The beautiful finger crack 3-star (V1) at Haycock ...
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).
Via major highways.
Browse More Classics in Pennsylvania
Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Pennsylvania:
Featured Route For Pennsylvania
A great quartzite roof in south-central PA.
BETA PHOTO: Climbers toproping Glen Onoko Lower Falls.
Me on a redpoint attempt of extra stout.
JAG fires the 12c crux throw
JAG sets sail on "The Voyage of the Damned"
The Open Face
White Rocks as seen from the Cumberland Valley
Pulling the first roof on Kaya 5.11b Schoolhouse C...
Top of the "Eye of the Needle" 5-7 Sport Route.
The undercling move
Classic V3 Arete High Left
Jeremy traversing along Rock Run
First Ascent of King Kong V5+
Tanya Chupa climbing Silver Sheet (WI4- Delaware W...
Breakneck is a SWPA gem that has both sport climbi...
Sam Weir on the Standard Bowers Arete V5 - Ghostow...
Brian McCall on Two Top v4 - Ghost town
Amanda Sonon on Angry Dragon v2 - J-town
Amanda Sonon on the Brain v1 - J-town
Brian McCall on The Torch v3 - Stonenation
|By Brian Adzima|
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 Chris Duca|
From: Hinesburg, Vermont
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.
Mar 10, 2009
Pennsylvania's diverse geography also produces a variety of climates. Straddling two major zones, the southeastern corner of the state has the warmest climate. Greater Philadelphia lies at the southernmost tip of the humid continental climate zone, with some characteristics of the humid subtropical climate that lies in Delaware and Maryland to the south. Moving toward the mountainous interior of the state, the climate becomes markedly colder, the number of cloudy days increases, and winter snowfall amounts are greater. Western areas of the state, particularly cities near Lake Erie, can receive over 100 inches (254 cm) of snowfall annually, and the entire state receives plentiful rainfall throughout the year.
Drug Intervention Pennsylvania Intervention Pennsylvania
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.
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 email@example.com
Apr 15, 2011
Ken, don't waste your money. The author of that book took more than a few personal liberties in recording things accurately. Many climbs have been re-named and re-graded, in addition to the faulty information about first ascents. My advice, find some locals to get information. I only moved here a short while ago, and they've been much more than helpful and friendly with everything. Hope that helps
Sep 6, 2011
The pennsylvania guide book is a true waste of money. The beta you can get from this site is so much better. Every area description in the book begins with "the best rock in pennsylvania". It seems that the author credits himself with fa's of just about everything in the book. It was a long wait for a book that is only good for starting fires with.
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 www.mountainproject.com/v/the-pinnacle-area/106957079
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|
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!
Sep 20, 2011
Wasn't trying to nock the Pinnacle area it was just what I happened on. Keep up the good work.
|By Eliott Morris|
Jan 3, 2012
glad someone else mentioned the liberties taken in the PA guidebook. Always giving himself credit for FA's in nearly every area in PA .. the Bob Horan of pennsylvania. As someone who spends more time scouting and scrubbing boulders than actually climbing, it would take 30 + years to have as many FA's in as many areas as he claims.
|By Rob Holzman|
Jan 5, 2012
You're pretty close, Ive been climbing for just about 30 years in Pennsylvania. And yes it was a lot of work--hours of placing bolts, anchors, and tons of bouldering.
As for accuracy of FA info in my book, all I can say is I mention dozens and dozens of Pennsylvania's best climbers that I have climbed with personally over many years or contacted to research this guide. If you feel any info in my book is in error, there names are well documented, feel free to contact them and I will gladly change any info you find incorrect.
|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 Rick Mix|
Apr 21, 2012
Pa rocks! And just think, if you want to write a guidebook you don't have to go mucking about with a bunch of facts. Just print whatever comes to mind or sounds good. Awesome!
eg: Mojo @ Hunters was put up by Randy Burks circa '88 (or earlier)
He and I added the sit sometime shortly after that. Come to think of it, we did quite a few routes that never got recorded, and thence renamed,regraded, etc. Don't really care too much about that, but I do care about guidebook authors just randomly making stuff up rather than doing WORK and RESEARCH before going to press. I know, that's crazy talk, but it would be nice to see effort put forth.
Sorry 'bout the rant.
|By Rob Holzman|
May 9, 2012
Dear Rick, and above unknown users,
As mentioned above, I did an inconceivable amount of research for this guidebook. As mentioned above, and for the past 10 years to the state College folks:
My book clearly states the names of climbers dating back to 1968 at Hunters, these are not "made up". I have to consider that dozens of climbers I contacted to research are telling me the truth. If you feel anything is in error--like climbers who told me they climbed Mojo long before 1988. Then "their" names are mentioned in my book. Feel free to contact "them" just like I did and check the facts just like I did. This is really an issue with the many climbers who provided me with this history not with me.
This argument has gotten pretty old over the last decade guys.
Thanks for your consideration
|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.
Another reason PA climbing gets no respect is the unfortunate Rob Holtzman guidebook -which does a spectacular job of perpetuating the myth that PA is a not a particularly great climbing destination. Part of the problem with Rob's guidebook is it's focus on Eastern PA (where Rob did most of his climbing - and it's pretty much a book about Rob). While the Diabase in eastern PA is really good stuff to climb on, most of the other stuff in Eastern PA is not so good. You wouldn't know that from reading Holtzman's guide. My friend Brian McCall and I have been on a quest to climb at every bouldering area in PA and I can't recall the number of times we checked out one of Rob's areas that he absolutely raves about - only to find a couple of chossy boulders not worth the walk. Provided you able to find some of the areas mentioned in Rob's guide (providing good clear directions is not Rob's best asset) the reality of the rock vs Holtzman's assessment of the area creates a pretty low bar for the quality of PA climbing.
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.
|By Justin Johnsen|
From: Sacramento, CA
Feb 4, 2013
Thanks Jim, I included some of your write up in the main description for PA.
|By Kevin Martin|
5 days ago
In the description, a bouldering area near Johnstown is mentioned - which specific area is being referred to??
|By Nick Penatzer|
1 day ago
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.