Tuesday, March 3, 2009

I Escaped in Southern Illinois

I just got back from a trip to Southern Illinois and I’m nearly dead.

The weekend flew by and many boulders were sent. We picked up Brion Voges on Friday afternoon in Knoxville and made our escape to Carbondale, Il to meet up with Jimmy Webb, Kasia Pietras, Scott Gross, Ryan Carl, and Nate Drolet. The eight of us smashed into a small hotel room and woke up to snow, sleet, and shattered dreams…

We decided to kill time at Cracker Barrel and hope that it would dry out and after a dozen pancakes or so we headed off in search of the Holy Boulders…

Spirits were low as we rolled into the parking lot as snow was falling but we decided to go up and scope out the boulders and see if they were dry. 15 minutes later we were standing under bone dry rock and the assault began. The goal of the trip was to get on Jungle Book (V8) and The New Zero (V13) so we headed over to that area after a quick warm up and jumped right on the Jungle Book.

The impeccable Sandstone of So Ill...

The Jungle Book is flawless and unique and has very high quality rock, smooth sandstone with perfectly shaped slopers and pockets. I was able to flash with a bit of dubious campusing and I think that this problem is one of the better V8’s I have completed. I would say top 5 V8’s in the country that I have seen and climbed on and that list includes The Nothing (Mt. Evans) and Reach for a Peach (Tuolumne).

Kasia on The Jungle Book (V8)

Brion on the Jungle Book mid crux

Jimmy on the Jungle Book

Just to the right of Jungle Book is the intimidating Jason Kehl problem, The New Zero, and we promptly threw pads under it and started throwing ourselves at it. Brion tried it a bit and ultimately gave up to leave Jimmy and myself to do the dirty work. Jimmy was nowhere near sticking the crux throw to the lip and I was slapping it and swinging off so we were getting frustrated.

The crux involves a long lock off to a very bad and weird left hand sloper. From that position you have to hand heel match and thrutch to a blind sloping rail over the lip that is very hard to stick and the fall is a bit intimidating. We gave it a bit of rest as a very cold breeze picked up and 30 minutes later Jimmy miraculously stuck the move and sent the problem! I had a very good try where I stuck the hold but barely touched the tree and I knew it was going to go.

The next attempt was perfect, I grabbed the left hand sloper perfectly and tossed up and snagged the rail with all four fingers and held the swing, pogoed to the finish jug and I was on top.

The Holy Boulders in Southern Illinois.
Jungle Book and The New Zero...

I could not have asked for better weather, the vibe was excellent, and the problem was my style. I had completed my first 8B. I got the fourth ascent of the bloc after Kehl, Capps, and Webb and I couldn’t be more thrilled. This send further confirms my original thought that Kratos is solid 8B. I think that The New Zero is a full grade harder than The Shield and I think that it stands proudly as one of the best boulder problems I have done.

Ring O' Fire...

We played around on a few other problems to finish off the day and headed back to Carbondale to relax for the next days adventure.

Early Sunday morning we headed to Jackson Falls. Suspicious Dr. Topo directions told us that there is a road with a small wooded sign that we were supposed to turn down but that sign had been removed and a street sign replaced it called street road (no joke…)

The Jackson Falls bouldering area is in a beautiful setting and there is a very large quantity of good moderates. The goal was to get on Body Karate (V9) and David & Goliath (V8) and to head over to Drapers and try a Matt Bliss* classic called Guns and Roses (V9).

We warmed up and Brion sent the impossibly hard Praying Mantle (V8) and we headed over to David & Goliath which had recently broken so I did the stand start (I think) and I also did Body Karate despite it being wet and under murder ice that was constantly falling on us. On the way out I stopped by a fun little problem called Titellist (V9) and was able to flash and we headed out to Drapers.

Body Karate

Nate on Body Karate

Footwiser (V8)

Brion on David & Goliath (V8)

Nate on Praying Mantle (V8)

Brion on Praying Mantle

Drapers was very unique and the entrance to the parking lot is guarded with this sign…

That doesn’t happen much. The boulders and cliff are located on private land owned by a climber so he only grants climbers access to the rock, which is fantastic. We hiked up to Guns and Roses and gave it a few tries before we had to head home. No success on that beautiful problem but one day we will be back.

We tried to get back Sunday night but there was 8” of snow on the ground in Boone and still falling. We stayed at Brion’s dorm in Knoxville and woke up early and drove back ready for work and school but school was canceled and I hate work so I didn’t go… go figure…

I am trying to get my act together for Bishop. Nate and I leave on Thursday and we are meeting up with Jimmy and Kasia in Vegas.

I am also working on a Remier of our 2007 mega cult classic Boone bouldering film, Satisfaction. Hopefully, the film will be showing at Dragonfly sometime near the end of the month so get your tip sweat ready becasue we are gonna make it rain in tha theatre..

Jon G.


  1. guns & roses
    fa matt bliss

    congrats on your trip

  2. you did New Zero?! Holy Moles thats good!
    good video too....

  3. Yo, rad trip. Awesome footage and send of The New Zero. That has to be the coolest private property sign ever.

  4. freakin' blogmaster!

    way to be.

  5. i must have me some junglebook.

  6. damn... the new zero... so much more worthy looking than a park problem...

    nice, bitch!

    nice indeed.

    when you fell i yelled "taco bell"

  7. Nice Job Boys! Some of the best stone around and you only saw the older stuff. Better luck next time on Guns+Roses! Didn't a girl send that?
    Hook me up with a link kid!!!
    get some!

  8. Linked. Thought I had that one up there. Can't believe i didn't really...
    We need a tour of the new boulders you put up. we saw some stuff but im sure it was the tip of the iceberg...

    Next Time...

  9. Wait. girls cant climb that hard...
    its just impossible.

  10. Well executed, sir! I must, however, implore you to stop climbing until I can once again participate in a similar activity outside of the confines of the ME Rock Gym else I may off myself in a dramatic and probably humiliating way.

  11. Damn. So pissed I couldn't video this trip. Where are you headed next? Vegas? Hook me up with a link too!

    P.S. Lilly Boulders vid should be done by now . . . wicked busy, it will be done very soon!

  12. You got it Jordan. heading to Vegas right now. Ill work the loose slots for ya...

    see you in a few weeks...

  13. sounds like a nice trip. i was just down there last weekend and went to jackson, the roost, and the holies. a road on the way to the holies had a name change recently too.. i dont know what theyre doin down there!