Stone Fort Recap
Words By Kevin Jorgeson
Photos by Sarah Gale
For those unfamiliar, The Triple Crown Bouldering Series is presented by Rock/Creek and has three stops: Horse Pens 40 in Alabama, Hound Ears in North Carolina, and The Stone Fort (formerly Little Rock City) in Tennessee. The goal of these events is twofold: First and foremost, the mission is to raise funds for the Southeastern Climbers’ Coalition and the Carolina Climbers’ Coalition. Secondly, these unique events provide the vendors to promote the sport of bouldering. These two goals go hand in hand as access is sensitive in these areas. As the number of climbers that practice bouldering grows, education and awareness of responsible land use is key.
Thanks in large part to the work done by the event directors, Chad Wykle and Jim Horton, in conjunction with the SCC, CCC and Rock/Creek, a strong community has been developed in the South, access to many areas has been secured and positive relationships have been developed with private land-owners, BLM, and National Forest management alike. The night before the comp, Rock/Creek hosted the premiere of Andrew Kornylak and Josh Fowler’s new movie, Heart of Stone. Over 400 people came out to watch the film, which focuses on the past successes and present challenges to climbing access in the Southeast. Lisa Rands, Tommy Caldwell, Beth Rodden-Caldwell, myself, and other regional activists also spoke out at the premiere in an effort to raise funds and awareness.
Departing for my first Triple Crown event, I was planning on being a spectator due to the nature of my recently injured finger. However, it only took 5 minutes at the bouldering area to realize that my injury was no match for a little tape and determination.
In its sixth consecutive year, The Triple Crown Bouldering Series has been growing in popularity. Over 480 climbers registered to compete in the last stop of the 2008 tour, enough to require 4 school buses and a Uhaul truck to transport everyone and their crash pads!
Conditions were prime, with the temperatures hovering just above freezing most of the morning and evening. To stay warm, I only needed a Power Stretch Full Zip Jacket and the TR6 Jacket. The Power Stretch provided the perfect balance of warmth, comfort, and flexibility. The TR6 was light enough to pack into my carry on baggage and the synthetic insulation kept me plenty warm between climbs.
Despite having so many climbers in one area, it rarely felt crowded. The long stretch of boulders spread out the crowds so that you could enjoy yourself on the problems. The sheer diversity of style and difficulty that Stone Fort provides is amazing. With grades for all levels and angles for every style, you were bound to find climbs that not only suited you, but also left you smiling long after you topped out.
I spent the first half of the day cruising around, climbing as many easy classics as I could find. Let me say, there are a lot! Despite the event technically being a competition, it didn’t feel like it. There was the occasional stressful moment for climbers when an important climb did not come together, but on the whole, the atmosphere was that of a day out bouldering with A LOT of friends.
As the day progressed, I was psyched to see some of the hard climbs the area had to offer, in particular, The Shield. This beautiful wall is made possible by an intricate series of seams and edges up an otherwise blank sandstone wall. Despite my finger, I could not resist a few attempts. I did all the moves pretty quickly, but in the end did not link it all together. After not bouldering for over two months, it felt good to try really hard again. Here is a picture of my friend Max coming close.
Moving on from this line, I returned to a nice 30′ wall that we had walked past on the way to The Shield. What makes Stone Fort so unique is the features the rock provides. Sandstone is typically blank in nature, with sloping features dominating the landscape. At Stone Fort however, you see the features typical of volcanic rock (pockets, knobs, and perfect edges) but with the texture of sandstone. This wall in particular was riddled with knobs, creating a puzzle of holds to sort through from start to finish.
Overall, the 2008 Triple Crown Bouldering Series was a great success, raising over $20,000 for local access initiatives. A big thank you goes out to Rock/Creek as the driving force behind the event, Marmot as the title sponsor, the SCC, the CCC, and all the companies that supported these events. Access to climbing is a privilege, not a right, and the work done in the South has set a great example for how to approach, negotiate, secure and respect land for climbing on.
Marmot has been a long-time supporter of the Triple Crown Bouldering Series and 2008 marked Marmot’s second year as Title Sponsor. Kevin Jorgeson has been a Marmot Athlete for several years and has climbed at the Triple Crown, Yosemite, England and more in the past year. Learn more about him on marmotpro.com.
Watch Heart of Stone, a new film by Andrew Kornylak celebrating rock climbing in the Southeastern United States which debuted at the 2008 Triple Crown during a special event hosted by Rock/Creek Outfitters.