhta Jaber which only has a few routes so far but with the kind donations of visiting climbers more routes are sure to appear in the guide in the near future.
Two paper guides have been written about climbing in Oman. The Macdonald Guide (out of print) and a more recent guide also called ‘Climbing in Oman’ by long time Austrian climbing guide Jakob Oberhauser. While Jakob’s guide is very thorough it does lack the availability that an electronic guide can offer and also, while it has many details of the sport climbing in the area, it lacks some of the most up-to-date sport routes and topos. Of course, if it is multi-pitch climbing you are after, this is the guide for you. However, for those that want to do a little sport climbing in the Muscat area, this app is a very good supplement.
Bone Mountain VT: A Hike with Rakkup | NY Ski Blog
The New York Ski Blog author “ml242” writes:
…As I continued on the steep switchbacks of a work road, I ran into some No Trespassing signs. It was at that moment I remembered that I had a guidebook in the Rakkup app on my iPhone. Embracing the new technology, I put the first edition print back in my pack and clicked through the trail guide. The GPS showed I was slightly off course, so I wandered back and hit the go button to navigate to the top with some turn-by-turn.
NY SKi Blog: Bone Mountain VT: A Hike with rakkup was last modified: December 14th, 2016 by todd
Looking upstream from the top of ‘Shattered Illusions’, at the height of summer; the route’s anchors sit near the top of the Long Branch Buttress, rewarding climbers with one of the most amazing views in the canyon
Climbers are a quixotic breed. We are known to leave behind good jobs, family and loved ones to cross the country, camping in our cars or sketchy rest areas, pounding down twisting wash boarded backroads, living on fast food and cheap beer, bush whacking and hiking for miles, thrashing through thorns and stumbling across talus, to find great crags in unique settings.
Truly great climbs and climbing areas both challenge and inspire; they motivate us to push the edge, to ‘rage against the dying of the light’, and they return us to that quiet place inside, where wonder still lives.
These are the crags from which we return tired but renewed, exhausted and at the same time, restored.
The east end of the Sunshine Wall on a fall day, as seen from the approach trail; these conditions can persist into the middle of winter. Photo by Mike Gray.
Some of these destinations require great expense, deprivation, epic approaches, and hardship of every kind for the lucky and determined few who scale their walls. Others are tucked away, just around the corner, minutes from the main road, less than a morning’s drive from major cities, but somehow still lost to the masses; secret gardens to test strength, endurance, and mental control, in which we can, when day is done, find replenishment for mind, body and soul.
The crags that sit on either side of Long Branch, two miles downstream from Shreve’s little store in the heart of Smoke Hole Canyon, are the perfect setting for this dualistic pursuit of peace and adventure.
Heather Jiles spots Andrea Nelson on the 5.8+ Arete of the Sunshine Wall. Photo by Tyrel Johnson
Hidden behind a screen of trees and perched high on the ridge, the Guide Walls’ southern end was dubbed The Sunshine Wall for good reason. Here you can shed those layers and dance up lines like the long-distance 5.8+ Guide’s Arete, 5.9s Zendo, Funboy and The Never Ending Story, huck and crimp your way through the Guide’s 5.11 or George’s Dilemma, another great bucket tour that leads to a challenging 5.10 roof crux. If you’re in the mood to test your roof technique, try the Macdaddy Roof; weighing in at 5.10d, this body-length overhang will tax even the strong for the bucket at the lip.
Around the corner, on the crag’s middle section and northern end, the east-facing lines of the Ninja Walls offer climbers both summer shade and a haven from winter’s cold, as leaves and temperatures begin to fall.
The author and Andreas Czerwinski enjoying some fall sunshine on The routes of the Macdaddy Roof; the 5.9 Never Ending Story and the Guide 10b
Chris Beauchamp’s ‘Glossolalia’ kicks things off and Nick Kurland’s ‘Cu Rodeo’ ups the ante with thin holds on steep ground and a touch of run-out. Beyond these wait classic Ninja lines like ‘Destiny’ and ‘Hummingbird’, the 5.9- trad headpoint “Name Your Poison’ and mind-boggling roof of 5.10c/d ‘Carpe Diem’.
