Bouldering in New Jersey: The Sourland Smackdown!

Mike Kleban bouldering in Half Moon with chalk dust in the air

With a dense haze of chalk dust floating in the air, the morning sun gleams down through the trees onto the scattered crowds of boulderers cheering each other on in the heated competition known as the Sourlands Smackdown! See what makes this outdoor event and location a growing cornerstone for bouldering in New Jersey!

Boulderer reaching up for the next hold from the sit start

When you think of rock climbing, New Jersey is generally not the first state that comes to mind for most folks. Beaches, clubs, boardwalks, traffic you get the idea. There is a side of New Jersey that many folks forget about and that is the Garden State. The Sourland Moutain Preserve in Somerset county is one of those places that falls on that side of things. This park nestled in the central part of the state, has tons of trails, fields, lakes and our favorite: BOULDERS!

Boulder fields in SourlandsBouldering here has become quite popular over the past few years, large in part due to the work that the park officials in coordination with local climbers have put in to it! Climbing here is not only legal but actually a featured attraction of the park! The major anchor of this: The Sourland Smackdown!

climber hitting the top while bouldering in New JerseyThe Sourland Smackdown is a outdoor bouldering competition that started 4 years ago by Dave Dendler, Chris Redmond, Andy Nortin and many others. Climbing competitions are commonly inside rock gyms for logistical reasons so finding an outdoor one is unique! With over a hundred climbers competing in this year’s event we got to see first hand how it all happened!

Signs in sourlandIf you are like me I like to know where I am going, I got lost for an hour once in Red Rocks trying to find a crag that could be seen from the parking lot.. Thankfully at the Sourlands, it is not as much of a maze. There are several different boulder fields though, so for the competition, signs were posted up throughout the trails at each junction making walking around the park simple and easy to navigate!

Climber in southfield are of the Sourlands

Another great feature and one of my personal favorites of the competition is that at the base of each boulder problem is a little wooden stake. On each one of these stakes is the name, corresponding number as well as the point rating for the problem. As I made my way around the boulder fields this made it very convenient for me to know what problems I was looking at!

Climber on a problem in the Devil's Half AcreBouldering in New Jersey is becoming increasingly popular due to the number of glacial erratics that can be found throughout the state. The Sourlands is no exception to this. As one of the few outdoor bouldering competitions of it’s kind climbers from all around the mid-Atlantic region make it out to the event each year!

climber hitting the top while bouldering in New JerseyClimber on a boulder in the Half moon section of the SOurlands

The Sourlands boulder problems range from V0 upto V11. The rock here is mainly comprised of diabase and igneous rock. There is a healthy variety of problems that can appeal to any climbing style.

Climber toe hooking and hanging in the Devil's Half AcreWhether you like to toe hook and/or bat hang on “The Wave Traverse”

Kid smacking the rock making the moveTaking a launch up from the sit start and smacking onto the sloper on “Piston”

Krissy finishing a problem in the Half Moon section of the SourlandsOr pulling the finish move after fighting crimps & toe gibs on “Midnight in Paris”

boulderers walking through the sourlands

A nice feature about bouldering here at the Sourlands is a healthy range of problems in each area of the park. if you are bouldering with a group who has a mix of climbing strengths this aspect makes it easy to accommodate when bringing out beginners. Each year more problems become established here, so for you FA junkies you can still have a chance of etching your name into a bit of climber history as long as your are willing to put in the work. Whether you come out for the Smackdown comp or just a day out with a few friends, the Sourlands is your go to spot for bouldering in New Jersey!

Additional Photos – Here

For more info & address – Sourland Mountain Preserve Website

#TIMETOCLIMB FEST is April 22nd in NJ! – Check it out!


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