What is up boys and girls apparently when I took up the role of tech chair and started doing trip reports to encourage people to write about adventures it actually meant I'm the only one who's actually gonna bother writing them but well here we go.
How in the damn world did I not visit this freaking amazing place for the raddest day of climbing and partying ever. Note that this trip report is gonna be about the competition (The Fifth Testament) but if you're looking for more beta on the climbing and camping etc I'm sure mountain project has more info.
So a bit on the history:
This past weekend I was down at the Holies for my very first time (but most certainly not my last) reppin the U of I with club members past and present. Along with Reuven, Lance, Conor and Paige, we loaded up sketchy van with 5 crash pads and drove down Friday night. The path in is much better paved than Jackson but take note of animals at night that like to live life on the edge by moving into the path of a 1 ton vehicle (we almost hit a hawk I say again a FLYING BIRD not some deer imagine having the ability to soar hundreds of feet in the sky and almost die on the road getting hit by a sketchy van). Note that the competition venue is not the same as the normal access so follow directions in accordingly. Had dinner along the way and got into the campsite around 11 to set up our tents. Fun fact sketchy van's rear tires got mud stuck in the threads and couldn't back out from the little slope on the grass so 7 guys had to push her back out to the straight path. Fun stuff. I hung out by the campfire to chat with a couple of people from Columbia, Missouri for a bit and went to sleep after I decided I smelled of enough burnt wood.
First thing I woke up at 7.30am and was confused why I ended up in Silent Hill but it was just a mist that was passing through. Quite the bummer for my first time at the Holy Boulders but still we didn't let that get in our way. Bagels were provided by First Ascent and coffee by Steam Shovel. After the registration admin and welcome speech, we were off to start the competition!
Some competition deets:
As per Reuven's recommendation I did Circuitmaster with him and it was awesome. Unlike the other categories, we got to try out a lot more problems (albeit easy ones) and still we barely got around half of the places we intended to do. Reuven got 24 and I got 27 total, mostly V0s and a few V1-3s. It's much less than expected but fair enough conditions were far from ideal and we ended up spending more time on easy problems than we wanted to. Highlights for me were Mollusk (V2), Lowrider (V3) and Sukha (V3, which I unfortunately could not send but will be back for). I believe Paige was doing beginner while Lance and Conor were doing intermediate/advanced on some crazier problems.
A cool thing about the comp is that there are so many people working on problems in the area so there was no lack of crash pads; everyone was super friendly and chill about sharing, not to mention very supportive to give encouragement and proper spotting for fellow climbers. A thing to note however is that if you are doing Circuitmaster, it's ideal for you and a partner to move together and each bring a crash pad, cause if you're moving around quickly, the less popular problems may not have people there and you'll need your own pads.
Around 4pm we got back and tallied up our scores and submitted them, then got ourselves some tasty dinner (pulled pork sandwich with sides ~$10). Everyone gathered around the stage area as prize presentation took place. For reference, Reuven and I scored ~4000 points, and the first place of Circuitmaster was 80 climbs with 15,000 points, so we were not remotely close. Next was the sweet raffling/schwagiving's where Lois snagged a stray bag of loose chalk while I managed to deadpoint the dyno for a Prana chalk bag.
Now for the best part - the after party. I am still disappointed that so many club members didn't come for the comp or at the least for the party but well they're the ones missing out cause it was dope. Won't say too much but there may have been:
A lot happened that night and I couldn't remember too much other than waking up like 4 times throughout the night to take a leak, but I reckon it was a wild party.
Next morning the rain began to roll in so we decided to bail and head home early. Driving out in the day was a treat though, with the road out looking like a yellow tunnel with the lovely fall colors at its peak. We stopped by Carbondale for some brunch at Harbaugh's Cafe and I highly recommend it. There's good reason why it was a full house; fantastic food and great service at a reasonable price. Highly recommend it if you're passing through (they're only open till 2pm though).
And that's a wrap! My first time to the Holy Boulders was fantastic and I can't wati to come back. I just want to end off with something that really stood out for me the night of the party (in my potentially less than sober state that I still remember). I was talking to Doug from the ICA board and he mentioned that more than a fund raiser, this is really just an event to get the tribe together and have a good time. And that word really struck me - 'tribe'.
Jackson and Holy Boulders aren't really premier climbing destinations; it certainly isn't up there with places like the Red or Yosemite. Yet there is that sense of attachment to these places beyond it's rock quality and familiar roads for me. The people who make up this climbing tribe here in Illinois, whether they still live here or have moved on, still continue to care deeply for this place that we treasure, and for the people who they share it with. At the Holies, it didn't seem like a gathering of a few hundred strangers who came to climb and win. Rather it seemed almost like a reunion of this massive extended family, who are all connected to one another in some way. This feeling of inclusiveness from the tribe, and at the same time, exclusiveness of being part of this unique tribe, is something that I have never really felt before, and I am thankful to have been a part of this.
A huge shoutout to the ICA for organizing this amazing competition and beyond that, for the effective management and preservation of our climbing areas that we sometimes take for granted. Thanks to Philip and Kate for allowing all of us to access their private property and hosting hundreds of people for such a great event. And of course, thank you to the U of I fam, past and present, for continuing to support the Holy Boulders.
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