Rock Climbing Spots in Asheville and Western North Carolina


Rock Climbing Intro

Chimney Rock - Map

Location: The Climbing is located in Chimney Rock Park in the town of Lake Lure.

Chimney Rock is privately owned and therefore it is not open to the public. However there are many exciting routes and by hiring Fox Mountain Guide's one can experience Chimney Rock. For more information consult www.chimneyrockpark.com or www.foxmountainguides.com.

Looking Glass Rock - Map

Types of climbing: Multipitch Traditional, Sport, Aid and Bouldering (see Bouldering Spots)
Descent: Depends on the route
Range of Difficulty: 5.4-5.13 / A0-A4
Recommended Gear: Standard Free Climbing Rack or Standard Aid Climbing Rack, Tri-cams(for the eyebrows), Quickdraws, Long Slings, and two 60 meter ropes
Access: 3 main parking areas access the rock from FS475B - 1 for the Hidden Wall and North Face; 1 for the Nose and Sun Wall; and 1 for the South Face.

Looking Glass Rock is quite possibly the best-known climbing destination in the state, offering endless opportunities for the beginner to expert, and even aid climber. The rock formation is a 500-foot white granite dome with possibly the largest variety of rock climbing formations including slabs, cracks, overhangs, water grooves, dihedrals, and the signature "eye-brows" (eye-brows are short horizontal cracks that are rounded and usually flaring, offering footholds, handholds, and gear placements). This is mostly traditional climbing with easy to find rappel stations. The rock is 3 miles long with North, South, and Western (a.k.a Nose Area) facing climbing areas.

Hidden Wall

Types of climbing: Multipitch Traditional, Sport, and Aid
Descent: Walk off (walk right along top, to gully) or Rappel (certain routes only)
Range of Difficulty: 5.6-5.11d / A0

The Majority of the routes in this area are bolted or mixed gear placements. There is one 5.6R, one 5.8, and one A0 route; the rest are 5.9 and up. This is a great wall to check out if you enjoy 5.10-5.11 slab and face climbing, and of course eyebrow climbing.

North Face

Types of climbing: Multipitch Traditional, Sport, and Aid
Descent: Walk off (walk left along the top to the gully between the North Side and the Hidden Wall) or Rappel (certain routes only)
Range of Difficulty: 5.8-5.13a / A0-A4

This face hosts the highest quality crack climbs and aid climbs at the Glass…if not the state. This wall is often compared to Yosemite because of its classic splitter and hand crack free climbs and bold aid routes. This is not an area to visit if you or your partner is a beginner. But if you love crack climbing on 5.10 and upward rated routes, this is the place for you! Not to mention there are shaded spots in the hot and humid summer months.

The Nose Area

Types of climbing: Multipitch Traditional
Descent: Rappel
Range of Difficulty: 5.8-5.11

The most well known route at the Glass is located here. This area sees a lot of traffic due to its namesake classic route, from commercial guides and recreational users alike. This face is mostly less than vertical and hosts a handful of classic moderates, another reason it is a popular destination. Rappelling can be difficult on crowded days since many of the routes share the same rap anchors, so be ready to share belays. This is a great place to go to sample some of the moderate eyebrow climbing Looking Glass has to offer.

Sun Wall

Types of climbing: Multipitch Traditional, Sport, and Aid
Descent: Rappel
Range of Difficulty: 5.9-5.12+ / A0-A2+

This area is often overlooked and not the most popular area at Looking Glass. It is sometimes referred to as the hardman hangout because it hosts no moderate routes. The easiest route to the top of the sun wall is called Tits and Beer and it goes at 5.9. There are a variety of rock features and some very impressive lines if willing to crank hard through this steep section of rock.

South Face

Types of climbing: Single and Multipitch Traditional
Descent: Rappel
Range of Difficulty: 5.5-5.12b

This is another very popular area at the Glass because of its wealth of easy and moderate trad routes. There are many great lines up cracks and of course eyebrow laden faces. The South Side gets crowded nearly as quickly as the Nose these days and there are limited rappel spots, so be ready to share those spaces. It is also a popular area for Summer Camps during that time of year. Therefore not the best place if you want a secluded climbing experience. Otherwise, it has hosts what the author considers the best 5.10 eyebrow route at the Glass – Dinkus Dog.

