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West Virginia Rock Climbing 

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Location: 38.0692, -81.0812 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 1,321,885
Administrators: Ladd, Shawn Heath, Vicki Schwantes, Jake Jones, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Ladd on Sep 4, 2006
You & This Area
Best climbs for YOU in this area
Your opinion of this PAGE:    [3 people like this page.]
Sunrise, just another wonderful day in rural West ...

This is a state with so much climbing, please contribute your experience/knowledge... 

Every contribution is appreciated.


West Virginia is full of great climbing destinations, from local crags to Seneca Rocks to the The New River Gorge with 3000+ routes. Excellent sport climbing, bouldering, single and multi-pitch trad climbing can be found in The Mountain State.

The rock ranges from bullet-hard sandstone, to quartzite, to gritstone, to kitty-litter cliffs. If you are a granite junky, don't come to WV for granite, but come to cut your teeth on some awesome sandstone in the The New River Gorge. The sandstone is as hard as granite but has many more interesting features than your average granite cliff will afford.

Ultra-Uber-Classic climbs in the state range in grade from Old Man's Route(Seneca, 5.4) to Ride The Lightning(NRG, 5.13b/c). There is something for every climber in West Virginia.

The best times to visit are Spring(March-May), and Fall (September-November)

Come for the climbing, bring a banjo and a book for the weather.

Getting There 

As far as getting to West Virginia...It shouldn't be hard to find. It is West of Virginia.

It is a state, there are only 50, learn them, know them...and don't confuse West Virginia with Virginia, it irks me...

Guidebooks for West Virginia 

Mike Willams's Second Edition New River Gorge Guidebooks
A complete resource for routes in the New River, Meadow River and Summersville/Gauley areas.

Tim Toula's Rock and Road
Provides comphrensive directions to get you pretty close to most all of the climbing areas in the state. Most of his advice for classics and locaions to visit is still true even though this book is badly outdated.

Rick Thompson's New River Rock
Most of the Information is good, and most climbers that have been clibing here for a while use this guidebook, althought it does not have the most current information, and doesn't include al the areas that Steve Cater's newest guidebook does. The upside to RT's book is that his route descriptions are better and he includes FAs and route history.

Steve Cater's New River Gorge, Meadow River and Summersville Lake Rock Climbers' Guidebook
This is the most up-to-date climber's guide out there for the NRG, Summersville, and Meadow River areas. Cater doesn't always know how to count bolts(I know he doesn't personally do it) and he doens't include much(if any) history or FAs. He does include more than RT's book, and the directions to get places are better. The maps and topos are awesome!!

Eric Horst's Rock Climbing Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland
Is better than nothing and if you are familar with this style of book, then you should know what to expect. Some areas are included, some maps, some directions, but not all you want. Better for WV than the Rock and Road but not as good as others.

Dr. Topo's Summersville Lake guidebook
It isn't that great, but it is free!

FR Robinson's Seneca Rocks: A Climber's Guide
An older guidebook, most of the projects described have been done, but most of the classsics are listed within.

Franklin Guidebook.
Doesn't exist outside of Eric Horst's book, his descriptions, and topos are less than acurate. Try the above listed online guidebook.

The Incomplete guide to Cooper's Rock
Never really panned out.

Remember to never underestimate the importance of having a local along with you if you come to visit. A local might be able to save you many hours of wasted approach time/climbing bad-routes time. Don't be scared by the locals, ask one to come with ya' for a day, it'll help you get the most bang for your time.

Climbing Season

For the All Locations area.

Weather station 4.1 miles from here

2,193 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',297],['3 Stars',940],['2 Stars',667],['1 Star',184],['Bomb',13]

