INDY'S UNDERGROUND CLIMBER'S GUIDE TO MARYLAND!
Mark 'Indy' Kochte
35th E-edition (35.0), updated September 18, 2014
This Section Updated: June 2002, amended July 2002, and again Oct 2002, November 2002, Jan 2003, May-Auguest 2003, July 2009, and again September 2014
Over the years many of you have been using this guide to escape the maddening crowds at Great Falls and Carderock, or just to find new places to climb when you couldn't get out on road trips. More than a few of you have learned of small outcroppings just down the road from where you live, maybe 10-15 minutes away from your house. Others have given me feedback on historical routes when I had incorrect information. And yes, a couple of you were less than happy that I had revealed your "hidden" climbing spot that almost no one knew about before I posted it here. For the latter, I'm sorry, but with few exceptions (noted in each section), all the areas covered herein are on public land. And realistically, sooner or later they would be found, anyway (many had; word just hadn't gotten all the way out yet). And very likely had already been found long ago by others. The guide has increased traffic to some areas (notably Sugarloaf), but the impact to the majority of the areas has really not been all that dramatic. A few more people might show up than did before, but if it was crowded prior to this guide, it remains so now. And if it wasn't, it only gets a few more visitors that it might have in the past. In any event, that's not what this section is here to discuss.
This guide has been in electronic form since late-1989/early-1990. It evolved from a small email file with a few routes noted at Sugarloaf to this rather substantial document/webpage. At the turn of the century it had received a great deal of attention, and this led to the realization that this guide needed to be published...for real. Starting in the winter of 2000/2001 I began working very hard on converting the online guide (and all the notes I have to other areas that just never got into the guide) into an honest-to-goodness Real Book.
Finally, in May, 2003, the book, after much pain and many tears and hours of arduous labor, had finally come out!!! You can find it on the shelves at the Earth Treks climbing gyms and REI (you used to be able to find it at Hudson Trail Outfitters, The Trailhouse, and Potomac Outdoors¹, as well as online at www.amazon.com, and Barnes & Noble)
Amazon UPDATE: do NOT buy the guidebook through the independent sellers on Amazon! I don't know who they are, but they will charge you and arm, leg, and in some cases your rack for a copy of the guide (I saw one person was selling his copies for over $200!). Seriously, don't get gouged, not worth it. Contact me directly if all other options fall through and we'll see what we can work out instead.
¹ - at the end of 2003 Potomac Outdoors closed their doors as a retail business. Most unfortunate, as they had a nice selection of gear in their shop!
Now that it is out in real form, in accordance to my publisher's wishes, much of the information contained in this online guide that is duplicated in the hardcopy guide had been brought down. Not everything, but a lot of stuff. Most all the material that is in the book itself, anyway. I'm sorry for the online readership for this change. This is because my publisher is concerned that y'all out there will opt to take the sometimes rather out-dated info from the web rather than buy the book. I happen to feel strongly in the contrary on this. Given the vast amount of material that is covered in the guidebook and not in the webguide, this online guide, for one, cannot compete. Secondly, 99% (or more!) of you out there are going to want to have the actual book anyway (assuming you're not in the "poor college student" camp and can't afford it - which I totally understand, having been a poor college student myself once). I mean, how many of you have the resources to keep printing out this online document each and every time it gets an update? And how many of you would rather have an actual book to put on your shelves instead? My point exactly.
If you get your hands on the book you will find some small errors here and there. I tried very hard to keep them to a minimum (actually, tried really damned hard to make sure there were none), but minor little things kept being overlooked in lieu of the larger errors that needed correcting. I believe all the big errors were caught and fixed. It should only be little, insignificant ones at this point (but I've been looking at the manuscript for SO long now that I'm mostly reading what it should say, not what it actually says, so if I missed something significant, please forgive and point it out to me). One of the new purposes of this online guide will be to provide corrections and errata to the material in the book, as well as information on new routes and areas as they come to light. With the latter in mind (and considering I've come across, discovered, or learned of nearly a dozen new areas since the manuscript was finished), the online guide will continue as a resource for you to use for climbing in places the book does not cover. Areas such as Lamb's Knoll, Balcony Rock (or Sandy Hook, depending) Rocky Gap State Park, Kelbel Krag, The Narrows [of Cumberland], Locust Grove, to name a few.
Starting in 2006 through 2009, a number of new areas, both large and significant to small and, well, you're only climbing there if you live nearby small, came to light. As time permits, those new areas will be detailed in the guide here.
Future Status of the Guidebook Note: As of the summer of 2014 I learned that there were a bare few copies of the real guidebook left in existence. My publisher has a few copies for her portfolio, the rest are available through/at Earth Treks. Once those are gone...
At this point the guidebook is not yet officially out of print (although for all intents and purposes it is as soon as the last ET book sells). I will update this section once again with that status. As soon as the guidebook is officially out of print, I plan on reintroducing the information from the guidebook back onto the webguide here. Meanwhile, you can no doubt find a lot of information from the real guide (and the webguide) at other sources, such as rockclimbing.com and mountainproject.com.
Will there be another hardcopy version of the guide? I don't know. I'd like there to be, but it's not on my radar right now to work on. Time will tell.
There is a lot of bouldering in Maryland!
Most of it is a small (< 15' tall) rock sticking out of the ground with one or two problems on it. But it is there.
Given the number of isolated boulders, it would be a monumental task to go track each and every one of them down and chart all the problems. So this guide is not going to even pretend to do that.
