|GPS:||38.072, -81.081 Google Map · Climbing Area Map|
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|Shared By:||Chris Whisenhunt on Sep 5, 2006 · Updates|
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The greater New River Gorge region is one of the East's largest, most diverse, and highest quality climbing areas. Between the three major river gorges- the New, the Gauley/Summersville, and the Meadow- there are over 3,000 established routes on 60+ miles of cliffline, as well as hundreds of established boulder problems. While the moderates at some crags (Bubba City, Summersville) can be extremely crowded on weekends, it is still possible to find solitude and even first ascents, whether you wish to climb sport, trad, or boulder.
The rock is Nuttall Sandstone; some of the oldest and most bullet-hard sedimentary rock in the world. It is similar to that of the Obed or Chattanooga region in TN, and much harder and less featured than that of the Red River Gorge. Cliffs range from 40 to 150 feet in height. Tiered roofs, technical faces, arêtes, and dihedrals are common, and there are excellent splitter cracks and technical slabs as well. The cliffs are very long with few breakdowns, and for this reason many crags (Endless Wall, Summersville, Bubba City) are accessed via ladder, which can be a concern for dog owners.
The New River Gorge is not a beginner's climbing mecca. Particularly in relation to the more popular Red River Gorge, the New's bolts tend to be farther apart, the holds smaller and more sparse, and the routes more technical and devious. Especially at Endless Wall, some sport routes may require a few pieces of gear to be led safely. The few crags with close bolting and concentrated 5.9s and 5.10s like Sandstonia, Butcher's Branch and Orange Oswald can unsurprisingly get very crowded on weekends. To get the best experience at the quality crags, one should be solid on at least 5.11 sport and 5.10 trad.
Although locals climb at the New year round, spring and fall are the best seasons, and even during these times it is not uncommon to get hosed with week-long rain storms. Summers can be very hot and humid, but the crags of Summersville Lake can remain breezy, shady, and with swimming only minutes away. Winter climbing is feasible on south facing crags on sunny days, but for the most part it is not a good idea to plan a long trip here after Thanksgiving or before Spring Break.
If you happen to leave anything at the crag then please contact WaterStone Outdoors at (304) 574-2425.
The most recent and most comprehensive guidebook is Mike Williams' 3rd Edition.
New River Gorge Bouldering Guide.
NPS rock climbing site
Places to Stay
Arrowhead Bike Farm
The newest addition to Fayetteville's campgrounds is just a few minutes from Kaymoor, rents bikes, has a small cafe with microbrews on tap, and has campsites ranging from $8 to $35 electrical RV hookups.
Opossum Creek Retreat
Cabins in the heart of the NRG!
American Alpine Club Campground:
The climber campground in the area. Covered cooking area, dishwashing stations, dyno wall, dry-ish tent platforms, and coin operated showers. It is open usually from late March to Thanksgiving, with honor-system primitive camping available year-round. County Rt. 60/96 directly across from Junkyard access on your left - you can't miss it. Walking distance to Junkyard. Reservations recommended.
Google Maps location
286 Rifrafters Campground Drive
Fayetteville, WV 25840
This is convenient for access to south side crags Kaymoor, Sunshine, Cottontop, etc.
Cantrell's Ultimate Rafting:
49 Cantrell Drive Fayetteville, WV 25840
En route to Kaymoor and South Nuttal crags.
Chestnut Creek Campground:
Lansing Edmond Rd (Across from Ames Heights Rd directly across Hwy 19, it's on the left just before the small roadside store). Very convenient access to all Fern/Endless/Beauty Mtn and JY and Bridge areas. One of the most popular picks for the area.
Google Maps location
1199 Sunday Rd Hico, WV 25854
Located near the Meadow River crags, and also a bit closer to Summersville.
Google Maps location
Mountain State/Mill Creek campsites:
Ames Heights Road ~ PO Box 78
Lansing, West Virginia 25862
Very close to Junkyard crag
Free camping at the base of the dam, near the Summersville crags. Minimal facilities, and you may be hanging out with rednecks and families.
Places For Food
This large adventure resort just up the road from the AAC campground is a great place for climbers to get a dose of nightlife without having to drive back over the bridge. Lots of dining and entertainment options, including breakfast, pizza, pub fare, steak, and rafter mayhem at the Rendezvous Lodge. No matter how badass climbers think they are, trust me, you canNOT out-party river guides.
