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Pennsylvania
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Pennsylvania  


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Location: 40.92801, -77.34652 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 993,805
Administrators: Justin Johnsen, The Stoned Master, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: jeremyadams on Jan 28, 2007
You & This Area
Best routes for YOU in this area
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The beautiful finger crack 3-star (V1) at Haycock ...

Description 

The Keystone State is home to a variety of cragging, whatever your style. But it's the bouldering on diabase, gritstone and sandstone that are world class. While the diabase areas are well documented (mainly because they are in the eastern part of the state where all the people are) - the gritstone bouldering in western PA is somewhat unknown and OUT OF THIS WORLD! Think Coopers Rock is a good gritstone area? There are at least 3 gritstone areas in PA that beat Coopers in terms of concentration, number of problems and quality of climbs. One area near Johnstown is more concentrated than the Happy Boulders with far better rock. Haven't climbed on gritstone? Well there is a reason it's called "God's own rock." Climb a bunch on gritstone and it will ruin you for all other rock types. Yosemite granite? Piece of crap. The unreal friction for your feet and hands and beautiful classic shapes on gritstone yield the most amazing fun (or frustrating) sequences you will ever climb on rock. PA probably has more gritstone than bloody England. Why doesn't anyone know about it? Well no one lives in west central PA and for the lucky few of us who have discovered this stuff we've been too busy putting up climbs and finding new gems to bother documenting.

For roped climbing, there are many worthwhile local areas tucked into Penn's Woods.

The largest sport crags in eastern Pennsylvania are Birdsboro Quarry and Safe Harbor, both bolted on man-made post-industrial rock cuts. In the western half of the state, the Lost Crag offers the most clip-and-climbs.

Toprope and trad tends to be single pitch, on cliffs eroded on the sides of rivers. Some of the tallest routes in the state are on Mount Minsi in the Delaware Water Gap.

Ice climbing can be found, often on waterfalls, mostly scattered through the northern half of the state. The number and quality of ice climbs is highly dependent on the weather that year. Some predictable ice forms every year at the Narrows and Ricketts Glen (nobody has written up RG ice on Mountain Project yet, but hikebikeclimb offers ice beta).

The rock varies from sticky gritstone and conglomerate, exquisite sandstone, and crisp quartzite, to some overused polished choss and looose machine-cut walls.

When neighborhood crags get old, PA is close enough for weekend road trips to the Gunks, the New and the Red.

As a Mid Atlantic state, Pennsylvania gets hot and muggy summers and somewhat cold winters. Despite the cities' stereotypes, Pennsylvania gets more rain on average than Seattle. Luckily Pennsylvania sees far more sunny days than the Pacific Northwest, so things dry out pretty fast after a downpour.

All the rain grows lush forests and undergrowth, including poison ivy - some of it ridiculously large by late summer. Remember, "leaves or three, let it be."

The only poison snakes are Timber Rattlesnakes, who usually have the good manners to warn before striking, and Copperheads, who don't. Both are common but not frequently seen throughout the state.

Many crags here are on or near State Game Lands. Find out when hunting season is before you go there, and wear orange during deer season (or find another place to climb).

Discuss Pennsylvania climbing, or post partner calls, in the Eastern States forum.

The ongoing discussion of PA crack!

Getting There 

Via major highways.

Climbing Season



Weather station 7.1 miles from here

1,526 Total Routes

['4 Stars',114],['3 Stars',508],['2 Stars',576],['1 Star',211],['Bomb',7]
['<=5.6',155],['5.7',77],['5.8',108],['5.9',138],['5.10',204],['5.11',136],['5.12',67],['5.13',15],['>=5.14',1],['',0],['<=V1',99],['V2-3',243],['V4-5',144],['V6-7',75],['V8-9',35],['V10-11',0],['V12-13',13],['>=V14',1]

