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Pennsylvania's Top 10 Boulder
A Photo Essay by Rob Holzman
It's True, Pennsylvania has some of the best bouldering ...anywhere. We may not have the consistency of quality problems that exist in states like California or Colorado but make no mistake; PA's bouldering is fantastic! The reason for this is simple: we have tons of rock over virtually every corner of the state and everyplace in between. Some of these areas are mediocre, but many are bouldering paradises: unique boulders, hard lines, quality stone--you get the picture.
After climbing at over 400 areas in Pennsylvania, I decided to rate the 10 best boulder problems in PA--no easy task, believe me. Pennsylvania has so many good problems that I thought the top picks should represent the diversity and character of the whole state. Rather than just simply rate some of the problems I like, I thought it would represent Pennsylvania's best by coming up with a few standards commonly used for rating all bouldering areas everywhere. I feel that the best of the best should have a few key things in mind
1. The problem or line should have a very distinctive character: aesthetic nature, look appealing and feel appealing, or have a unique feature of rock or distinctive flow.
2. The problem should have rock that is 4-star quality (no loose or dirty rock).
3. The landing should be reasonably good. Some of the problems I picked are very high, but most climbers find it alluring if you have an area with a classic, flat, and clean landing under it.
4. The problem should be challenging: nobody likes a cakewalk. Bouldering as a sport is meant to challenge. I'm not saying it should be a mega-hard line but you want a bit of a challenge.
5. The problem should have quality moves and flow well.
6. Historical significance: I tried to incorporate some true state classics that climbers know and love or at the time it was done have had some historical significance.
Keeping all this in mind, I tried to spread the top 10 problems out to represent the state as a whole. I realize that this rating is a very subjective thing and that many climbers may disagree that my picks are the top 10. For this I say you may be 100 percent correct. I've climbed all over the state over the past 25 years. This is simply the best and I believe fairest estimate I personally could come up with. If anyone wants to disagree, you are certainly welcome to and I gladly except any constructive criticism. In addition I've asked the opinions of a lot of climbers who have developed problems over the past few decades in Pennsylvania.
Please go out and enjoy these problems. After all the problems all over the state that I've done, I really feel these are the most unique and best. I realize after people view this I'll probably see posts on the web about how secret areas exist that only a few climbers know about that have the best bouldering in the known universe--how many times have we all heard this? If there are problems like this--and they very well may be--then lets all go out and try them and see how good they are. Otherwise it's just internet hype that no one really cares to hear about. I tried to compile what I think is some of the best pieces of stone available in the East. I hope everyone enjoys them and I hope everyone goes out and climbs them.
It is important to note that the numbers 1 - 10 are not meant to rank the problems in that order (number 1 could be just as good as number 10 or vise versa). These are merely 10 of what I feel are the best problems around the state. Enjoy the problems and climb safe.