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Summersville and Gauley River

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Summersville and Gauley River Rock Climbing 

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Location: 38.236, -80.8553 View Map  Incorrect?
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Writing in chalk MORE INFO >>>


Summersville Lake is not in the NRG Proper, but due to it's proximity it is considered a part of the area. It is home to a host of high quality single-pitch sport routes along its northern shore. Ratings range from 5.easy (such as at the Orange Oswald Wall) to 5.14 (in the Coliseum), and there are even a pair of outrageous projects yet to be done, as well as much untouched cliffline that is either inaccessible or would require a boat. Water levels in the lake vary seasonally, which in turn affects the accessibility of certain routes. During warm months, deep water soloing can be a great relief from oppressive summer heat.


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.

Getting There 

Follow Rte. 19 north out of Fayetteville for about 20 miles, almost reaching the town of Summersville. After crossing the obvious Gauley River bridge, park in a large lot on the east (right) side of the road. Follow a wide trail east for a ways until it descends down, crosses a stream at an old bridge, and then heads back up again. Shortly thereafter head right into the woods at a well-marked trail. Follow this trail past a few branches until it descends steeply by a stream and small waterfall. There is a ladder here to faciliate the scrambling. This will deposit you very near the DC Memorial Boulder. Head climber's left along the cliff band to access the Perot Wall and the Coliseum, or right along the cliff to the Long Wall, Narcissus Cave, and Orange Oswald Wall. Pirates' Cove, a great area that is only accessible during low water, can be reached via a separate trail or by scrambling around from the Colosseum.

The approach includes a 15ft ladder, if you are bringing lassie, plan on lowering it down.

Either take them down the ladder or use the following directions:

Go to the ladder, then double back to the first right and keep your dog leashed, stay right for ~10 minutes until you find two houses. When on the trail follow the red blazed tress down the to gully. This puts you out about 3-5 minutes climber's right of Orange Oswald. Please remember to keep your dogs leashed in this area.

Climbing Season

Weather station 1.5 miles from here

190 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',23],['3 Stars',85],['2 Stars',72],['1 Star',7],['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:
Hippie Dreams   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Sport, 75'   Summersville Lake (main) : Orange Oswald Wall
Bongo   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   Whippoorwill
Wendy's Jugs   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Sport, 40'   Whippoorwill
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
She got the Bosch, I got Drilled   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 90'   Summersville Lake (main) : Orange Oswald Wall
Orange Oswald   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   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
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: Mike a the rest before the crux

Reckless Abandon 5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a  West Virginia : The New River Gorge : ... : The Coliseum
A fine route on the best sandstone at the lake. Awesome positioning over the water on perfect white sandstone that climbs like Yosemite granite. Walk past all of the routes in the impressive Coliseum and end up on a terrace that takes you to the start of the route. There are three routes here. Reckless is the furthest left of the three. Climb up onto a ledge and try not to blow the first move or you'll end up in the drink. Clip a bolt and do a big move up to nice horizontals. Surf up and rig...[more]   Browse More Classics in West Virginia

Photos of Summersville and Gauley River Slideshow Add Photo
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: Swimming and climbing during a hot WV summer... li...
Swimming and climbing during a hot WV summer... li...
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 Daniel Paly
From: Seattle, WA
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.

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