Type: Trad, 1100 ft, 7 pitches, Grade III
FA: Peter Young, John Whisnant, Jim Marshall - 1972
Page Views: 15,857 total · 106/month
Shared By: BirminghamBen on Dec 19, 2006
Admins: Aaron Parlier, Steve Lineberry

You & This Route

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Though not quite as well-known as routes like Fathom and Groover, Seconds is an excellent moderate with good protection and runouts maybe a little more generously bolted than you might expect of a typical North Carolina slab route. For most of its seven-pitch length, Seconds follows water grooves that steadily cut deeper into the face until you find yourself in what's practically a chimney near the top.

The route goes like this:

P1 - (Direct) Slab up to roof and pull it on good gear to the right or left then move up to bolted belay.

P1 - (Original) Climb up the hill to the climber's left of the clearingto the base of the rock, but directly left of the P1 anchors...traverse easy ground right and up to the anchors above the roof.

P2 - Head up water groove for the original Wild Turkey route (10PG13/R) or move left and up more featured, better protected, crack and slab climbing (5.8+) over a couple bolts and some good gear placements, regaining the groove above. Climb straight up to a bolted belay.

P3 - From the belay, climb straight up the groove past a bolt and upwards. Either continue up on the left following features and gear until possible to move right to the spacious belay...or up the groove and right over face and two bolts to the good belay ledge with bolted belay.

P4 - Climb striaght up the well protected rightmost flaring crack until possible to move right to the semi hanging belay at the top of P4.

P5 - From the semihanging belay at the top of P4, make some thin moves up and right to gain a slight scoop left of the water groove...streeeetch out left to clip the bolt...slab up and into the groove and follow this up to a prominent quartz dike on the right...move out of the groove along this dike and do one of two things...OPTION 1: before the next groove, slab straight up the face with no pro to the anchors. OPTION 2: follow the dike into the next grooove for a couple placements, move up then back left to anchors...this belay is pretty comfortable.

P6 - CRUX - move right from the belay and up following flaring cracks back into the water groove...follow this up to a bolt on the left. Clip this and prepare to pull the crux bulge. There is a good blue TCU placement above the bulge that can be placed from the stance below. Follow the groove on up to anchors on the left.

P7 - Follow the groove on up for one last semi-clean pitch to anchors out and right. Most rap from here.

P8 - Dirty. Head up the groove then out and right on the face to two old, manky bolts...rap.

Rappel the route with two ropes from belay anchor to belay anchor. Two ropes mandatory.


The direct start is just above the wooden footbridge. Take a number 4 for under the roof.

The original start is up and left 100'. From the upper right shoulder of the earthen bank, slab out and right to the first set of anchors. Short and easy.


Single rack of Stoppers, Tricams, TCUs, Camalots to #3 with lots of runners, draws, etc.
Doubles in small to mid may be handy but not mandatory and offsets are always nice at LK.
Bolts protect the most runout sections...more or less.
Belays are bolted all the way to the top.
Birmingham, AL
BirminghamBen   Birmingham, AL
What signifies the start on this route? This is one of the next moderates on my list for LK. Jun 14, 2007
Decatur, GA
saxfiend   Decatur, GA  
Kind of hard to describe (other than what I've got in the route description above). From the time you reach the end of the trail switchbacks at the right end of the cliffline, I don't think it's more than about five minutes hike on down the trail to get to the clearing at the base of Seconds. From this clearing, you'll see the overhang above you, and above that, I believe you can see the bolts for the P1 belay.

Once you've located this, the trail goes up kind of steeply for a short distance; about where it levels off, you bushwhack through the undergrowth and pick a spot to belay from. At this point, you'll be above and left of the overhang. Move up and right along a faint dike to the belay.

Of course if you're going to do the direct start, you don't leave the clearing. I've heard some people compare the moves and difficulty level to U Slot at Stone Mountain; but I've also been told by friends who've led it that the rock is fairly exfoliating on this slab. So be real careful if that's the option you take.

If you'll wait til fall, Ben, I'll go with you! Jun 14, 2007
is this route classic? 2.5 stars isnt very enticing for what everyone seems to do their first time at LK (besides Groover obviously). Nov 7, 2009
Birmingham, AL
BirminghamBen   Birmingham, AL
The movement is not exactly world class, but it's a quality, easy, multipitch route...one of the longest around if you go to the top...worth a visit if you're around. Nov 9, 2009
Decatur, GA
saxfiend   Decatur, GA  
Ben Sachs wrote:is this route classic? 2.5 stars isnt very enticing for what everyone seems to do their first time at LK (besides Groover obviously).
Three stars is about as good as it gets from BirminghamBen, he has very high standards, heh heh. I don't think I've seen him give anything four stars on this site.

