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The Dark Side

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Black Bear Buttress 
Cougar Crag, The 
Desperado Wall 
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Main Wall, The 
Mini Cougar, The 
Survivor Wall, The 
Un-named wall - - Right of Desperado (middle wall) 

The Dark Side Rock Climbing 

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Administrators: Ryan Williams, Aaron Parlier, Steve Lineberry, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Sean Cobourn on Oct 1, 2007
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BETA PHOTO: The Dark Side

Temporarily closed.


Most southern climbers are familiar with Rumbling Bald, one of the best winter areas around due to its low elevation and south facing aspect. The cliff seems to stretch on for a mile or more when viewed from the tourist meccas of Chimney Rock and Lake Lure. However, the other side of the mountain has just as much rock and is climbable in the summer when the south side is a blast furnace. 99% of routes were done in ground up style. Let's keep it that way please.
I like secret places. I am not posting this stuff due to ego. The north face has no publicly documented history. Since most of this rock will be in the newly formed state park I felt it important to finally document areas so we could show the powers that be that there is a long rich history of climbing here and that climbing should be an allowed activity once the management plan is in the works.

Getting There 

Currently there are limited ways to get there. Either know someone who lives in the gated Fairfield golf community at the base of the walls or hike around or over the top from the south side. This situation should change over the coming years as this area will be inside the newly created Hickory Nut Gorge State Park.

Climbing Season

For the Closed area.

Weather station 12.1 miles from here

93 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',11],['3 Stars',40],['2 Stars',25],['1 Star',9],['Bomb',0]

Classic Climbing Routes in The Dark Side

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for The Dark Side:
Silent Spring   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, 4 pitches, 400'   The Main Wall
Lucky Streak   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 180'   The Main Wall
Black Slabbeth   5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b     Trad, Sport, 2 pitches, 200'   Desperado Wall
Reckless Criminal   5.11 6c+ 23 VIII- 23 E4 5c     Trad, 1 pitch, 175'   Desperado Wall
Thunderstruck   5.11b/c 6c+ 23 VIII- 24 E4 6a     Trad, Sport, 2 pitches, 200'   Desperado Wall
Slabbra Cadabbra   5.11+ 7a 24 VIII 24 E4 6a     Trad, Sport, 2 pitches, 200'   Desperado Wall
Hocus Focus   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Trad, 2 pitches, 200'   Desperado Wall
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in The Dark Side

Featured Route For The Dark Side
Rock Climbing Photo: Following the moderate face up high.

Thunderstruck 5.11b/c 6c+ 23 VIII- 24 E4 6a  North Carolina : Closed : ... : Desperado Wall
The cruxes are isolated and well protected, making this a worthwhile route to try to onsight. Locate the left line of bolts at the very top of the tree ledge. They are nearly invisible due to a tan colored paint. P-1 Climb the short section of patina type edges to a bolt and a difficult mantel. Clip another bolt and make a thin and reachy move to good holds that lead to a good stance. Move right and up to a an obvious large pocket, and clip the 3rd bolt. Make more hard moves past this to t...[more]   Browse More Classics in North Carolina

Photos of The Dark Side Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Cougar Crag (left) Main Wall (center) Desperado Wa...
Cougar Crag (left) Main Wall (center) Desperado Wa...
Rock Climbing Photo: Cougar Crag (far left) Main Wall (left) Desperado ...
Cougar Crag (far left) Main Wall (left) Desperado ...
Rock Climbing Photo: part of The Main Wall from the Cougar Crag.  Eagle...
part of The Main Wall from the Cougar Crag. Eagle...

Comments on The Dark Side Add Comment
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By Nick Stayner
From: Wymont Kingdom
Oct 1, 2007
I was wondering when somebody might post up on this. I've heard rumors...
By Sean Cobourn
From: Gramling, SC
Oct 1, 2007
The rumors are true.....
By BirminghamBen
From: Birmingham, AL
Nov 22, 2007
How would this place be in January? Good work on all the new climbs.
By Sean Cobourn
From: Gramling, SC
Dec 4, 2007
Thanks Ben. Answer is... pretty darn cold. This is a spring/summer/fall area. Sun does not hit it in winter. Go to the other side.
By Dan Petty
From: Wheat Ridge, CO
Nov 11, 2010
Any word on when this area will be open and whether or not there will be vehicular access?
By D B
From: Denver
Feb 27, 2013
Is this place closed or do you just need to hike in from the other side?
By nbrown
From: western NC
Feb 27, 2013
Unfortunately it's still closed. Bummer since it's an excellent face climbing destination...
By Mitch Redford
Dec 30, 2016
what is the current situation at the dark side? Are people still trying to reopen it? What is the reason it is not open?
By Sean Cobourn
From: Gramling, SC
Dec 30, 2016
the reasons for closure are too convoluted to get into here, but yes, efforts are continuing to open this fabulous area. NC State Parks are receptive to it but the bureaucracy moves at a glacial pace. It boils down to the need for a trail. We scouted the most feasible one out with park staff earlier this year. Then the fire hit. Hopefully the new year will bring favorable news.

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