However, it WILL track some boulder problems, give you some ideas of stuff out there to go play on. After that, it is for you to explore further. And if you find a significant area of bouldering that is not noted in this guide, I'd be more than happy to hear about it and put it up for you here. Just let me know.
In the meantime, there is some bouldering covered in here. Just not lots and lots. I've left that to others to tackle (see also conrad Schaefer's work).
Oh, and in case I hadn't mentioned it, I'm not much of a boulderer. The rating system kinda escapes me (I've seen three different tables comparing the V-system to the YDS over the past 5-6 years). If you disagree on a bouldering rating, please, by all means, let me know.
This online guide uses the WGS84 system, default for most GPS units.
Coordinates of the crags, some individual rocks/walls, and parking areas are (or will be) all included in the online guide. So you hi-tech junkie climbers have another 'excuse' for owning your GPS units. And you have no excuse getting lost trying to find the crags!
There is other climbing in and around Baltimore, but not all of it has been documented very well (or at all) at this time. Further editions of this Guide will try to fill in some details, and expand to other areas.
Some of the tallest climbing may be found at Rocks State Park, where routes can reach upwards of 80' for top-roping (or leading), and where there exists a few two-pitch (120+') moderate grade lead routes. Maryland Heights, having a number of top-rope and one pitch routes, also offers a few routes of nearly 200', necessitating lead climbing. The largest area is The Narrows, which boasts a 3/4 mile long cliff ranging from 20' to nearly 200' tall, and is either top-rope or trad lead climbing. The Friction Wall area offers some bolted leads, though most, if not all, can be top-roped. Locust Grove offers more in the way of sport climbing, but access is questionable. Annapolis Rocks and Black Rock have some moderate to tall cliffs (~50-70') and are mainly top-roped, but a number of routes can be led as the rock structure is somewhat Gunk-like (eg, a lot of horizontal cracks). Most of the other routes are small, short crags that see small to modest amounts of traffic (except Ilchester, which gathers crowds from the Baltimore area on weekday afternoons).
For those high-tech climbers with GPSr units, I have included coordinates to the various climbing areas (and in cases of large areas such as Sugarloaf and the Narrows, included coordinates for various sections of the cliffs). All coordinates are WGS84. Please be aware that there have been incidents of people throwing stuff (bottles, cans, rocks) off the cliffs, despite the presence of climbers. This has been a problem at Sugarloaf, White Rocks, Annapolis Rocks, Rocks State Park, and Maryland Heights, but other areas are not immune to this happening. Be aware of your surroundings! In some locales (Rocks State Park and Maryland Heights) the rangers take a dim view of people throwing anything off the cliffs - esp if there are climbers below. There exist no such authoritative figures at the other areas noted in this guide. Take whatever actions you deem appropriate (I'm not saying to go throw the offenders themselves off the cliffs...though the thought has crossed my mind now and again).
While this guide covers pretty much all of Central Maryland possible, Great Falls (Md) and Carderock are mostly left out as there are already a couple of guidebooks out there which cover these areas reasonably well. If there is need, a future edition may expand on these areas. We will see.
It is hoped that this guide will enable to user to seek out and explore new climbing areas, to give a different experience compared to the 'standard' Carderock/Great Falls visits. Please report any new route information, or any updated information regarding the routes herein (such as grade correction, names, etc), to the author.
All photos herein by the author, unless otherwise noted.
HEY! HELLO!! YES, YOU!! ROCK CLIMBING IS A DANGEROUS ACTIVITY!! You do it, you take full responsibility for any consequences that happen (ie, climb safe, and things will be well). This guide will not help you climb any better, nor safer. It will not make you more buff. It's not an instruction in how to climb. It will not do your dishes, or your homework. It will not clean your apartment, or make you a better driver. It's a resource for locating areas where climbing is possible. It's for reading purposes only. Any use beyond that means you have unconditionally agreed to accept full responsibility for whatever results from your actions. Any use of this guide for climbing means you, the reader (and climber) release the author (and any other providers of said guide) from liability for any injury, including death, that may result. Gravity sucks. Learn it, live it, love it. You have been warned.
Okay, that said and done,
Copyright © 2014, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997, 1996, 1995, 1994 (email notes: 1993, 1992, 1991, 1990) - M Kochte
Parking coords (Devil's Kitchen):
Lat: N 39°xx.xxx'
Long: W 077°xx.xxx'
Parking coords (West View Overlook):
Lat: N 39°xx.xxx'
Long: W 077°xx.xxx'
Sugarloaf Mountain is a privately owned and managed conservation/recreation area. Visitors are invited to participate in a wide variety of outdoor recreational activities which include hiking, horseback riding, picnicking and nature study. The mountain is open every day of the year from sunrise to sunset. Darkness can come quickly here so please be aware of this and make appropriate arrangements to be off the property by sunset. Please remember that all natural features are protected, so do not pick plants, disturb wildlife, or remove rocks. Fires and overnight camping are prohibited. Alcohol is not permitted. And climbing is at your own risk!
There are a number of areas within the Sugarloaf Mountain enviroment for one to climb at. At this time climbing is a low-profile activity there: the people of Stronghold Inc are permitting it - as long as you are careful, don't go messing with the wildlife (ie, leave the damned raven's nest alone when it's up on Butterfingers, okay??), and don't disturb others (this is rarely a problem; most times it's the tourist/hiker types who are stopped to watch you climb, especially if you're at Boy Scout Ledges). Also, please, PLEASE be off the rocks and down to the cars/parking lot by the closing time (generally sunset). The landowners are not hostile to climbers, but it seems that more and more they are waiting on climbers to vacate the premises so they can lock up. If this keeps up, they may close or limit climbing here. Please be out on time.
