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Stone Mountain South Face
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Unsorted Routes:

The Great Arch 

YDS: 5.5 French: 4b Ewbanks: 13 UIAA: IV+ British: MS 4a

   
Type:  Trad, 3 pitches, 400'
Consensus:  YDS: 5.5 French: 4b Ewbanks: 13 UIAA: IV+ British: MS 4a [details]
FA: Bill Chatfield, Fess Green - 1965
Page Views: 17,841
Submitted By: saxfiend on Nov 15, 2006
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Ryan cruising up p-3.
2013 Closures MORE INFO >>>

Description 

The Great Arch is probably the most prominent and noticeable feature on the face of Stone Mountain. It's a huge right-facing dihedral that arches almost to the summit of the mountain from the Tree Ledge. It's also one of the earliest routes here, put up in the days before cams and sticky rubber climbing shoes.

Unlike the typical runout Stone Mountain friction climb, The Great Arch is one of the few climbs here that has plentiful protection. A real classic, it's very popular and guaranteed to be crowded on weekends -- so arrive early to avoid long waits.

P1 -- starting at the base of the arch, climb the dihedral using the hand/finger crack and good friction footwork to a bolted belay. 5.5, ~150'.
P2 -- continue up the crack and dihedral, slinging trees for pro if you like, to a bolted belay. 5.5, ~150'.
P3 -- follow the diminishing arch to its end on easy ground. Clip a single bolt and finish at the final bolted anchors. 5.3, ~120'.


Location 

To get to The Great Arch, gain the Tree Ledge using any of the approach routes. The start is easy to locate at the left end of the Tree Ledge. Rap off with double ropes or walk off the trail from the summit.


Protection 

As noted, this route is easy to protect with a standard rack (medium cams or passive pro) and some slings for the trees that grow out of the crack. Belays and anchors at the top are bolted.



Photos of The Great Arch Slideshow Add Photo
The Great Arch
BETA PHOTO: The Great Arch
Leading pitch 3 of the classic Great Arch at Stone Mountain.
Leading pitch 3 of the classic Great Arch at Stone...
Tobin Petty leading the 1st pitch, May 2006
Tobin Petty leading the 1st pitch, May 2006
A pair of climbers move out on the next pitch of Great Arch, while another leader goes up Bombay Groove.
A pair of climbers move out on the next pitch of G...
Unknown climber on the great arch
Unknown climber on the great arch
Leading p1 Great Arch.
Leading p1 Great Arch.
Jenalyn Petty emerging out from final summit pitch, May 2006
Jenalyn Petty emerging out from final summit pitch...
View from the top of pitch 3 (the tree ledge) on the Great Arch.
View from the top of pitch 3 (the tree ledge) on t...
Looking down from the first belay station.
Looking down from the first belay station.
Anchors at top of first pitch.
Anchors at top of first pitch.
From the first belay.  The climber, Pat Howell, shows the classic layback position of the arch.
From the first belay. The climber, Pat Howell, sh...
Me leading up to the first belay ledge on the Great Arch.
Me leading up to the first belay ledge on the Grea...
The bolts at the first belay station as of June 2010.  The second belay station is exactly the same
BETA PHOTO: The bolts at the first belay station as of June 20...
Photo of a climber on The Great Arch.
Photo of a climber on The Great Arch.
Two people at the second belay station gets pretty cozy.
Two people at the second belay station gets pretty...
Great view down the Arch
Great view down the Arch
Looking up from the tree ledge at the top of pitch three.  Easy scramble to the top of Stone Mountain.
Looking up from the tree ledge at the top of pitch...
Peering over from the top
Peering over from the top
best... 5.5 ... EVER
best... 5.5 ... EVER
Comments on The Great Arch Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Dec 1, 2013
By Brad "Stonyman" Killough
Administrator
From: Alabama
Nov 18, 2008

Awesome looking climb. Deffinatley do this climb when I get up that way.

By jay.kalamazoo
From: kalamazoo, mi
Oct 8, 2009

I would climb this route every day for the rest of my life. Absolutely essential climb at this grade in the south east. Tons of fun, easy to protect and the view is great.

By Will Copeland
Apr 13, 2010
rating: 5.5 4b 13 IV+ MS 4a

This is some classic climbing. When you look up layback in the dictionary, this is the climb. Wish this route went forever, so much fun.

By Rodger Raubach
Jul 20, 2010
rating: 5.5 4b 13 IV+ MS 4a

Great climb; hardest part is getting to Tree Ledge. The walk off the back is LONG!