For a final burn of all remaining rounds, hike out to the north end and jump on crusher Mike Fisher lines like ‘Slight of Hand’, ‘Defenders of the Faith’, or Chris Beauchamp’s thuggish ‘Pon Hoss’.
On the south side of the creek, Long Branch is home to some of the tallest faces, as well as some of the most difficult technical lines, to be found in the canyon.
Tom Cecil’s world-class ‘Beautiful Loser’ checks in at a sustained 5.11 with 9 well-spaced bolts, nearby ‘Shattered Illusions’ requires a full bag of 5.10 tricks over the course of 11 bolts and a V-slot through a roof, while ‘Big Johnson’, ‘The Ron Jeremy Arete’, ‘The Darkness’, ‘The Lightness’, ‘Gone Sniffin’’, ‘Local Hospitality’ and Parker Smith’s new addition ‘Shorty’s Lament’, all lay solid claim to territory at 5.12 and above.
Michael Fisher cruising the bomber moves and stone of ‘Destiny’, one of the original lines at the Ninja Walls.
Troy Johnson and I first came here in the very early 90s, at the invitation of Darrell Hensley, the Seneca Rocks guide and WV native who explored Smoke Hole and climbed here before most people knew the canyon existed. Franklin Gorge, where we had all been climbing for years, was filling up with people and the number of new routes left for development was down to maybe a handful of good lines and a dozen or so more mediocre routes.
Troy and I drove up to Smoke Hole on a windy, rainy day, waving at Franklin as we passed, grabbing coffee at the Shell station at the light, then rolling up 220 through pastureland and river bottom farms. We stared up at Reed Creek and wondered again if the “No Trespassing” signs were bogus (it turned out that they were, but that is another story), waved at the old men of the Liar’s Club, drinking coffee on the bench in front of Kile’s Grocery in Upper Tract, and turned off just before the old iron bridge.
We rounded the curve, crossed the hill by the old Alt farmhouse, and dropped into wonderland. Cliffs rose up on both sides of the river, the nearest just ten feet from the car windows as we stopped to stare up at the huge roof of the Entrance Walls. Another shower drove us back into the car, and hid most of Eagle Rocks and the French Fin from our gaping view as we passed.
Tyrel Johnson fighting the good fight and looking for Zen on the steep Mike Fisher route ‘Defenders of the Faith’ (5.10d), at the Ninja Walls.
Eventually we reached Shreve’s Store, got our bearings, and had almost returned to sanity when we dropped into the lower canyon, and saw that all that had gone before was just a prelude.
We gibbered. We pointed, craned our necks and pointed some more, making nonsense noises and banging our heads on the windshield, spilling coffee.
Two miles beyond the store, we reached the destination Darrell had described and a breaking point at the same instant; parked, grabbed water bottles, and scrambled madly up the talus slope leading to the base of the Long Branch Buttress.
After half an hour of absolutely speechless wandering, we nodded to each other, returned to the car, and headed home to gather allies and supplies.
Troy came back and bolted “Local Hospitality’, ‘Big Johnson’, ‘Pigs on the Wing’, and began the task of ground-up bolting the visionary project that would eventually become Mike Farnsworth’s ‘The Lightness’. He took off from the start of my mixed route “Through the Looking Glass’ and gave us the superb 5.11 ‘Pigs on the Wing’.
The massive Long Branch Buttress, in the heart of Smoke Hole Canyon. Photo by Mike Gray
Rachel Levinson and Melissa Wine joined us, as did Mike Fisher, Greg Fangor, Chris Riha and a host of talented climbers from the Shenandoah and Albemarle valleys. Together, the group of us cleaned and put up ‘Shattered Illusions’, then Melissa and I produced ‘Hippo Head’ (the wall’s first all-female FA by Wine and Levinson), ‘Batteries Not Included’ and ‘Overtime’.
