An Insider’s Guide to the Horse Pens 40 Leg of the Triple Crown Bouldering Series

The Granola guys living it up at Horse Pens 40
The Granola guys living it up at Horse Pens 40 Tony Czech
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There is no doubt that climbers across the Southeast are feeling the frustration of the uncertain and wet weather this fall. The Triple Crown comp at Hound Ears was the latest to fall victim to the unruly weather. Organizers expressed their regret on the Triple Crown facebook page and explained they had to move the event to spring 2016. “We wish we controlled the weather! This has been one of the wettest fall seasons in the Southeast for many years, and it’s the first time in 20 years that we’ve had to reschedule a comp weekend twice.”As we hope for a drier weather trend in the near future, the Horse Pens 40 leg of the competition is still on track for November 21st. The final leg of the series is always a big party, and even though the first, then second leg was postponed, there are no plans to put a hold on the celebration that will commence the Horse Pens comp.

Here’s a look at what to expect at the Horse Pens 40 leg of the Triple Crown.

Enjoying some world-class bouldering at HP40
Enjoying some world-class bouldering at HP40 Kelsey Scott

Horse Pens 40 is located in Steele, Alabama and is an outdoor nature park that offers world-class bouldering along with other recreational activities. The condensed park of unique sandstone formations makes for the perfect bouldering arena, and the Triple Crown is just one of several competitions held here each year. The much anticipated Sloperfest and Boulderween for example, are Horse Pens staples. The Schultz family that runs the park are extremely welcoming to climbers and are excited to once again host the climbing community for what will hopefully be a stellar day of climbing.

Plan on spending the entire weekend at Horse Pens for the competition. Arriving Friday is recommended to set up your campsite, and getting a good night's sleep before the early start of the comp Saturday. The early hour sunset will require all competitors to turn in their scorecard before 5 pm, however, night bouldering is always welcome. The Triple Crown competitor pass is good until sundown on Sunday evening, so make sure to take the opportunity to sample everything you didn’t get to during the competition.

Horse Pens 40 is one of the best bouldering destinations in the world.
Horse Pens 40 is one of the best bouldering destinations in the world. Adam Johnson

For visiting climbers, the best and most convenient lodging option is at the Horse Pens campsite, but more traditional options can be found only 15-20 minutes away in the towns of Steele or Oneonta.

If you are arriving Friday night, signing in and paying a camping fee is required. Saturday and Sunday are included in your competitor fee. Camping spectators tickets include camping Friday to Sunday night, and Saturday passes only include one night of camping and a stay until Sunday evening. Remember to bring cash, as Horse Pens does not accept credit cards. The location also has a country store for your most simple grocery needs, and Gina and Ashley’s Cafe is also open for business, serving a wide variety of meals. If you are flying in, the closest airport is in Birmingham, however, Atlanta is a viable option too. Don’t forget to rent your crash pad from Triple Crown sponsor Anvil Crash Pad Rentals to avoid baggage fees.

Horse Pens is known for its magnificent sandstone and slopey top outs. Fresh skin and perseverance is key here. For those who like to avoid the slopers in favor of a bit more purchase, there are plenty of slabs, crimpy overhangs, and prows as well.

The Schultz family is excited to once again greet climbers from all over the country to their world-class boulder field that some say compares to the legendary Fontainebleu in France.

Whether you are competing or spectating, the Triple Crown organizers know how to put on an event, and with a venue as prime as this one, there's no doubt that good times are to be had. The organizers have worked extremely hard over the years to create relationships and mutual respect with each location’s owners and land management. Let’s show our appreciation to the Schultz family for once again letting climbers take over their beautiful setting by treating them, the land, and everyone around you with the respect and care they deserve.

Note: In case of rain the events will be delayed until the following day.

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