Back from Foster Falls

So we’re back from our trip. Originally a foray into the entire Southeastern United States climbing zones, I had planned a whole extravaganza of climbing and driving. This got whittled down to what I like to call “the Bermuda Triangle of Climbing”, i.e. Rocktown to Foster Falls to Sandrock (you could substitute Rocktown for HP40 if you’re so inclined.) This Triad Of Doom would include bouldering (Rocktown or HP40), technical vert (Foster Falls), and then fun vert (Sandrock). We ended up hitting Rocktown (where I sent Double Trouble at The Orb – V4/5!), and then just spending the rest of our time at Foster Falls.
The reality of it is that Foster Falls is pretty darned badassed as a climbing area. A highly enjoyable, highly varied area with plenty of climbs and plenty of variety. No question, though: stay away from the easy stuff. The climbs start getting really fun at 5.10a. Before that, some of the 9’s are halfway decent, but there’s an 8 – Bear Mountain Picnic – that really, really, really, really sucks. Especially if you’re not 6 feet tall. Which I am. But Shaunna’s not. And even I found it pretty unenjoyable.
Aside from this, though, there were some seriously great climbs, and there’s a couple of roof areas (the left and right bunker) that are unbelievably sweet. All 5.12’s and 13’s, and incredibly epic climbs. There’s lots to climb, and the falls – while not especially prolific due to a bit of a drought – are a beautiful area to hang out and swim around (very very very cold water). The camping is fantastic, lots of canopy to guard against rain, very clean and well kept.
Anyway, I would definitely recommend it as a destination for intermediate to advanced climbers – I’m not sure beginners would have a super fabulous time at Foster Falls. And if you’re going there, make absolutely sure you pick up the Dixie Cragger’s Guide. It is an indispensable guide to not just the Foster Falls area, but the whole Tennessee scene (which is pretty extensive), and there’s a separate volume for ‘Bama and Georgia. It has maps and topos and all kinds of information about the routes, so it’s very easy to find everything.
My only caveat: if you’re going to Rocktown, grab the topo here. Includes directions on how to get there (and they’re mostly accurate).
Running to Dr Topo to get the link to the Rocktown guide, I found this video of Jason Kehl’s home away from home (or maybe it really is his home?) Either way, he’s a sick climber, and the video is amusing for a couple of reasons. Biggest one for me? No matter how rural or backcountry the area you’re climbing in, no matter where you are, you can almost always find yourself a 24-hour Super WalMart to take the browns to the Superbowl. It’s true.

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