Taking a break from developing routes on the far side of the creek, at the Sunshine Wall, Tom Cecil, Tony Barnes and Darrell came over to bolt ‘Beautiful Loser’ and Tony’s mixed 5.10 line in the cave to the left.
Mike Fisher had dubbed our group the Five Deadly Ninjas, a tongue-in-cheek nod from his deep love of Kung Fu theater. Troy, Rachel, Melissa, myself, and Mr. Fisher decided that we needed a look at the walls they were developing on the other side of the creek, and the classic lines of the Ninja Walls were born in the following months.
Mike Farnsworth, on the crux of “The Lightness”, 5.12d, Darkside, Long Branch Buttress.
Life went on, our little crew drifted apart, and I moved off to the west. I would call Mike Fisher on my occasional trips home, and we would invariably wind up at Smoke Hole for a climb or three, plotting on the remaining lines in this apparently forgotten corner of West Virginia.
In 2003, I returned to the Valley, and we put up Funboy and Zendo on an overlooked ledge at the Sunshine Wall. Four years later, we bolted and led the routes of the Corvinus Cave, at Long Branch.
A recent surge in activity saw four new lines at or above 5.12, bolted and led by Michael Farnsworth, the guy who conquered one of the steepest routes of Seneca Rocks. Added to the already impressive set of routes in place, you have an area to test the mettle of climbers from around the globe.
Mahtaab Bagherzadeh eyes the long road ahead, facing the first of many cruxes on ‘Shattered Illusions’, the longest 5.10 on the Long Branch Buttress. Photo by Tyrel Johnson.
But don’t worry, moderate climbers and fun seekers… there’s still plenty of good times to be had, with enjoyable lines tucked in amongst the test pieces and enduro routes. Smile your way through sport warm-ups like ‘My Silver Lining’ (5.7), ‘Lost World Arete’ (5.7), or ‘Batteries Not Included’ (5.8+), mix things up with bolt and gear offerings like the 5.8 ‘Through the Looking Glass’, or take a break from the bolts and pull out the whole rack for the long trad adventure of 5.7 ‘Cherry Lane’.
Although the road is a bit bumpy, and even dusty and blessed with more than its share of potholes, from the crags of Long Branch and the Guide Walls, climbers are still less than an hour from hot food, showers and all the comforts of modern life.
Volunteers are constantly working to protect access, maintain the trails and improve old routes with new hardware.
Racked up and ready for ground-up adventure; the author clips in for the first ascent of ‘Cherry Lane’, 5.7, Darkside, Long Branch Buttress.
No bushwhacking, no epics, no ‘scene’, just great lines of all levels on great stone, a zen garden in which to find a bit of peace and quiet, in the beat of your heart, in the heart of the canyon.
Buy El Potrero Chico here and save money versus purchasing from within our app via Apple or Google. It’s exactly the same guidebook, but offered at a lower price on rakkup.com.
Outrage Wall Left-upper-sense-of-religion-right
Since its initial development, El Potrero Chico has always been known as a perfect winter climbing destination. The area is riddled with natural beauty, complete with a gorgeous circling mountain range, unique desert vegetation, a mild winter climate and of course, the titanic, pristine walls of El Potrero Chico. They are remarkable to look at no matter who you are, and for a climber they are a nearly endless playground. Even the locals, although few of them climb these walls, love and appreciate the intensely beautiful mountain that they live in the shadow of. And throughout the years the locals have always been open to the climbing community that arrives each winter when the conditions are ideal. Between October and February you’ll find climbers coming in from all over the world, especially from the United States and Canada. Come March, the exodus of climbers begins as the heat of the summer starts to set in. But no matter the time of year that you decide to visit, the local town of Hidalgo is always welcoming. Just keep in mind that if it’s a hot and sunny day, there is still plenty to climb in the shade. With the walls mostly being north or south facing, you can decide on where you want to climb based on the heat and sun situation.
