My alarm went off at 6:30 Saturday morning. I had listened to rain fall all night. Not all night I guess, but half the night for sure. I stumbled upon quite a gathering of friends unexpectedly the night before which steered me to a few more beers and later bed time than I had hoped. That coupled with the uncertainty that I had set my alarm for PM and not AM led to a pretty light nights sleep. Steph (my wife) and I started heading south a little before 7. It took almost an hour to get out of the monsoon that had enveloped Chattanooga for the past (it seems) 4 months. I cursed the idea that there would be any climbing today the whole drive, but still we drove. We arrived in the Mellow Mushroom parking lot engulfed in a cloud of mist. The comp WILL GO ON! I chuckled at the idea just weeks ago of climbing at boat rock in good weather. I got a little sick thinking about climbing at Boat Rock in this weather.
Boat Rock is a boulder field I would argue is the most unique in the world. Its set right in the middle of the sprawled melting pot of Atlanta. If you wanted you could morning sesh at Six Flags and night sesh at Boat Rock – without getting in a car. There is a pond in the middle of it with quite a history, a parking lot with even more history, and a community of boulderers that runs deeper, more loyal, and more specialized than any one I’ve ever known. Its style is unlike anything within 1000, maybe 2000 miles of here. Course granite eggs dropped haphazardly throughout this urban climbers wonderland. Boat Rock is a hater of all rubber and skin you place before it. Climbing that blue v4 in the gym will not translate here. Climbing that v4 at Rocktown will not translate here. Climbing that v10 at Hueco will definitely not translate here. Leave your downturned shoes at home and come ride the coaster that sounds like shirtless beanie wearing gym-climber egos getting buried alive in their new pair of bright colored E9 pants.
Ok so that’s what Boat Rock is like on a dry day.
This day was not that.
This day required folks to climb “for fun” What a novel idea! Grades were thrown out the door. Tick lists were certainly thrown out and most were driven to find the driest climbs. Some of those involved patches of moss and ferns which seemed to be a bit stickier than the rock.
I soon felt really bad about my early morning bitterness. I have been climbing for 14 years now and thought I was above climbing in these conditions. Luckily everyone else out there reminded me what it really means to climb for fun. What it really means to be a part of a community. What it really means to care about a small slice of heaven in an unsuspecting locale.
So thank you to all the competitors who gave it their all. Thank you to all the parents who spotted their kids and kids who spotted their parents. Thank you to all the volunteers who consistently create one of the most successful outdoor climbing comps there is. Mega thanks to the SCC for continually growing and strengthening the greatest climbing community there is - If you are not a member, you really really need to be...like right now. Thank you to Mellow Mushroom and Sierra Nevada for helping to stuff our well deserved faces afterward. Thanks to the vendors there helping with the schwag and smiles – Dirtbag Climbers, climbstuff.com, Petzl, Scarpa, Ground Up Climbing, Altra, Metolius, Teva, Burlaep, and the Atlanta Climber Club.
You reminded me why my life kinda revolves around this pointless pursuit – the people. You reminded me that we have much more to do.
Lets keep it up.
But for now, enjoy some our images from the day. Share if you want, message if you want a high resolution one, and tag friend if you see them.
We’ll see all of y’all around – rain or shine.