Classic Climbing Routes in West Virginia

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for West Virginia:
Gunsight to South Peak   5.3 3+ 10 III 9 VD 3a     Trad, 2 pitches, 150'   Seneca Rocks : South Peak - West Face
Gunsight to South Peak Direct   5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c     Trad, 2 pitches, 150'   Seneca Rocks : South Peak - West Face
Ecstasy   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, 3 pitches, 250'   Seneca Rocks : South End
Pleasant Overhangs   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, 3 pitches   Seneca Rocks : South Peak - West Face
Soler   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, 2 pitches, 200'   South Peak - East Face : Upper Broadway
Triple S   5.8+ 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Trad, 2 pitches, 90'   Seneca Rocks : South Peak - West Face
Four Sheets to the Wind   5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 65'   Junkyard Area : Junkyard Wall
Super Crack   5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a     Trad   Beauty Mountain : Thunder Buttress
Marshall's Madness - Crack of Dawn   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, 2 pitches, 200'   Seneca Rocks : South Peak - West Face
Burning Calves   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Trad, 70'   Beauty Mountain : Burning Buttress
Legacy   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 90'   Endless Wall : Snake Buttress
Satisfaction Guaranteed   5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 65'   Summersville Lake (main) : The Satisfaction Wall
Aesthetica   5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   Endless Wall : Fantasy Area
Scenic Adult   5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 95'   Kaymoor : Seven Eleven Wall
Under the Milky Way   5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 70'   Summersville Lake (main) : The Long Wall
Toxic Hueco   5.11d 7a 24 VIII 25 E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   Lower Meadow : Toxic Hueco Area
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
Psycho Wrangler   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   New River Gorge Proper : Cotton Top
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 West Virginia

Featured Route For West Virginia
Rock Climbing Photo: Bat Eliminate

Bat Eliminate 5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c PG13  West Virginia : Coopers Rock State Forest : Cooper's Rock
Climb easy face to the striking diagonal roof crack. Crux is at mid roof and roofs end....[more]   Browse More Classics in West Virginia

Photos of West Virginia Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Almost Heaven nothing... this IS Heaven.  Climbing...
Almost Heaven nothing... this IS Heaven. Climbing...
Rock Climbing Photo: One of many beautiful waterfalls found throughout ...
One of many beautiful waterfalls found throughout ...
Rock Climbing Photo: v3 at wheeling creek (between the trees)
BETA PHOTO: v3 at wheeling creek (between the trees)
Rock Climbing Photo: One of about 500 nice Crags in Tallmansville, WV. ...
One of about 500 nice Crags in Tallmansville, WV. ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Judy Gap pinnacles
Judy Gap pinnacles
Rock Climbing Photo: Seneca Creek.  Photo: Dave Fiorucci
Seneca Creek. Photo: Dave Fiorucci
Rock Climbing Photo: View from Bear Rocks in Dolly Sods. All the bluebe...
View from Bear Rocks in Dolly Sods. All the bluebe...
Rock Climbing Photo: Lets go for a hike in good ole' West Virginia.
Lets go for a hike in good ole' West Virginia.
Rock Climbing Photo: View from Dolly Sods; looking south on the North F...
View from Dolly Sods; looking south on the North F...
Rock Climbing Photo: A tributary to Seneca Creek. Photo by: Dave Fioruc...
A tributary to Seneca Creek. Photo by: Dave Fioruc...
Rock Climbing Photo: View overlooking the Roaring Fork on the line of t...
View overlooking the Roaring Fork on the line of t...

Comments on West Virginia Add Comment
Show which comments
By Dave Fiorucci
From: Boulder, Colorado
Nov 23, 2007
Just for the record Deliverance was not filmed in West Virginia and has nothing to do with West Virgina. According to the plot it was filmed along the fictional "Cahulawassee river" which was actually on the Chattooga River in Georgia. Never-the-less great write up Ladd.

"Due to rainy weather, crazy locals, a depressed economy, and Deliverance most climbers don't ever consider West Virginia much of a climbing destination. However, West Virginia has some of the best climbing on the east coast and is definitely worth a visit, if not a stay." :-)
By Ronin Gray
From: Smoke Hole Canyon
Sep 29, 2009
"Due to rainy weather..."

We just came out of a three-month dry spell which began to border on last year's drought. WV, lke most other places on earth, gets a lot of rain in the spring and pretty dependable precip in the winter. It is steep and rocky, so it doesn't dry out as fast as the desert, but I climbed on dry rock for the last two days after a week of rain every day (which was the end of the dry spell, and not a routine event).

"...crazy locals..."

Trying to remember the last time one of our crazy locals killed a large chunk of his high school or college classmates, blew up a vanload of explosives under a federal building, or collapsed a global economy with alternative-reality banking and stock-trading practices. The per capita level of crazy is actually lower in WV than in the rest of the world... don't kid yourselves.

"... a depressed economy..."

Which comes mainly from the fact that D.C. and NoVA climbers will readily pony up thou$sand$ to fly to Viet Nam or Costa Rica (where it DOES rain all the time and the locals ARE crazy) but can't be bothered to buy gas, groceries, or local crafts and goods when they're three or four hours from home.

