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Summersville Lake

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Summersville Lake Rock Climbing 


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Location: 38.236, -80.8553 View Map  Incorrect?
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Administrators: Pnelson, Ladd, Shawn Heath, Jake Jones, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Chris Whisenhunt on Nov 27, 2013  with updates from Antonio Caligiuri
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BETA PHOTO: MAP of Summersville Lake area

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Description 

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.

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 TO THE LEFT OF THE MAIN TRAIL, crosses a stream NEAR an old bridge, and then heads back up again. Shortly thereafter head right into the woods at THE SECOND well-marked trail (the first right will lead you down to Pirate's Cove). Follow this trail past a few branches until it descends steeply by a stream and small waterfall. There is a ladder here to facilitate 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 or use the walk-around below.

Note: if you have a large dog and using the ladder is not a viable option, there is an alternate approach. Instead of taking the trail down to the stream and ladder, continue along the trail of red blazes for ~10-12 minutes until you see a house up to your left. At this point you can cut down towards the lake where there is a break in the cliff. This deposits you ~5 minutes past the Orange Oswald Wall. Walk to the climber's left along the cliff until you reach your desired destination.

Climbing Season



Weather station 1.5 miles from here

99 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',13],['3 Stars',40],['2 Stars',40],['1 Star',3],['Bomb',0]
['<=5.6',1],['5.7',1],['5.8',4],['5.9',13],['5.10',31],['5.11',22],['5.12',16],['5.13',9],['>=5.14',2],['',0],['<=V1',0],['V2-3',0],['V4-5',0],['V6-7',0],['V8-9',0],['V10-11',0],['V12-13',0],['>=V14',0]

Classic Climbing Routes in Summersville Lake

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Summersville Lake:
Hippie Dreams   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Sport, 75'   Orange Oswald Wall
Souled Out   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   Orange Oswald Wall
Chunko Goes Bowling   5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a     Sport, 90'   Orange Oswald Wall
Menace Alert   5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a     Sport, 50'   The Long Wall
She got the Bosch, I got Drilled   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 90'   Orange Oswald Wall
Orange Oswald   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   Orange Oswald Wall
Flight Path   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Sport, 40'   The Long Wall
Strong Arming the Little Guy   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   Orange Oswald Wall
Chewy   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 40'   The Long Wall
Voodoo Surfing   5.10b/c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   Orange Oswald Wall
Baby With A Nail Gun   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   Orange Oswald Wall
Going Ballistic   5.10d 6b+ 21 VII+ 21 E3 5b     Sport, 50'   The Long Wall
Satisfaction Guaranteed   5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 65'   The Satisfaction Wall
Barfing Butterflies   5.11a/b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 85'   Orange Oswald Wall
Process of Elimination   5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 45'   DC Memorial Boulder
Under the Milky Way   5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   The Long Wall
Reckless Abandon   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   The Coliseum
Narcissus   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 55'   Narcissus Cave
Tobacco Road   5.12a/b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6a     Sport, 100'   The Coliseum
Apollo Reed   5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c     Sport, 1 pitch, 90'   The Coliseum
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Summersville Lake

Featured Route For Summersville Lake
Rock Climbing Photo: Ian on Apollo  Note the taped on bandana for the k...

Apollo Reed 5.13a 7c+ 29 IX+ 29 E6 6c  West Virginia : The New River Gorge : ... : The Coliseum
A classic jug haul. Some will argue the grade (ie they think it is soft, it may be only 12d but I give credit to Porter and honestly once you have any route dialed it does feel easier...) Tough crux at 2nd bolt with many different sequences, most people use a right knee bar to pull through. Grab anything smaller than a handful for the next 50 feet and look again...jugs abound. Pumpy redpoint crux above 8th bolt, then a fun roof....[more]   Browse More Classics in West Virginia

Comments on Summersville Lake Add Comment
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By Austin Harris
Jun 30, 2015
Getting There:
To the "Summersville lake parking lot".
If you search for this address it will get you kind of close:
205 Up Yonder Drv. Summersville WV 26651.

More specific directions:
from Fayetteville take Hwy 19 north for 21 miles.
Drive over the only big bridge over a big lake with a sign that says "Hughes Bridge - Summersville Lake".
Then immediately turn right on the first little side street; this is at mile marker 39.0.
Then you will see a big gravel lot on your right where you will park.

Hike on the dirt road behind the gate up the hill. After about 8 min's, you will turn left off the dirt road down the first well traveled, narrow foot-path which heads down into the woods.
After a few minutes, this path will take you across a stream beside a very old, wooden, rotting bridge.
Follow the rest of the directions above.
By CarolineOdell
Sep 5, 2015
Rock Climbing Photo: Johnny Bravo (5.10a)
Johnny Bravo (5.10a)
By Daniel Paly
From: Seattle, WA
Sep 12, 2016
I found the directions to be pretty good and Austin's more specific directions helpful, except one thing: "Shortly thereafter head right into the woods at THE SECOND well-marked trail" - this was misleading, and I tried a couple not-trails I shouldn't have. After crossing the little stream, continue for 3-5min, not so shortly thereafter. And then yes, take the second very well-marked trail down steeply by a stream and waterfall to the ladder.
By Kyle Sutton
From: Richmond, VA
Mar 7, 2017
Some additional directions clarification

I too tried a few "not" trails and after some unnecessary bushwacking and poor orienteering found the correct way, so wanted to add additional clarification for first-time venturers like me.

Getting to the stream crossing is fairly straightforward. Once you cross the stream, you will head slightly uphill. The trail actually diverges here to the left and right. You want to stay to the right. At the time of writing, there is a small rock cairn that marks the correct path. There is also a trail marker with a crudely scrawled "Rock -->" that can be hidden by branches.

You'll keep hiking for a little ways and then once again the trail will split. You want to stay to the right again. There is also a rock cairn at this point as well. You'll know you're going the right way if you see trees marked with red blazes and Army Corps of Engineers boundary signs on the trees.

From this point the other directions are accurate.

The first "exit" off this trail will take you to an overlook with remnants of a campsite. There is a waterfall and stream here as well, but this is not the one you want for access to the majority of the climbs. This is for Pirate's cove. There are boat ropes tied here to assist with the climb down that I do NOT recommend using based on their current condition. So, if you find yourself in this area unintentionally, go back to the trail with red blazes and continue for a bit until you reach the second "exit". You'll find timber "stairs" leading down to a stream crossing and the ladder as previously mentioned.

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