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Closed: Looking for the impossible in Asheville?


Original Post
BrendanN · · Atlanta, GA · Joined Dec 2015 · Points: 172

EDIT: thanks all for the suggestions, we had a great time hiking out to stone depot (it's quite the trek but was nice to get some hiking and climbing in)

Hi all,

I'll be visiting Asheville/Lake James area with family in a couple of weeks and was hoping to get some help on areas/routes to climb, preferably within 1.5 hrs.

I am new to trad (have gear but have only followed) but comfortable with sport and leading up to 5.9, and family would probably be able to do 5.8-5.9 following (and totally OK with 5.fun). I am also comfortable with multipitch, setting natural anchors, rapping, etc. So far my research has pointed out Rumbling bald, rocky face rec area, Cedar/Stone depot, maybe Linville?

Is there anything I'm missing or is it asking too much to avoid trad and anything over 5.9 in NC?   

Austin Todd · · Charlotte · Joined Apr 2016 · Points: 30

Rocky face would probably be your best option for sport climbing in those grades. Keep in mind that rocky face is essentially an outdoor gym, but they have an abundance of well protected easy sport and top rope routes. There is definitely better climbing closer to Asheville, but depending on your family's experience and comfort level rocky face would be a safe bet. 

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

Will you be closer to Lake James, or closer to Asheville?

Billy Danger · · Asheville, NC · Joined Mar 2005 · Points: 236

black fork. uggggg

Derrick Keene · · Kentucky · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 95

Mummy, Daddy, Prow at Linville. Gorgeous routes, all natural trad, easy to climb. Hike in to the amphitheater is the toughest part IMO.

Jack Servedio · · Raleigh,NC · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 35
Derrick Keene wrote:

Mummy, Daddy, Prow at Linville. Gorgeous routes, all natural trad, easy to climb. Hike in to the amphitheater is the toughest part IMO.

I don't think adventurey multi-pitch routes are a good first ever trad lead, doubly so with inexperienced partners/belayers. Rocky Face seems like a safe bet for a fun day. Plus, no having to lug your trad rack on a family vacation.

Adam Fleming · · Keystone, CO · Joined Jun 2015 · Points: 303

Rocky Face has my vote.  You'll be underwhelmed, but it's the most accessible crag anywhere with lots of mellow topropes/sport leads.  If you want to venture further and have some "real" climbing, Pilot offers a good mix of topropes, sport climbing, and a few trad lines you could try if you get confident.  

If you really want to see what NC climbing has to offer, hire a guide.

Whatever you do, make sure your family actually wants to go climbing all day.  Don't just drag them along because you want to go personally.

peter dickson · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2011 · Points: 0

Brendan, you might checkout the Chimneys and Table Rock - near Lake James.  You can setup a ton of 5.easy to 5.hard Tope Rope climbs in the Chimneys and then head over to Table Rock for some nice moderate Trad multipitch.  Good luck.  Have fun!

stolo · · Shelby, NC · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 120

+1 for Rocky Face. Makes a great fun family day and the climbing is good too. 

You could go to Stone Depot too.. but it is kind of annoying to get there, less committed family members will likely enjoy Rocky Face better. 

BrendanN · · Atlanta, GA · Joined Dec 2015 · Points: 172

Thanks all for the suggestions! We're going to be halfway between Lake James and Asheville, so a day to Rocky Face seems doable (~1.5 hr) and they seem totally down for the long hike to Stone Depot, they're pretty committed (I think they go at least once a week to their local gym).

BrendanN · · Atlanta, GA · Joined Dec 2015 · Points: 172

Also, I couldn't find much info on the Chimneys or black fork, they sound interesting but I'm not sure I could figure them out myself. Which brings me to: if we hired a guide for a day, where would you go? Keeping in mind the 5.easy-5.8 range, ~1hr drive from Asheville/Lake James, multipitch is preferred. Any recommendations on a service?

Jack Servedio · · Raleigh,NC · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 35
BrendanN wrote:

Also, I couldn't find much info on the Chimneys or black fork, they sound interesting but I'm not sure I could figure them out myself. Which brings me to: if we hired a guide for a day, where would you go? Keeping in mind the 5.easy-5.8 range, ~1hr drive from Asheville/Lake James, multipitch is preferred. Any recommendations on a service?

Find a guide and then talk to them about this - be super honest about your experience and the others in your party and tell them what your goals are (I assume to get as much air beneath your feet as possible). You will get far more out of a guided day if you let them make the suggestions than you dictating to them what to do - it's literally their job to make your day as amazing as possible. I can't recommend a guide in NC, but I'm sure others can.

I've hired guides when travelling for work without the option of bringing anything except personal gear on extremely tight schedules and even with those limitations and I've never once had anything but an amazing experience. 

Also, don't forget to tip your guide after you have an undoubtedly awesome day.

Seth Monteleone · · Charlotte, NC · Joined Dec 2016 · Points: 48

If you want a guide, I'd recommend this guy.

John Kelly · · Greenville, SC · Joined Sep 2017 · Points: 45
Seth Monteleone wrote:

If you want a guide, I'd recommend this guy.

Ditto, or Doug Lutz from FOX also. Well worth the investment and will make your experience so much more enjoyable. Have used themmany time will continue to. Safe, reliable, knwolegable, personable, and you learn A LOT!!!!

Mark Wenzel · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2015 · Points: 40
Derrick Keene wrote:

Mummy, Daddy, Prow at Linville. Gorgeous routes, all natural trad, easy to climb. Hike in to the amphitheater is the toughest part IMO.

Those things are more akin to small mountaineering routes (albeit warm ones), and should be treated as such.

Rick Carpenter · · Marion, NC · Joined Aug 2010 · Points: 1,070

Hire a guide and go to Black Fork. 

Mike Reardon · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2010 · Points: 970

Western North Carolina is absolutely loaded with easy to moderate climbing.  The past select guide books focused a bit less on this, but more recently guidebooks bygrounduppublishing.com and by Earthbound Sports have given areas more of a comprehensive guide

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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