Frosty Friends Falling at Foster Falls

The Falls of Foster Falls!

Frequently, fervently, we had fostered fantasies of flocking to Foster Falls, but foiled by fickle forecasts we flocked to more frequented frontiers closer to Florida. Finally, fortune favored us, facilitating fulfillment at Foster Falls!

Ok, I’ll stop with the alliteration :^)

This was a great trip. I climbed routes harder than those I’d been willing to try in months prior, the company was superb, the food was fantastic (last one!), and the weather had finally given us a chance to enjoy this unique and dramatic landscape of the Southeast.

Day One: To Tennessee We Go!

We left Thursday around 5pm and arrived in Tennessee at an ungodly hour. This is how most of our trips go. This is the first OAR trip I’ve blogged about, but mostly all of our trips out of the state went like this:

  1. Friday: Meet at gear shed and leave at 5pm; arrive at ungodly hour; setup camp and have heavenly sleep

  2. Saturday: Wake up and engage in outdoor recreation all day

  3. Sunday: More outdoor recreation for as long as we can bear it; eat Ethiopian food in Atlanta at Bahel; arrive back in Gainesville around midnight

I loved every second of these trips!

Meeting at the gear shed

Meeting at OAR’s iconic gear shed, the start of countless trips for the last 20 years or so

Driving up

Alexandra brought us extra company; a cute Christmas tree she made!

Day Two: Climb On!

Camp setup

We setup our camp and headed out to climb

Overlooking the falls

What a view… It was super cold but all this beauty has a way of warming you up

At the base of the falls

The water was really going today; it varies greatly depending on the rainfall

We started our climbing not too far from the start of the climber’s trail. I believe it was a 5.9? I ticked most of the climbs we did on this trip on Mountain Project but not sure about this one. I believe it was in the “Falls Area”.

Henry started the climbing on this one. I was happy to let him, as I was still pretty squeamish about leading, even on easy stuff I know I could flash. It felt nice to see him make light work of it and setup a top rope for the rest of the group.

Henry getting ready to climb

Henry crushing

I thought the rock was really cool looking here. It was very jagged, which made for great holds. It wasn’t slabby but rather vertical with cool “mini-roofs” that required going out and around various formations.

Tommy crushing too

The gang

Reading a good book

More of the gang

I don’t just say this to be nice: everyone did a great job on this trip. Everyone had a great attitude, pushed themselves out of their comfort zone, and were super supportive. Early on in the trip, Tommy especially was already trying hard stuff and leading for the first time (outdoors but I believe anywhere as well)! He crushed hard stuff this entire trip and had such an amazing spirit and happiness about him.

Tommy crushing a 5.10

This 5.10 I lead was very cool. It had a very clear roof section that was really easy to get up and around. The moves weren’t particularly hard but they were committing. Even with good holds, good protection, and good conditions, I found myself psyched out, so I took once on this route. But after that, I had a fantastic time on the route and the fun roof section made me completely forget about my fear.

Cool roof climb

Heel hook!

Heel hook felt super good enough

Hildaleigh crushing

Hildaleigh also stands out for being a fellow new climber that is improving very quickly

Everyone around the route

Would you like a Scandinavian Swimmer? What’s that? Oh, only the best candy in the universe

Resting on the rope

This climb had an odd rope configuration that was making people fall onto the rope when they were resting


I was also chilling on it!

Gang has beanies

The gang was rocking the coolest (or should I say warmest?) beanies this trip. Tommy’s was handmade by Czar Alexandra!

Beautiful sunset poking through the trees

The sunset brought back with it the grueling cold

Enjoying our last moments of the day at the crag

To pass, you must answer three questions… First! What is your name?

Cleaning in the dark

I’m glad I brought my headlamp with me! Cleaning this route in the dark was really fun

Campfire treats

Hildaleigh’s pretzel twists were a hit, especially heated up over the fire!

Soup time

Our gracious guests brought with them glistening veggies and made a delicious soup for all of us. The added PBR was… interesting : )

Pocket bellow time

David Dilmore would be so proud… or angry. I don’t know how to fire, but me like heat : )

Day Three: Warm Up Complete; Time To Send

The temperatures for this trip were not the most forgiving. The nights swung down to the low 20s and the days hovered around the low to mid 40s. Day temperatures were actually very nice once you were warmed up from climbing. But the nighttime necessitated a raging fire for everyone to be happy. The mornings were the coldest and the roughest. Getting out of my sleeping bag was painful but the pull of hot cocoa, food, and rocks was potent.

A peaceful sunrise


25 and the friggin bananas are frozen solid!

Huddled around a humble fire

But we’re having fun!

Huddled in the bathroom

The bathroom’s had the luxury of electric heating; we all retreated to the womans bathroom after breakfast to warm up a bit

The gang walking

That’s my gang, ya hurd me




These are clean right?

Icicles; very cool!

Down the stairs

The steep stairs lead to a cool rickety bridge that passes by the falls

The bridge

Finally warming up on some cold rocks

Finally warming up on some cold rocks

Hildaleigh acting all fancy

I can only dream of replicating the retro aesthetic of old OAR trip pictures

Goofy picture of me

Uh… that’s not retro

Alexandra climbing

She runs, climbs, bikes, knits… what can’t she do?! (drugs I suppose)

Alexandra’s first lead climb

And she lead climbs!

The bunker

The bunker is arguably one of the coolest looking climbing areas at the falls. When we were leaving, we ran into some people that were visiting from Louisiana and one of them said they were going to try some of the stuff on there. Oh I would’ve loved to see it!

Cool shot of the last climbing area of the day

Tommy sending

Tommy almost onsighted a very tricky 5.10d. Someone on Mountain Project complained of this route breaking their tibia. SMH technique…

Brought to you by Cliff

This trip was brought to you by Cliff. Please sponsor me…

Tommy and Jack

Coolest shot perhaps

I really hope to come back here some day soon. It is such a unique place and its not only restricted to climbing. We did a backpacking trip here almost two years ago and it was one of my favorites. I’d love to drag my brother out here and make him camp and climb for a few days with me.