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By Chris Massey
Dec 12, 2013

Been meaning to get up to Laurel for a long time. Considering a trip between Christmas and New Years weather permitting? If temps are reasonable is this a good time? Are the climbs generally in the sun?

Also, trying to decide between Groover, Seconds, and Fathom. I dont mind going a little harder if the pro is good. Fathom looks the most attractive to me, Seconds a close second and Groover less desirable. Not a big slab/water groove fan. Have done Pulpit and several of the other single digit slab routes at Stone. Also comfortable on Nose, Sundial, and similar routes at LG. Otherwise I dont climb a lot of slab. Any insight to help me make a decision is appreciated.


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By photocodo
From Hendersonville, NC
Dec 12, 2013
The "crack"

Im pretty much in the same boat. Lead the Nose and Sundial quite a bit and itching to get out to LK. Interested in the responses


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By Adam Paashaus
From Greensboro, North Carolina
Dec 12, 2013
After you get done climbing be sure to head up to the summit for sunset. Its only a 10 minute walk from the main wall. Don't forget your headlamp.

I'm in the same boat as well and have done Seconds. Great long day. Start early and bring a headlamp for the hike out (and in, in our case). FYI, I took the crux pitches and my wife took the others. That plan backfired on her because her pitches had all the scary runouts. Just something to keep in mind. The cruxes are all well protected but some of the runouts are still somewhat insecure.


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By Mark O'Neal
From Nicholson, GA
Dec 12, 2013
1st trad lead - Northern Pillar at the Gunks

For what it's worth. I'm supremely comfortable leading the climbs on the Nose, but I find the leads out at LK to be a bit headier due to the run outs.


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By Emil Briggs
Dec 12, 2013

NCTRAD wrote:
Been meaning to get up to Laurel for a long time. Considering a trip between Christmas and New Years weather permitting? If temps are reasonable is this a good time? Are the climbs generally in the sun? Also, trying to decide between Groover, Seconds, and Fathom. I dont mind going a little harder if the pro is good. Fathom looks the most attractive to me, Seconds a close second and Groover less desirable. Not a big slab/water groove fan. Have done Pulpit and several of the other single digit slab routes at Stone. Also comfortable on Nose, Sundial, and similar routes at LG. Otherwise I dont climb a lot of slab. Any insight to help me make a decision is appreciated.


I've been on Seconds. The moves are only a little bit harder than anything you would find on the Pulpit or the Nose. There are a whole lot more of them though.


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By Kyle Kimball
From Asheville, NC
Dec 12, 2013
J Clarks

So it's pretty comfortable to climb here in the winter? Any thing a person should know about the approach? It definitely seems like a huge PITA, especially the first time you're there.


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By nbrown
From western NC
Dec 12, 2013
Top of Shortoff with the Bonsai

It's not just comfortable in the winter, it's prime season (if the sun is out). Be prepared for potential wind up higher though.


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By Jonathan Dull
From NC High County
Dec 13, 2013
Edge of a Dream

NCTRAD wrote:
\ Not a big slab/water groove fan.


A whole lot of Laurel is characterized by that exact type of climbing. The routes you mentioned in particular will have that style, there will be runout sections, and the grooves may be running with water at the top. Last time I climbed Fathom we were plugging cams in mossy horizontals with water literally running over them. Definitely an adventure and some of the best climbing in the East for sure!

This is what makes Laurel awesome! NC slab and water grooves for 1000 feet.


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By Whipper
From Douglasville, GA
Dec 13, 2013

Do Groover first to get a feel of the place. It is doable even if it's wet near the top. Fathom could be miserable (impossible?) when wet. Seconds is lots of water grooves. The good thing is that you can often see if the grooves are running water. Get a VERY early start. It's a long hike in and with short winter days, definitely take a headlamp.


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By Jonathan Dull
From NC High County
Dec 13, 2013
Edge of a Dream

Whipper wrote:
. Fathom could be miserable (impossible?) when wet. Seconds is lots of water grooves.


