Mountain Project Logo
To save paper & ink, use the [Hide] controls next to photos and comments so you only print what you need.

Rumbling Bald

N Carolina


With all the breakfast-sounding names associated with Rumbling Bald (Hickory Nut Gorge, Cereal Buttress, Frosted Flake), you might think the place was a theme park dreamed up by General Mills. In fact, Rumbling Bald is an excellent winter climbing destination in North Carolina, featuring a mix of granite/gneiss crack and friction climbs, trad and sport styles.

The history of climbing here is a little hazy, but the first ascents were apparently done in the early 1970s in whatÂ’s now known as the Flakeview Area. In the mid-70s, route development began at the Cereal Buttress, with first ascents like Shredded Wheat being made by Jeep Gaskin. Other RB pioneers include Grover Cable, Don Hunley and Sean and Shane Cobourn. The 80s were a time of big growth at areas like Hanging Chain Wall; the 5.12b route of the same name was at one time the hardest line in North Carolina.

In the 90s, Rumbling Bald was closed for several years due to access issues with neighboring landowners. In the late 90s, however, the crag was reopened, with bouldering gaining a predominant popularity among climbers. Most recently, Sean Cobourn and partners have been busy exploring and establishing new routes on Rumbling Bald's north face. At present, land purchases by the Carolina Climbers Coalition, combined with state plans for a Hickory Nut Gorge State Park, make the outlook excellent for continued access.

Camping is not allowed at Rumbling Bald, but there are private campgrounds nearby in the Chimney Rock area. The town also hosts B&Bs and motels for those not wanting to camp, along with good places to eat along the scenic Broad River. And if you get bored with climbing, you can join the tourists across the river at Chimney Rock Park (there is actually climbing in this state-owned park, but only if you hire an authorized guide service).

Getting There

Rumbling Bald is located just outside the town of Chimney Rock. From points west (Asheville, etc.), pick up US 74A and go east to where 74A combines with US 64 and SR 9 near Bat Cave. From points east (Charlotte), exit I-85 south of Charlotte for Kings Mountain and US 74; follow 74 west to Forest City and veer off on US 74A west to Bat Cave.

From Bat Cave, follow the signs for Chimney Rock Park and pass the park entrance as you go through the town of Chimney Rock. Not quite a half mile past the park, turn left on Boys Camp Road (SR 1305). Follow this for about a mile and a half to a dirt access road on the left; take the dirt road to one of two parking areas for Rumbling Bald.

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

Run & jump fun! (or trying to swallow the whole boulder)
[Hide Photo] Run & jump fun! (or trying to swallow the whole boulder)
Moby Dick (V4)
[Hide Photo] Moby Dick (V4)
Problem w/ a BIG dyno swing move (V3?)
[Hide Photo] Problem w/ a BIG dyno swing move (V3?)
Bear prints on the approach to Comatose area
[Hide Photo] Bear prints on the approach to Comatose area
Willy trying the V5 campus problem @ the trailside area.
[Hide Photo] Willy trying the V5 campus problem @ the trailside area.
Classic Rumbling Bald sloping topout (V3)
[Hide Photo] Classic Rumbling Bald sloping topout (V3)
Kung Fu Grip (V5)
[Hide Photo] Kung Fu Grip (V5)
Sean Cobourn and Lauren James on 7 and 7
[Hide Photo] Sean Cobourn and Lauren James on 7 and 7
Rumbling Bald Rock Climbs guidebooks are now in stock at; Covers 400+ routes at Rumbling Bald, including the currently closed North Side, 20+ routes at Bradley Falls and 40+ routes in the Slate Rock/ Pilot Cove Areas in Pisgah. Extensive NC climbing history as well.
[Hide Photo] Rumbling Bald Rock Climbs guidebooks are now in stock at; Covers 400+ routes at Rumbling Bald, including the currently closed North Side, 20+ routes at Bradley Falls and…
FA'ing in fine style
[Hide Photo] FA'ing in fine style
Dime Crack (V4)
[Hide Photo] Dime Crack (V4)
Aerial View of The Bald
[Hide Photo] Aerial View of The Bald

