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Summersville and Gauley River

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Summersville and Gauley River Rock Climbing 

Photos:  Recent | Best | Popular
Location: 38.236, -80.8553 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 207,547
Administrators: Pnelson, Ladd, Shawn Heath, Vicki Schwantes, Jake Jones, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Josh Janes on Jul 6, 2007

82° | 59°

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82° | 59°

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Writing in chalk MORE INFO >>>


About a half hour north of the New River Gorge is the Gauley River drainage. The main northern shore of Lake Summersville is home to a host of high quality single-pitch sport routes. Ratings range from 5.easy (slabs left of Orange Oswald) to 5.14+ (in the Coliseum). There are plenty of as-of-yet unsent projects, and lots of new development potential, too. Water levels in the lake vary seasonally, which in turn affects the accessibility of certain routes. During warm months, the reservoir can be a great relief from oppressive summer heat. During colder seasons, the drained lakebed opens up as a treeless landscape that soaks up all the sunlight, making it a great cold-weather destination.

Beyond the main north shore Summersville climbing, Whippoorwill has great swimming and DWS in the summer, and amazing roped moderates in the winter. Long Point is another great early spring/late fall destination, with relatively few crowds. Farther downstream, below the dam that forms the lake, you'll find adventure crags along the Gauley River like Carnifex Ferry and some excellent bouldering.


Whippoorwill, Long Point, and parts of Summersville Lake are accessible when the reading for Summersville Lake at the link above is below 1600ft. When they drain the lake is dependent on many different factors and it's hard to say when it will be down/up with any sort of certainty.

Please note that there have been a few break ins in these areas. Make sure to park as close to the road as possible and keep valuables out of sight. It can be a bad idea to park behind the big hill at the parking lot!

Getting There 

See individual crags for directions; all are roughly a half hour north of the NRG on Highway 19.

Climbing Season

Weather station 1.5 miles from here

191 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',23],['3 Stars',85],['2 Stars',72],['1 Star',8],['Bomb',0]

Classic Climbing Routes in Summersville and Gauley River

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Summersville and Gauley River:
Wendy's Jugs   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Sport, 40'   Whippoorwill
Hippie Dreams   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Sport, 75'   Summersville Lake (main) : Orange Oswald Wall
Gimme a Clown   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   Whippoorwill
Menace Alert   5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a     Sport, 50'   Summersville Lake (main) : The Long Wall
Orange Oswald   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   Summersville Lake (main) : Orange Oswald Wall
She got the Bosch, I got Drilled   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 90'   Summersville Lake (main) : Orange Oswald Wall
Latch Key Kids   5.10a/b 6a+ 19 VI+ 19 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   Whippoorwill
Flight Path   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Sport, 40'   Summersville Lake (main) : The Long Wall
Strong Arming the Little Guy   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   Summersville Lake (main) : Orange Oswald Wall
Baby With A Nail Gun   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   Summersville Lake (main) : Orange Oswald Wall
Going Ballistic   5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b     Sport, 50'   Summersville Lake (main) : The Long Wall
Masuko   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   Whippoorwill
Satisfaction Guaranteed   5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 65'   Summersville Lake (main) : The Satisfaction Wall
Barfing Butterflies   5.11a/b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 85'   Summersville Lake (main) : Orange Oswald Wall
Maximum Overdrive   5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a     Sport, 70'   Summersville Lake (main) : The Long Wall
Under the Milky Way   5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   Summersville Lake (main) : The Long Wall
Reckless Abandon   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   Summersville Lake (main) : The Coliseum
Narcissus   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 55'   Summersville Lake (main) : Narcissus Cave
Tobacco Road   5.12a/b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6a     Sport, 100'   Summersville Lake (main) : The Coliseum
Apollo Reed   5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c     Sport, 1 pitch, 90'   Summersville Lake (main) : The Coliseum
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Summersville and Gauley River

Featured Route For Summersville and Gauley River
Rock Climbing Photo: Using the gaston beta in the beginning of the crux...

BC 5.13b/c 8a+ 29 X- 30 E7 6c  West Virginia : The New River Gorge : ... : The Coliseum
Unlike many of the other routes in the Coliseum, B.C. requires some bouldering strength. Start with your choice of draws pre-clipped and make your way through slopey edges to some long reaches around the first roof. I recommend pre-clipping the third bolt and leaving the first two unclipped since clipping them creates some major friction around the roof. After warming up on the intro boulder problem take a seat on the ledge and rest up for the rest of the route. The next section of the route inv...[more]   Browse More Classics in West Virginia

Photos of Summersville and Gauley River Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Swimming and climbing during a hot WV summer... li...
Swimming and climbing during a hot WV summer... li...
Rock Climbing Photo: pirates cove
pirates cove
Rock Climbing Photo: The ladder
The ladder
Rock Climbing Photo: Ladders with dogs, not impossible.
BETA PHOTO: Ladders with dogs, not impossible.
Rock Climbing Photo: fall colors / low water
fall colors / low water
Rock Climbing Photo: Hang Dawgin !
Hang Dawgin !
Rock Climbing Photo: Camp site after one hell of a storm.
Camp site after one hell of a storm.
Rock Climbing Photo: Doing the frog
Doing the frog
Rock Climbing Photo: Cliff jumping is super fun, yet carries a $5000 fi...
Cliff jumping is super fun, yet carries a $5000 fi...
Rock Climbing Photo: Some of the gang
Some of the gang
Rock Climbing Photo: A little something for everyone !
A little something for everyone !
Rock Climbing Photo: Random route shots
Random route shots
Rock Climbing Photo: Whippoorwill from the slab.
Whippoorwill from the slab.
Rock Climbing Photo: The Collesum on the right and Summersville Lake Br...
The Collesum on the right and Summersville Lake Br...
Rock Climbing Photo: Still Life before the hold broke. 14b
Still Life before the hold broke. 14b
Rock Climbing Photo: Pirate's Cove
Pirate's Cove
Rock Climbing Photo: Nice little overhangs
Nice little overhangs

Comments on Summersville and Gauley River Add Comment
Show which comments
By BrianWS
Oct 7, 2015
Please refrain from writing messages at the base of climbs with chalk. It is unsightly, unnecessary, and becoming unfortunately common at Summersville.

If you need to leave a critical condition report (bad bolts or anchors) for popular climbs, please rely on word of mouth, this website, or by reporting bad hardware to NRAC. Everyone wants to be a good steward, but turning the rock into a message board is not the way to do this.
By Liet Keynes
From: Denver, CO
Sep 12, 2016
Don't be too scared off by the water level notes. As someone who didn't know the area I was worried major parts of Summersville Lake wouldn't be accessible late August with the CURRENT WATER LEVEL link still saying just over 1,600ft. I didn't check out Whippoorwill etc., but everything from The Coliseum to The Circus was well above water and eminently climbable :)
By BrianWS
Sep 12, 2016
Daniel -- The collesium thru circus wall are always above water, barring floods or other anomolous conditions. Whippoorwill and Pirates Cove are accessible during low water only. Not sure where the confusion came from, as this info is pretty clearly indicated.
By Carl Conine
Sep 7, 2017
If you go here you have to stop by Fran's. It is the best southern food you will find here. Prices are dirtbag friendly and they don't mind having dirtbag here!

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