Cedar Rock - Map

Types of climbing: Single and Multipitch Traditional
Descent: Rappel
Range of Difficulty: 5.6-5.12+
Recommended Gear: Standard Free Climbing Rack, Quickdraws, Slings, and one or two 60 meter ropes (depending on the route)

Cedar Rock has a number of rock faces, but the one this site focuses on is the one in the guidebook known as the Public Wall, ranging from 50-300 feet in height. There are some bolted routes here, mostly set from ground up. This area is for advanced climbers and not a place for beginners because it has very few routes under 5.9. If you are ready for hard, runout water groove and face climbing, this is a good place to test your skills. The Public Wall is often crowd free, partially due to the long approach, which is a 2 mile hike up hill.

Snake’s Den - Map

Types of climbing: Traditional and Top-roping
Descent: Walk off
Range of Difficulty: 5.2-5.10
Recommended Gear: Standard Free Climbing Rack, Quickdraws, Slings, and a 60 meter rope

Snake’s Den is by far the easiest climbing site to access since it is located directly on a Forest Service Road in Northern Pisgah Forest. No hike is required and the belay spots are right on the side of the road. So, it can be a good place for beginners to learn some basic skills. Still, this area is not very conducive to top-roping, with the exception of the far left side, due to its 180 foot height. It is also not the best for lead climbing since some of the rock is rotten and loose, and many of the flakes are home to bats, hornets, and wasps.

Linville Gorge Area - Map

Types of climbing: Single - Multipitch Traditional, Sport, Top-Roping, and Bouldering (see Bouldering Spots)
Descent: Depends on the area
Range of Difficulty: 5.3-5.13
Recommended Gear: Standard Free Climbing Rack, Long Slings, Quickdraws and one or two 50 - 60 meter rope (some routes require two ropes)

Among the many climbing areas of Linville Gorge, you'll find Sitting Bear, Table Rock, Hawksbill, The Amphitheatre, The NC Wall, Shortoff, and Wiseman's View. All cliffs are in wilderness areas with the exception of Table Rock. Be very cautious of weather conditions, specifically in the summer, with rapidly approaching thunderstorms. The weather in this area is fast moving and self-forming so the author recommends erring on the side of caution when climbing in this area. If you are planning an extended trip to the Gorge you must have a camping permit for weekends only. Do not camp in the parking lot!
Note: The author has known solid 5.11 climbers from other parts of the country to struggle on 5.11s in the Gorge!

Sitting Bear

Types of climbing: Sport
Descent: Rappel
Range of Difficulty: 5.9-5.11

This is a free-standing pillar on the same ridge as Table Rock and Hawksbill. The pillar is on a lower part of the ridge beside the summit of Sitting Bear Mountain and the 6-7 routes on Sitting Bear are mostly vertical face climbs. There are bolt anchors on top of the pillar.

Hawksbill

Types of climbing: Single - Multipitch Traditional
Descent: Rappel
Range of Difficulty: 5.8-5.13a

This is a multi-tiered cliff with little to no easy or moderate routes. In fact there is little available under 5.10. It ranges from 70-180 feet in height, and has approximately 75 routes. A lot of the climbing is overhanging, steep, and shaded and is recommended for some great summer climbing.

Table Rock

Types of climbing: Multipitch Traditional and Sport
Descent: Walk off (Some rappels on the east face)
Range of Difficulty: 5.4-5.12

This is probably the most popular cliff in the Linville Gorge Area. There is a wide range of ratings including several multi-pitch 5.5 and 5.6 bolted routes. This is considered by some to be the best beginner and intermediate cliff in the state. Some routes are able to be set up on Top-rope, but most require lead climbing. The Table Rock parking area, also known as “Picnic Area” is closed January through March. However, the climbing is still open, so be ready to make a 1.5-mile hike up a steep road.

The Chimneys

Types of climbing: Top-roping
Descent: Walk off
Range of Difficulty: 5.3-5.8

This is a short cliff good for top roping with a handful of easy to moderate climbs. The approach is a 15 minute hike south on the Shortoff Mountain Trail (also known as the Mountains-to-Sea-Trail) from the Table Rock parking area.