JL Apr 9, 2010
Ryan Williams
London (sort of)
Ryan Williams   London (sort of)
Just did this route and had a great time. It's pretty hard to get a sense of how big the wall is until you are right in the middle of it. Early Sept, high in mid-70's, we started climbing around 9. Went into the sun around noon but wasn't too hot. Don't start any later than we did if it's gonna be warm. When we were rapping (3-4pm) the rock was hot to the touch and unclimbable. We were slow on the hike in and the climbing and average on the hike out and we did car to car in about 12 hours.

This was my first time at LK so I can't say much about the quality other than every pitch had fun moves for most of the way. A lot of slabby face climbing with about half of the pitches having steeper sections through water grooves with slopey features. An awkward mantle move followed by some weird chimney water groove climbing creates a fairly sustained crux pitch 6.

We did the direct start and while the rock is "exfoliating" a bit, if you can't do the direct start you shouldn't be on the route. The crux is a bit run out though.

Overall the climb protects very well for NC slab. I don't have much experience on this kind of rock and I lead the hard pitches... only got scared once and it was on one of the 5.7 pitches! The 5.9 cruxes are well protected.

We took doubles (Aliens, TCU's, C4's) up to #3, knowing that we didn't need that much. I think we actually placed two .75's on one pitch, and on P6 (180 ft) I placed two #2's, two #3's, an orange TCU and a red tricam... plus a bolt before the crux. One of the #3's should have been a #2 but I had already run out!

I also used pink and brown tricams, and offset TCU's would have been nice to have. We had a bet to see who could place the first good nut... we placed one mid sized offset (the smallest DMM alloy) on the entire climb.

If this is your first time at LK or if you're not the best slab climber (like me) then doubles will make you feel better, esp. on P6. Alternatively you could bring a few larger tricams for P6 instead of double C4's. Pitches 3,4,5 don't take much gear at all but have bolts every 30 feet give or take. P7 has one hard sequence and is protected by Blue and Purple TCU's.

This is a cool place to climb but it's a shame you can't walk off. When you rap, don't throw the ropes, but coil 'em and carry 'em. If you don't, you'll spend time kicking the piles farther down the slab.

I've never been a fan of this kind of climbing but I had a good time. Any NC climber has to see this place at least once, and if you're visiting, it's the biggest wall east of the Mississippi. Worth the hike in my opinion.

Sep 8, 2010
Brannen Brannen
Flowery Branch, GA
Brannen Brannen   Flowery Branch, GA
This route is a lot of fun and is definitely a moderate.

Pitches 1 and 2 can be combined if you have a 60m close and your belayer stands as close to the rock up and to the right as possible (on the original start not the direct). I only know this because I completely missed the first set of anchors and was about 50 ft above them before I noticed, and decided to just go for the second set of bolts. I think I made it with about 5-10 feet of rope left. Jan 26, 2011
Red River Gorge
  5.9 R
JohnWesely   Red River Gorge
  5.9 R
While inside my comfort level, I found this climb to be much more serious than this page implies. Expect to find at least a few 50 foot runouts on the second half of the route. By the time you are that high up, you are fairly dialed in, but a fall would certainly be possible if you were not careful. I personally found the crux to be the moves between the bolts on pitch 2 and the move above the first bolt on pitch 3. The "crux" on Pitch 6 is no more than 5.6 or 5.7. Feb 14, 2011
Rhett Burroughs
Salt Lake City, UT
Rhett Burroughs   Salt Lake City, UT
The direct start of this route is around 15ft left of the log bridge at the clearing once you come to the base of the mountain. Look up and squint you can see the bolt anchors barely.

There are some deceiving starts so I figured I would post up. May 4, 2011
Ryan Williams
London (sort of)
Ryan Williams   London (sort of)
I'm pretty confused about JohnWesley's comments. I am positive that we never had anymore than a 30 foot runout, and it was on 5.6/5.7 at most. This route should NOT get an R.

Pulling into the water groove on P6 is definitely the crux. It was the only part of the route I felt to be 5.9ish, with the rest of the "cruxes" feeling more like 5.7+, all with good pro.