Also, to assist relations between the landowners and climbers, volunteer to help out with train maintenance if possible. They have on-going trail work days throughout the spring/summer/fall season (as of 1997, the contact person was Russ Thompson at 301-874-2024 or 301-869-7846). In addition to this, helping keep the cliffs clean of trash they do appreciate. Bring a plastic bag with you whenever you go and take a few minutes at the end of your day (or start of it) and pick up the broken glass, cans, cig butts, whatnot you find laying around. The landowners are quite grateful when you do this (hell, you prolly should do this where ever you go ;-), and this will help solidify landowner/climber relations. This problem is especially prevalent out at White Rocks (I've pulled more than a few bags of glass and trash out of there over the years).
A climber called Bri on A Flake Called Lee
Sugarloaf itself is known as a monadnock: a lone mountain that remains after the erosion of the surrounding land. Here, that process took place approximately 14 million years ago. At an elevation of 1282 feet, Sugarloaf stands more than 800 feet above the farmland below. The outcroppings of rock scattered throughout are composed primarily of quartzite, the predominant type of rock on the mountain.
The dominant tree species on Sugarloaf are both the red and white groups of oaks. These trees are currently being threatened by oak decline, a result of several factors of which the gypsy moth is a part. Other trees include black gum, tulip poplar, black birch, and eastern hemlock. There are more than 500 species of plants here, including a variety of wildflowers. These one can find blooming throughout the spring and summer months.
There are a number of animals in the region. Occassionally one might spot a white-tailed deer (though with the current crowds this is difficult at best, unless one takes one of the spur trails away from the summit proper). Also around are flying squirrels, red fox, eastern cottontail, raccoon, and 'normal' squirrels and chipmunks. The birds in the area include the great horned owl, pileated woodpecker (heard often, rarely seen), wild turkey, red-shouldered hawk, and, most common, turkey vultures (who have this uncanny and almost disturbing habit of circling above climbers...).
PLEASE be aware that this is also the habitat of the timber rattlesnake and copperhead! The author of this has not run across either of these yet, but do be aware that these creatures do reside here, too. Somewhere...
Bring long runners, or short/medium/long runners and medium-sized pro (tri-cams, hexes, nuts, Friends) for anchoring. There are hefty trees and boulders in this area, but they are rather far back from the cliff edges, and you'll need some pretty l-o-n-g (20-40') anchors to reach them!
For the most part there are relatively few deaths/injuries at Sugarloaf, but they have occurred from time to time. To my knowledge these have exclusively been non-climbers doing stupid things (see quote at the start of this section; said partier was reported to be "pretty messed up" after he finished rolling to the bottom). Note, though, that Stronghold, Inc, does not encourage climbing here, but they do allow it. However, as soon as there is a serious climber injury, or a climbing-related death, this place will be shut down to climbing so fast your head will spin - BE CAREFUL OUT THERE!! If you see anyone doing stupid or unsafe things, please intervene. It'll just take one person getting seriously hurt (or dead) to have this entire climbing area shut down permenantly.
Unless you don't care, that is. Then please stay away from here yourself.
GPS coords: (from over Bloodguard)
Lat: N 39° 15.697'
Long: W077° 23.636'
This is the first rock outcropping you come to on the right as you are heading up the Green Trail from the West View Parking area. It is a 120' broken length of cliff that has its highest point at about 50' up (averaging 30-40' overall).
On May 29, 2005, a climber leading Rhythm Roof took a fall on a cam placed in the roof. The resulting fall blew out the block the came was on, narrowly missing his belayer (who escaped with a scratched shin). The climber also missed decking due to other gear in the rock. The climb has been altered from this incident (fortunately no one was seriously hurt!), and apparently now rated about 5.11. However, there is apparently still a loose flake on the climb that will eventually come out and might change the nature of the climb again. Please take care when climbing in this area (and anywhere else for that matter), as rock does break. It's not as permenant as we would like it to be (see the disclaimer above!!).
This area is closed during the spring season for raven nesting - STAY AWAY FROM THIS AREA WHILE THE RAVENS ARE NESTING! This can occur anywhere from late March to early April, and last until late May or early June (or whenever the birds are done nesting and the fledglings have flown the coup). It is unique that these ravens nest here on Sugarloaf, for this is just about as far south as they get (Maryland is not in the general ranging area of the raven). Please help Stronghold, Inc, in protecting this species by observing the 'area closed' during nesting season. Once the young ones are all fledged, the area will open up once again (hey, if they can handle this in Colorado [and other places] for Peregrin Falcon nesting, you can handle it on this little area in Maryland for the ravens). Note, there usually will be signs posted about the area being closed, but they may not always be easily seen those coming directly up from the parking area and veering off to the crag. Please go a little further up the trail during this season to make sure there are no posted signs for the area. Thanks.
Lat: N 39° 15.725'
Long: W077° 23.612'
Continue up the Green Path past the Middle Earth area. As you go up the stairs before you rises out of the ground a large, large boulder (it's huge for a boulder). There is, unfortunately, spray paint over sections of it. The lower north (stair-side) section has a small overhang where Little Hercstarts. Pebbles And Bam-Bam begin on the overly pebbled main wall facing down the trail/stairs.
Anchors for this area are generally long (30'+) webbing and/or medium-sized gear.
