REI Community
North Carolina Wall
Routes Sorted
L to R R to L Alpha
Apricot Butter T 
Apricot Jam T 
Barnacles & Bo Schwan T 
Bed-wetter T 
Bumblebee Butress T 
Eureka T 
Fire On The Mountain T,S 
Highway to the Danger Zone (aka Rinky Dink Direct) T 
Horse Shoes & Hand Grenades T 
Life is like a rubber rope T 
Lost In Time T 
Mixed Fruit T 
Pansy Wall T 
Rinky Dink T 
Southeast arete (of the Camel) T 
Spectre Man T 
Tarantula T 

Bumblebee Butress 

YDS: 5.8 French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- ZA: 15 British: HVS 4c

Type:  Trad, 4 pitches, 450'
Original:  YDS: 5.8 French: 5b Ewbanks: 16 UIAA: VI- ZA: 15 British: HVS 4c [details]
FA: Bob Mitchell and Bob Gillespie 1970
Page Views: 6,361
Submitted By: Danny Inman on Jun 4, 2007

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (40)
Your todo list:
Your stars:
Your rating: -none- [change]
Your ticklist: [add new tick]
Your opinion of this PAGE:    [1 person likes this page.]
BETA PHOTO: P3 - pulling through the bulge

  • All climbing routes between and including Tightrope and Bumblebee Buttress are closed from January 15 and August 15 MORE INFO >>>
  • Seasonal Raptor Closure MORE INFO >>>

  • Description 

    P1- 5.8: Start from the top of a 10'-high block and climb the wide chimney using face holds until it is possible to gain the arete. Continue up the arete for a short ways and then start trending left and up aiming for the left-facing corner/crack system. Once in the corner continue to the just below the prominent bomb-bay roof. (100 feet)

    P2- 5.8: Climb up to and out of the bomb-bay roof, follow the crack and corner system through a couple more bulges until a large ledge is reached. (100 feet)

    P3- 5.8: Climb on top of a large block to gain the face. Climb the face, traversing a good distance to the right and then shoot up through the right-side of the bulge, continue up via good holds to a large ledge. At first glance this pitch seems in obvious, but following the holds and the gear placements will lead you up and over the bulge in the right place. (100')

    P4- 5.5 Climb the face to the top. (150')

    From the top follow a faint trail that is marked with orange blaze back to the main MTS trail.


    This route is located on the Main North Carolina Wall. From the approach gully head down stream following a trail at the base of the wall. Look for a very distinct left-facing corner system just before the trail and the wall curves to the left. The start is identified by a 10' high block with a tree at the base and a small tree on top.


    Standard rack. I used a #4 WC Friend under the P2 bomb-bay roof. Nothing larger is needed.

    Photos of Bumblebee Butress Slideshow Add Photo
    Rock Climbing Photo: P1 - start.  No gear to start but climbing is mell...
    BETA PHOTO: P1 - start. No gear to start but climbing is mell...
    Rock Climbing Photo: P1 - 10' block in foreground / bombay roof level w...
    BETA PHOTO: P1 - 10' block in foreground / bombay roof level w...
    Rock Climbing Photo: The approach is a little bushy
    The approach is a little bushy
    Rock Climbing Photo: Snoop topping out p-3 of Bumblebee- photo by Drew ...
    Snoop topping out p-3 of Bumblebee- photo by Drew ...
    Rock Climbing Photo: P4 - to climber's right is a plumb line up the hea...
    BETA PHOTO: P4 - to climber's right is a plumb line up the hea...
    Rock Climbing Photo: P3 - traverse up and right.
    BETA PHOTO: P3 - traverse up and right.

    Comments on Bumblebee Butress Add Comment
    Show which comments
    By Rob Dillon
    Jun 4, 2007

    According to Bob Mitchell, that big ledge was at one time covered in big, flowery rhodos and other vegetation.