I guess cruxes feel different to everyone but pro on this route is normal for NC. Nov 3, 2011
'pro on this route is normal for NC.'

Ha! So true. I remember clipping to 3 bolts on the pitch 3 and the pitch was about 150 feet. Love this route. One of my many favorites in NC. Dec 5, 2011
Red River Gorge
  5.9 R
JohnWesely   Red River Gorge
  5.9 R
That was just my impression of the route. Maybe I was having an off day. Jan 19, 2012
Cres Simpson
Cambridge, MA
Cres Simpson   Cambridge, MA
Agree with Ryan Williams' excellent review of the route.

As far as safety goes, this route probably gets a PG-13 rating anywhere else but by North Carolina standards it's well protected. Biggest runouts were probably 25-30 feet on P4 and P5. I'd say be reasonably comfortable at the grade as a 50' fall on slab would be exfoliating to say the least. Crux portions were extremely well protected.

For those who cut their teeth on NC slab at Looking Glass (as I did), Seconds is definitely a totally different experience than climbs like Sundial and the Nose. While there aren't that many individual moves that are significantly harder, the climbs overall are much much more sustained -- at least to me, there were few casual sections on the climb. By the time I clipped the final set of anchors at the top I was mentally and physically gassed.

Overall, a great climb for a first outing to Laurel Knob and highly recommended.

One aside, there seem to be two sets of anchors for the top of P6. There's a set to the left as the water groove levels out and a set to the right about 35' higher. The higher anchors have an awesome spot where you can sit and relax, but it's a rope stretcher with 60m -- my partner had to take the rope out of the redirect on the anchor and step forward for me to have enough slack to clip the higher anchors. Dec 16, 2012
1100 ft? we made the rap down in 5 w/ 2 60's and a couple of the rappels were much less than full rope Oct 14, 2013
Portland, Or
Morrismc   Portland, Or
Great route! Save a bd # 2 or 3 for after the P6 crux move. Nov 5, 2014
Chrestman Chrestman
Highlands, North Carolina
Chrestman Chrestman   Highlands, North Carolina
Anyone have beta on the new pitches put up on seconds? It looks like an alternate 6th and 7th pitch. May 6, 2015
The souf east
.   The souf east
Icefall is possible when it freezes over night, did the route yesterday and saw a number of softball sized chunks of ice coming down at us among the thousands of smaller pieces coming down, another party on groover said the conditions were similar/worse. Does water in the groove change the rating of this one?
Crack way up by the p2 anchors snagged the rope at the end of the last rap had to leave it for another day, come back, ascend while leading, nearly crap myself after realizing what I was ascending was barely snagged, de-fuckulate, and rap again. Not sure there is a way to avoid the crack, it snagged on the melted end of my rope and would not pull from the bottom even with 2 men hanging on it. Dec 20, 2015
Sam Schutte
Sam Schutte   Cincinnati
A video of this route:

youtube.com/watch?v=A6tklea… Feb 1, 2017
Jordan Simon  
Echoing most of the comments below, I thought this was a great, long, intro to Laurel Knob. Gear or bolts are there when you need it, but be prepared to have your game face on for certain run out terrain. I would say that in order to lead comfortably here you would want to be a 5.10- single pitch climber. Climbed this on a Saturday and it had snowed a couple inches the Tuesday before but was sunny each day in between. Conditions were great! There was a little bit of water on P2, but everything else was dry dry dry. (On coming back Sunday it was even MORE wet, found the sweet spot I guess!) The rock is such good quality and the movements were all good! Highly recommend and cant wait to repeat! We were able to go bottom to top in 7 hours, but car to car ended up being 14 (oof).

P1: large sling for the tree then #3 for below the roof
P2: Two quickdraws, #2, two #.75s, #.5, Red BD stopper, Blue tri-cam and #.3, #.3, #.2
P3: Two quickdraws, #1, #.75, #.4, red tri-cam
P4: Three quickdraws, #3, two #1s, #.5, #.4, blue tri-cam, gold dmm offset
P5: Four quickdraws
P6: One quickdraw, #.3, #.2, two #3s, two #2s, red tri-cam (save one of each of the bigger stuff for AFTER crux, not immediately after though)
P7: #3, #2, #.75, 6-7 runners plus four quickdraws did the trick for me. Jan 24, 2018