BOY SCOUT LEDGES
Lat: N 39° 15.742'
Long: W077° 23.611'
As you continue up, passing The Pillar, the stairs turn 90-degrees to the left for a 15'. Before you, about 50 feet away, is a short wall criss-crossed by cracks with a prominent pointed roof sticking out on the right side. Follow a path from the top of the stairs left over to the wall. There is a short bouldering wall on the right as you walk towards the main section of Boy Scout Ledges. Great area to practice technique or to take beginners. Or be filmed by the weekend city hikers as they walk by ~100' behind you. Sometimes you can encounter firefighting personnel here practicing rescue techniques (I myself have come here to practice self-rescue techniques on occasion).
Anchors here generally utilize the nearby trees and boulders, although The Prow takes medium-sized gear in its blocky top.
Mikl's Route (5.12a) - The aid route, Spiderman's Route, up the center of The Prow roof, was led cleanly and freed by Mikl Law on July 17, 2004. It is a big reach problem. Hook with your left foot under the roof and match hands on a crimper halfway out on the right. Off the crimper slap to a sloper at the edge of the roof. Once past this, pull up and top off.
Detached and uphill (to the right 30') from the Boy Scout Ledges is a short, 15' high bouldering wall, facing downhill. Some people boulder the problems (the traverse problem is fun). Those more timid (ie, those not into potentially breaking their ankles!) can drop a short top-rope on here. You might need some medium and large-sized pro to do it, though. There are a number of variations that you can do. Most-climbed is the right half of the wall, full of features and finger ledges. But be not too fooled. Looks can be deceiving...
PS: if you want to boulder the wall, do one favor: be careful, don't fall, okay? And if you do fall, don't break an ankle.
Highway (5.4?) - Start in the middle, follow the severely left-leaning crack up and left, then climb up the center left half of the wall. There are not as many features on this half of the wall as there are on the right half, but with good footwork it is easier. Climbing the left edge/arete is non-trivial and considerably harder.
Bypass (5.5?*) - Start at the lowest point on the right, just left of a tree that has grown 'into' the rock partway up. Pass the leaning horizontal cracks to the mottled face above.
WEST VIEW ROCKS
If you're looking for a little adventure in an out-of-the-way area, this section of Sugarloaf Mountain is for you. Climb the stairs past Boy Scout Ledges to the summit area and work your way over to the West View overlook area. Keeping leftish as you approach the rocks (but right of the right 'ridge' leading from Boy Scout Ledges), work your way out to the furthest point of rocks that will suddenly drop precipitously beneath you to a talus field far below. The top of the rocks are covered with white stuff (warning: this is not chalk). Someone engraved into the rocks near the top here the word(s) "HE LAI" in 4" tall red letters to the right of a pine tree. You can get down to the base of the rocks via 3rd class scrambling to the left (south side) or via a 2nd class scramble 'trail' to the right (north) which starts out down a gully-ramp. The south down scramble directly accesses the Upper West View Rocks, whereas the north trail takes you down more than 100' to a flat area at the base of the Lower West View Slab.
UPPER WEST VIEW ROCKS
Lat: N 39°15.758'
An alternate way to the to this spot is to come up the Green path, but as soon as the talus slope on the left of the path starts to steepen (a short ways before the right turnoff towards Middle Earth), bank left, trying to get to the talus/rock interface (which is a steep friction slab, to the left of the 3rd-class ascent/descent line to/from the summit area described above).
There are only a half dozen lines in this area, and half of them can be variants of each other. Most of these are basically stacked boulder problems (a lower and an upper). Most lines start off the friction slab that runs up to a short (10') but severely steep wall split vertically by a crack through a black streak in the rock.
LOWER WEST VIEW SLAB
Lat: N 39°15.766'
This is a tall slabby area about 70' down and 30' left (as if looking uphill) from the UPPER WEST VIEW ROCKS. There are only a few routes down here, but worth coming to climb at least once. To set up top-ropes, work your way up the gully/path on the left side of the rocks here, and after 20-25' find the 4th class 'gully' which goes up and right past a short but steep washboard ribbed wall. Once there find some blocks to wrap long (20') slings or cracks to put pro in. There are some trees around in the jumble of rock here, but they are rather small. I would not recommend using them (though I have encountered people who use less; scary).
Note: Reprise de la Bastille can be extended (not sure how long the pitch is then -- maybe 85 feet?) by staying left at the top instead of peeling off at the first easy ground. That's kind of obvious, but as with Vertical Extension and the alternate endings to Breakaway at Rocks State Park being listed, as well as other alternate finishing options on other routes,it is worth mentioning the opportunity to maximize the climbing on an already exceptional climb.
Note: Reprise de la Bastille and Rosemary essentially start at the same spot, but after going up a body length, Reprise... heads off right, aiming for the layback flake, while Rosemary continues straight up the face to the overlap above.
Hogwarts (5.2*) - 66'. A great route to learn on. Plenty of holds, but some thinking still needed, fairly tall, solid rock, and rewarding views. Begin at a corner a few feet left of Gravity's Angel. Climb up to the left end of the roof, then pass it on the left, straight up the somewhat blank-looking face with numerous holds just as you need them. Join up with either the upper portion of Gravity's Angel or Reprise de la Bastille and finish.
Last of The Wilds (5.4* G) - 65'. The crux is in the first 10-15'. Start as Rosemary, but trend up left, aiming for a roof with some hand cracks below a left-leaning corner ramp system. Step up through the roof and climb the corner to a tree and an alcove. Above the tree move right (V1) a few feet and finish on Reprise de la Bastille
V1: Last Of The Wilds Left (5.10a) - An optional finish. Instead of moving right out of the alcove, step left and climb the short but steep face with a crack higher up to the top. Once there do a 3rd/4th-class traverse right on large ledges to the top of Reprise de la Bastille (by the pine tree).
