Best first trad lead in NC


Original Post
Quench · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2017 · Points: 0

What would you suggest as a first (ever) trad lead in North Carolina?  Just looking for a nice easy route with solid, regular placements.  Preferably bolted at the belay/top.

stolo · · Shelby, NC · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 110

Where are you located or looking to climb? 

There are quite a few good first leads at Table Rock. 

Chase Bowman · · Baton Rouge/Durango · Joined Jan 2014 · Points: 550
Quench · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2017 · Points: 0
mstolorena wrote:

Where are you located or looking to climb? 

There are quite a few good first leads at Table Rock. 

Mostly anything east of Looking Glass, so TR is definitely on the radar.   Anything west of LG makes NRG available for the same drive time. 

Dylan B. · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2006 · Points: 938

Wailing Wall, 5.6 at Moore's Wall.

https://www.mountainproject.com/v/wailing-wall/106019639

Super fun, exposed and very well protected. Link the "pitches" to make you think a bit about rope management, but not too complicated. Good rests. Build your own anchor on a solid tree. 

Chase Bowman · · Baton Rouge/Durango · Joined Jan 2014 · Points: 550

I hate to say it.. but the first pitch of the nose goes at like 5.6 and has a two bolted anchor. 

LeviWalters · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 20

The eyebrows at looming glass can be a little tricky for a beginner placing gear sometimes. And when I first started, I felt iffy on slab. My first trad lead was on the edge of a dream at ship rock which is a phenomenal climb albeit a bit of a drive. 

Quench · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2017 · Points: 0

We've climbed at the nose and south side a few times - agree with Levi - I think he would prefer something more juggy.   I think Edge was #1 on my list for my first trad lead, but I sketched out before I got off the ground.   Yup, just checked.

Robert Michael · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2014 · Points: 116

I've been on exactly one climbing trip to NC, so I hardly have extensive knowledge, but that trip was with a 10-year-old, and thus I sought out things that should be nice and easy for us.

Here's what we ended up climbing:

Jim Dandy at Table Rock. 5.5, three pitches. Some bolts on the pitches help you feel a little more secure. Nice exposure on second pitch, but easy climbing. Bolted belays (maybe not after P3, but there is a huge tree there). Option to walk off or to do 1 or 2 more pitches and eventually scramble to the summit and take the main trail down. We did the latter, and it made a great day.

The Prow at the Amphitheater, also at Linville Gorge. 5.4, four pitches. I thought the only 5.4 was on the very exposed, very juggy, and very fun 3rd pitch. No bolted belays.

Great Arch at Stone Mountain. 5.5, three pitches. Very fun if you don't mind a lot of laybacking. Great pro, bolted belays. The problem is getting there. It starts on a high ledge, and the easiest ways up are a 5.7 that I hear doesn't have great pro and a 5.4 off-width that gets too big for a C4 #6 and scared the hell out of a lot of people. We did the 5.4, but I had done my HW and came with a lot of big gear, which I then had to haul the rest of the day. Alternatively, you could find the P# anchors from the summit and rap down each pitch to the start. Sounds like a lot of hassle to me, but it's there if you don't like the other options.

ETA: Of those three, I think Jim Dandy would make the best first lead because of easy access. The Prow is easier climbing, but, as many remark, the approach is probably the crux, though I wouldn't call it horrible.

AField · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2011 · Points: 25

Edge of a Dream at Ship. 5.7 with good gear, and the craziest exposure.

calebmmallory · · Seattle, N.Carolina, &Hong ... · Joined Jun 2015 · Points: 405

Cave Crack (5.6?) at the Bald was my first trad lead. Great ledges for all the placements (nuts, tricams, cams) and a mix of climbing styles. Not bolted anchors but the tree up top serves a similar purpose. 

stolo · · Shelby, NC · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 110
calebmmallory wrote:

Cave Crack (5.6?) at the Bald was my first trad lead. Great ledges for all the placements (nuts, tricams, cams) and a mix of climbing styles. Not bolted anchors but the tree up top serves a similar purpose. 

Beginning of that climb is interesting... took first lead fall on gear there! Was tired from day before and was not feeling well, that was a surprise! 