The Classics

Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Pennsylvania:
3-Star   V1 5     Boulder, 20'   Haycock Mountain (Nockamixo... : Caves Trail West
Porcelain   V3+ 6A+     Boulder, 15'   Mount Gretna : Upper Matrix
Cobra   V5 6C     Boulder, 12'   Governor Stable : Breadloaf & Immediate Vicin...
Juggernaut   V5 6C     Boulder, 12'   Governor Stable : Moby's and Friends
Little Fluffy Clouds   V5 6C     Boulder, 20'   Haycock Mountain (Nockamixo... : Caves Trail West
Year of the Dragon   V6 7A     Boulder, 8'   Mount Gretna : Upper Matrix
Itching to Climb   5.7+ 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Sport, 1 pitch, 40'   Birdsboro Quarry : 1.Main Wall
Orange Sunshine   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Sport   Birdsboro Quarry : 2. Orange Sunshine Wall
El Crackitan   5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 110'   South Central PA : Bellefonte Quarry
Safe Harbor Direct   5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a     Sport, TR, 1 pitch, 50'   Safe Harbor South : b. Electric Co. Sector
Mental As Anything   5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a     Sport, 1 pitch   Safe Harbor South : j. Hydroman Sector
Coleman's Crack   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Trad, 1 pitch, 120'   South Central PA : Bellefonte Quarry
Autumn Arch   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 85'   Safe Harbor South : f. Autumn Arch Sector
Super Slab   5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 90'   Safe Harbor South : e. Super Slab Sector
Voyage of the Damned   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c PG13     Trad, 3 pitches, 150'   Mount Minsi : f. Land of the Giants
Hydroman   5.11a/b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch   Safe Harbor South : j. Hydroman Sector
Groovin'   5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   Birdsboro Quarry : 6. Big Wall
Natural Mystic   5.12- 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport, 90'   Ohiopyle State Park : School House Crag
Wonderama   5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   Safe Harbor South : f. Autumn Arch Sector
Hinterland (second anchors)   5.12d 7c 28 IX 28 E6 6b     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   Birdsboro Quarry : 6. Big Wall
Browse More Classics in Pennsylvania

Featured Route For Pennsylvania
Jeremy Steck working out the moves on Loggia 5.12a...

Loggia 5.12- 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a  PA : Southwestern Highlands : ... : Maple Wall
This is a highly recommended route... Climb up the short face passing the first two bolts to the base of the roof. Clip the bolt under the roof and make the commiting moves right out over the lip. Pull up to the rest ledge. Shake it out and continue up and left through the bulging crux and continue up to the comfort ledge. Finish on the short easy section to the shuts. NOTE: watch for copperheads if rigging this one on top rope. One seems to live under the rock perched on the edge of the cliff. ...[more]   Browse More Classics in PA

Photos of Pennsylvania Slideshow Add Photo
Breakneck is a SWPA gem that has both sport climbi...
Breakneck is a SWPA gem that has both sport climbi...
susquehanna
susquehanna
JAG fires the crux throw
JAG fires the crux throw
A great quartzite roof in south-central PA.
A great quartzite roof in south-central PA.
Tanya Chupa climbing Silver Sheet (WI4- Delaware W...
Tanya Chupa climbing Silver Sheet (WI4- Delaware W...
First Ascent of King Kong V5+
First Ascent of King Kong V5+
Brian McCall on The Torch v3 - Stonenation
Brian McCall on The Torch v3 - Stonenation
Amanda Sonon on Angry Dragon v2 - J-town
Amanda Sonon on Angry Dragon v2 - J-town
Bad Voodoo
Bad Voodoo
Amanda Sonon on the Brain v1 - J-town
Amanda Sonon on the Brain v1 - J-town
Highest part of the wall at Flood Rocks.  Interest...
Highest part of the wall at Flood Rocks. Interest...
The undercling move
The undercling move
Classic V3 Arete High Left
Classic V3 Arete High Left
Top of the "Eye of the Needle" 5-7 Sport...
Top of the "Eye of the Needle" 5-7 Sport...
Jeremy traversing along Rock Run
Jeremy traversing along Rock Run
Same Gritstone outside of South Fork, better view ...
BETA PHOTO: Same Gritstone outside of South Fork, better view ...
Pulling the first roof on Kaya 5.11b Schoolhouse C...
Pulling the first roof on Kaya 5.11b Schoolhouse C...
20' wall i found yesterday near South Fork looks l...
BETA PHOTO: 20' wall i found yesterday near South Fork looks l...
The Open Face
The Open Face
White Rocks as seen from the Cumberland Valley
White Rocks as seen from the Cumberland Valley
Climbers toproping Glen Onoko Lower Falls.
BETA PHOTO: Climbers toproping Glen Onoko Lower Falls.
F.E. Walter
F.E. Walter
Fairly large Gritstone in the woods out side of So...
BETA PHOTO: Fairly large Gritstone in the woods out side of So...
Nice 12' footer with a small cave to start in.  So...
BETA PHOTO: Nice 12' footer with a small cave to start in. So...