    I managed to climb this in 2 pitches with a 60, but the topout was a bit of a drag- not really recommended. P1 was fine with long runners.

    This route has injured more than one "5.8 leader", so play smart, it's a long way out of there.
    By saxfiend
    From: Decatur, GA
    Jun 4, 2007

    As Rob suggested, I've created a new area for NC Wall and moved BB to this area.

    Since I've not climbed at NC Wall yet, I'm going "by the book" on the description and would welcome any additional input.
    By Jeff Mekolites
    From: ATL GA
    Sep 24, 2007

    This is a must do route if you are visiting Linville. The climb, location, setting, moves are all quality. Each pitch is great climbing. The trail from the top out (oranges blazes) has been re-flagged with survey tape. If you follow the trail, it leads you back to the top of the Prow near the amphitheatre.
    By charlie collins
    May 11, 2008

    a decent selection of smaller gear will make 3rd pitch traverse alot safer;first pitch is obvious and we went a little right on the second pitch after the bombay part although it looked like either way put you on the belay ledge;not sure where the last pitch really went ; we just wandered up generally following any gear placement that could be found;pretty easy but ended up with some rope drag for sure
    By EverydayExplorer
    Feb 13, 2009

    Follow the book and don't be tempted to go right on the second pitch. I tried and it was nasty. I wrote a trip report about it here. - BumbleBee Buttrees
    By RebeccaJD
    From: Cary, North Carolina
    Oct 11, 2010

    On the approach: It's a pretty good hike down there. There is a spot near the guidebook's "chasm" where you need to head left (if you are facing the river) generally, but there is a steep rock wall (maybe 10 or so feet high) that would be a bit unsafe to descend without a rope; you can actually go right instead and through a sort of hole in the rock, and then immediately back to the left bypassing the steep bit of rock wall.

    On the climb, the top of the first pitch is pretty much a hanging belay on pro, although there is a small 12-18 inch wide ledge you can sort of stand on a bit. The belay between the 2nd and 3rd pitch is really comfy and not hanging.

    The third pitch seemed the most difficult. Medium sized cams and/or tricams would be really nice to protect the initial traverse for the second (we did not have nearly enough with us). You traverse across a horizontal crack to a bulge,then go up. My friend who was leading had problems finding pro when he got above the horizontal crack to the bulge area, and he didn't get something in until he was 15 or feet (maybe more) above it. It would have been a very nasty fall if he hadn't made it; he probably would have decked.

    I have no idea what the 4th pitch was supposed to be like, but it probably wasn't supposed to be a 150 foot traverse across lichen and moss towards the right. It is possible to get off this way, though, and it is a 5.4 or 5.5. At the top, I think you are supposed to stay left along the rim back to the descent gully. We did NOT do this, and ended up simulclimbing some easy stuff and then bushwacking on what he said was a "game trail" (what "game"?). (This was my fault.) Anyway, apparently there is some trail along the rim towards the left, and you should NOT head straight up towards the ridge line like we did.

    As with everything in Linville Gorge, bring a head lamp and an extra Powerbar and water, even if you don't think you could possibly need it.
    By mbuntaine
    From: Santa Barbara, CA
    Nov 14, 2011

    P1: as described.

    P2: More like 50 ft. if you follow the crack/roof system. If you take this directly you end up on a smallish ledge with a block to your right. Beyond that block further to the right is the large belay ledge. It might be possible to trend more right after the initial bombay roof to arrive at the large ledge directly.

    P3: PG13 climbing starting off the large block on the left side of the large belay ledge. You can get some good gear in the horizontal crack and some smallish gear in a flake before the bulge, but there is no gear when pulling the bulge (~20 ft. directly above right side of belay ledge) and you would ledge out if you blew it for sure. Be careful.

