Strom Chasin and Ice Road Truckin

After leaving The Red just after Thanksgiving, I decided to head further south to check out the bouldering in the Chattanooga, Tennessee area. As usual, I brought the weather with me. I arrived in Chattanooga just at the start of an unseasonable wet spell that was going to last a week.Still psyched, I decided to check out the Stone Fort climbing area, only twenty minutes from downtown Chattanooga. My friend Tim gave me the grand wet tour of all the classic features. This has to be some of the best rock that I have see anywhere in this country. The features and colors almost look fake.

Southern boulders!

Southern boulders!

Rather than mope about, I decided it would be a good idea to check out some of the climbing gyms in the area to try and get some power and finger strength back after a month of only sport climbing. The first day I check out the Tennessee Bouldering Authority (TBA). Although the gym is small, it is packed with everything one would need to get strong: steep walls, hang boards, campus boards, etc. So naturally, I got my ass kicked. I certainly confirmed my theory that climbing one style for a long time makes you an all around weaker climber.I felt incredibly weak. I was able to climb about half as hard as I could when I left Boston. I would try grabbing holds that I could once campus on, and watched my hands open up and peel off. I had some work to do.

I spent the next two days climbing at Highpoint Climbing and Fitness. This gym had only opened a few days prior to my arrival and has an amazing location on the downtown strip of Chattanooga. Despite the gym not being completely finished, it was still an impressive facility and I look forward to seeing the finished product. Although it seemed like I lost a lot of power in The Red, it was coming back quickly. I was improving by about a number grade a day.

The lead wall at Highpoint

The lead wall at Highpoint

After three rainy days, I had two options: stay in Chattanooga and wait for the good weather to come, or make the drive to Hueco. With the forecast showing no signs of the weather improving, I made the obvious choice: head west in search of better weather. All together it is about a twenty-hour drive, so I decided to make a stop in Dallas (about 11.5 hours from Chat) and say hi to my good friends Brian and Jazmin.

Taking a break from driving to check out some the incredible wildlife in Texas.

Taking a break from driving to check out some the incredible wildlife in Texas.

The first leg of the drive went smoothly until I made it to Dallas, which had just been hit with a major ice storm.The city had pretty much been shut down for several days because everything, especially the highways, were covered in several inches of ice. Leaving early the next morning, I had hoped that the road conditions would improve as soon as I left Dallas. FALSE. The roads got progressively worse as I headed further west. The only other vehicles on the highway were semis, many of which were just parked in the highway, unable to move. After nearly four hours of essentially off-roading on ice, I had barely reached a top speed of 40mph.I eventually bailed on the highway and found an alternate route where the roads were equally as icy, but with no semis. HUGE improvement.

After a few more hours the sun came out, the temperature rose above freezing and the roads began to thaw. Then, almost instantly, the roads were clear and it was 55 and sunny. I had broken free from the shitty weather vortex and was well on my way to El Paso. What should have been an 8.5 hour drive turned into 16 hours of traveling. Now I am safe and sound in Hueco tanks. Glad that it’s over and I’m ready to climb some boulders!huecosign

Here is a little video from a couple days of my trip last time I was here two years ago:

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