Alabama, Alabama… WTF is that place? I have to go there for 2 weeks for work and I don’t even know where it is! A look at a map : there can’t be a lot of great climbing areas there!
I desperately try to find something on Google and here it is: HP40. The pics look great and the rock seems to be fantastic : I’ll have to get there.
My little Chevrolet takes me there : Horse Pens 40 (HP40) is a private area that offers horse riding, a campground, walking around and… sandstone bouldering. Ah yes, sandstone like one only finds rarely (Font and a few other places).
Before climbing at HP 40, you have to check-in at the camp-store : $3 for climbing and $5 for a crashpad rental (an Asana). European climbers are not used to paying for climbing outside. But when climbing on private property, this has the advantage that everyone knows where they stand.
But let’s talk about HP40. It’s warm at the begining of september (the longitude of HP40 is close to that of the Moroccan city of Rabat, even if the climate isn’t comparable) and I quickly realize that some problems will be hard to top out: some finishing mantles are terrible. Reaching the top of Millipede takes me a lot of attempts.
Fortunately, the climbing is varied at HP40, and the big overhangs of Hammerhead (V5) or Popeye (V5) are less difficult to climb in the heat. At HP40, one may find slabs, overhangs, highballs, edges etc…
This area is a very pleasant medium-sized area. An afternoon siesta in the park grass is the best thing, then a few more attempts (when the temperature goes down but the humidity rises) before sunset.
Of course, HP40 is not, by itself, worth a transatlantic trip. It is far from the fashionable areas (Bishop, Hueco…). But, with its neighboors (Little Rock City, Sandrocks etc… for bouldering or Little River Canyon for routes), it really is worth a detour…
Access, guidebooks, informations
Since the DrTopo website closed, this fantastic area was missing a guidebook, even if the DrTopo’s was far tha complete. But, thanks to Adam Henry, a complete and very usefull is now available from greener grass publishing.
Every year, there is a competition at HP40 as part of the ‘Triple Crown‘ series : three bouldering competitions, one at HP40, one at Hound Ears (Boone, North Carolina), and one at Stone Fort (or Little Rock City, close to Chattanooga, Tennessee).
Just enter « HP40 bouldering » in your favorite search engine and you will find plenty of sites related to HP40.
The SCC (Southeastern Climbers Coalition) site shows the different climbing areas of the South Eastern US states and gives information related to access problems at areas.
I nearly forget to give you the address of the HP40 website, to be visited before going there!
Below is a short movie from my last trip at the beginning of 2011. Sorry for the quality but the shooting was performed with my « smart phone »…