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Brian McCall


39 in January

Number of years bouldering in PA


Using one word, how would you describe PA bouldering?


Top five PA bouldering areas?

No particular order

  • SWPA – too many good areas to pick just one, some on public land, some not.  Roofs, aretes, slabs, highballs, lowballs, guns, relics, Pete, Mike, Yukon Jack, Joel, Bowers, Sasquatch, Rose, Trevor, Tim A, Ray, Weir brothers, Bos, Zach, Sam, Fitzy, Lantz, Doug, Ed, etc all contributed to these rad areas
  • SusQ – bring your pirating skills to get to the riches, it could be “death on a stick out there mate.”  Steep water worn schist in an amazing location, River Crew is the best crew.
  • Hunters – the shapes and rock quality is great, you can literally find good movement and holds on every square inch of rock.  Early 2000s State College crew was notorious…ask the euros who wanted their early night sleep at the pit in Bishop around that time.  
  • Gretna – prolific diabase with Chetroy, Macdaddy, Decav, Klinger brothers, Ernie, Toretti, Ship, Newman, Gault, Rose, and Char classics around every corner.  Even the lowballs are great because the rock is so good.
  • Elk – Ridge top zones that require a hard steep burst of hiking to enjoy, back country adventure bouldering.  Things could get tricky out there, come prepared. A mixture of State College crew and Gretna crew with the development.  

Top five PA boulder problems?

 No particular order

  • Equilibrium – Elk – Trevor Cramer FA.  Straight up the gut on a perfect water worn wave.   May need a second ascent?
  • Bhante Pema – SWPA – was the little black project until Joel unlocked a very strenuous drop knee method for the FA, tried it in a snowstorm with Rose, Pete, and Mike one Saturday and it kicked our asses.  Tim said “you will have to find different beta than Joel’s” I came up with the stand tall beta and was able to send that spring. Top notch rock quality, engaging moves and just tall enough to be spicy.
  • Masterpiece Mockery – Gretna Infinity Wall – FA Josh Newman.  Steep tension moves up frictionless rounded cobbles embedded in clay like sandstone, amazing.  
  • Brain Eating Amoeba – SusQ – I spent the previous summer doing the DWS routes until I had a string of 3 river related nightmares.  My phobia pulled me back on land until the crew started trying this line the following summer. We all spent three weekends refining beta until I finally decided to scrub the top and was lucky enough to get FA of this river classic.  Originally done DWS but now a cush Aquaglide problem.
  • Superfly TNT – SWPA – joint FA of mine with Trevor.  Perfect slightly overhung hatchet blade arete on the good white sandstone.  Trevor did it first with the unrepeated Supersly way, I send next go with the Superfly method.  One of Trevor’s pics of Rose on this made it into the climber mags some years ago. It must be good if it was in a magazine…

Top five PA boulder problem names?

No particular order

  • Psyops – Elk – joint FA of mine and Rose.  I love one-word names and this word is rad.  You need to have strong psyops to trust that heel at the top.  
  • Nuclear Winter – SWPA – I also love dark names.  Randy Burks tried to snake me on this but I somehow pulled the FA out way before my skill set should have allowed me to.  My first hard FA and it was a good one beating Randy, an OG crusher.
  • Mushroom Tattoo – Hunters – FA Jason Lantz.  Bouldering has a long history of vulgar names and this is a great example of many PA boulder problem names in that tradition.  Plus, the problem is top ten for sure.
  • Hunger Artist – Hunters – FA Chris Zweig.  Named after the Kafka book. Zweig is a legend and picked an amazing name for this splendid problem.  
  • Tie:  Destroyers of the Modern World, Gault FA at Elk and Future Primitive FA of mine in SWPA.  I feel like Travis and I share similar naming characteristics with dystopian views on the planet or maybe we just know what makes a great name.  Either way these problems are superb, the names thought provoking.

Favorite PA Stone type?

The gritstone is the best for sure. It is bullet hard, the shapes perfect and oh so sticky!

Favorite month to boulder in PA?

I don’t really have a favorite. I think you can find good conditions at any time of the year. PA is huge and the rock and locations so varied. We climb year-round.  

Why do you enjoy PA bouldering?What sets it apart from other areas?

I always thought I would move down south at some point in my life but then I realized there is a lifetimes worth of boulder problems right in my backyard. I am proud of the locals and what we have all accomplished. It really is the climbers that set it apart.

Willing to share one memorable PA bouldering experience that embodies “community”?

I was walking into Hunters with my roommate Nate and we turned the corner past MDSF to see this guy effortlessly climbing up the highball More Pleasure than Pain with his Cordless pad leaning up against the rock 10 feet away from the problem.  After he got down, I struck up a conversation. Admittedly, I was doing most of the talking until the guy asks me if I’m a Capricorn? I am indeed a Capricorn and that was all it took for Bowers to bring me into the State College crew and community at the time. This spawned a decade’s worth of great times, winter trips and 3-5 FAs every day the crew went out in the woods. Community is just that, a group of folks with similar objectives and values.