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Laurel Knob- Too big an objective?


Original Post
Jacob Yoder · · On the Road · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 20

I'm a travelling climber passing through NC. I'm flying solo and have my eye on Laurel Knob. I have considerable multipitch trad experience at the Gunks and more recently two years in NH on Cathedral and Whitehorse, and I have swapped leads on Cannon Cliff (moonshadow, 5.9) once (which seems to be comparable to Laurel Knob in height and alpine intensity). I'm just using the MP forums for the first time and haven't partnered with internet randos before, though I'm sure it can provide many a good experience :) It is completely insane to look for a partner to try and take on Laurel Knob? Is it something I should only do if I can find someone who has climbed it before? I'd be looking to do a more moderate route like Groover 5.8, but I know route finding can be tricky and I'm a bit intimidated because I don't know the area/ I don't want to have to ditch gear. Thanks!

Dirt Squirrel · · Golden , co · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 50

Jacob, 

Went there once many a moon ago. My advice is that I would find a partner. Climbing sandbagged friction slab alone close to the shortest day of the year, just doesn't sound like a great idea.

Brian Abram · · Celo, NC · Joined Oct 2007 · Points: 478

The directions to get in are pretty good. Just get an early start. The approach takes a while even if you know where you’re going. NH is close to NC in style and expected competency. Fathom is straightforward and sport bolted through the short crux. Easy to climb at 5.8 A0

Benandstuff · · Winston-Salem, NC · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 571

You can go, just make sure you get a very early start, as the approach and rapping down the cliff take a lot of time even when you have the beta. Start hiking before sunrise with these short days. You should climb something that doesn't require a lot of routefinding and that is possible to easily bail off of. If you want a moderate route that fits this description, try Seconds 5.8+. I hear Fathom is good too. Groover is a bit trickier to find and adds appreciably to the approach as it is on the far side of the cliff. You can't easily bail from the 2nd or 3rd belay either. These routes look like they are right next to each other on MP but really it takes you 30-40 minutes to hike from Frolictown to Black Flag (it gets kind of bush-wacky after you pass Fathom).

Also be careful as Laurel Knob gets a lot of seepage days after precipitation. Those water grooves don't form themselves!

Russ Keane · · Asheville, NC · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 150

"Is it something I should only do if I can find someone who has climbed it before?"

Yes, I definitely think so.  Just getting situated and confident, in terms of the getting to the bottom of the route you want, can be tricky -- never mind the climbing and the ridiculous rappel shanticks that can ensue.   I found Groover to be quite easy (other than the final water groove climax), not at all a slabby head-banger climb such as Whitehorse ledge or Stone Mtn.  In some ways its anti-climactic considering the hype as "the biggest cliff in the east."   I mean don't get me wrong, it's a beautiful sheet of rock and a fun outing, but it's tedious and tiring with very few epic climbing sequences.

In my opinion you are setting your sights on the wrong climb, for being out of the area and not even having a partner lined up.

Jay Stanley · · Little Rock, AR · Joined Jul 2015 · Points: 0

When are you coming through? My girlfriend and I are passing through also and looking to get on LK. 

Curtis Baird · · Johnson City, TN · Joined Oct 2013 · Points: 177

It is very doable.  My partner and I had never been there before and climbed Fathom last year on New Years Eve in the snow.  Started early, got lost, hiked out in the dark.... good times.

Jacob Yoder · · On the Road · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 20

Wow, thank you everyone for the responses! Clearly there are mixed opinions on this, but from what I’m reading it sounds like a route like Fathom is in my wheelhouse. I have a fair amount of climbing experience and am fairly certain I would be comfortable taking it on, my concern was more about finding a partner because multipitch can be an intense and intimate experience. I might be able to go with some people I met at the Red. Thanks for the info everyone 

Jacob Yoder · · On the Road · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 20
Jay Stanley wrote:

When are you coming through? My girlfriend and I are passing through also and looking to get on LK. 

Jay Stanley I’m staying in Charlotte until the 15th and then planning to head to the Asheville area and couch surf or else camp somewhere in Pisgah after thay. My schedule is pretty much open at that point.  Have y’all climbed the knob before? 

Jacob Yoder · · On the Road · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 20
Brian Abram wrote:

The directions to get in are pretty good. Just get an early start. The approach takes a while even if you know where you’re going. NH is close to NC in style and expected competency. Fathom is straightforward and sport bolted through the short crux. Easy to climb at 5.8 A0

Thanks for the recommendation... fathom however appears to be 5.10a. Could sill be in my wheelhouse but it does not appear to be 5.8! Just a heads up :) 

Alexander Blum · · Charlotte, NC · Joined Mar 2009 · Points: 132

I've only done fathom, not groove or seconds. It's supposed to be significantly less scary than either of those routes. It was a pretty casual outing, the 10a crux is bolted and I don't remember any terribly runout sections. 


For quality climbing though, I would point you towards the south side of looking glass, or to rumbling bald. Laurel is tall, but I didn't think fathom was super amazing. 


Conor Mark · · Asheville, NC · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 680

If you're concerned about having to bail, both Groover and Fathom traverse significantly for the first several pitches, making bailing tricky, but the climbing is moderate. The LK approach is longer than the Cannon cliff approach, but doesn't have the terrible talus slog. PM me if you're looking for a partner in Asheville. As others have said, Looking Glass (and Cedar Rock!) and Rumbling Bald are much closer to Asheville and you'll probably get just as many pitches in a day over multiple climbs as you would on one climb at LK. Also worth a stop is Big Rock in SC, not too far as the crow flies from the Cashiers area of NC, and a good place when the temps drop. 

Brian Abram · · Celo, NC · Joined Oct 2007 · Points: 478
Jacob Yoder wrote:

Thanks for the recommendation... fathom however appears to be 5.10a. Could sill be in my wheelhouse but it does not appear to be 5.8! Just a heads up :) 

5.8 A0. It’s 5.8 other than a couple moves with a bolt at your face. It’s easily aided if necessary, making it potentially 5.8 A0

Jacob Yoder · · On the Road · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 20
Brian Abram wrote:

5.8 A0. It’s 5.8 other than a couple moves with a bolt at your face. It’s easily aided if necessary, making it potentially 5.8 A0

Oh ok, got it! I see what you’re saying now, thanks for the clarification!

. · · The souf east · Joined Jun 2014 · Points: 775
Harrison Laird · · Davis, CA · Joined Jun 2015 · Points: 271

PM sent.  I'll be back in Atlanta from the 14th -  24th and am definitely looking to get out to Laurel while i'm home.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Southern States
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