Arrowhead Bike Farm
If you're looking for no-frills brats, microbrews, and great breakfast near Kaymoor, this is the place to be.
Great cheap Mexican food and margaritas.
The Burrito Bar
Tucked away off the road to Endless Wall, this place has great patio dining, live music, and is rarely crowded.
Fayetteville's much-loved microbrewery recently opened a tasting deck, which occasionally has food trucks on-site.
Cathedral Café (For sale if you are interested)
Local climber and paddler hangout.
Awesome milk shakes and fast food. Closer to Summersville than Fayetteville but definitely worth the trip.
Free Folk Brewery
Fayetteville now has two breweries! Great beer and taco-type fare; a couple miles out of town on Rt. 16.
New River Curry House
Great lunch and dinner spot, with probably the healthiest options in town!
Okay Chinese food buffet that's all you can eat for $9.
Pies and Pints
This Fayetteville institution is now a successful chain, but it started right here. Very interesting different types of pizza and a large variety of beer. $20 - $25 for a large pizza.
Craig has opened a coffee shop in the back of Water Stone Outdoors! Drop in and grab a cup with your chalk re-supply.
In the parking lot before Kroger. Decent mexican food, decent margaritas, usually not crowded. Cheap.
Southside Junction Taphouse
Right on the main intersection in town, with a GREAT selection of climber-friendly beers and wines (no liquor), reasonably-priced pub food, darts, and pool.
Come here if you need post-send victory ice cream, or not-send consolation ice cream. Either way, ICE CREAM!
This is the most high-end spot to be for food in Fayetteville! Great cocktails along with great farm-to-table fare and a smile. Come see what all the craze is about. $10-$30 per plate. Try the wings!
Secret Sandwich Society
The best sandwich/burger and lunch spot in town. During peak season this place is usually packed with climbers. Grab a beer upstairs at The Grove while you wait for your table. $9-$13 a plate. Closed Tuesdays.
Tudor's Biscuit World
A West Virginia institution, located right on the main corner of Fayetteville and Highway 19. This chain does awesome southern comfort food that is better than you would expect from a "fast food" style place, but it may wreck your sendage with all the grease!
Wood Iron Eatery
Great breakfast and coffee in the large white mansion just across the street from Cathedral.
Current Weather Forecast
Rest Day Activities
There are all kinds of things to do for rest days in the NRG. Some of them rely on having warmer weather, some do not.
White Water Rafting
Depending on how thick your skin is you can always take a commercial trip down the New or during September and October you can try your hand at the Gauley. There are a lot of outfits around town. The closest one to the AAC campground is Adventures on the Gorge.
There are so many hiking trails here. Long Point is the active rest day classic. Go take in the views from a different perspective! Check out Bryan Simon's awesome hiking guide book here.
The mountain bike scene at the NRG has really been developing lately. The Arrowhead Bike Farm has rentals near the Kaymoor area, a great campground/biergarten, and direct access to an amazing network of trails and backcountry exploration potential. Check out the nearby Wolf Creek Trails (also with their own adjacent microbrewery, Bridge Brew!) as well.
Rainy Day Activities
A 20% chance of rain vs a 90% chance are often the same here in Wild, Wonderful, Wet Virginia. You may never see a rain cloud, or it may rain the entire day. The good news is that there are several crags that stay dry during rainstorms here. Check below, or in Mikey's guidebook for the details on chasing dry rock in this temperate rain forest.
Most of the stuff to climb when it's raining out is harder. But if you can use common sense and not act like an idiot everyone can have fun. Listed below are the areas that more or less stay dry in the rain.
Bridge Buttress The only routes that stay dry are the ones to the far right starting with Labor Day. The cracks do seep a good bit, so if it's been raining a while skip this place.
The Cirque Stays completely dry in a downpour, unless it's blowing rain then there is no hope, even for the mutants.
First Buttress This place stays pretty dry and has a 5.10, (may be wet), and a 5.11! The very top of Boomerang and some of the other longer routes get wet at the top. I've seen sends of these routes during the rain so it's possible!
The Hole Ready to get pumped beyond belief? Easy approach and hard climbing await, although this place tends to seep and condense worse than other overhung areas.
Rico Suave Uber classic 5.10a and a handful of 5.11s stay dry.
Coliseum Huge cave that stays dry and houses 5.12 - 5.14d.