By Shawn Heath
Administrator
From: Forchheim, Germany
Aug 18, 2010
rating: 5.5 4b 13 IV+ MS 4a

Great climb! When rappelling off this climb, you should go to a different route's anchors. Walking on the slab at the top from these anchors to another like No Alternative is super easy and doesn't require a belay, but you can use one just to be on the safe side.

By Shawn Heath
Administrator
From: Forchheim, Germany
Aug 18, 2010
rating: 5.5 4b 13 IV+ MS 4a

The second time I got on this route I let my friend lead it since he really wanted to do the climb. Then I practiced doing nothing but face climbing. Great way to get used to nothing but friction climbing and get your head into it for leading something like Mercury's Lead, which is right next door and pretty much the exact same angle and friction.

By wlashgraham
May 22, 2011
rating: 5.5 4b 13 IV+ MS 4a

Great climb for the grade. Did not realize that you had to climb a committing pitch to even get there though. Adds some more fun. I would say try to stay off the tree at the second belay as much as possible. looks like it gets a ton of wear and tear and that would not be a fun spot to have a dead tree.

By Mike Holley
From: Boone, NC
Oct 18, 2011

Who Can say a bad thing about this climb?!! Classic Feature all the way up and it only gets better each and every time you do it, yes yes, climb it like six times in one winter and you will see what I mean!

A Stellar intro lead for the beginning trad climber and a wonderful moderate for the seasoned pro. Layback the firs two pitches and work your way up the slab/fingercrack on the third.

Be sure to wake up early for this classic because on crowded days this one can be a class A cluster Funk!

By Jake Jones
From: The Eastern Flatlands
Nov 28, 2011
rating: 5.5 4b 13 IV+ MS 4a

The park gates don't open until 8. So if you stay in the park, get there about 7:30 and haul ass up to the tree ledge. Unless a bunch of other people have that same idea, then you should be ok and not have a line behind you when you get to the first belay station. Awesome route!

By Walt Barker
From: AZ
Apr 7, 2012
rating: 5.5 4b 13 IV+ MS 4a

One of the most pleasurable climbs ever....medium to small gear with placements everywhere. We did plug one #3 Camalot at the top of the 3rd pitch. Decided not to rap and walked back to the base...figured we could do that faster than setting-up rappels. We were there one day after rain and the rock was mostly dry. The sun was out and temps in the 60's. Unbelievably, we had the whole mountain to ourselves. Truly a classic climb in a stellar setting.

By P. Sully
May 9, 2012

This climb is over-rated and a pain in the back in my opinion. I have climbed it many times and seem to enjoy it less as a climb every time.

It is a beautiful architectural feature on a mostly blank slab though.

No Alternative is a better climb at this grade, IMHO.

Luckily though, it keeps all the Noobs busy and leaves many other routes open.

By Joe Virtanen
From: Asheville, NC
Jul 29, 2012

If you're looking to save time on a busy day, link pitches 1 and 2 from the tree ledge. You'll BARELY be able to do it with a 60 and it's no problem with a 70. Have your belayer step up!

1's and 2's on the first, mostly .75 and smaller on the second, which makes linking convenient.

By cfuttner
Nov 9, 2012

Wow, what can I say that hasn't already been said. Well let's see. How about don't bother, tedious, monotonous, and how about back pain. Oh wait, Sully said that. Bending over to grab a corner at my feet for 3 or 400 continuous feet is not my definition of fun. This one makes it into the book of Classics only due to the fact that it is such a striking feature on the face. If your comfortable with harder stuff at Stone, this is one to skip. We had a much better time on Rice Crispies and Fleet Feet.

By Jonathan Dull
From: NC High County
Feb 18, 2013

After numerous trips to Stone Mountain and many crowded weekends we finally had the entire place to ourselves and racked up for this state classic. For a brief moment I thought I was back in Yosemite (minus the very less than vertical grade), laying back a splitter corner for 100's of feet with an abundance of gear options. As far as gear is concerned, you only need a single rack up to three (although I never placed a #3; a #4 BD may help protect the first 25 ft or so), and C3's are really helpful. Also, bring a good set of buff calves and a good back!!

By Emil Briggs
Oct 15, 2013
rating: 5.5 4b 13 IV+ MS 4a

I'm with P. Sully and cfuttner. The Great Arch is really boring. Worth doing once and for a new leader it's the safest way of topping out but not something I feel any desire to repeat.

By Jeff Gregory
Dec 1, 2013

Look for a recently (and unintentionally) fixed a Size 8 Yellow BD Stopper on pitch 3. Finders keepers. :) Cool Climb.