GPS coords: (The Great Wall)
Lat: N 39°xx.xxx'
What's cookin in the Devils Kitchen? Quite a bit, it seems! This area is the first climbing spot you encounter on your way up Sugarloaf Mountain, a few hundred feet west of the East View parking and overlook area. Parallel park on the side of the road and head into the woods a couple hundred feet to find a broken line of rock, cut by gullies and breakdown boulders. From end to end the outcropping of rock here is nearly 600 long. Between the gully cuts are sections that offer routes for climbing, upwards of 50. As you will approach the rocks more or less from almost the center of the cliff line, near THE GREAT WALL.
THE DEVIL INSIDE ROCK. Find the rock outcropping with the crooked Y-forked tree on a ledge 2/3 of the way up. This is the eastern-most outcropping of rock. After this is just jumbles of rock in the woods, and the hiking trail.
LORD OF THE PIT ROCK. 50 left of THE DEVIL INSIDE ROCK is this outcropping, sporting a short overhanging wall split by a thin right-rising crack on one end, and a major square roof on the other.
DEVILS BREW ROCK. Next wall just left of LORD OF THE ROCK.
LOST SOULS ROCK 4. 90 left of LORD OF THE ROCK. X feet left of Devils Brew Rock.
PIT FIEND ROCK. 25 left of LOST SOULS ROCK.
Demonic Tutor (5.10a*) - Hope you learn something from this! Climb the center of the overhanging wall by following the larger right-rising hand crack with several bucket holds. Halfway up the crack aim for the finger ledge up left. Finish by pulling on round holds onto the ledge above. The rest of the rock above is 4th class. This is route #18 in this section of the guidebook.
Deviled Eggs (5.6?) - Straddle-climb the jagged arete between Demonic Tutor and Pride Comes Before A Fall. Finish on Pride....
Pride Comes Before A Fall (5.5*) - A somewhat dirty route with great holds. Climb the overhanging wall with buckets left around the corner from Demonic Tutor. Finish on the ledge above. This is route #19 in this section of the guidebook.
THE GREAT WALL. The center of this massive overhanging wall is 50 left of PIT FIEND ROCK.
MOTTLED WALL. 100 left of PIT FIEND ROCK. Pacemaker, Slow And Easy, and Slippery Doo Dah! are on the mottled west-facing side of the rock 25 Feet Left of The Great Wall. The next low-angled outcropping of rock immediately left of The Mottled Wall sports some short thin slabby facing climbing problems. Often for these, though, the crux is getting off the ground.
THE BLADE. 75 left of MOTTLED WALL.
DESIRE ROCK. 65' left of THE BLADE.
TOAD ROCK. 50 left of DESIRE ROCK.
TIME ROCK. 80 left of TOAD ROCK.
DECEIVER ROCK. 45' left of TIME ROCK.
THE LITTLE DEVILS TOWER. This free-standing pillar is 20' left of DECEIVER ROCK, and offers routes on all sides of it. Anchors are slightly tricky, as there are no trees up top or cracks to set pro in.
Lat: N 39°xx.xxx'
Lat: N 39°xx.xxx'
Long: W 077°xx.xxx'
One of the large peaks north of Sugarloaf Mtn, but some 300-400 feet lower, White Rocks is a spur from Sugarloaf Mtn proper. It is located roughly 2-3 miles away from Sugarloaf Mtn. You can get there by trail or by road (mostly; still have a 20 minute walk ahead of you after parking).
You will approach the rocks from behind. To the left are some boulder problems that you can explore, ranging from fairly easy to fairly hard. Most problems are very short, one or two move total.
Author debating whether to continue on The Sherpa Connection or finish up on Force Ten Direct Finish (photo - E. Horst)
Bearing right when you come to the ridge line, follow the trail to the overlook. These are the White Rocks, and are between 30-40' tall. There are a number of routes here ranging from relatively easy (5.2) to fairly difficult (5.12). Long runners will suffice for anchoring off of hefty trees. Dogs of War and Hubble ascend the main mottled face just left of two large blocky boulders; Force Ten and The Sherpa Connection work the face with the right-leaning crack to the left.
There are a number of boulder problems strewn throughout the area here. The below-listed routes comprise the main climbing potential of White Rocks. Note that the ratings of routes in the 5.11 range may be off by as much as a grade (especially if you are taller or shorter than 'average'). Future editions will attempt to get these nailed down.
Also be aware of glass at the bottom of the cliffs from bottles tossed over the top by non-climber-types. An effort is being made to clean the area up, but it is an ever ongoing process. Your help is appreciated. Also be aware that tourists coming to check out the view of the valley may toss/throw rocks over without ever realizing that there are climbers down below (just because you may have highly visible anchor rigs doesn't always mean anything; one afternoon the author and some friends had four top-ropes rigged, and someone chucked a hefty rock into the woods just behind where they were all climbing--fortunately no one was hurt...).
There are several new routes on the left end of the main outcrop. Unfortunately, as of this writing, I can't find my notes to the routes. Next update. For now, placeholder positions. :-)White Rocks Lichen Wall
TBD (5.x) - x'. Climb the right side of the main face
TBD (5.x) - x'. Climb up the crack and lichen-free-ish center face.
TBD (5.x) - x'. Work the left side of the crack and the lichen-full face
And then there are some routes below the southern overlook!
White Rocks Pinnacle
GPS coordinates for crag: 39.28293765,-77.39929763
From the South Overlook, descend down approximately 100' to a small rocky area with a pinnacle. You may consider wearing a helmet because you are within rock- and bottle-throwing range from a-holes at the overlook.