Show All 31 Photos

Only the first 24 are shown above.

Comments on Pennsylvania Add Comment
Show which comments
Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Sep 17, 2014
By Brian Adzima
From: San Francisco
May 19, 2007
Not exactly a destination, but if you find yourself living here there is enough to keep oneself entertained between weekly trips out of state.
By Ladd Raine
Administrator
From: Plymouth, NH
Dec 18, 2007
Check out this Picture posted on that other site for locations of climbing destinations and their access status.

rockclimbing.com/images/photos...

Here

Photo: Jason
By Chris Duca
From: Havertown, PA
Dec 19, 2007
As someone who grew up in the greater Delaware Valley (suburb of Philly), I can attest to the diversity, quality, AND quantity of rock in PA. Granted, the random bridge is bolted to hell(long live the Henry Ave. Bridge!!), but there exists some extremely great rock (Diabase) west of Philadelphia on Haycock Mt. and Mt. Gretna. I'd liken this rock type to gritstone--very grainy and full of friction. Not necessarily a destination, but if you are traveling through the area and have a day to kill, both areas are a must to check out.
By Rob Holzman
Oct 29, 2008
visit paclimbing.com for information and climbing guidebooks for Pennsylvania.
By Doyle
Apr 9, 2009
Western Pennsylvania has numerous excellent areas, although none are well known to outsiders. Breakneck, Lost Crag, McConnell's Mills State Park, and Coll's Cove are but a few.

Coopers Rock State Park is a huge area of excellent rock, just over the state line near Morgantown, West Virginia.
By ClimbPHX.com
From: Mesa AZ
Jul 7, 2009
Is there any climbing in King of Prussia Area ... Im going for a job and wanted to see if there was anything I might want to check out while IM there...
email me at shiloh@winbuyer.com

Thanks guys!

Shiloh
Phoenix, AZ
By Kenny Clark
From: State College, PA
Apr 11, 2011
I'm moving soon to State College. How is this guidebook for PA climbing: bluebiner.com/all-pa-guidebook...
By Bradclymber
Sep 19, 2011
Not sure what is meant by the last comment as MP.com has very little info on PA at all. Sure there are a few listed areas for PA on this site but there are hardly any topos and sketchy or no directions for a lot of areas. For example mountainproject.com/v/the-pinn...
I think this site is a great site, don't get me wrong, but it really only has brief descriptions of Pennsylvania's areas.
By Justin Johnsen
Administrator
From: Sacramento, CA
Sep 20, 2011
Hey Brad, the Pinnacle's page isn't the best example, as I just created it to keep on my to do list, and I'm still collecting info to expand it. But many areas in PA (here on MP) are indeed skeletons.

Like you, I like the MP interface, and wish it had more local content (like rockclimbing.com, which has been documenting PA areas for many years). I volunteered to be the PA admin to help organize what's here, but I also contribute content for places I climb that have no access questions. I encourage you, and other local climbers that like MP's usability, to do the same!

I have no problem with guidebooks, and use the few I get my hands on to develop content here - especially for places I haven't climbed yet. I'm also collecting all the history I can, written or verbal. There are bound to be some errors, but as we discuss these things here in the public record, we can correct them.

