Whiteside Mountain, located between Highlands and Cashiers NC, is considered by many as the biggest, "baddest" cliff on the east coast. It offers stout free climbing routes, wild, run-out routes and aid routes all with tremendous exposure all around. Whitesides also has a reputation for loose rock, skimpy gear and unpredictable weather and because of this Whitesides remains among the most feared, respected and involved climbing areas in North Carolina and the Southeast. All the routes here required a level of commitment and seriousness because of the objective dangers and Whiteside's reputation as the "local flight school". As Thomas Kelley, author of The Climber's Guide to North Carolina, writes, "Whitesides is undeniably bold. Whitesides is immense, scary and the closest thing to big wall, run-out adventure climbing you'll find in the south. This is the place for you if you wish to avoid the crowds and soil your drawers." Eloquently put.
Route development at Whitesides began about 30 years ago with most of the development taking place in the last 10 - 20 years with names like Bayne, Cartwright, Corbett, Gaskin, Ilgner, Lassiter, Rotert, Stegg, and Whittemore to name a few; names that read like a who's who of North Carolina climbing.
Whitesides is broken up into a couple of different climbing areas: the Southeast Face and the North Face (aka Devil's Courthouse). The southeast face, about 700 feet in height, sees most of the traffic especially on the Original Route (aka Gom Jabber), (III/IV, 5.11a or 5.10c, A0) and Traditions (III/IV, 5.11c). There also many other considerable routes on the southeast face including The Matrix (IV, 5.12c), Warrior's Way (IV, 5.12c), Arm and Hammer (IV, 5.12a), Whipping Boy (III/IV, 5.11d) and Catholic Girls Direct (III, 5.11a) to name a few. The Devils Courthouse, visible from US 64, hosts a number of 2 - 4 pitch routes including Crystal Creme (5.11d) and Conquistador (5.11b).
Other Details � Directions: From downtown Highlands, go east on US 64 for 5.5 miles to the Whiteside Mountain Road sign; turn right on paved road NC 1600 and go .6 mile; bear left at the Wildcat Ridge Road sign and go .35 mile; turn left into a gravel parking lot. � Fee: There is a $2 fee. � Facilities: Parking lot, toilet. � Rock Type: Igneous rock commonly called "Whiteside granite", actually a quartz diorite gneiss. � Hike: Visitors can hike part or the entire 2-mile loop trail to the 4,930-foot summit for a view of the valley floor, lying 2,100 feet below the surrounding mountains. The Whiteside Mountain Trail is designated a National Recreation Trail and is a component of the National Trail System. � Seasonal Peregrine Falcon Closures: Typically from early January until late summer routes left of Traditions are closed for falcon nesting. � Gear: A lighter version of a "standard" rack will typically do. Double check route descriptions for more details. � Rating: Most routes ratings at Whitesides could/should have an R or X added to them. This is by no means a complete history of climbing or routes located at Whiteside Mountain, for additional valuable information pick up a copy of Yon Lambert & Harrison Shull's Selected Climbs in North Carolina or Thomas Kelley's The Climber's Guide to North Carolina or pick the brain of a North Carolina local.
From downtown Highlands, go east on US 64 for 5.5 miles to the Whiteside Mountain Road sign; turn right on paved road NC 1600 and go .6 mile; bear left at the Wildcat Ridge Road sign and go .35 mile; turn left into a gravel parking lot.
Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Whiteside Mountain:
This is an ultra-fun single pitch line that starts off on steep face climbing and ends up traversing out underneath a huge 30'+ roof crack/corner! A very unusual type of climbing for whitesides, more reminiscent of Moores Wall. The name is a reference to a stellar yet underappreciated route at Moores... I know of several people that have looked at this thing for years, but for some reason, never climbed it.P-1 Climb steep rock past 2 bolts and a hidden .5 cam (left) just shy of the ledge. A ...[more]Browse More Classics in NC
The start is hard to find. Indeed, it is 50 Ft rt of the black streak that looms above. Bolt is hard to see, then there is gear under the arch. 10A R. Above is 5.7-5.8 RX 11 A pitch is Juggy and fun. Above is 5.7 RX, some of the bolts are missing. Meander to crux. There are three very hard moves. All are well protected. Head right 60 Ft--5.5 Then up the ramp 5.8 R, then a jug over hang 10 A fun, to nastiness before the trees--5.8 RX, through the hole in the trees, and then 5.8 R up face and on to top. I had fun.
We did another route 100ft right that looked like it should be traditions. It was 5.9 RX and ended in wet nastiness--traverse to original route trees.
There is a new climb opened in Lonesome Valley, toward Sapphire, NC on Cow Rock.
Also, the name is "Whiteside" Mountain, not Whitesides. Whiteside is a family name from the early 1800's. Just trying to show some respect and clear up misinderstandings. Things of this nature are what upsets locals and causes them to buck up against visitors. Just another way we can LNT.