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Jim Bowers



Years bouldering in Pennsylvania?


Using one word, how would you describe Pennsylvania bouldering?


Top five Pennsylvania bouldering areas?

  • Johnstown at Paint. This place is a boulderer’s paradise because the concentration of great problems is insane. It’s gritstone and while not the absolute best gritstone, it’s still amazing friction. At J-town you can put your pad down and do 4 or 5 classic problems on one boulder and just move a few feet to the next boulder and do it again. And again and again. Hundreds of problems.
  • Ghost town. Ghost town is a little like an expanded Johnstown. The boulders are bigger. It’s more spread out – and the place is huge. So big we had to give another part of it a different name – G2. The rock is world class gritstone – both the rock texture and the shapes. Amazing aretes and fun shapes with even the occasional pocket thrown in just where you need it. Its also strikingly beautiful. If you like highballs – Ghost town is a paradise.
  • Coles Cove. Coles probably has the best quality gritstone overall – although Ghost town has more classic shapes.
  • Any diabase area. I did lots of bouldering on Diabase near Gettysburg when I was a youth (before most of you were born) and I really love this gritstone-like rock. All diabase areas are super fun and it’s hard to pick just one (except in the heat of summer where it’s best to climb on Western PA grit or Hunters sandstone).
  • Hunters sandstone. Hunters has the stickiest sandstone on the continent – and I’ve wandered all over trying to find anything comparable. Combine sticky rock with amazing pockets on mini Dresden spires and you have the most extremely climbable fun rock on the planet. Most bouldering is on moderates and scary highballs, although there are limited harder super classic problems around. These days most of my “bouldering” consists of traversing for thousands of feet on this amazing rock at a constant 5.7-5.11 grade which satisfies the need for climbing movement and variety. Super fun to get a group of people on one of these traversing trains.

Top five Pennsylvania boulder problems?

  • Mojo
  • Strange Voodoo
  • Standard Bowers Arete
  • Superfly TNT
  • Terra Plata

Favorite Pennsylvania stone type? Why?

Toss up between Western PA gritstone (sticky – amazing shapes) and Hunters sandstone (best texture). Diabase is good, but 50 years from now it will all be polished.

Favorite month to boulder in Pennsylvania?

Late October.

Why do you enjoy Pennsylvania bouldering? What sets Pennsylvania bouldering apart from some other areas?

The absolute best rock overall in the county and more areas with a high concentration of problems than any other state.

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

How about the ten years Brian McCall and I ran all around Western PA when the weather was nice doing nothing but putting up hundreds of boulder problems. Pretty much the only climbing I did in that period was first ascents. Mostly scary highballs with tricky top outs. Amazing I never got hurt.