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

[Hide Comment] What a spot! Must see for any climber. I consider this spot the hueco of the east. Jun 11, 2010
Dan Petty
Wheat Ridge, CO
[Hide Comment] I'm relatively certain that the Lat/Long for the South-facing side of Rumbling Bald is: 35.45025, -82.21559

The one listed for this area is not off of Boys Camp Rd, has no north side, and is small in comparison. Nov 11, 2010
Dan Petty
Wheat Ridge, CO
[Hide Comment] The road to the parking lot has also been improved and is no longer dirt. Nov 11, 2010
[Hide Comment] it should be noted in regards to Dan's comment above, that "improved" means limited. The state (as far as i'm aware) stepped in to pave the road, but in doing so also put in posts which significantly limit the size of the parking area, and put in a gate barring access to the lower parking lot.

carpooling efforts should be stepped up if at all possible when visiting Dec 22, 2010
Brad Caldwell
Deep in the Jocassee Gorges
[Hide Comment] Actually, there are more parking spaces than the old dirt lot, but there are exponential amounts of people now that it seems "more" accesible. If you want to guarantee your climbing access on the weekends, get there early (before 9:30) or else plan on going somewhere else. I usually go during the week and dont have any problems with parking, even on Fridays. Make sure not to park on the side of Boys Camp road or anywhere not allowed in the parking lot to ensure we dont have issues with the state park. Check for up to date info on the Bald. Dec 27, 2010
Durham, NC
[Hide Comment] Is it kosher to boulder after hours here? And if so where do you park? Thanks Feb 18, 2012
Edward Medina
Ridgway, CO
[Hide Comment] Russell, the park definitely does not want people on the premises after the gate has been locked. Those who do so may be jeopardizing future access for others. Also, it should be noted that the Division of Natural Resources is keeping a chary eye on boulderers in particular as a user group that they consider to be 'high impact' Feb 18, 2012
Eric T
St. Augustine, FL
[Hide Comment] Anyone have any beta on free camping in the area? May 4, 2012
Brad Caldwell
Deep in the Jocassee Gorges
[Hide Comment] There is no free camping around the Bald...and please don't jeopardize access by camping at the Bald itself. If I were you, I'd climb somewhere else until the beginning of winter...Rumbling gets super hot in May and the flies and poison ivy get seriously bad in the boulders and on the cliff (flies not ivy). Head to the Highcountry, near Linville Gorge, during the hot months for a better NC hot weather climbing trip. May 4, 2012
Eric T
St. Augustine, FL
[Hide Comment] Can anyone help me figure out the best place to camp near Rumbling Bald? Jan 14, 2013
Brad Caldwell
Deep in the Jocassee Gorges
[Hide Comment] Creekside up past Bat Cave might be your best bet. Jan 16, 2013
John Braun
Hendersonville, NC
[Hide Comment] Permits are now required for climbing and bouldering. From "A new climbing policy at the Rumbling Bald Access has been put into place. All climbers must fill out a free climbing permit before rock climbing or bouldering. Permits are available at the parking lot kiosk. Organized groups of climbers must register at least two weeks in advance by submitting a Special Activity Permit application to the park superintendent." Nov 7, 2014
[Hide Comment] Anyone have any info on the new RB guidebook? Found a place to order it and shipping says expected Fall 2015. Is it finished? Has anyone found one? Nov 8, 2015
Brad Caldwell
Deep in the Jocassee Gorges
[Hide Comment] The bouldering guidebook is being finished up right now and should be in print around the beginning of spring, from what I've heard. You can always message Dan Brayack either on here or on Facebook and he'll get back to you with a more definite answer. The climbing guidebook has been out for a while now and is available from Ground Up Publishing at Nov 9, 2015
Rabat, Morocco
[Hide Comment] Hey all, just had 7 omega pacific quickdraws with blue and white webbing stolen from the base of fruit loops while we were on the second pitch. Watch your gear! Message me if y'all have any pertinent information. Aug 6, 2016
[Hide Comment] Hey is anyone around that wants to climb tomorrow afternoon (Friday Jan 13 2017) or Saturday morning?
Boulder, Sport, Trad.