There are five routes here, one anchor should cover them all fine. There are some trees that you can use, and a couple of large nut placements.
The routes are all high quality, about 40 ft of continuous sustained moves. The middle three routes are a bit close together making it a little contrived, but they are all quality and each use different holds to advance past the cruxes. The center three routes each have two cruxes, getting past the first low overhang near the ground, and getting past the buldge about 2/3 up. Reach Around and I Can't Seem to Find Molly share a the side pull near the ground, but use different hands on it.
Motorcycle Rush - 5.9. Do whatever you like to reach the top staying near the left. Using the crack and arete are probably best.
Under Klingon - 5.10b. Stay leftish and don't use the vertical crack or arete of Motorcycle Rush. The first crux can be passed using a long reach or a bad undercling. The second crux is balancy.
Reach Around - 5.10c. Stay in the middle, but don't use the lower left flake of Under Klingon to pull past the first crux. Instead, use two fingers on the right with a good left-facing side pull to a jug just right Under Klingon. The second crux uses a reach side pull for the right hand.
I Can't Seem to Find Molly - 5.10d. Traverse right, avoid touching the right slab (to make it harder). Use the same sidepull as Reach Around, but with the left hand. Pump through some good crimps/bad jugs to a good horizontal crack. Get a high right foot and mangle, which will allow you to reach a small but good vertical pocket.
Penguin Trainer - 5.4. Climb the right slab, step or jug up the large fragmented crack.
Lat: N 39°32.132'
Long: W 077°36.250'
Annapolis Rocks is located off of the Appalachian Trail, approximately a 2.25 hike north from Rt 40. It is characterized by many horizontal cracks and round bulgy walls. Due to the nature of the formation of rock here, the routes either overhang to some degree and are difficult, or are slabby and almost too easy to climb. Annapolis Rocks and Black Rocks are basically the same: Weverton formation quartzite - a metamorphic rock composed primarily of quartz. It is part of the Blue Ridge Province of folded and faulted sedimentary rock, and is very weather resistant.
Be sure not to miss Black Crack and Faint's Roof while visiting here.
Lat: N 39°33.541'
Outcropping at the far north end of the Annapolis Rocks group. Medium to large pro for anchors.
Approximately 50' south of Argo Rock lies the next outcropping of rock. This outcropping, when seen from the overlook above Ounce Of Perception (when there are no leaves covering it) has, with a little imagination, the visage of ex-President Richard Nixon. The main climbing starts on the platform/ledge ~20' below the square ledge/roof halfway up the cliff.
There has been some confusion, depending on who one talks to, as to exactly what route in this area is Nixon's Nose. Some have said it is Ounce Of Perception, others have indicated it's the aid route to the right of Faint's Roof, and others have thought that it was the rock outcropping ~130 feet north/left of Faint's Roof. Using information from some of the original climbers to the area (Rob Savoye, et al), Nixon's Nose is the aid route to the right of Faint's Roof, making the pillar of rocks to the north/left Nixon's Other Nose.
Anchors here are long runners and medium pro.
Lat: N 39°33.501'
Easily the most popular area at Annapolis Rocks (barring Black Crack, which is probably the most popular climb at Annapolis Rocks), it is relatively easy to find by angling left at the end of the quarter mile trail off of the Appalachian Trail until you come to an obvious break in the trees/bushes that opens onto a broad area of flat rock - the main overlook area at Annapolis Rocks. To the north from the overlook about 130' you can see the rock outcropping, Nixon's Other Nose.
To get to the bottom, continue heading left (south) along the back edge of the rocks until you come to a chimney-like notch in the rocks. Take this 3rd class downscramble to the base and head right around the corner. In 30' or so you will see ~30' away a large roof to the left of a tall, bumpy face. This would be Faint's Roof.
Along the wall to the right as you go through the descent to get to the Faint's Roof area are a couple of easy lines. If you choose to climb them, please try to not block the path for those others who are ascending/descending this section of the cliff, okay?
Rambling Man (5.3) - 30'. This route is located around the corner, up, and to the right of In Your Face. Start by a small-moderate sized oak tree where a rectangular "hollow" or alcove is in the rock around head height. Climb up to and through the alcove to a ledge halfway up the wall. Continue up the relatively steeper terrain to the highest point above. There are a handful of little variations you can do that can push the difficulty upwards of 5.5 without getting too contrived.
The Stair Steps (5.0) - 28'. To the right of Rambling Man is a broken face with a large fracture crack. Climb up the blocky face following the crack to the top. It gets a little awkward near the end when you have to deal with the large block boulder just shy of the top. A fairly ideal climb for novices, though the base here is not good for holding large groups of people.
Training Wheels (5.0) - 24'. This route is located to the right of the descent route, next to a large boulder below a roof at waist level. Start just left of the roof (crux) and climb up the featured face (4th) to the top. Nothing more to say about this one. Really not worth dropping a rope on unless there is absolutely nothing else around and you're in this section.
Foliage Sex (5.7) - 35'. This route is located around the corner and down from unnamed, and starts below a cherry tree growing horizontally out from beneath the left side of a large roof. Be sure your ropes drop to the left of the cherry tree or you might more intimately understand the route name. Climb up just left of the cherry tree, pulling through the jagged overhanging blocks until you can get your feet on solid ground again. Continue on up the arete to the top. Be sure to pad your anchors as the edge here is fairly sharp and will wear away at whatever you set.