I wouldn't say it's impossible. It was wet when I climbed it and we managed just fine, and I'm no, slab, groove, run-out master by any means, these are my favorite styles of climbing though. There were only a few spots that were wet. The first was when you leave the huge arching corner and step out right and start up the slab leading to grooves up high, it was wet but no where near impossible. The last couple pitches were completely running with water and slightly run out, however the grooves are really defined and deep so you can stem the entire way and manage to not get you feet wet. Fathom is pretty moderate climbing the entire way with only moderate run-outs, nothing too crazy. The 5.10 crux is a couple awkward moves but extremely well protected, there are like 4 bolts or so through that section. I haven't personally climbed Groovers, I've only heard countless epics on that route, one of which was in Rock and Ice's "My Epic" section. Seconds is pretty strait forward and moderate, retreat is strait forward too. I would think that would be a good first Laurel Route.

Also, is it true that your committed until the 6th pitch or so on Groovers, as far as retreat is concerned?


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By Br'er Rabbit
From The Deeper South
Dec 13, 2013
'Bred en bawn in a brier-patch, Brer Fox--bred en bawn in a brier-patch!'

Unless you want to leave gear, you're pretty much committed after the top of P1 until the top of P5.

Laurel Knob is good year round.
In Winter, you must have sun but it can be very nice if conditions are right.
In Summer, you can chase shade or climb in Dillard and the overnight lows get stay in the 60s.
Fall and Spring are glorious near Cashiers as long as it's not raining.

And like Nathan said.....be prepared for some big wind gusts.
I've nearly been blown off of stances high on NC domes.

Regarding routes, all of the easy routes are doable, they just require different headspace.
Groover has the big runout which really isn't that bad if you treat it correctly.
Seconds seems more sustained and is all about grooving with a splash of face.
Fathom is my favorite of the three....you can rip up the crack, slabbing when appropritate, then set up to fire the extremely doable 'crux'...several finishes....or do one of the direct starts if you've got your slab game dialed.

Central Pillar is another good one of the easier routes and gives you a solid example of the sort runout slabbing LK is all about.
Get your mind right for the third pitch.


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By kidda
From Boone, NC
Dec 14, 2013

I've only done one day at Laurel. I would start approaching maybe 30 minutes before dawn so you can see the complicated part of the walk in the light. Even if you don't need the time, the worst thing that can happen is you start drinking earlier.

Remember that in addition to climbing six full length pitches, you will be dragging a tag line, making six double rope raps, and hiking 3+ hours. Plan accordingly.

We did Groover. Definitely technically harder and less protection than the nose. Have fun!


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By Ryan Williams
Administrator
From London (sort of)
Dec 14, 2013
El Chorro

NCTRAD wrote:
Not a big slab/water groove fan.


Are there other types of climbing at LK?

I've done all three routes. They are all good. Fathom is great and the crux is very safe, but the first three pitches are a bit disappointing. It's cool being under the giant headwall the whole time but the climbing is incredibly easy and a bit samey. It just goes on forever and then you get to the traverse and the crux and you're like "Oh, ok, that's more like it." Fathom Direct is much more engaging and you also get all the good pitches of the original route.

Seconds was my first route at LK and I think it was a great first route. I remember it being more sustained and interesting than the other two routes. Maybe that's because it was my first time there? It's definitely worth doing.

Groover is kind of a blur to be honest, accept for the runout. The climbing isn't too bad but you need to be ready to go on and on and on without gear. There are probably options around (some secret hole) but I decided pretty early on that I was not going to waste time looking for gear that I might not find.

Like I said, all of the routes are full of slab and water grooves. If you are worried because you haven't done much of that climbing, don't be. You'll be fine. LK is actually pretty safe compared to some other NC areas.

If you simply don't like slab and water grooves, you should probably not go to LK.