Andrea Bessler on Baked Fresh Daily 5.10c.
Climbing started here in the late 80’s and early 90’s and has seen more than a couple waves of heavy development. Jeff Jackson and Alex Catlin really found a gem in the Northeastern region of Mexico. At first, coming down here and drilling with their gas powered drills was more than a little bit of a shock to the locals but the good times quickly started rolling with plenty of Tecate and tequila flowing. A few of the local families, influenced by the initial generosity of Homero Gutierrez Villarreal, have done major work on building the climber friendly community of Potrero Chico. The small backyards that housed a few tents back in the day are now excellent campgrounds that are home to hundreds of climbers during the climbing season. There is no amount of praise that is enough to Homero and his family for getting it all started.
Emma Ayling on Surfin the Wave 5.10d.
Over the years as climbers came and went, a few decided to set up a more prominent home in Hidalgo. Ed Wright, also known as Magic Ed, is probably the most well known because of all the help he gave out to climbers visiting the area. Airport runs, climbing information, and massive amounts of route development made him a legend in Potrero Chico history. He also spent a great deal of time helping out in the local community by getting kids get out rock climbing. His love for the area lives on every time someone gets out there and climbs one of his classic routes.
Evan Johnson on Dead-Man Walking 5.9.
With over 600 plus routes here, almost entirely sport, there is plenty of climbing available for everyone, even during the busy season. Although the crowds can seem a little daunting from mid December to mid January, if you are willing to step off the beaten path you’ll find yourself exploring the lesser known climbs here and I can assure you that there are plenty of gems tucked away in Potrero–enough to find you coming here season after season for a great Christmas and New Year’s getaway. Most of the climbing here is slab or vertical face climbing that will have you pulling on small crimps while balancing on miniscule feet to gain your way to anchors and summits. But for the lover of overhanging rock, don’t be discouraged! There are a few big crags here with overhanging headwalls, both single-pitch and multi-pitch. Only a handful of traditional lines remain including the epic ridge climbs that have only seen a handful of ascents, though they are best climbed in the off season when there is less climber traffic in the area due to poor rock quality and safety concerns for the people below you.
Mike Burdon on Bottom Feeder 5.12d.
Although the bolt lines can be packed tight in on certain walls, there is so much room for future development if you are willing to walk a little ways. Most of the current routes are within a 5 to 10 minute walk from the road which is nice and easy on the legs, but don’t let the longer approaches for certain crags keep you from checking out some really good climbs. With everything so close to the campgrounds, you don’t even need a car, making Potrero a fantastic winter vacation destination. And now with the El Potrero Chico’s new rakkup mobile app, all the amazing crags of Potrero Chico are even more accessible with all new color topo photos, route descriptions and climb ratings to help you find exactly what you want. As the area continues to grow, rakkup allows you to have an extremely up-to-date guidebook right in your pocket, without having to purchase new editions. In the future, a printed book will also be available.
Buy Iowa Limestone here and save money versus purchasing from within our app via Apple or Google. It’s exactly the same guidebook, but offered at a lower price on rakkup.com.
Carolyn Coffey on the OS of Flash 5.11b
Finding rock climbing in the Midwest is not easy. Believe it or not a nice little area can be found in Eastern Iowa next to corn and hog farms near the town of Monticello. Three separate areas: Pictured Rocks, Indian Bluffs and Ozark Wildlife combine to form an area referred to by many as Wild Iowa. While unexpected, the climbing can be quite good and many leave satisfied that a stop wasn’t a waste of time.
Khadija Shahid at Windy Point 5.11a
Formed in ancient seas 2-300 million years ago, the Silurian Dolomite was revealed by erosion and contains some incredibly formed features. One might encounter pockets, crimps, combos, slopers, jugs and even fossils on route. While the Iowa climbing history predates the surge of bolting in the early 1990’s, it was the advent of the sport climbing revolution that was responsible for many of the rock climbs in Iowa. Over 100 bolted sport routes offer most styles of limestone climbing from technical slabs to steep jug hauls from 5.6 to 5.12. Trad climbing can be found as well near the pocketed faces but the Iowa Limestone guide will focus almost solely on sport climbs. Wild Iowa can provide a nice fix for regional climbers who can’t make longer drives to more popular/larger areas.
