Trip Reports - 5/8/99 - Linville Gorge, NC - "Follow the
"I've bought a rack, and I need to break it in" wrote
Chase Crowson, a fellow Flatliner
living in Atlanta, Georgia.
Enlarge photo of Chase
"Then we should head for Table
Rock!" I wrote back. We compared schedules, and matched
up a few days on the first weekend in May. It took no coercion at
all for Chris Braund to slip away from Columbia, South Carolina,
and join us for the day Saturday. It would turn out to be
a wonderful weekend. I envied the relatively short (four hour) drives
my partners would have as I set out Friday evening for Table Rock,
North Carolina, from Gainesville, Florida. At nearly 580 miles,
it's one of the longest drives I regularly make for a "weekend"
climbing trip, but worth the effort. I paused for some sleep at
a rest stop in South Carolina around 11 PM, then resumed my
journey at 3:30 AM Saturday morning. Chase and Chris were ready
in the parking lot when I pulled in around 8 AM.
larger view of Table Rock
We selected the "Cave Route 5.5*" as a suitable climb
for Chase to get warmed up on. It's probably the most popular route
at Table Rock. The first pitch is bolted, the second takes gear
well. Chase led both pitches to the Lunch Ledge, with assurances
from both Chris and I he had done a fine job. Gear placements were
solid, the rope ran clean, his anchor setups were good.
Chris led our next route, named My Route 5.6*, from the Lunch Ledge
to the summit. The first pitch is bolted, then mounts a small roof,
with a scramble to the top via a series of mossy ledges. Again
a fine, fun route. It was unusually clear that day, the pink azaleas
were blooming everywhere, the sun shone warm. A picture perfect
day. We admired the distant horizons for a while before descending
the foot trail that leads to the base of the mountain.
View larger image of Chase
on The Cave Route
You guys wanna see Devil's Cellar? I asked. "Its on the way..."
Devil's Cellar is located on the "backside" of Table Rock,
a narrow chasm formed between the cliff faces of the mountain and
an enormous buttress of stone. Descending from the summit on the
mile long hiking trail to the parking lot, we detoured onto a side
trail that led around the west face of the mountain. It led up to
the mouth of the Devil's Cellar. I showed my partners what I knew
of the area, then we dragged out the guidebook to see what the rock
had to offer.
Enlarge image of Chase on
still cascaded down several likely routes from a rainstorm last
night limiting our selection. I spied Quiver 5.7+ *, a nice
traversing route up the buttress, but started it by challenging
the bulging roofs of Raining Again 5.10. Once above the roofs, it
is easy to divert left onto Quiver. It was a fun route with some
unique challenges. We all enjoyed and recommend it.
View larger image
of Devil's Cellar
finished the day back on the east side of Table Rock, on another
new route for us all, Blood, Sweat, and Tears 5.7*. Chris took the
lead again on this single pitch route. We rappelled back down to
the trail, and hiked back to the parking lot for dinner. Chris would
have to leave in the morning, but what a day to remember. Warm,
sunny, clear, just enough breeze, great routes, good company, all
the best things of climbing.
See larger image
left Chase and I with another clear warm day. It was an opportunity
that was too valuable to waste, a good time to head down into Linville
Gorge. We'd done the six pitch ascent of the Prow 5.4 here
last year, and Chase was eager to get on more of the long and spectacular
routes in this remote and beautiful wilderness. It takes about 45
minutes to hike to the area known as the Amphitheater,
a large side canyon off the main gorge hosting many classic climbs.
See large photo of Chris
scrambled down the slippery descent gully onto the sloping floor
of the canyon. A small waterfall coursed down from the head of the
gully, lively from the recent rain, and cascaded through the tangled
rhododendrons downward towards the Linville River at the base of
the canyon. We spent some time exploring a trail along the South
wall of the Amphitheater (a.k.a. we were lost for a while),
then rejoined the main trail to descend to the base of the Mummy
Buttress. This monolith holds the two most popular routes in the
area, The Mummy 5.5* and The Daddy 5.6*. We were fortunate to be
the first ones to The Daddy, a new climb for both of us . The climb
went well, with Chase leading the first two pitches, and me the
next three. Great climb, great time. We celebrated with lunch on
View large photo of The
spent the rest of the afternoon sitting at the base of The Mummy.
We attempted to rappel to the base so we could climb the route,
but one of our ropes got stuck. We made it to the bottom of the
climb, but were stuck there. A party had started up the route, and
we would have to wait for them to move ahead of us. We were lucky
enough that they freed our rope from the top of the second pitch.
We were unlucky enough to lose our enthusiasm for the climb, as
the hour was getting late. We scrambled out of the gorge and hiked
back to the parking lot. Dinner, and quiet night followed.
View larger photo of Chase
on The North Ridge
We awoke Monday with an ambitious list of climbs to tackle on Table
Rock before we left at noon. We started with The North Ridge 5.5*,
to be led by Chase. The plan was to climb to the end of the second
pitch, rappel back to the ground, and move on to the adjacent climb
White Light 5.8+. Things did not go as planned. When Chase asked
me which crack the second pitch followed, I misdirected him to the
right. Oops. Too long since I last climbed this route. The detour
caused him to miss the next belay ledge entirely, and run up to
the summit. Now we were stuck. No good anchor presented for returning
to the bottom of the North Ridge. We would instead, have to rappel
down the East face of the mountain, and hike back to retrieve our
gear left at the base of the climb. By the time all this transpired,
noon was upon us. We returned to the parking lot, and headed into
Morganton for lunch at El Chapala, a Mexican restaurant on the outskirts
of town. Good food, inexpensive, and they'll even serve smelly climbers.
We said good-bye after lunch, and returned to the Interstate Highway
for the trip home.
Enlarge photo of Wayne
Submitted by Wayne Busch
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