GPS coords: (above Amazon From Ozegna)
Lat: N 39°33.463'
This lone fin of rock is located approximately 180 feet south of Faint's Roof, ~40' southeast of The Little Climb.... Easiest way to set up the routes is to 4th class it up Access Arete and place the anchors. Want long slings/runners/webbing, some pro (mid-range and/or larger) will help. Watch out for glass in the area; last couple of years there were found been broken shards of glass up top near where one of the anchors would nominally rest. Bring some bags to help clean this area up if you would. Anchors here are comprised of medium to long webbing and medium to large pro.
Access Arete is located at the north corner of the rock fin, by a tall tree. Lately someone has piled up a stack of rocks to assist with the first moves off the ground (or back down for the downclimb).
A Call To Arms Direct (5.9*) - Begin a few feet right of A Call To Arms, just to the left of the tree. Go up to a great jam/layback that allows a stretchy move up and to the right to the top of an M-shaped ledge (at the ledges right edge). Traverse to the left along the ledge to the notch that forms the crux of the original climb. A fun little variant to play with.
GPS coords: (above Black Crack)
Lat: N 39°33.444'
Approximately 90' south of Blondes Just Wanna Have Fin is a short wall that rises up out of the trees, containing a chimney-like cavity. This starts the South End routes. The climb Black Crack is located on the tallest portion of this wall at the far right end of the rock.
Located about halfway between Blondes Just Wanna Have Fin and Black Crack is an oft-overlooked wall. This is mainly because it is shrouded by trees, and has low-angle clumpy 4th-class scramble routes, and is not what you would come all the way out here specifically to climb, but there are a few routes here that are worthy of dropping a rope on if nothing else is available that you want to do.
Sevenfold (5.7+) - This route is located at the outermost bulge of the rock wall, ~35' left of the route Black Hole Sun. Climb up the short blank wall to a ledge with a small tree. Then with deft footwork, crank through the center of the round, bulgy roof above to a walk-off ledge (pine tree to left). If you stay to the left of the bulging overhang the route is much easier. The climb basically ends at this walk-off ledge, for if you set your anchors higher up to play on the upper projecting overhangs (5.3 or so; juggy fun, not hard), rope drag will be a serious factor. Yes, you get a taller climb out of it, but do you really want to stress your rope out so much? In any event, like so many other routes in Maryland, if this [lower section] were taller it would be a great route.
unnamed (5.?) - Approximately 10' right of Sevenfold is a set of jutting blocks. Climb up through these to a ledge. You can stop here or continue the fun on easier ground by climbing higher. Again, though, higher anchors means rope drag problems. :-/
A couple new routes on the South End. On June 11, 2006, in accordance to the inquiry in the guide, Bob Curry pulled the large roof between Black Hole Sun and High Hopes!
George of the Jungle (5.12b) - Use the same start as Black Hole Sun/High Hopes, but instead of skirting the imposing roof to the left or right, be a Man and tackle it straight on! Tease some tree foliage along the way, but don't come off or it'll be "Watch out for that tree!" This is Annapolis Rocks' first 5.12 climb (go Bobby!!).
The next route is located around the corner to the left of Black Crack, also done by Bob Curry a few years ago:
Ulterior (5.11b) - So-named due to the fact that this is an overlooked route, it came after the guide was actually published, has some hidden holds, and is next to Cynosure (hence some name play :-). This route ascends the rock between Cynosure and Illusion, as reported by Bobby Curry and Shawn McIntosh. Start between the two climbs and scramble up to an overhang ~10' off the ground. Pull through the 'hang (V2+/V3- boulder problem; hellhook right helpful), use a good handhold on Cynosure for a moment, then off to crimps on the right, keeping between Cynosure and Illusion until under the small roof/overhang. Finish by pulling this between Cynosure and Cynosure Direct, using a sharp triangle under/side-cling for the right (this hold will quickly tear one's skin off of the base of the middle finger, so taping is advisable). All the large footholds near the finish are "on", and you'll be glad they are. Due to the pump factor and nature of the moves, this is one of the harder lines at Annapolis Rocks.
Lat: N 39°xx.xxx'
Long: W 077°xx.xxx'
Annapolis Rocks getting too crowded for you? Lately in the past few years it's seen a lot more traffic than before. More and more people are braving the 2.25 mile hike to enjoy the fine quality rock that are there. When this happens and your favorite routes are taken (or, heck, all the routes are taken!), a viable option might be to continue on to Black Rocks. A 'mere 1 mile further down the trail', there are a number of small outcroppings hidden in the woods. Most are actually pretty small - boulder problems mainly. But there are routes which lend themselves to setting up a rope (which, in this day and age, some people still call 'boulder problems'). You might need to clean the spiderwebs from some of the areas, though; this place doesn't see much traffic (other than the drag strip in the distance, and the drone from I-70, this place gives you a good wilderness experience - have fun with the lichen! :).
There are actually two areas to Black Rocks. The first reached (if approaching from the south) is the aforedescribed outcroppings in the woods, or the 'Woods Crags'. If you want to get to the Main Rocks, the ones which you can see while eastbound I-70 coming from Hagarstown, you need to continue north on the AT for another 5-10 minutes (you will pass a sign indicating 'Pogo Campground 1.6 miles'; it's ~5-10 minutes after this to the Main Rocks). You will come to small signs to the left on some trees that say 'Black Rock View 25 yards'. Follow the side trail west and...in 25 yards you're atop of the rocks! (you may have to bushwack a little through the undergrowth) Below you is the start of a serious scree slope, which extends a considerable distance towards the north (right). There are a number of cliff sections in this area. Much of the rock is lichen covered (for the obvious reason that no one goes there much), and there is loose rock in this area (again, no one climbs here much, so the looser stuff hasn't been broken off - so be careful, dammit!).
