The thing about HP-40 is that there are so many climnbing and bouldering areas that I drive past to get there (its 8 hour), I rarely go there.   Lets see.  I drive past the Red River Gorge, the Obed, Rumbling Bald, LRC, Rocktown, Boone, and a whole bunch of other smaller areas.  I love HP40, but I just never seem to get there!  That’s why I’m so happy and glad to climb there when I finally sack it up!

I had a 3 day weekend last weekend and stopped to climb at the RRG on the way, climbing at Military Wall then Left Flank.  I was happy to warm-up on “Mule” 5.12c which would have been o/s or flash, but I had previously fallen off the route a year or two ago.  Oh well!  I spent the rest of the day working “Stunning the Hog” 5.12d making really good progress though falling after the crux (doh!)  I’m pretty sure I can get this one next day out.

I had a bunch of projects from my previous trip – maybe 2 or 3 years ago?  I know my last trip there, there was an improbably foot of snow on the ground!

Conditions at HP40 were perfect.  As the sun rose over the campground, I rolled out of the my element (my car) to a gently frosted field.  Packing up bringing my steep shoes (Oasis) and my slab shoes (Ra) I hiked in and did handful of easier problems laddering my way from V0 to V2 at the left front area (Popeye area, passing Hammerhead.)   Because of the comp, problems were fairly busy, but I’ve always enjoyed the energy, the beta and the lack of need to drag 3 crash pads around all day to keep things safe.

I immediately set my sites on “Popeye” V5.  A little bit of pressure for me to do this one because there’s a picture of me in the guidebook on it!  I was a little worried about this one. I  remember it being pretty hard, but I was happy to do it first try!!

Popeye V5 starts with a campus move to a smaller crimp then some good holds.  The start is hard enough that the climber may feel that it’s the crux…nope…After some easier moves, sticking the right facing sloper is the crux!  There are two options for the “groove” move (see the second photo – me in the green.)  You can either grab the pinch to the right of the groove or hand jam.  I chose the latter and did it!

Popeye V5 – Setting up for the crux.

Popeye V5 – The Crux.  Photo Ashley Hamilton

After this, I sort of took a break for a while, climbing some easier classic problems, including Mariachi (see photo below) and basically just taking my friends around for the “gimme tour” for their scorecard.  Then, I set my sites on the next step in my goals for the day: Redneck V6.
Ashley Hamilton – Mariachi V4.

Julia Statler – Mariachi V4.

Redneck V6 is one of the very VERY few gimmies for the grade at HP40..or in the south for that matter.  I think it was originally V7…I better stop before it gets downgraded 🙂  I was happy to send this one as well.  Atypically steep for HP40, this picturesque boulder problem climbs the stunning overlook, the furthest right-most developed boulder at HP40.  A tough start move leads to several “hero” long moves between good holds.  A key heel-toe cam and some smaller holds give way to a handle-bar jug and an easy topout!  Voila… What a classic!!

Ashley Hamilton – Red Neck V6

Ashley Hamilton – Red Neck V6

I figured I was going strong, and sending all my projects, so I figured I’d get greedy and go for the throat with one of my life goal boulder problems: Great White “V7.”
Great White is fairly difficult to find if you do not know where it is.  It took me some walking around to find it and I remember it being much taller in my dreams, but this perfect boulder sits down in a hole.  
By many standards, this arete is the perfect boulder problem.  An obvious start leads way to awesome movement up the seemingly only path up this small boulder problem.  The friction is course (good) but friendly and the movement is unlike any other problem I’ve been on!  Nope…you don’t lay this one away!  
First business is figuring out how to hold the arete with both hands.  I did this by working my hands on the arete until I could “dead hang” it (see photo.)  From here, I worked out the start beta and slowly worked the moves.  I felt like I was hitting diminishing returns, but was super psyched to send the problem my last conceivable go of the trip when I was completely dead, beat and destroyed!! I screamed for all I was worth when I grabbed the top – more of a glory scream than pain or fear.  Yeah!! This is what life is all about.
Figuring out how to hold the arete on Great White V7 Photo Julia Statler
The classic “French” technique of smacking the rock with your shirt on Great White V7.  Photo Julia Statler

Stick this then go again left hand above right hand on Great White V7.  Photo Julia Statler

This is not the beta….its better to stay full on until the next move!  Photo Julia Statler

That’s the beta.  Great White V7.  Photo Julia Statler

Ashley Hamilton.  Hammerhead V5. 

Ashley Hamilton – Sideline V5