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Laurel Knob
Routes Sorted
L to R R to L Alpha
'Shimer Down T 
A Second Way (Variation Finish to Seconds) T,S 
Aloha slab T 
Annie Get Your Guns T 
Arrested Development  T 
Before the Settlers Arrive T 
Better late than never T 
Biopsy T 
Black Flag T 
Buried Treasure T 
Canyons of Laurel T 
Central Pillar Direct Finish T,S 
Central Pillar of Laurel T 
Clippidy Doodah... S 
Clowns to the Left of me T 
Cotton Pony  T 
Cruising with the Top Down T 
Defective Sonar T 
Dike hike - Monster Groove T 
Dillard Arete T 
Don't call me surely T 
Dry streak T 
Fathom T 
Fathom Direct T 
Fathom Escape Hatch T 
Finger Lickin' Good T 
Friction Addiction T 
Frolictown T 
Fruit of the Poisonous Tree T,S 
Funky Chicken, The T 
Get it while it's hot T 
Gibbet , The T 
Girl friend route T 
Groover (Gaskin Finish) T 
Groover Variation (Fischesser Finish) T 
Groovin' in the name of the Laurel T 
Have and Not Need T,S 
High & Dry T,S 
Hone Ranger T 
Hypocrite's Corner T 
Jokers to the right  T 
Keel Hauled T 
Laurel's Girdle T 
Laurel's Snake Dike T 
Legendary "F" Bomb, The T 
Manatee Fluid T 
Manatee Left T 
Mechanical Bull T,S 
Mirage  T 
Mirage Direct Finish T 
Monster Groove Direct Start T,S 
Monster Groove Reject Start T 
Mutiny T 
Nana's Bananas T 
Nanna Gets Her Groove On T,S 
O.K. Corral T,S 
Oasis T 
Old Times' Sake T 
Permission Granite T 
Pirate's Cove T 
Pirate's cove Alt start T 
Pirate's Cove direct finish T 
Puff The Magic Dragon T 
Quantum Mechanic's Arete T,S 
Rejected Radar T 
Rock Eating Tree T 
Route Of The Living Dead T 
Seconds T 
Squirrely man T 
Steep in the Teacups of Laurel T,S 
Stegg, Roy Fathom ALT. T 
Stellar Sonar T 
Stemming Laurel T 
Stingray T 
Two Rattlers in Your Face T 
Unfathomable T 
Use It Express T 
Use It Or Luge It T,S 
Use it or Luge it Direct Start T 
Walkin' Da Plank T 
Wild Turkeys T 
Wild Wild West  T,S 
Wormhole T 


YDS: 5.10a French: 6a Ewbanks: 18 UIAA: VI+ ZA: 18 British: E1 5a

Type:  Trad, 8 pitches, 1000'
Original:  YDS: 5.10a French: 6a Ewbanks: 18 UIAA: VI+ ZA: 18 British: E1 5a [details]
FA: Peter Young, John Whisnant, Greg Siren - 1972
Page Views: 15,169
Submitted By: Jeff Mekolites on Aug 26, 2007

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (50)
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fall color


Fathom climbs a huge right leaning dihedral, right in the middle of Laurel Knob, to what some have called the ultimate water groove.

Pitches 1 - 5(ish) climb along the leaning dihedral sometimes using the crack and sometimes using the face. Along the way there are a couple of bolted anchors and a couple of gear anchors. I have heard some say the climbing is no more than 5.6, I have heard others call it 5.9. I think it depends on the line you take. And depending on the line you take you may find little gear. Note: when I climbed this route, April 2006, we came up about 15 feet short of the anchors located at the start of the water groove pitch, so we did some simul-climbing.

The money pitch climbs up through the water groove with bolts for protection. I heard a story about the belay for this pitch...something about a position belay...

From here, the easiest thing to do is rap. Several double rope rappels straight down will lead you to the ground. There are other options as well. One is heading up and right. The other is, I believe, the Hone Ranger finish which goes straight up. I haven't done either of those finishes.


Find the huge right arching dihedral.


Rack: doubles up to 3.5 or 4, long slings, double ropes, water, headlamp, jacket,

