This past Saturday kicked off the first leg of the 2010 Triple Crown Bouldering Series at the Hound Ears boulders in Boone, North Carolina. Taking place within Hound Ears Club's gated golf-resort community, the access-magicians of Triple Crown get this normally-closed area opened to climbers once a year through participation in the Triple Crown bouldering competition.
The Triple Crown comps are among the most successful in the country and the Hound Ears bouldering comp, celebrating its 17th birthday this year, is among the longest running. Consistent with that reputation, this year's comp was a massive success. Weather gods smiled, giving the more than 400 psyched competitors crisp conditions on a perfectly sunny October day. Classics like The Heretic (V3), FucYo (V9), The Blade (V6), Flash or Trash (V5), and The Guillotine (V0) took more ascents than they'd seen in months, and just as many victims along the way.
"I think it went really well," said Jim Horton, co-organizer of the Triple Crown Bouldering Series, along with Chad Wykle. "The weather was great, and we had nice, crisp conditions despite the rain a couple days prior. As usual, we also included lots of little bonuses to help entertain everyone." Among those bonuses was the opening of a whole new sector in the boulderfield, the Creek Area, where climbers enjoyed new classics like You Only Bounce Twice (V1), Birth Quake (V4) and Disasteroid (V6).
Another favorite new bonus to the event was a brand new comp category called Premium Blend. "We put together two lists of [the boulderfield's] classic three-star problems," explained Horton. "The first person who turned in their score sheet having completed one of the Premium Blend won that category." Like Triple Crown's Star Chaser category, Premium Blend rewards competitors not for the V-points they accumulate, but for the aesthetic value of the problems they can send. Competitors will have Premium Blend categories to look forward to at the Triple Crown series events coming up at Horse Pens 40 in Steele, Alabama, and The Stone Fort in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
As usual, Triple Crown hooked it up at Saturday evening's after-comp party and award ceremony: burritos, beverages, and wild music and entertainment from local garage bands. Winners and participants alike went away with arm-loads of killer prizes. Results from the Hound Ear's competition can be found at the Triple Crown Bouldering Series Website, triplecrownbouldering.org.
Triple Crown has been a boon for climbing access in the southeast, raising an enormous amount of funds and awareness for access issues throughout the region. "We've raised close to $150,000 for climbing access," says Horton. "We've paid leases and help purchase several areas, and we've also helped pay for various improvements to areas." Numerous crag and boulderfield acquisitions spearheaded by the Southeastern Climbers Coalition (SCC) and the Carolina Climbers Coalition (CCC) would have been impossible without Triple Crown.
At this year's Hound Ears competition, Triple Crown made a substantial cash donation, helping the CCC raise more than $6,000 for the Rumbling Bald Boulders Project. This CCC/Access Fund/Triple Crown project protected six acres of some of the best and most popular boulders in the Carolinas. "Rumbling Bald is one of the best bouldering and climbing areas in the Southeast," says Horton. "The tract of land we helped purchase was outside the state park's boundaries and contained in many peoples' opinion, including my own, some of the best problems there. It was probably worth it for French Maid (V7) alone."