Emilie on Schoolio 5.9
Fall and Spring are the best seasons to climb at Wild Iowa, considering the cold winters and the humid summers. Occasionally, one can get a blue bird day in winter that is warm enough to enjoy South facing climbs. Also, many hard core climbers brave the humidity and insects to get some pitches in during the summer months. That said, the best days are found once the stifling heat abates in September -November or during the Spring season in late March – May. It should be mentioned accessing the areas in winter can be difficult. There is a gate that blocks car traffic to Pictured Rocks during the winter months, however foot traffic is still allowed.
The impetus for this guide came simply from meeting travelling climbers over the years,that had no idea how to find entire areas or what the climbs were rising before them. What better way to aid these climbers than to combine a GPS map to all climbs with the best descriptions of the climbs available. We sincerely hope you have fun climbing Iowa Limestone and that this guide aids your enjoyment!
Buy Reed’s Creek here and save money versus purchasing from within our app via Apple or Google. It’s exactly the same guidebook, but offered at a lower price on rakkup.com.
South of Smoke Hole Canyon and the town of Upper Tract, Reed’s Creek Road intersects with the old Petersburg Turnpike, after winding down from the shoulders of North Fork Mountain through meadows of cows and sheep, steep ridges surrounding proud old family homes and weathered barns, clusters of doublewide trailers and modular housing and the occasional vine-covered ruin of a log cabin.
Cindy Bender (now Gray) pulls welcome buckets on Welcome to Reed Creek (5.7)
The road is busier than it once was, but there are days, late summer evenings and pristine winter afternoons, when the sound of a tractor is more common than that of an automobile, and there is a sense of timelessness, the smell of honeysuckle, livestock, strains of gospel music and southern rock in the air.
This is Reed’s Creek; a series of south-facing arêtes and dihedrals and a high-quality selection of sixty sport and trad lines on featured metamorphic limestone, with a reasonable approach hike, a serviceable trail and ample parking, just off State Route 220 in West Virginia’s historic Pendleton County.
Trevor Albert cuts loose on Ryan Eubank’s Golden Horseshoe (5.10b/c)
Guides from Seneca Rocks first put bit to stone to the walls of Reed Creek in 2002 and 2003, creating Welcome to Reed Creek, One Page at a Time, and Catfish Strangler, the original Boneyard Routes.
The routes were good and the stone was fine, but there were other crags and other callings, and they moved on to new horizons.
Although visited once or twice by some local legends, the crag languished for years, hidden behind the thick summer canopy, layers of old fence, greenbrier and No Trespassing signs, until I found the three original lines on a scouting expedition in 2008 and was blown away by the untapped potential of the other walls.
Unknown climber stretched out on the crux of Catfish Strangler (5.10b) Photo by Mike Gray
The following week, I made my way to the Cheat Potomac Ranger Station, where records indicated that the land was public. I wasted no time and began exploring and developing routes, starting with the 5.10 Reaching Conclusions, the premier line on the Reach Wall.
The following spring, Lyndon State College sensei Jamie Struck brought an eager crew from Vermont to create the lower trails around the Gypsies Wall and top-rope the line that would become Shaved Scamper. Long-time area developer and hard man Mike Fisher and NoVA’s Ryan Eubank soon joined the development push with routes like Second Rule, Shaolin Mantis, Little Purple Flowers, Hunter’s Moon and Grapevine Massacre. Cindy Bender was there from the start, with hot coffee and snacks, spending long hours on belay and building trail before dancing up some of the first ascents of lines like A Horse With No Name, Second Rule, Winterharvest and Fire On the Mountain.