The NC Wall

Types of climbing: Multipitch Traditional
Descent: Walk off (It is best to rack up and stash your gear at the top before descending to the base of the rock via the gully)
Range of Difficulty: 5.7-5.12

The NC Wall is the place to go if you want a true wilderness climbing experience. Access is not the easiest in this part of the Gorge; the trails are overgrown and might as well be called bushwhacking. The approach is also no small hike at about 2 miles to the rock face. The height of the wall ranges from 70 feet up to 500 feet, yet most of the routes are only 2-3 pitches. The NC Wall is a great introduction to adventure climbing.

The Amphitheatre

Types of climbing: Multipitch Traditional
Descent: Walk off (It is best to rack up and stash your gear at the top before descending to the base of the rock via the gully)
Range of Difficulty: 5.4-5.12a(some pitches as easy as 5.3)

This is another good spot for some amazing wilderness climbing, but it also hosts a handful of very popular moderate multi-pitch routes. Climbers travel from far away places to sample the notorious Mummy and Daddy. This area consists of several climbs on the low end (5.4-5.6) and several climbs on the high end (5.10-5.12) with not much in the middle range. The approach is long, mostly along the ridgeline until you get to the turnoff for the gully into the Amphitheatre area. Hiking out will take less time, but allow for 1.5 to 2 hours from car to racking up at the base of the cliff.

Shortoff

Types of climbing: Multipitch Traditional
Descent: Walk off (It is best to rack up and stash your gear at the top before descending to the base of the rock via the gully)
Range of Difficulty: 5.6-5.12

This area offers some of the longest routes in the Gorge with well-protected, clean and unbroken rock reaching up to 500 feet tall. Shortoff lies at the most southern end of the Gorge and over-looks Lake James. This is a good place to avoid crowds, enjoy some wonderful bushwhacking, and great adventure climbing. The approach is approximately 2 miles, uphill, from the Wolf Pit Rd. parking and a descent through a gully to the base of the cliff. Shortoff offers some of the best year round climbing in the Gorge with a wide range of climbing difficulty. Recommended especially for the 5.9-5.10 trad leader.

Whitesides

Rumbling Bald

Shiprock

Types of climbing: Single and Multipitch Traditional and Sport
Descent: Rappel
Range of Difficulty: 5.6-5.13a
Recommended Gear: Standard Free Climbing Rack, Quickdraws, Slings, and one 50 or 60 meter rope is sufficient

Ship Rock is probably the premiere climbing destination in the High Country. It is a popular place for the Boone locals and weekend warriors alike, so it can be crowded, but there is always something available to climb. It is a great place for climbers of all ability levels and offers up some amazing cracks and aretes. The best season to climb here is the summer because of its cooler, higher elevation…but spring and fall are hard to beat as well. If you are a 5.10-5.11 crack climber, this place should be a mandatory stop for any WNC climbing trip. The access is fairly easy, just don’t park on the side of the road! Use the Rough Ridge parking lot off the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Note: This area is not very K-9 friendly, so please leave your pet at home

Stone Mountain

Types of climbing: Multipitch Sport and Traditional and Bouldering(see Bouldering spots)
Descent: Rappel
Range of Difficulty: 5.5-5.12
Recommended Gear: Quickdraws, Standard Free Climbing Rack (only if planning to do the few traditional routes offered), and two 60 meter ropes

This area is pure friction climbing up slabs and watergrooves, with the exception of a few well-protected traditional crack climbs. Two of which, head to the top of the sloped 500 foot granite dome. All of the routes are runout and assumed to have the R/X ratings, and if the guidebook lists these, the climb probably has no protection between anchors. A well-protected route at Stone Mountain is described as having 3-4 bolts for 100-150 feet of climbing! Guidebooks recommend running belays for lead falls here (yes, it is what it sounds like). Most people either love or hate this area, for these reasons. So, if scary runouts on slab, not knowing when you might slide down the cheese grater, sounds like fun to you…Stone Mountain is the place to be.


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