Sunday, January 18, 2009

Split Rocks

Yesterday, Jason, Pierre, Jeremy, and I decided to go climbing. Unfortunately, once we arrived at the destination, Pierre and Jason chose not to climb; however, they still honked their literal and proverbial horns. The first stop was at Area 74 where Jeremy and I both had a little work to do. Jeremy began his rampage by warming up on and completing The Oracle (v11). The first ascent likely came this time last year by Blake Strickland. I believe it was originally called Twilight, but not much was ever said about the climb. A few months later, Ryan Sewell had been visiting the Ozarks for a while and climbed what he believed to be an undone project in The Oracle. Words and pictures were spread, and with three repeats occurring in the past month and a half the problem will most likely keep the later name. I managed this problem about a month ago and would reccomend giving it a try.
The Oracle
Next, Jeremy and I moved over to the project roof at 74. While the rock can be friable under this roof, it has the capability to produce some long and powerful roof climbs to highball finishes in the high double-digit range. In two or three goes Jeremy found himself at the top of From Darkness Comes Light (v10). Two summers ago I opened up the stand (Eternal Twilight v7) to this porblem with the intention of working my way deeper into the roof. As time passed and school began in the fall, I was unable to complete the sit start. The first ascent was claimed to be either Scott Fitzgerald or Eric Gifford sometime that winter, but I don't know the dates. Maybe a year later, Joe Meiners visited from Dallas and believed he had a first ascent on the problem and called it Arachnaphobia. If you haven't noticed already this is a trend in Arkansas. Someone does an amazing climb, doesn't publicize it, and climbing in Arkansas continue as if nothing ever happened. It's fine not to inform the public about what is being climbed, but it makes for an unorganized and unprogressive climbing community.

From Darkness Comes Light climbs out the roof ten feet left of the crack in the face.

The last stop of the day was Split Rocks. This is perhaps one of the most wonderful places in all of Arkansas. To date, there are two established boulder problems, about half a dozen project boulder problems, one bolted project sport climb, and a project trad line. With such few lines and few people knowing its location, Split Rocks remains in obscurity, which is probably for the best. Since I am unaware of the current state of access for this land, I would suggest not visiting unless you can do whatever it is that you desire to do in a few hours. I digress. Anyway, Dave Graham put up a highball pocketed testpiece in February of '08 known as Release the Squirrels, which premiered in the movie Dosage 5. It climbs a 40' face of impeccable white standstone. After 30 minutes of work, Jeremy had made it through the low crux and was in the middle of the 30' slab topout. Needless to say, he was a happy camper once he was finally on top.

Jeremy sticking the first pocket on Release the Squirrels (v12).

Jeremy battling the redpoint crux of Release the Squirrels.

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