MP is a guide to climbing areas above all else. If it helps me find a new crag to climb, that's valuable, even if I don't know the name or consensus grade of a route when I'm on it. There's such a thing as too much beta too! But I'm doing my best to flesh out areas in PA with coords and basic directions, even if they have no route specifics yet.

Looking forward to working with PA's contributing climbers!

Justin
By Bradclymber
Sep 20, 2011
Thanks Justin,

Wasn't trying to nock the Pinnacle area it was just what I happened on. Keep up the good work.
By scott m
Jan 5, 2012
Thank you Rob for all your time researching all these areas. This guide is a great way to explore PA. It might not be complete for some but it is great for exploring some of the great crags in our state. This guide makes it easy for many to go explore some new areas beside spending everyday climbing the same old crags. Great job Rob. Buy the book if you want to travel. If your happy only climbing your local crag don't waste your time. Get out there with the guide book and explore. Thank you Rob.
By Nic Lazzareschi
Dec 29, 2012
Anyone know how the ice conditions are?
By Jim Bowers
Dec 30, 2012
Well first off I'd like to respectively disagree that PA is not a "destination" area. The diabase, gritstone and sandstone bouldering areas in PA are definitely world class. While the Diabase areas are well documented (mainly because they are in the eastern part of the state where all the people are) - the gritstone bouldering in Western PA is somewhat unknown and OUT OF THIS WORLD! Think Coopers rock is a good gritstone area? There are at least 3 gritstone areas in PA that beat Coopers in terms of concentration, number of problems and quality of climbs. One area near Johnstown is more concentrated than the Happy boulders with far better rock. Haven't climbed on gritstone? Well there is a reason it's called "God's own rock." Climb a bunch on gritstone and it will ruin you for all other rock types. Yosemite granite? Piece of crap. The unreal friction for your feet and hands and beautiful classic shapes on gritstone yield the most amazing fun (or frustrating) sequences you will ever climb on rock. PA probably has more gritstone than bloody England. Why doesn't anyone know about it? Well no one lives in west central PA and for the lucky few of us who have discovered this stuff we've been too busy putting up climbs and finding new gems to bother documenting.

So my advice for someone contemplating PA climbing? Talk to a local. PA has the best bouldering in the Northeast - by far.

Jim Bowers - who has been climbing in PA for 40 years.
By Adam Pudliner
Jan 3, 2013
I love PA and have been climbing here for a while now. Where are the angry dragon and the brain boulder problems in johnstown? Also, where are the Standard Bowers Arete and Two Top problems? Great posts, I love learning new places to climb in PA.

Adam
By Justin Johnsen
Administrator
From: Sacramento, CA
Feb 4, 2013
Thanks Jim, I included some of your write up in the main description for PA.
By Kevin Martin
May 16, 2013
In the description, a bouldering area near Johnstown is mentioned - which specific area is being referred to??
By Nick Penatzer
May 20, 2013
Yeah, would someone please post how to get to the boulders in Johnstown and also how I can get the area where the "brain" boulder is located because I can't find out where they are at.
By Joe L 82
From: PA
Aug 9, 2013
Just moved back to the Johnstown area from MD and looking for some people to climb with. I am primarily bouldering right now as I don't have much cash to spend on gear and rope.
I try and climb early almost every Saturday morning at some local rocks in my "back yard" PM me if anyone is ever interested in joining me or if you want to just go check out the rocks yourself I can help you out.
Will eventually add them to the areas with photo's ect... when I get time.
Never been to the "Brain" nor do I know where it is, but will do some research, definitely interested in checking it out.
By Justin Johnsen
Administrator
From: Sacramento, CA
Sep 17, 2014
I've grouped climbing areas into a few regions here on Mountain Project. I've hardly explored west of Harrisburg, so leave comments if you see better breakdowns than what exists now. It's not exactly an organic division, but based on how much content is documented here on MP, not how much climbing exists in a given part of the state.