Aaron Parlier on The Human Torch Boulder in the Fa...
(Previously known as "The Quad" or "Fantastic Four". The name in the guidebook will be Alchemy so Iíve redone it to reflect the guide here)
There are four overhanging boulders that are from 10-15 feet in height, and full of crimps and small pebbles. Lots of thin flakes and all have solid landing areas. Quiet and private... This area is .3 miles up the road from the entrance to the park. Enter the park from hwy 58, pull through the pay booth and park at the Contact Station parking lot. Walk back down the road, passing the Contact Station bouldering area, with the True Grit boulder to your right. Continue down the road until you come up on a smaller (not large enough to climb) rock jutting towards the air on the hill/roadside to your right. Hike up the thin deer trail and it leads directly onto an old, flat fire road on top of the hillside. The fire road leads straight to "The Water Boulder". Behind Water Boulder is the "Earth Boulder". From the Earth Boulder, back and to the right is "Fire Boulder", and to the "Air Boulder" is further back away from the road from prior three. all of which are within just a few minutes from the road. The jutting rock at the side of the road is an excellent way-point, but you have to pay attention as it's proved easy to miss.
This area is .3 miles up the road from the entrance to the park. As you enter the park from hwy 58, pull off the road by the podium and walk uphill to a point in the road where there is a large (not large enough to climb) rock jutting towards the air on the hill/roadside to your left.
Walk down the hill from the contact station to this same rock (this is my recommendation since you get to climb at the contact station on the way as well).
Once looking at this small jutting boulder, there will be a diagonal deer trail (may be others, but the large main diagonal deer trail trending left is the one used) trending to the LEFT that leads into an old firebreak. The firebreak is old and not maintained so there may be brush and likely downed trees at some point. Walk up the short firebreak and it will lead you directly to the 3rd boulder which will be slightly offset from the firebreak on your right. Enjoy.
Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Alchemy Area:
Start to the far right side of the pillar, on the bottom of the blunt arete on the slopey seam. start and traverse left along the long seam with heel hooks and good feet, and continue through the seam as it becomes the awesome crack ledge. top out at the very top point of the pillar. use only the pillar in this problem....[more]Browse More Classics in VA
Note that the trail up to fire road is to the LEFT of the "jutting out rock" (if standing on the road), just left of a small patch of ferns. There is a second trail that leads up to the right and following that one makes the fire road incredibly difficult to find.
The trails are small deer trails, neither are manmade or maintained, so they also may be overgrown at some point, but the left trail has historically been the most prominent. The left deer trail is diagonal and leads into the old (also not maintained) fire break. There is some downed brush along the fire road, so navigate that as well. The fire road takes you right to the 3rd boulder which will be on your right. Sorry for any confusion and ill update the directions promptly. Thanks for the input claudmia. -Aaron
Yes, I agree itís quicker to #1 that way for sure. I think that the fire road, once cleared out will be better though, since itís wider and leads to boulder 3 easily, plus #2 is directly above 3. Iím thinking from the perspective of an overhead topo in the guide when it comes out however. I may be making it more complicated though...