Photos of Fathom Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Fathom, Laurel Knob, NC.
Fathom, Laurel Knob, NC.
Rock Climbing Photo: Fathom - 4th belay
Fathom - 4th belay
Rock Climbing Photo: Fathom
Rock Climbing Photo: The Late Ralph Fickel on The Fathom 1985.
The Late Ralph Fickel on The Fathom 1985.
Rock Climbing Photo: Crux pitch
Crux pitch
Rock Climbing Photo: Going right around the flake on the last pitch bef...
Going right around the flake on the last pitch bef...
Rock Climbing Photo: Laurel Knob with Fathom center late Sept 2011
Laurel Knob with Fathom center late Sept 2011
Rock Climbing Photo: 'Yep, that's that bullshit...'
'Yep, that's that bullshit...'
Rock Climbing Photo: Fathom
Rock Climbing Photo: Mike HOlley starting off the crux pitch (bolted)
Mike HOlley starting off the crux pitch (bolted)
Rock Climbing Photo: Mike Holley Starting off the second pitch, or is i...
Mike Holley Starting off the second pitch, or is i...
Rock Climbing Photo: Crux moves above...all two of them. Super fun casu...
Crux moves above...all two of them. Super fun casu...
Rock Climbing Photo: Paul in the traverse to the anchors at the top of ...
Paul in the traverse to the anchors at the top of ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Somewhere on Fathom.  Maybe 3rd pitch?
Somewhere on Fathom. Maybe 3rd pitch?
Rock Climbing Photo: Rob Karge on the 5th (?) pitch.
Rob Karge on the 5th (?) pitch.

Comments on Fathom Add Comment
Show which comments
By Ryan Williams
From: London (sort of)
Oct 7, 2011
rating: 5.10- 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a

Second route I've done on LK and it did not disappoint. First three pitches go for 400 feet or so and are no harder than 5.6.
P4 has a few moves on it, but still pretty easy.
P5 is a short traverse to a ledge below the crux pitch. Get gear under the arch and then traverse to the bolt and past it to anchors.
P6 is techy 10-, bolt protected and safe. Placed a tricam or two.
P7 is 5.9 if you ask me and is very fun. Spicy, but protects well, gear in all the right places.

We took a big rack, doubles from Green alien up to BD #3. One 4. If your OK doing 30-40 foot runs on easy ground you could get away w/ much less. DEFINITELY take tricams pink to blue and a few medium and large nuts. Placed a Tricam on ever pitch I think.
By BirminghamBen
From: Birmingham, AL
Nov 17, 2011
rating: 5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a

Single set of cams 0 TCU to 4 Camalot doubled up with tricams to blue and one set of stoppers smallish to large will sew this route up. Take lots of slings and use nearly every piece on every pitch.
By Pulldownfrenzy
From: Visalia, CA
Oct 7, 2015


Be careful and pay close attention to landmarks on the approach and the descent/hike back. Coming from the Deep Gap TH is straightforward until you get close to the base - then it becomes a rabbit warren of use trails heading up and down which are probably not that difficult for locals but proved challenging for this out-of-stater.

Descending we ended up rapping a short (40 footish) slab to save time to get to the base vs. retracing our steps. Easy, but time consuming and frustrating.

We got off in late twilight (it was late November). No problem rapping off to the base, but even with headlamps blazing on the hike out we became quickly hopelessly lost and ended up across a gap from our car. After hiking for what seemed like an eternity (something like 5 miles up and down several hills) in 30 degree temps we asked for directions at one of the mansions and they took pity on us and offered to drive us the 12 miles by road back to the TH.

Don't be stupid like us. -DD
By Floridaputz
From: Oakland Park, Florida
Oct 20, 2015

Perfect weekend at Laurel Knob. We had the entire wall to ourselves all day. The approach adds to the big day. Fathom is a nice route. We climbed it this way. P1 it is obvious where to start. Aim for mossy ledge about 50-60 feet up. Slab or stick to corner, gear belay. P2 continue up the slab/corner for almost a full rope length and make a gear belay. P3 another full rope length to mossy ledge, gear belay. P4 slab up black streak, or stick to corner, then exit corner to belay anchors 10-15 feet out right the on face. all anchors are bolted from here. P5 Climb the flake straight up and traverse to the bolt or take the water groove to right at 5.10. We took this. Which is the end of Fathom direct, Which I recommend. both these lines connect at the same bolt, then slab traverse right for 20 feet to bolted anchor which is spicy 5.9. P6 This is the best pitch. Slab up and clip 1 bolt then on to the water shute. 2 bolts protect the 5.10 move into the water groove but the climbing stays stiff with more 5.9 2 more bolts protect rest of the pitch with other pro as well. Many different routes are available to go to the top from here. From the P6 anchors rappel straight down, Fathom Direct, many 2 rope rappels.
By Danny Hupp
From: Nashville, TN
Jun 10, 2017
rating: 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a R

Anyone have detailed information on the pitch immediately after the 6th (crux) pitch? Is the slab traverse to the right insanely unprotected or did my partner and I miss something up there? The way we did it was traverse directly right from the anchor across the roughly 25ft of no-fall-zone, 100% unprotectable slab to the big grey flake and then shoot up through some swampy, seeping water grooves to the top. If this is the right beta, that traverse needs a bolt halfway. If we fucked it up and made it way more R-rated than it actually is, than good on us, I suppose. Needless to say, that pitch alone is the most committing rock climbing I've ever experience.

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