Just before Christmas, Danny and I ventured out to Horse pens 40 on our winter trip through the Southeast. This was my first trip to HP40 but Danny had climbed there previously during the Triple Crown Competition. We left straight from an afternoon spent wandering around New Orleans, so we arrived at the dark nearing midnight. Luckily the store was still open. After a long-winded explanation of the many rules of the park we found our tiny cabin, cranked up the heater, and passed out.
Danny on Popeye, V5
Rock Quality: HP40 is an amazing, dense collection of sloper-y sandstone boulders. Slopers aren’t really my forte, but I manged to find some overhanging climbs and a sparse few crimper climbs. The rock is well climbed, but the sandstone keeps its texture, so the slopers have plenty of friction. The climbs are well-chalked, so its pretty easy to find the start holds if you have a guidebook with you. The density was my favorite thing about the park. Danny and I don’t typically project the same climbs, but at HP40 it was super easy to set up pads on different boulders right next to each other so that we could be climb what we wanted.
Climbs: Since we only planned to climb for one and a half days at the park, we tried to move quickly through a wide variety of moderate climbs to see as much as we could. Some of the classics that I was told to climb repeatedly were Bumboy V3 and Popeye V5. These are some of the hardest climbs of the grade I’ve ever seen–I clearly don’t train slopers enough. Some of my favorites from the day include Hammerhead V5, Cuts like a Knife V5 and Uniball V4.
Topping out Hammerhead, V5
Getting there: The drive isn’t bad. The roads were well-marked and we managed to find our way up in total darkness, guided by Google Maps. Before Google Maps, I don’t know how anyone managed to find all these super rural climbing locales.
Danny on Slider, V9
Camping: Camping at the park is not cheap (or at least, more expensive than every other climbing spot I’ve been to). Camping, as of December 2014, was $15 per person per night. There’s a community bathroom with showers, fire pits at the campsites, and central water spigot. The cabins start at $50 for up to 2 people and $25 for each additional person. The cabins are bare bones: bunks beds and a small electric heater. Considering that the temps were supposed to get into the 30’s the night we stayed, Danny and I opted to pay $25 a piece for cabins with heat rather than the $15 to camp in the cold.
One pro to camping in the park, is that you can night climb. Our friend Phil met up with us late after our first full day of climbing and the three of us ventured into the boulder field with our headlamps. Unfortunately for Phil, we awoke to rain the next morning, so the night climbing was all that he got to do.
Check out this video of Danny and I sending some of the moderates at HP40.