The three classic 5.12s here stay dry for the most part, and are super good!
Diamond Point This area does not stay dry in the rain, but it dries the quickest! Also, check out the route Exoduster at Fern Point for a nearly-always dry bolted 5.10.
There are a handful of bouldering caves spread across the NRG that have a lot to offer. Junkyard, Beauty Mountain, and Cotton Top crags all have great caves. For more info swing by WaterStone Outdoors to get the full beta or pick up the new bouldering guidebook HERE! You can even rent a bouldering pad at WaterStone Outdoors!
Gear Shop and the New River Alliance of Climbers (NRAC)
If you need gear, beta or advice, stop by the local shop WaterStone Outdoors. They have everything anyone could need for a visit to the New River Gorge. Also, if you enjoy nice approach trails and shiny new bolts, drop some cash for NRAC into the donation jar at Water Stone. The New River Alliance of Climbers is an organization dedicated to the maintenance of fixed hardware on established routes, and maintaining a positive relationship between the climbing community, the NPS, and land owners. Access to these areas is not guaranteed, and without NRAC, it's likely that the amount of rock that has been cleared for climbing would not have been.
A couple of NRAC's latest projects have been improving and redirecting the trails going into Sandstonia/Tattoo Wall, making new switchbacks to the (formerly treacherous and steep) start of the Fern Buttress trail, improving the crag base at Butcher's Branch, and installing a new metal staircase at Summersville. So, if you clip and/or fall on bolts, or travel the approach trails (which all of us do), stop by and give them a donation- even if it's only a dollar or two. Every little bit helps, and it goes to a worthy endeavor and hard-working folks. You can also donate online HERE.
Lowering vs rappelling
The ethics for this area as listed in Mikey's book are to always lower when possible. Rappelling is inherently dangerous and was the cause of the only fatality we've ever had at the NRG; lowering can be done without ever coming off belay. There is simply no need to introduce the most dangerous part of multi-pitch climbing into single-pitch cragging. We take pretty good care of our hardware here, so that isn't an issue.
New River Gorge National River is administered by the National Park Service; treat it essentially the same as you would any other national park, and follow all regulations and informal LNT ethics. Inside of its boundaries all fixed gear and permadraws are illegal (although steep crags like the Cirque and the Hole still have quite a few). It is considered very shoddy practice to leave draws on vertical projects for longer than a day within the gorge. To put up a new route you need to submit a form with money to NPS and wait for them accept/deny your permit. To rebolt you must be on the NPS rebolting permit, contact NRAC for more info.
Outside of the New River Gorge proper is a different story. Summersville Lake is managed by the Army Corp of Engineers, and there are currently no restrictions in terms of bolting or fixed gear. Please respect the areas that you are in and how they were originally developed. Going off and putting up sub-par routes in areas that are filled with classics is looked down upon here. Unfortunately, there are a few developers (well, mostly just one) who have put routes up in the Meadow and Gauley river gorges that are simply bad– they cross over or obliterate previous trad routes, do not pay attention to natural features, and are often not cleaned or even redpointed prior to opening. Ask locals if you're concerned about routes by these folks; we'll let you know which ones to stay off of.
Crowds and Routes
With the explosion of climbing's popularity over the last few years, respecting one another, being tolerant, and sharing resources (routes) is becoming more and more important. The Junkyard and Bridge Buttress crags are popular with commercially guided groups. Rock Guides at the NRG are among the friendliest out there. Please do not cause a conflict with them if they are guiding a party on a route you wish to climb. See if you can work something out, be polite, and if they're on the route first, it's theirs.
COLLEGE OUTDOOR CLUBS, MEETUP GROUPS (and that sort): The climbing group size limit for the New River Gorge is 15 people total at Bridge Buttress, and 10 total for all other crags. This includes guides, bystanders, and that dude that just wants to sit in the hammock and play guitar. If you're in a group that exceeds these numbers, split up into different crags with different parking areas.
Don't leave unattended topropes hanging, offer to let smaller groups play through, offer to hang ropes after you're done for the next party, and just in general be cool.
If you hate crowds, go climb scary or difficult things, or go to obscure areas like South Nuttall, Carnifex Ferry, or Long Point. You're almost guaranteed to have the place to yourself if it has an approach that is longer than 20 minutes.
Classic Climbing Routes at The New River Gorge
Days w Precip