Friday, November 21, 2008

Northwest Branch Report


Before the weather turns every crag out here into an ice skating rink I needed to get out to the local crags. I spent two separate weekends out at the Northwest Branch in Maryland.

It's hard to describe this place in any way except...urban. The rock is stiff and unforgiving but can be dirty. Aesthetically, a beautiful place with a perennial stream cutting the rocks in half. Anytime you get cold water crossing with a crash pad on your back, you know a good day is in store.

Each trip was mixed with new climbing buddies, a few homeless people, some broken glass, and crazy fall colorings on the leaves. My buddy Ben (in the long wall photos) describes our trip best in his blog "Go Big or Go Home" so I'll defer to him.

"...since the weather in morgantown, west virginia was bad and getting worse, the organizers of the trek to cooper's rock bailed on the trip. perhaps this weekend, we'll try again. waking up groggy and deflated from a blowout win, i expected a lazy sunday.

no, wait, i didn't. climbing! hellacious wind gusts overnight left the rocks nice and dry and the temps somewhere around 40. perfect. tromping down the leaf-strewn trail wit
h my crash pad and a beginning of the day stranger, we searched for the fabled long wall and easter egg boulder. i'd tried in vain to find them this summer, but was appalled by the stench of raw sewage runoff from a spill earlier that week. i bailed about 100 yards from where i wanted to be.

there was no mistaking long wall. it was...a long..wall. well done and creative, you first ascensionists. the highball warm ups were more like free soloing, but the holds were good, even if the face was scummy from mud runoff. scrubbed 'em down, and topped 'em out. if it weren't for graffiti, i'd have sworn i was at lrc. good grippy texture, nice flat landing. sent a few lines there, including one that we refused to grade because the grades at this microcrag are all over the board. the prettiest line we had was technical and tested our footwork and contact strength. tim sent it first and i took away some moves with my ape index when i sent.

easter egg boulder was home to only two problems. first one, pull
off the jugs to slopey slap-happy slabbing. dynamic to static moves. i'd liken it to udge, nudge, or grudge plus a move. not that i've done any of those three, but... the other one, didn't much try it. too small of holds for me, and my fingers were getting pretty tender from the schist and crystals. for pictures, check on facebook.

a good half day. anyone who comes to visit might actually get to boulder now. not a destination crag by any means, just something to futz around on if the weather's decent."


I really hate ratings at crags that I'm not familiar with but Dr. Topo has a guide for some of the routes. According to them, my sends were scattered from v1-v5+ . It should be noted that the "Long Wall" is not listed in the guide book. It has maybe 3 lines of which only one is worth sending (v1,v2,v4) on it with and smaller sloper filled low-ball boulder next to it (v2ish and some super contrived hard project v8ish?)

Not sure if this crag warrants another trip but the "Chaos Roof" section and "Ultimate Doom" (v10-v9 respectively) look like some pretty gnarly projects. I only tried ult. doom once due to the lack pads and knowledge but seems fun with a terrible and scary landing.

1 comment:

Mr. J said...

quoted! so, when we gonna get on chaos roof? methinks we need to drum up support from the climber folk to get some more pads there.