Whitney Moss, reaching for hope on the crux of Disorientation 101 (5.11)
Following repeated questions of property boundaries, the author’s investigation into county tax records, deed descriptions, and MNF survey documents proved once and for all that these sweet crags were public land. Route development resumed immediately.
Pennsylvania climbers Michael Stewart and Randy La Force added excellent moderates like Dr. Taco and Superman, as word of the crag began to spread among locals and across the region.
Following the proactive precedent of Franklin Gorge, The First Spring Send-a-thon and Trail Daze event was organized and attended by Gray, Bender, Fisher, Eubank and a coalition of strong climbers from Northern Virginia and the District of Columbia, as well as “locals” from Charlottesville and Harrisonburg. Trails around and leading to the Boneyard were improved and expanded, and trash was collected along Reed Creek Road. The National Forest resurveyed and marked the boundaries along the private property line, making it easier for hunters and climbers to avoid trespassing.
Brian Brydges, cruising through a sweet April day on Little Purple Flowers (5.9)
Today, Reed’s has over 40 routes, in a wide variety of grades and styles, from Mike Fisher’s 5.7 funfest dihedral Second Rule and my own trad 5.7 SuperNatural to technical challenges like Fisher’s 5.11+ Shaolin Mantis, Eubank’s burly 5.11 Grapevine Massacre, and Michael Farnsworth’s 5.12 cave line Harlem. Newcomers Chris Beauchamp and Tyrel Johnson have been adding bold trad, mixed and sport lines like Invasive Species and Mare Imbrium.
(Tyrel has been instrumental in continuing the tradition of trail work and stewardship, and tireless the editing process; hiking trails, correcting errors, and tweaking all the details of the app.)
The project Cold Day in Hell, originally bolted by Eubank, has yet to see an ascent, despite repeated tries by strong 5.12 climbers who say the grade may be as high as 5.13.
Sunny winter days and shady summer mornings, easy access, great lines and an incredible setting, just off the beaten path; Reed’s Creek has something for every climber.
The Apps | Short of befriending an experienced urban boulderer, consulting an app is probably the easiest way to learn about climbing routes near you. “Mountain Project” and “Rakkup,” both available free on iOS and Android, catalogue thousands of climbing routes, and work offline once data is downloaded.
The key difference between the two is that the 100,000-plus climbs in Mountain Project are sourced from the app’s users, whereas Rakkup’s nearly 24,000 climbs (available through in-app purchases) are culled from the company’s digital guidebooks, which are written by local climbers.
We’re proud to be mentioned in this WSJ article: Bouldering in the City: The Best Gear and Apps was last modified: July 27th, 2016 by todd
Buy or rent Ten Sleep here and save money versus purchasing from within our app via Apple or Google. It’s exactly the same guidebook, but offered at a lower price on rakkup.com.
The long and pumpy EKV .12c at Slavery Wall.
Tucked into the Western slope of the Big Horn Mountains Ten Sleep Canyon has miles of dolomite cliff line offering nearly 1000 rock climbing routes. You will find pockets of every shape and size along with edges, flakes and a perfect texture for sticking to climbing shoes no matter where you place them. The climbing in Ten Sleep often tends toward longer single pitch sport climbs requiring technique, endurance and a cool head. Highway 16 links this canyon from top to bottom providing access to dozens of individual crags and Old Road 18 parallels it on the other side of the river providing loads of free camping and more crags. The weather is typical of arid high desert and provides year round opportunities to get out cragging.
Mike Snyder grappling with the bouldery finish of Electric Jesus .13b at Downtown.
Author Mike Snyder’s initial Rakkup offering for Ten Sleep Canyon includes the main wall in the Upper Canyon stretching from Downtown all the way up to The French Cattle Ranch. In addition, Lake Point and the newest dope spot, Crag 6 are included as well. Other crags will be added periodically until the guide includes all crags and routes in the canyon.
