In March, ten Sweet Briar students ventured to North Carolina to outdoor rock climb at two state parks. We were busy enjoying our surroundings for the whole trip. On the way down to Stone Mountain State Park, where we would camp for most of the trip, we stopped for a fun afternoon at Claytor Lake, then crossed over the border to stay at New River state park for a night. We learned how to pitch our tents, build a fire, and properly use a “privy” before settling in for our first of many nights playing games, chatting and singing around the fire. After a morning stroll through the woods the next day, we set off for Stone Mountain state park. Our first day at Stone Mountain was spent hiking the trails and discovering some beautiful waterfalls. That night, we enjoyed our first of many dinners from a Dutch oven, and settled into our sleeping bags for a good night of sleep before our first big day of climbing. On Monday, we set out for Pilot Mountain State Park, where we got our first orientation to outdoor climbing. We learned how to tie in to the ropes, belay, and use different types of hand and foot holds.
After our first full day of hard core climbing (and our first experience repelling), we hiked back to our car, and our night time campfire ritual began once again. Our second day at Pilot mountain exposed us to some harder climbs and interesting cliff features. We also began to learn some of the basics of multi-pitch climbing, which we would have the opportunity to try later in the week. The next day was our scheduled rest day, and Mother Nature decided to throw us some curve balls. Our patience was tested, and we learned that we may be able to climb a mountain, but the natural world will always have a mind of its own. Most of our morning was spent in a pavilion, learning some more skills for multi-pitch climbing while staying out of the rain. In the afternoon, we jumped in the van and searched for a bowling alley. The first alley we found turned out to be a demolished building in a parking lot, but we found another alley that was open and ready for a group of giggly, somewhat smelly ladies, most of whom are terrible at bowling. While most of our scores remained in the double-digits, the smiles on our faces were worth a million bucks. Luckily, the weather cleared up for the rest of the trip so we could climb Stone Mountain.
This mountain is much different than Pilot Mountain in that it looks like a giant bowl of concrete was dumped upside down in the middle of a field. The rock was very smooth and required a lot of patience, balance and some “Jedi mind tricks” as climbers bear crawl to the top. Some of us chose to multi-pitch climb on Thursday and Friday. This means we were able to climb much higher on the mountain than we were only able to climb as high as one rope can reach. There were scrapes and bruises galore by the end of the week, and we all showed them off with pride. Because of this trip, there are ten Sweet Briar women who believe they can accomplish anything, will tell you that brownies are delicious at any consistency, know that the easiest way to tie a knot is to “punch a boy in the face”, will laugh any time you tell them to “trust their shoes”, and can backpack coil a rope in their sleep.