Your wind-whipped face sets the tone for the day.
Muscles are aching, but you trudge on.
Dirt and sweat seep into your eyes, but the prize is within sight.
Inch by inch and foothold by foothold, you finally reach your destination: the top.
Nothing can beat this feeling.
If hanging from the side of the mountain doesn’t get your adrenaline pumping, nothing will this summer, as the High Country is home to some of the nation’s best rock climbing sites.
Millions of years of pressure, heat and other Earth-changing events have produced some of the most exhilarating climbs in the world as evident by countless mammoth boulders protruding from the rocky soils of the Appalachian Mountains.
Grandfather Mountain is home to some of the area’s better known rock climbing attractions and is sure to test your grit and dexterity in scaling these oblong natural structures.
Please be sure to stay on the trail ways while traversing Grandfather. There are several boulders scattered across the sides of the mountain, but heed the warnings of park officials.
If you are traveling from Boone, take N.C. 105 South toward Banner Elk and take a left onto U.S. 221 North. Stay alert, and pay attention to directional signs as the main entrance to the attraction will be on your left.
A town like Blowing Rock, which literally sits at the edge of the High Country on more or less of a cliff, is filled with boulder fields to fit a variety of skill levels.
According to booneboulders.com, the Lost Cove is a small, but impressive field of boulders with a “high concentration of problems” that is very close to Grandfather Mountain.
To reach the Cove from Boone, take N.C. 105 South toward Banner Elk. Once you reach Tynecastle, stay straight until you reach a stop sign. When you reach a four-way stop sign, take Roseboro Road, and stay on this road until you reach the Blue Ridge Parkway. Go approximately 1.1 miles across the parkway down a gravel road. There will be a couple of boulders on the left, according to booneboulders.com.
Before you set out to punish the rocks and dirt of Appalachia, heed a few simple warnings from trained professionals and outfitters.
Regardless of where you go this summer, be sure to pack the appropriate rock climbing safety equipment and make sure you are not trespassing in reaching your destination.
Jacob Crigler, a member of the sales staff of Footsloggers and Rock Dimensions in Boone, said that before you go out and purchase the latest rock climbing equipment, contact a professional to show you the ropes before you are found dangling upside down at a nearby cliff side.
“Rock climbing, for the most part, is really safe, but it can be unsafe if using ill practices,” Crigler said.
Footsloggers and Rock Dimensions in downtown Boone are ready to equip any climber whether beginner or a rocky seasoned pro.
For beginners, climbing shoes, harnesses and jock bags are all necessities.
“From there, it depends on the style they are pursuing,” Crigler said. “We offer a climber anything they would need to go sport climbing and traditional climbing.”
Sport climbing involves clipping quick draws into bolts permanently bolted into the rock.
“That’s how you keep yourself safe in the event of a fall,” he added.
Traditional climbing includes packing, carrying and placing climbing gear into weaknesses, such as cracks and crevices, into the side of the mountain.
“Sport climbing focuses on the pure aspect of climbing,” Crigler said. “Sport can be more difficult than traditional because you can just focus on climbing itself.”
For more information on picking up the latest gear, call Footsloggers and Rock Dimensions at (828) 262-5111. You can also visit them at 139 Depot St. in downtown Boone.
Younger and aspiring climbers should check out Rock Dimensions Climbing Adventure Camp 2014. The camp is opened to ages 8 to 16 and will held be held over five sessions.
The climbing adventure camp provides five days of land based outdoor activities that includes rock climbing, rappelling, caving, ropes and a challenge course.
The climate of the camp is positive, respectful and encouraging, according to the Rock Dimensions website.
Each day, the camp begins at the Climbing Tower at Footsloggers before exploring sites in Blowing Rock, Linville Gorge and other areas across the High Country — each day brings a new adventure.
The cost is $475 a person. The cost includes a Rock Dimension T-shirt. Camp dates are June 23 to 27, July 7 to 11, July 21 to 25 and Aug. 4 to 8. For more information, call (828) 265-3544.