Hawksbill Mountain, Linville Gorge
You could probably make a strong case for North Carolina as the home of the best rock climbing in the south. No other southern state has the variety or sheer volume hosted here. From the multi-pitch quartzite of Linville Gorge
, to the eyebrows and hard aid of Looking Glass
, to the exposed granite scarefests of Cashiers Valley, North Carolina has it all.
In addition to great rock and lots of destinations, North Carolina has a reputation for tradition that is not to be trifled with. Most routes in the state were established with ground-up techniques using whatever protection the rock affords, placing bolts only on lead and only when absolutely necessary. Anyone unwise enough to rap-bolt a route will usually come back to find their work erased by the locals.
What this means, at least in anything above an easy-to-moderate grade, is that you need a good lead head if you’re going to climb in North Carolina. Long runouts between pro or bolts are taken for granted here, and even moderate and/or well-protected routes can be stout for the grade.
For beginners and new trad leaders, Table Rock
is a great destination. Fun leads in the “easy” range (5.3-5.5) abound, and there’s good opportunities for toproping at the nearby Chimneys
. More experienced leaders will enjoy the airy multi-pitch moderates at the neighboring Amphitheater
in Linville Gorge, or the granite crack climbs of Rumbling Bald
If you’re ready to raise the stakes, take a trip to Stone Mountain
, a huge granite dome with great friction climbing and wild runouts. And for the ultimate in NC climbing, head for Whiteside Mountain
or Laurel Knob
; only the seriously adventurous need apply.
There are also numerous bouldering areas in North Carolina. Hound Ears
, near Boone, is one of the hosts for the celebrated Triple Crown bouldering competition (unfortunately, that’s the only time it’s open to climbing).
The climbing in North Carolina is spread across the state and divided into several distinct regions. From the tobacco fields of the Piedmont to the dramatic gorges in the High Country to the granite walls of the Southern Blue Ridge Mountains; if you are west of Raleigh you are probably close to amazing climbing. See individual areas for directions.
The USFS temporarily closes many areas in North Carolina for Peregrine Falcon nesting. The Carolina Climbers Coalition
does a great job of keeping their site up to date regarding closures.
Also, it seems that the CCC
is always working on opening access to new climbing areas around the state. They have been invaluable in opening areas like Asheboro, Rumbling Bald, and Laurel Knob, just to mention a few. If you climb in North Carolina, think about donating time or money to the cause and/or joining the CCC.
Weather station 12.1 miles from here
1,797 Total Routes
['4 Stars',234],['3 Stars',762],['2 Stars',553],['1 Star',181],['Bomb',4]
Browse More Classics in North Carolina
Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for North Carolina:
Featured Route For North Carolina
Waverly Waster 5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a
: Looking Glass Rock
: North Side
This is a fantastic face route climbing a clean white face on perfect rock with athletic moves. It follows the natural features, so tends to wander a bit. There is a tough spot in the first two bolts then a good shake where you can place a small tcu before a deceiving move left. Get a real good shake at a circlehead (can place a yellow TCU here as well), then bust straight right campusing on half-pad crimps. The crux may be clipping the last bolt...maybe you should skip it?? ...[more] Browse More Classics in NC
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