Downtown, the lowest crag in the Upper Canyon has a gentle approach to 40 climbs. High quality and never crowded, you will find classics such as The Band is Just Fantastic .10a, Big Boy Pants .11a, Robot Steamroller .12b and Shaker .13b. Just up from Downtown are Metropolis and World Domination Sectors with long soaring routes like Crux Luthor .9/.12d, Jesus Christ Super Jew .11b, Bobby’s Got A Dirty Mouth .11c and Napoleon’s High Chair .12a/b.
The very first area in the Upper Canyon was the Mondo Beyondo which spawned tons of good routes and crags extending in both directions. Smack dab in the middle of the Mondo and directly up the trail from the main parking area is the Slavery Wall, hosting the oldest routes in the Upper Canyon and the inspiration to continue seeking out more and more walls/routes to develop. When you visit, try Beer Bong .10b, Wagon Wheel of Death .11c, Blackalicious .12a, EKV .12c and Gold Member .13d. There are also satellite crags extending off to the right and left providing different grades and angles of climbing for everyone in your posse.
Always on you from the word go, Esplanada .12d at French Cattle Ranch is a classic.
Up a little farther into the trees is Valhalla with areas like Vietnam, Munitions, the Oblivion Roof and Sex and Drugs. The 5.11’s and 5.12- routes in this beautiful part of the woods are superb. Bikini Girls with Machine Guns .11a, Hanoi Hilton .11c/d, Pump Me Like A Shotgun .11d and Cocaine Rodeo .12a. Wander high enough in the woods and you’ll find the Superratic pillar, this jaw dropping clean swath of bullet stone holds a high concentration of 5.13’s. The Great White Behemoth .12b , Hellion . 13c and F’d in the A .14a, will make you want to try everything there. Go ahead, you won’t be disappointed.
Hardman Ethan Pringle unlocks the bouldery start of He Biggum .13d at Superratic.
The French Cattle Ranch lies beyond all the rest at the highest elevation on the main wall. The Shinto wall has beautiful dark streaks defining its routes, while Sector D’or et Bleu and the Grashopper Wall look like multi-colored french limestone. The Matrix Pillar and the Back Forty host moderate Charlie Kardalef masterpieces. Many long vertical puzzles await including Euro Trash Girl .10b, I Just Do Eyes .11b, Center El Shinto .12b, Esplanada .12d and Galactic Emperor .13d.
The highest developed crag in the canyon is Lake Point. Its almost difficult to leave the parking area walking across the CCC constructed dam and gazing out across the lake, but rest assured supreme pocket tugging awaits. Ringed with horizontal pocket lines (HPL’s) found not often enough at other crags in the canyon, Lake Point has ’em in spades. At all different angles and facing in a multitude of directions, the climbs at Lake Point are a climbers dream. Check out Suits and Boots .8, Dirt Gator .10b, The Gooey Grasshopper .11d, Triple Double .12a and Bonnie and Clyde .12c.
Longtime developer of classic moderates Charlie Kardalef scored a home run with his first route Schools Out .10d at Slavery Wall.
Crag 6, so secret, we had to hide it way up on top, two miles South East of Ten Sleep Canyon. So far this concentrated climbing nugget has stayed off the radar, however all is revealed in the new Rakkup guide. Find the Mushroom Tip and the Rap Stars Wall jam packed with some of the best 5.13’s anywhere. There are some .10’s and .11’s too of equal quality. Warm up on The Buffalo has Landed .10b, Mr. Hyde .11b. Try Sniggity Nutz .12a, Swamp Thang .12b and Special Delivery .12c. Then throw yourself at any of 10 of the coolest 5.13’s out there.
Ten Sleep Rock Climbing by Mike Snyder was last modified: May 27th, 2016 by todd
Buy or rent Cape Peninsula here and save money versus purchasing from within our app via Apple or Google. It’s exactly the same guidebook, but offered at a lower price on rakkup.com.
