Type: Trad, Alpine, 2200 ft, Grade III
FA: unknown
Page Views: 3,801 total · 114/month
Shared By: Brian Abram on Apr 21, 2016 with updates from Luke R 84
Admins: Aaron Parlier, Steve Lineberry

You & This Route

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I've added this as a separate route from Left Wishbone, as it's different enough to warrant its own description. Except for a few hundred feet of wet rock hopping to get to the base and a bit of bushwhacking at the summit, this is a great scramble, and it would be good for anyone looking to do an "alpine-ish" route, or it might even be appropriate for an experienced and adventurous mountain runner.

Perhaps the longest scramble on the East Coast and certainly the Southeast. After the snow and ice disappears in March or April, and before the weeds have yet to fully emerge, this route may come into condition. You probably want at least a week of warm weather with no rain. The route features about 2200' of rock scrambling gaining 1600 vertical feet. You will gain 3150' of elevation from trailhead to summit. While the technical scrambling is mostly 3rd class, there may be a few 4th-5.easy sections depending on the chosen path. Most of the steep sections are featured enough to be casual, but if they are wet, I can imagine they could be quite tricky.

The route is pretty simple after finding the start. Begin up 45 degree slabs taking the path of least resistance. There are several places where you climb open books/corners. As you get higher, the route gets drier. The rock also tends to become more featured. There are several "cruxy" sections where an inexperienced person may want climbing shoes and/or a rope. I would guess that just about any steep section could be bypassed by bushwhacking around the rock into the woods on either side. But what's the fun in that?

As you approach 6000' elevation, the rock will begin to peter out into dense rhododendrons. From here, bushwhack up and left. You will come to a vertical 30' wall. Continue left, occasionally finding orange flagging. Eventually as you traverse left, the steep stuff above you will reveal easy weaknesses allowing passage to the summit of Celo Knob (6327').

There's water available until about half or 2/3s of the way up.


I'm going to do my best. This description applies to the ice route as well. It's sort of a maze of old 4WD trails up here. As long as you don't get lost, allow an hour or so for the approach, 1.5-3 hours for the climb, and 45 minutes to an hour for the descent.

Begin at the Woody Ridge trailhead (3180'). You will shortly pass a trail to the right typically with logs lying in front of it. Just continue straight/left following yellow blazes. You will soon pass a large boulder on your left. Continue past the boulder and you will come to an open dirt area typically with a fire ring. At this open area you will see a trail going straight and another trail going left. There is a yellow arrow pointing left on the tree in front of you. Go left and follow the yellow blazes.

Continue to the next intersection with a yellow arrow pointing left uphill and another trail going straight ahead (0.9 miles and 4100' elevation). Left is Woody Ridge trail and your descent. You are to go straight here for Left Wishbone (and Crescent and Browns).

You will then come to yet another intersection. Both directions lead to the same place, but I think left/west is better. Go left. You will head sort of uphill before the trail turns back right/NE and starts heading back downhill. Then you will run into the other trail you could have taken. Head left/NW here.

Now you are almost to the base of Crescent/Browns. Continue past some wet spots to a large tree lying across the trail that someone has cut in spots. If you were to head left up the hill in any of the next few drainages, you would wind up at the base of Crescent or Browns. Instead, continue straight until you get to the last drainage before a steep hill/ridge (1.7 miles/3950').

Climb the hill/ridge on a faint trail and continue on the trail for a ways until you come to the next drainage over the ridge. This is your drainage (1.9 miles/4039').

Head left/west up the drainage, rock hopping up the wet bullcrap longer than you'll think is correct until you come to a giant pile of fallen trees. Carefully navigate over the trees and you'll come to a flat spot beneath the start of the route proper at about 2.1 miles/4425'.

Descent: Once on the summit of Celo, you should find a hiking trail leading south along the summit ridge. This trail will lead down to the Black Mountain Crest trail at a trail sign. Turn left/south onto the Crest trail and continue to another trail intersection/fork/sign pointing left. Head left here. Continue a ways along the Crest until you come to another brown trail sign on the left for Woody Ridge Trail. This steep trail of yellow blazes leads about 2.2 miles back to your car.


Approach shoes. Less experienced folks may want climbing shoes and maybe a rope and a small rack or slings for trees for some of the steeper bits. Maybe. Pitching this thing out or even simulclimbing would be a PITA. You shouldn't be here if 5.0 intimidates you.

Beware: this route turns into a literal waterfall when it rains. If you're on this thing and get hit with a thunderstorm unprepared, you might die.


munkeybog Sox
Columbia, SC
munkeybog Sox   Columbia, SC
Wowzers. What a comprehensive description. I feel like I've climbed it. Apr 21, 2016
Brian Abram
Celo, NC
Brian Abram   Celo, NC
Lolz. Hopefully folks will be able to find everything up here more easily now Apr 21, 2016
Kyle Harris
Nashville TN
Kyle Harris   Nashville TN
Haha as if the rhododendron isn't bad enough in the winter time in the black mountains. That's some commitment to get out there with no snow or ice. I always find myself questioning my entire existence when topping out of anything here. May 9, 2016
I have no idea who first scrambled up this route in non-ice conditions. I wouldn't be surprised if it was in the late 1800's or early 1900's when the entire range was being logged. They pretty much clear cut the entire mountain. There were some pretty rugged souls back then that did a lot of exploration of the range. In any case, I definitely heard of people doing this route in the summer as far back as the late 90's. I remember climbing it myself one summer in 1998 or 1999, after having previously done it as an ice climb in winter. Woody Keen, Jeep Barrett, or Mike Fischesser may have given me the idea but I can't remember. Nov 21, 2017
Brian Abram
Celo, NC
Brian Abram   Celo, NC
Yeah, I’ve now read several accounts of folks doing it in the 90s. It didn’t exist in the 1800s. It was mostly formed in a series of tropical storms in the 1970s that caused massive landslides. A storm in 1977 dropped 12 inches of rain and resulted in the bulk of formation of this and several other slides and the giant pile of trees at the base. Though other storms have resulted in documented but less significant slides as recently as 2004

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srs.fs.usda.gov/pubs/chap/c… Nov 21, 2017
That's a great resource Brian, thanks for sharing. Pretty cool to link the features to specific weather events. Nov 21, 2017