Have plenty of gear. Jan 12, 2017
[Hide Comment] I just lead my first trad route (bee tree) last weekend and was looking for some advice on what would be some more good leads for me at the bald? Sep 6, 2017
[Hide Comment] Hey
Im coming to the Brevard/Asheville area later this week (Wednesday through Friday October 11 through 13). 5.10 sport and moderate grade trad leader, as well as up to v5 boulder looking for someone to climb with. Will have pads for bouldering but not much gear for sport/trad. Oct 5, 2017
jacob pyne
Reading, PA
[Hide Comment] Went here looking to climb some sport with a friend. We decided on Flakview Area. The directions for the hike in on both MP and an NC guide book we had said to go up a steep trail to the Trailside boulder then "Continue another quarter mile or so to the cliffline of Screamweaver Area; go left to get to Flakeview". Seemed easy enough. Turns out there is no actual trail for significant portions of the hike and if the first part of the approach is "steep" then the rest of the hike is very steep bushwhacking and scrambling to get to the base of the cliff. Once at the base of the cliff we couldn't find the area. Ended up going up and down the cliff line for quite a while till we finally found Flakeview. We saw a few other sport climbs on the way I would have considered getting on, except that all the lines I saw were thin slab climbing with the first bolt to high to get with a stick clip (20' 25' ish). Even knowing exactly where it is a don't see how anyone could get to flakeview area in less than 30 to 45min a lot of which being bushwhacking up very steep terrain.

I would not recommend this place if you are looking to climb sport, unless you like high first bolts on thin moves, run out slab climbing, and don't mind the directions on getting to the areas being vague at best.

That being said, the boulders looked really cool and there were a few trad lines that caught my eye. I would come here to boulder if I was in the area but I think saying it is a good mix of boulder, trad, and sport just doesn't make much sense. We saw lots of people with boulder pads but no one with trad or sport gear.

Just my 2 cents. Oct 11, 2017
[Hide Comment] Jacob P; I'm doing more shameless advertising but try Rumbling Bald Rock Climbs guidebook Rumbling Bald is huge place with a ton of climbs, even a handful of purely bolted ones.... but the routes that require gear are so good, why limit yourself? 400 climbs in the area.... one visit is a drop in the bucket. Oct 14, 2017
Russ Keane
Asheville, NC
[Hide Comment] "I would not recommend this place if you are looking to climb sport"

Definitely not, you are right on about that. The fact that there are bolts does not make it a sport area. Everything you said is spot-on, especially the bushwhacking and confusing approach. As for the high first bolts, well that's how things are when bolting lines is only done on lead, (aka "ground up"). All of which means don't expect a sport climbing crag. Oct 17, 2017
[Hide Comment] Any recommendations for climbs that might stay dry (or dry-er) during rainy days, or at least dry out quickly? Dec 25, 2018
Sean Cobourn
Gramling, SC
[Hide Comment] the Bald dries really fast. Dec 27, 2018
Madison, WI
[Hide Comment] Hey all, I will visiting this week and wondering if you need to pay the park pass fee to climb at the Bald? I know the permits are free but is a park pass required? Thanks! Sep 23, 2019
[Hide Comment] No park pass needed. Just register at the kiosk in the Bald parking lot. Get an early start. During late summer routes come into the sun around 11am-noon. Sep 23, 2019
Madison, WI
[Hide Comment] Thank you Bruce! Sep 24, 2019