Benandstuff · · Winston-Salem, NC · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 488

+1 to Wailing Wall. Probably the best in terms of safe falls, positive holds, and easy gear. Plus it's a stellar climb. It deducts beginner-points for no top bolts (there's a thick tree), going out of sight of the belayer, and having to find the rap station.

Table Rock has a ton of bolted belays. The falls on the easier stuff are not super safe though, since it is slabby as heck. And the holds are not always positive incuts. Still a great option for learning, especially with the ease of desecent (rap or walk off)

Josh Platt · · SC · Joined Jul 2011 · Points: 35

My first lead was Jim Dandy to My Route at Table Rock. Felt secure the whole way. I recall it being a mix of slab and decent enough holds. And there are bolts every so often, like stated above, that makes you feel a little more secure. I remember placing a ton of gear too.

DavisMeschke Guillotine · · Pinedale, WY · Joined Oct 2013 · Points: 210

Mummy or Daddy. The Prow's first pitch is slabby and unprotectable. Jim Dandy is another good choice. Second pitch is fuckin' fun for the grade. 

Shadrock · · Here and there. · Joined Jun 2009 · Points: 268

If you're looking for multi-pitch it's unbelievably worth your time to camp at Table Rock parking lot, hike down to the Amphitheater, and do Mummy, Daddy, Prow. All are very, very moderate, with lots of great gear, and have gorgeous exposure/scenery. I've never had a problem finding gear on P1 of the Prow, but it's also been a long time since I bothered to put much in. It was the first route I did when I started trad again and, really, there's plenty there. Daddy requires a bit of route finding but has the best belay ledges around. North Ridge of Table Rock is also really nice, with great gear throughout and a bolted anchor at the top of the first pitch.

Rick Carpenter · · Kenai, AK · Joined Aug 2010 · Points: 1,020
LeviWalters wrote:

The eyebrows at looming glass can be a little tricky for a beginner placing gear sometimes. And when I first started, I felt iffy on slab. My first trad lead was on the edge of a dream at ship rock which is a phenomenal climb albeit a bit of a drive. 

My first trad lead as well! I recommend Table Rock for Cave Route, Jim Dandy, whooly aphid etc

Quench · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2017 · Points: 0

I think Cave Route was my first real lead, but we only did the first pitch, and that was a long time ago.   I think that we'll target the Table Rock area.  Thanks everyone.  Please feel free to contribute more ideas if you have them.

DaveBaker · · Durham, NC · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 88

Mine was Jim Dandy, too. Would definitely recommend.

Cave Route is definitely easier, but more bolted and less traddy.

I don't think Great Arch pitch one is a good first lead - it's a long pitch, and while easy is pretty sustained. Getting around the bulge at the start of P1 is weird and if you over protect you might get a ton of rope drag. Great Arch P3 is definitely more reasonable if you're ok with the 5.easy run out at the top.

Jordan · · Wilmington, NC · Joined Mar 2017 · Points: 0

Jim Dandy or the Prow for multi-pitch. Something at Moore's Wall for single pitch stuff. 

Great Arch is decent, but getting up by U Slots or the Entrance Crack is a bigger pain than anything on the Arch. If you followed up either of the routes to get to the Tree Ledge you would probably be good. 

I think the Mummy and/or the Daddy for a first lead is a little bit committing. 

. · · Asheville NC · Joined Jun 2014 · Points: 485

fruit loops 5.7+ at rumbling bald is well protected and superb climbing if you are ok with the moderate grade. bolted belay at P1 and P2 if you want some chimney and face climb action.  

Maybe the 5.6 open book corner at snakes den?  looks nice never climbed it IDK about the anchor situation but you could probably hike off easy enough 

maybe the prow at Victory wall ~5.6? not bolted but there is a tree anchor with tat.  Crux is in the first 25ft and slightly difficult to protect this move, many variations on how to get to the tat exist most of which are 5.6 or easier.

many good options at table rock in the gorge.

I Would not suggest the great arch on stone due to approach pitch.

I would not suggest the mummy or daddy since those are all trad anchors and you are committed to topping out or leaving bail gear.  Good heavens shouldn't be ruled out if you decide to get down in the Amp, I feel like that climb is often over looked and super fun.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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