Southern sandstone would be bouldering nirvana if it wasn’t for the friction-destroying summer heat. The rest of the year, however, it’s pure bliss. The woods in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Southern Illinois, and Tennessee contain endless cliffbands and boulders of tight-grained sandstone, featured with baby-butt slopers, jug horns, huecos, pockets, and classic micro-crimps. Some of the proudest, most singular lines in the world can be found here, problems that make you go, “I want to climb that,” even if your pay grade doesn’t match the V-grade.
THE ORB (V8), ROCKTOWN, GEORGIA
Perhaps the most famous Southern problem, this oft- photographed traverse moves along a UFO-shaped boulder on bulbous slopers. More remote than HP40 or Stone Fort, Rocktown has the classic features that define Southern sandstone, all on a pristine, forested plateau.
Nearby classics: Golden Shower (V5), Sherman Photo Roof (V7), Golden Harvest (V10)
MORTAL KOMBAT (V4), HORSE PENS 40, ALABAMA
The 20- foot, smooth, steep arête of Mortal Kombat is a rare American bouldering feature— one that climbs as good as it looks. Tall and spooky, with a bad landing that merits a slew of pads, this problem requires moving with conviction to the scoop at the top. The privately owned Horse Pens 40, situated on a mountaintop in northeast Alabama, might be one of the best moderate zones in the US.
Nearby classics: Millipede (V6), Moon Arête (V6)
THE SHIELD (V12), STONE FORT, TENNESSEE
On a golf course above Chattanooga, Tennessee, there’s a lightning-bolt seam that strikes though immaculate sandstone:
The Shield. First climbed by the French boulderer Tony Lamiche in 2006, the problem starts on a pair of jugs under a bulge and then climbs a smooth, overhanging wall of seams to top out 18 feet above the loamy soil.
Nearby classics: The Wave (V6), Celestial Mechanics (V7)
FIN DIESEL (V4), HURRICANE, ARKANSAS
As Cole Fennel hilariously notes in his awesome new guidebook
Arkansas Bouldering, the striking, semi-highball arête/blade of Fin
Diesel at the Hurricane Boulders is “better than the entire Fast
and Furious collection combined.” Things can be a little moist and shady here, but the bullet gray stone is reminiscent of the best of Fontainebleau and well worth a visit, especially with the new, improved approach beta.
Nearby Classics: Lost and Found (V2), Totem Pole (V6), Buzz Saw (V7)