"...and Deliverance..."

See notes above... people who think Deliverance was filmed in WV need to watch the cradits at the end of the movie... it tells you all the locations used and none of them is in WV.

"... most climbers don't ever consider West Virginia much of a climbing destination."

Which would suit us local climbers just fine- nothing like a lifetime supply of untouched new rock- if it weren't for the fact that, despite what Dubya said, the state of our economy is NOT strong, and hasn't been, locally, for a looooong time. Funny how you folks in the other 49 are panicking now that your world has started to look a lot like the view from most WV front porches. Help yourself and help WV... forget the airport and the West Coast... come climb WV!

"West Virginia has some of the best climbing on the east coast..."

Talk about damning with faint praise... I've spent a week or two at most of the major crags in the country and I can state this without reservations- WV has some of the best climbing in the United States. Come, enjoy, and discover a forgotten gem of nature and stone in your back yard, within easy reach of hotels, airports, convenience stores, satellite TV, crime, streetlights, gridlock and all that other stuff y'all seem to need to survive.
By Ronin Gray
From: Smoke Hole Canyon
May 19, 2012
Best camping for Franklin Gorge: Thorn Springs Park and Campground. Take 33 West from the crag entrance on River Gap Road. Turn left at the 33W/220N intersection light, and follow 220 south for three miles to Dry Run Road, at the old Pendleton Co. Industrial park, now home to the DMV and DHHR.

Turn left on Dry Run (since turning right means an instant collision with a steep bank) and follow around a bend, past a gorgeous bed and breakfast (up for sale) and a set of tantalizing limestone cliffs (on private property, and we've already done that once, so look and wish but DON'T). a quarter-mile from the intersection, the campground is on your right. Last time I was there you could rent a bunkhouse with kitchen, bath, and woodstove for $49/night... which isn't bad divided between the 8 people these places will accomodate.

Now you are 15 minutes from the crag, with the Korner Kafe on your way for very affordable fare every day of the week if you don't feel like cooking, or the Great Valu just 100 yards north of the light on 220 if you need groceries.

(304) 358-7737
By Tom McCrumm
Dec 15, 2012
Can anyone tell me whatever happened to route development at Greenland Gap, WV?
BITD (1967-1974) we discovered and developed this area with about 100 routes 5.2 to 5.10 on solid rock very similar to the horizontal banding of the Gunks. Routes were mostly two pitches. We kept a "guidebook" notebook of the routes and route data. I might even still have a copy. Greenland Gap is in Grant County if I remember correctly.
If you have any info, please email me at: Thnx
By ExploreWilderness
Mar 22, 2013
West Virginia really is the East's best kept secret. I've been coming to WV for over 15 years and have yet to meet a "crazy local". The state has a nice mix of people who have moved to the area for a life of mountain air, locals who are really quite friendly, and out of state people who love coming to wild places for the weekend. I pass up Shenandoah NP every weekend for West Virginia.
By Ronin Gray
From: Smoke Hole Canyon
Nov 14, 2013
A West Virginia fire, started over the weekend by burning brush and sustained by high winds, has spread and doubled in size overnight, from 720 acres to 1500+.

The fire is burning on North Fork Mountain in Pendleton and Grant Counties and has crossed from Smoke Hole into Germany Valley, between Seneca and Champe Rocks.

The link will take you to a map showing the closure of the NF from Eagle Rocks to Redman Road.


Although Smoke Hole Road remains open at this point, it is busy with fire crews and support vehicles, and could be closed without notice.

Franklin Gorge, which is private property, is still open... but access issues could change that, as well, soon.
By Mike Farnsworth
Jun 21, 2014
Help support Smoke Hole's first guidebook (near Petersburg and Franklin, WV)!

Check it out:

Smoke Hole Guidebook Kickstarter Link Smoke Hole Guidebook

Smoke Hole Canyon and its surrounding crags provide limitless potential for sport and trad routes in a peaceful, yet surprisingly accessible, setting. Currently, routes range from 5.5-5.13+, but you may never hear of any of these without the climbing community's support. Please consider a pledge of support! And don't forget to spread the word!
By landow69 Phillips
Sep 27, 2016

Does anyone know if there is any bouldering at Franklin gorge wva. I did some sport routes there years ago, and I thought I read about a bouldering area there.
Anybody have any beta?


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