    P4: We headed up through two, overhanging triangular blocks 80 ft. directly overhead the large P3 belay ledge. This was a very fun line, but was also closer to 5.8 climbing. We used both a #4 and #5 C4 to protect the climbing in this section, though probably not strictly necessary. The mantle onto the mossy wet ledge below the triangular blocks was definitely the crux, however!
    By michael jones
    Nov 21, 2012

    This is the first time I have read such an in-depth description of climbing this route. My friends and I climbed hard from 1988 into the 2000Œs but seldom climb now (except for an occasional 5.6 route on Table Rockfs east face). We did Bumblebee though a bunch of times and this is a great depiction of the route. I do not agree about trying to go right at the overhang starting pitch two. It is just a nice stem to get a hold up and left and pull over the overhang and up to the belay ledge. It is also easiest to move right on the next pitch and take on the gbulgeh there. It is a little dicey and the pro is marginal to protect the move but it is very doable and all of 5.8. Just an absolutely great trad climb with great exposure. The last pitch is not obvious and we always ended up fading right then left to top out. To get back to MTS trail head North or up gorge to find an obvious trail back up. Oh, for those that donft want to climb, that hike to the base of Bumblebee and all way past it down to the Ampitheatre (the Mummy/Daddy area) up the gully, and then hike along the top edge of the North Carolina Wall back to the ridge trail is totally awesome. It is quite physical and requires several hours to do but has extrodinary views and really gives the hiker a great appreciation for the Gorge itself. Either the climb, hike or both is a must. PS: RebeccaJD is exactly correct when suggesting bringing some extra munchies and water anywhere in the Gorge. Part of the "charm" of Linville Gorge is the remoteness, relentless terrain and wheather changes.
    By b.t.miller
    From: Charlotte, NC
    Oct 26, 2015
    rating: 5.8- 5b 16 VI- 14 VS 4c

    Getting down to the NC Wall deserves 4* if you're like us and enjoy the adventure: brambles, snakes, steepness, mayhem etc.

    DESCENT: we were not 100% sure which gully to descend and ended up in one that is slightly down river (there are two gullies close to each other as you approach the gorge rim). This descent required a rap (about 60') and then a sensational slot canyon down-climb that is skier's right after the rap.

    P1- straightforward 100'
    P2- straightforward 50-60'

    P3- small gear will help considerably on this pitch. Used #00 and #0 TCU's and #0.2 and 0.3 BD's. Really solid placements. We traversed as described in previous posts angling slightly up and mostly right to a bulge, then pulled the right side of the bulge. We continued straight up 25-30' after bulge and then traversed right again for ~30' to a very comfortable seated belay. 90-100'

    P4- climb the face above the belay via the obvious general weakness of the face. At ~50' directly above the P3 belay is a fractured, overhung dual-triangle feature/line that leads to the top. 5.7-5.8 through the overhanging bits which kept all four pitches consistent for the grade. 125-150' depending on final belay at top.

    Needed nothing larger than a #3 BD which worked well at the bombay roof. You could certainly place a #4 or even #5 at this roof but the #3 worked fine further up the roof.
    By Drew Dekle
    Aug 20, 2017

    Climbed BBB today - the approach trail is completely overgrown
    with briiars and our legs got thrashed - we finally found
    the trail at the top after battling more briars. Post-fire LG
    seems to be experiencing rapid re-growing with the rains
    and the briars are super happy - I'd seriously suggest
    a fu&ckin# machete - or even rapping in (which I never
    advise) or just waiting till November (which we probably)
    should have done. Also, my partner informed me that
    she stranded a nut on p-2 so if you want to go battle
    briars for a $10 nut, run it. Otherwise, an obvious
    classic - the laybacks and bulges on p-2 are super
    classy - like most classics, maybe on the stiff side of
    the grade too.

    Mountain Project

    The Definitive Climbing Resource

    MTB Project

    Next Generation MTB Trail Maps

    Powder Project

    Backcountry Ski Maps & Secret Stashes
    FREE Stickers · Gyms · RSS · School of Rock · Contact · About