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By Be Esperanza
From Asheville, NC
Dec 14, 2013
OKellys Crack, J Tree

I sort of disagree with some of the comments posted. There are 72 routes listed on MP, so I would assume there are now 72 routes at LK. I've actually climbed there in the early summer on an unseasonable cool day, but it got pretty hot up there. I would say it's best when it's been dry and highs are in the mid 50s for cashiers.

I was surprised at how bold the climbs I did were. I've climbed in Tuolumne, but this shit is crazy. The routes I did were consistently run out. I don't really care for slab, but the rock is amazing. There are cool dikes and crystals, and the groves were fun, albeit scary. I would like to get better at this style, but I don't know where there are too many places to practice. I find it very different from Looking glass, because of the lack of eyebrows. Thus, the holds aren't as good, and there isn't very much gear.

The approach seems to stump lots of people. I work out of panthertown, and often see climbers walking the wrong way. It is very easy to follow.

1. Start at the Salt rock TH. Walk down the dirt/gravel road.
2. Take a Right onto the Wilderness falls trail. This is more of a hiking trail, and it is marked. Walk past wilderness falls.
3. The trail will end at an intersection. Take a right. This is the Deep gap trail. Follow it to the end of P town, where it hits a dirt road.
4. Before the dirt road, look to the right. There is a well maintained trail with a small wooden sign that says, "Laurel Knob". Take this trail.
5. Follow this hiking trail first up, then down many switchbacks until you see a very large slab of rock. This is Laurel Knob. You will pass some houses along the way. Don't bother people here.

I wouldn't call this a long approach by western standards. While there are some steep sections, the majority of the hike is pretty casual. It takes me less than an hour and a half.


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By courthouse
Dec 14, 2013

Get the Panthertown Valley Trail Map at the Highland Hiker. There are numerous routes in the valley on multiple walls. There is like 40-50 routes alone on Laurel Knob 28ish new routes that Shannon/Wayne did there, there is 50ish routes on big green (many new), as well as multiple routes/new routes on every wall there: Woody Wall, Overlook Wall, Big Green, Gold Spring Wall, Cold Mountain and Bonas Defeat. PM me and I will give Shannon's e-mail/phone# (as most of the new routes are his), he will be glad to give you all the beta


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By Abe Frohman
From Chicago , IL
Dec 14, 2013

Approach should take sub 1 hour in and max 1:30 out period. Done it at least 100 times and just can't see where these whacked out 3 hour figures come in from the gummer brigade. Considering the distance on the map is about 3 miles you would have to be moving 1 mph to take that long! So essentially crawling along the trail, which is really a wagon road anyway only a trail for the latter bit. Just be realistic, start early and move with purpose it ain't friggin K2!!!

"I wouldn't call this a long approach by western standards"

Not even close

"Any thing a person should know about the approach? It definitely seems like a huge PITA, especially the first time you're there."

Uh yea, walk along the HUGE mostly flat logging road until you see a large chunk of granite. Walk in direction of said granite chunk, go up, use the big holds, it ain't rocket surgery.


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By Paul Barnes
From Gainesville, Georgia
Dec 15, 2013

Be Esperanza wrote:
...but this shit is crazy.


Finally...someone who get's it.

Fathom is fun and well protected. Central Pillar is incredibly fun climbing...but runout as shit IMHO. This kind of thing is just the way Cashiers Vally is...nervewracking.

And....then there's Big Green...


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By Be Esperanza
From Asheville, NC
Dec 15, 2013
OKellys Crack, J Tree

I think I did Central Pillar, so maybe I should go back and try Fathom.