Jamie Smith piecing together Frank (31/8a+), The Mine. Photo Micky Wiswedel
The Cape Peninsula is renowned for its world-famous landmark, one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature – Table Mountain and the Table Mountain chain. This rugged mountain chain creates an undulating ridge, which forms the backbone of the Peninsula, starting from the striking front of Table Mountain that overlooks the city, running through the beautiful and exposed Silvermine Reserve, over the cave-riddled Kalk Bay mountains and ending in the Cape of Good Hope Reserve at Cape Point – the very tip of the Peninsula.
Fortunately for climbers in Cape Town, the Cape Peninsula is blessed with a string of great crags giving very diverse climbing from short powerful routes on the bulging quartzite crags of Trappieskop and Peer’s Cave, the ever-popular faces of the Silvermine crags, to the very steep and mega-pumpy crags of The Mine and The Hole. As far as grades are concerned, there is something for everyone. Crags like Lakeside Pinnacle, Lower Silvermine and Higgovale Quarry are popular among beginners and for those who want a relaxing day at the crag, while Silvermine Main Crag and Fawlty Towers takes one up a notch or two. Whatever your desires, there are many routes on quality sandstone, just waiting to be caressed by your fingertips. Just go out and get ’em!
For a guide to all the trad climbing on the Cape Peninsula get Cape Peninsula Select – A guide to trad climbing in the Cape Peninsula.
Oliver Kruger doing the Trance Dance (23/6c+), Silvermine Main Crag. Photo Garrreth Bird
The entire Table Mountain chain falls under the jurisdiction of the Table Mountain National Park and a Wild Card will get you free entrance into Silvermine, as well as any other reserve on the Peninsula as well as throughout the Western Cape and the country, depending which cluster you purchase. For Cape Town residents who do not have a Wild Card, there is also the option of purchasing a My Green Card. This is an annual card, which allows the holder 12 free entries into any Cape Peninsula reserve, including Silvermine. Okay, so all this just gains you entry. To actually climb (sport climbing only), you will also need to purchase an Activity Permit. This permit is valid for one year and allows you to climb anywhere on the Cape Peninsula. But if you are a member of the MCSA, then you will not need an Activity Permit. Remember to carry your MCSA card. For further information or clarity on all this card stuff, contact Table Mountain National Park on +27 (0)21 712 7471 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For all access updates and information, you can also call the Mountain Club of South Africa (MCSA) on +27 (0)21 465 3412.
Naureen Goheer cranking through the first crux on A Gift of Wings (28/7c), The Mine. Photo Micky Wiswedel
Weather and when to visit
The Cape Peninsula generally gets all the weather systems before the rest of the Western Cape, and often more severely than the inland areas. In saying that, the Peninsula is still a year-round climbing destination, but can be rather wet and miserable if you are unlucky enough to pick a rainy period for your holiday. To be safe, plan to visit during the long summer months. It may get hot, but there are always shady crags to climb on, and you will be able to enjoy the beaches, the awesome summer evenings, and take advantage of long daylight hours.
Prof. Steven Bradshaw pulling off some chemistry on his as yet unrepeated test piece, Hey Jupiter (34/8c), Underside, Cape Peninsula. Photo Guy Holwill
Although there are one or two campsites on the Peninsula, camping is not recommended. These campsites are far from the city, and it’s generally not safe to leave tents and camping stuff unattended while out climbing for the day. Depending on your financial position, there is a wide range of backpacker lodges, guest houses, B&Bs and hotels scattered throughout the Peninsula. Generally, the closer you are to the city and the Waterfront, the more you will pay for accommodation. A popular backpacker lodge among visiting climbers is Green Elephant in Observatory. Contact them on +27 21 448 6359 or email@example.com. They are close to the City Rock indoor climbing gym and also to the trendy Lower Observatory Main Road, which has some good cafes, pubs and restaurants. Observatory is a short drive from the city centre and V&A Waterfront. For more information on accommodation elsewhere on the Peninsula, contact the Western Cape Tourism office on +27 21 426 5647 or firstname.lastname@example.org.