Rock Climbing Pennsylvania: Governor Stable Meltdown Outdoor Bouldering Competition Recap

Editor's note: As of September 1, 2015, Governor Stable is closed to climbing. But that doesn't mean I didn't have a blast at this competition back in 2011!

Governor Stable, located in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, is a 37 acre tract of land with over 100 climbable boulders no more 15 minutes of walking apart. According to Lancaster Online, a group of climbers first secured a lease for ten acres of the land from private landowners when bouldering started gaining popularity.

Trespassing problems forced them to shut down climbing for several years, but the Friends of Governor Stable (FroGS) organization recently signed a new lease and reopened the area officially in January of 2011. Climbing is allowed to members only eight months of the year for an annual fee, or during open climb day for non-members. To me, the membership makes sense. It’s meant to promote responsible climbing and will help preserve access for future generations.

Last weekend’s Meltdown Bouldering Competition was my first opportunity to visit Governor Stable, and the first outdoor comp I’ve done. After watching rain fall all day Friday, we were all concerned the comp would be postponed. Thankfully, it wasn't, and FroGS assured us the rock was dry. It was, mostly…

Competitors received a mini guide with a list of every established problem in the area, its name and rating along with a short explanation of how the problem is meant to be climbed. To climb Casablanca (V3), for example, climbers are instructed to “Start on big square cut jug and pull through to a thinner top out.” These one liners certainly weren’t beta, but did help us make sure we climbed each problem from the correct start to the correct finis

Competitors had from 10am to 5:30pm to climb and the top ten problems counted toward each competitor’s total point score. No bonuses for flashing problems were given and two fellow climbers had to sign off on each completed problem. All climbs were assigned a point value from 20 to 1200 and climbers could earn bonus points for climbing a circuit of specific problems.

In addition to beginner (V0-V2), intermediate (V3-V5), advanced (V5-V7) and open (V8+) categories, an climbers could enter the "enduro” category and win by climbing the highest number of problems. Strangely, no one entered it!

Bouldering Outside Isn't Like Bouldering Inside

I’d considered the intermediate category during preregistration given the grades I typically climb indoors. But, as we all know, climbing outdoors is different from climbing indoors. It almost feels like a completely different sport to me, and the number of days I’ve bouldered outside remains in the single digits. Throughout the day, I couldn’t come close to consistently climbing the grades I’ve achieved inside. I also don’t ever recall a day where I’d managed ten problems at V3 and above indoors! So, into the beginner category I went.

I warmed up on Biscuit (V0) with Paul and two other climbers spotting. The problem is easy, but it had been at least a year since I’d topped out on anything. I reached the top and hesitated while my climbing partner told me I had as much time as I needed. Throwing my toe over the last edge, I mantled up on my right hand and crawled to the top of the boulder, heart pounding.

It took all day for the adrenaline rushes to fade each time I came close to topping out. I was, as always, surprised and elated by the support from other climbers! It was humbling to spend the entire day working problems V3 and below and to battle so much fear on the top outs. Some of the boulders were definitely still wet from the downpour the day before, which made me nervous, as did the thin layer of green moss that had seemingly appeared overnight on some of the surfaces. But with so many boulders in such a concentrated area, there was no shortage of climbing!

The Results 

I had an amazing group of people to climb with. I was, as always, surprised by and grateful for the amount of support I got from strangers. After listening to a group of guys I didn’t know cheer me on side by side with good friend Paul during my first knee-shaking top out of the day, I knew I was among my community. (And FYI, Paul is one of the best climbing buddies anyone could ask for!) When I left my crash pad for friends working Casanova (V6), a complete stranger offered me her pad while I worked Chai Right (V2) and gave me a spot for the downclimb.

My favorite problem of the day was, by far, Casablanca (V3). It’s an area classic with a beautiful jug to start on and a significant lack of footholds to go with it. With enough body tension, I was able to keep my feet on the wall for the first move, a long throw to a knob with the right hand, which you have to hit before both feet peel off. There’s a heel hook and a bump from an intermediate to a crimp, the crux of the climb for me. It took a handful of tries, but I sent it and it was my highest point valued problem that day.

I ended up climbing eleven problems, earning just under 1000 points and winning the beginner category. Sponsors including East Ridge Outfitters, EMS, Climbnasium and Organic were incredibly generous with donated prizes, and my package included a free pair of Evolv shoes. I chose the Hera model and can’t wait for them to arrive! I also can’t wait for the next open climb day. Governor Stable is an amazing place!

Have you been to Governor Stable? Do you have favorite climbs there? Tell me in the comments!


Unknown said…
Thanks for coming out, competing, and enjoying our fine diabase at the Stables. Furthermore....thanks for blogging about us in such a positive light.
Dave Spigelmyer
FRoGS Board Member
Katie said…
Dave - You and the FroGS team have done the climbing community a great service by working to keep Governor Stable accessible. The comp was incredibly well run and I had an amazing time! Keep up the good work with the board, and maybe I'll see you out there soon :)
Unknown said…
Thank you...our pleasure to serve the community and keep this magical area open. Hit me up on fb anytime ur around...we will gather the crew.
practicalgirl said…
i was one of the few ladies there as well. i don't know why comps are always it just plain ol' statistics? there are more men engaging in the sport than women....? haven't come to a conclusion yet. either way it was a good time.
tammyO. said…
i was one of the few ladies there as well. i don't know why comps are always it just plain ol' statistics? there are more men engaging in the sport than women....? haven't come to a conclusion yet. either way it was a good time.
Benstrine said…
hey man. i was the winner of the beginners comp!!!! this is shit!!!
Benstrine said…
sorry my bad. i did not see at the very bottom that you were talking about ladies beginners