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By kidda
From Boone, NC
Dec 15, 2013

Abe Frohman wrote:
Approach should take sub 1 hour in and max 1:30 out period. Done it at least 100 times and just can't see where these whacked out 3 hour figures come in from the gummer brigade. Considering the distance on the map is about 3 miles you would have to be moving 1 mph to take that long! So essentially crawling along the trail, which is really a wagon road anyway only a trail for the latter bit. Just be realistic, start early and move with purpose it ain't friggin K2!!! "I wouldn't call this a long approach by western standards" Not even close "Any thing a person should know about the approach? It definitely seems like a huge PITA, especially the first time you're there." Uh yea, walk along the HUGE mostly flat logging road until you see a large chunk of granite. Walk in direction of said granite chunk, go up, use the big holds, it ain't rocket surgery.


To clarify my previous post, I meant 3 hours round trip. Thanks for making it clear to the OP.


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By Jonathan Dull
From NC High County
Dec 16, 2013
Edge of a Dream

Abe Frohman wrote:
Approach should take sub 1 hour in and max 1:30 out period.


I agree. The only thing that could be a bit time consuming is finding the base of the route once you get into the valley. Especially your first time. I remember the first time I went we ended up having to bushwhack to the base after making it to the gazebo. I guess we just missed the actual trail that goes to the base.

Funny story about the same trip; my buddy and I planned on climbing Groovers and totally climbed Fathom instead, on accident! The funny part was we were trying to follow the Groovers topo the entire time and were cursing the NC Select Climbs inaccuracy when describing the route. We didn't realize that we were looking at the wrong topo until we were chilling at the top before rappelling the face. We looked in the back where there is actually a picture of the face with the primary routes lined out. Fathom is probably the easiest feature to identify as well. We've had a history on getting on unintended routes usually more difficult than anticipated, this time it just happen to be one of the biggest multi-pitch routes in the East.


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By TomCaldwell
From Clemson, S.C.
Dec 16, 2013
Me on One Pitch Wonder at Whitesides.  Photo credits to Kyle Jones and his lucky anti-rain jacket.

Whipper wrote:
Do Groover first to get a feel of the place. It is doable even if it's wet near the top. Fathom could be miserable (impossible?) when wet. Seconds is lots of water grooves. The good thing is that you can often see if the grooves are running water. Get a VERY early start. It's a long hike in and with short winter days, definitely take a headlamp.


I would never recommend doing Groover as your first time out. The approach across the base adds about 30 minutes of terrible hiking. Once you leave the 1st pitch you are committed. Seconds or Fathom are the way to go as a first moderate route. The water grooves are like Chimneys on Seconds and the crux of Fathom. Both routes allow you to bail whenever you like. You can also do the first pitch of several routes. Central Pillar is one of my favorite P1's, it has a crack!


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By Br'er Rabbit
From The Deeper South
Dec 17, 2013
'Bred en bawn in a brier-patch, Brer Fox--bred en bawn in a brier-patch!'

I think...
Groover, Fathom, and Seconds are the must-do trade routes...and might need to be worked up to for some....although I consider the Nose a decent start.
Central Pillar, Manatee Fluid, Oasis, and others branch out from there.
To start, though, I would suggest some of the right-flank, easier routes.
If one wants to test the mettle with the hike to the Groover area, Pirate's Cove is a nice alternative route....
If you've survived several of lower pitches of these routes, push higher.


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By Abe Frohman
From Chicago , IL
Dec 18, 2013

BHMBen wrote:
I consider the Nose a decent start.


The Nose is nowhere near LK Ben. No wonder AL schools finish dead last in test scores. Go watch Duck Dynasty re-runs and brush your tooth boy.


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By nbrown
From western NC
Dec 18, 2013
Top of Shortoff with the Bonsai

I think if you can manage the Nose in a day then you're probably capable of a Laurel Knob route, or two...


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By Abe Frohman
From Chicago , IL
Dec 18, 2013

I meant geographical vicinity, it was just a joke. I agree Nate.


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By Chris Massey
Dec 29, 2013

Thanks for all the info. With the rain yesterday and today I am a little afraid of seepage tomorrow. Going to hit Stone instead of LK this time around and maybe get Laurel another time. Not in the cards for this vacation.


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