You have three options for getting to the rocks here. One is to park off of Rt 40 and hike north on the AT for 3 miles until you come to the outcroppings. The second option is to go to the end of Black Rocks Road on the east side of the ridge, park at the parking area at the intersection of Black Rocks Road and Loy Wolfe Road (very limited parking options), and hike up the trail to the Appalachian Trail. Turn left and head down to the Pogo Campground, then up from there half a mile or so to Black Rocks.
The third (and perhaps best; at least, most oft used) option is to park at the top end of White Oak Canyon Road on the west side of South Mountain, and take the Thurston Griggs trail around and up the broad Black Rock Creek ravine to the Appalachian Trail. Once there, turn right and head south on the AT for approximately half a mile when you come to Black Rocks off in the woods to the right. Note that while the parking area has been enlarged in the past years, it's still somewhat limited.
Option 4 is to hike directly up the old fire road that cuts off to the right of the Thurston-Griggs Trail until you are more or less below the rocks and scree field, then bushwhack your way up to the rocks. Given the uphill bushwhack, this option is probably the least desireable to explore unless you've got some minor masochistic action going on.
BLACK ROCKS - WOODS CRAGS:
Lat: N 39°3x.xxx'
Long: W 077°35.xxx'
Dr ASCII School Of Heelhook (5.6 - 5.8*) - A 'high-ball' boulder problem. About a mile past the Annapolis Rocks turnoff trail there is a sign for 'Black Rocks'. Shortly past that is a sign 'Pogo Camp 1.6 miles' (or something like that). Take an immediate left and follow the faint trail to the first rock outcropping you come to. This is it. Set a rope up to cover the general face with overhangs and roofs. It's a short cliff, though - only 20 feet high. Once you get into the route, it's pretty much over. Sadly. A variety of ways up this can be done. The lower right arete gives you an opportunity to practice a dyno move to the top (can be done static if you're tall). The roofs, with their great handholds, lend themselves to beautiful heelhook moves. The easiest way up this rock would be to weave your way between the 'hangs. Or walk around back. ;-)
Brian's Wedgie (5.7*) - just downhill from the preceding rock is another small cliffband. Most of this can be 3rd and 4th classed, but there is one southfacing wall with a couple of 'hangs that is worthy of climbing. Kinda pumpy, too, and about the tallest thing in this area. There are also a variety of ways to go up this one, too. The cruxes can be avoided by scooting out around the arete on the left and 4th-classing it.
There is more to be done here, but not a lot. There are outcroppings scattered in the woods here and there open yet to exploration.
THE MAIN BLACK ROCK CLIFF AREA:
Climber fighting through foliage on Snap, Crackle And Pop Go Climbing; Learning Curve is sunlit face to the right
Lat: N 39°34.xxx'
Long: W 077°35.xxx'
The lower and leftmost of the main overlooks. Anchors for here use primarily pro/gear in cracks, though you can wrap some of the boulders with long strips of webbing.
Lat: N 39°34.370'
The next major rock outcropping from Rock 1, approximately 100' to the north. This is the southern of 2 overlook rocks you come to when travelling north on the Appalachian Trail. It's directly perpendicular to the trail at the point where a faded sign on a tree says "120 yds" to the Black Rock View. Follow the foot trail back and around a short band of rocks by a mini-meadow-like area, to the rocks outside the woods themselves.
The main face is ~60' tall, starting at a ledge ~20-30' up from the scree field (from up top it looks to be over 100' to the base, giving one pause for thought about top-roping the routes here). From the top scramble around down right to gain access to the belay ledge below. Alternatively go left, down around Rock 1, and then 4th-class it up the 20-30' from the scree field to the decent belay ledge. There are points to anchor in if you so desire.
You can wrap a couple of huge boulders and slot some medium-large sized tri-cams for adequate for anchors.
Mind War (5.5*) - Set your rope to drop ~7-10 feet left of the 'Jesus...' writing grafitti.
By Any Means Necessary (~5.5) - A nice little climb, if a bit awkward at the crux, located ~10' right of Mind War. Anchors here can be wrapping the huge boulder up top, plus pro placements of medium-sized nuts, small tri-cams, med-small camming units. Best to have your rope drop in the corner to the left of Mind War.
Lat: N 39°34.xxx'
Long: W 077°35.xxx'
No details available right now. Might not even be worth anything, depending on what future exploration finds. Off-hand it looks 4th class all the way (except for the overhanging section at the very top). This is the northern of the two 'scenic overlook' rock outcroppings at Black Rocks. You can identify it by finding one of the furthest out slab/boulders with writing in red paint reading: "All mighty God is Jesus Christ" (and so on and so forth; I guess vandals permeate even the Christian religion).
From here you can see to the north, low, through the tops of some trees, the upper blocks of The Tower of Babylon rock, about 150-200' away. There is no real good path over there; you're bushwacking it. There is a faint path which follows along near the top of the rocky outcroppings, but knowing where to drop down (and where the path itself is) is the tricky part.
There is a short wall halfway between Rock 3 and Tower of Babylon on the 'ridge' which has a number of boulder problems on it.
THE TOWER OF BABYLON:
Lat: N 39°34.xxx'
Long: W 077°35.xxx'
A shorter, somewhat detached outcropping with a pillar of slabs stacked atop of it like a squarish, steep smokestack, a few hundred feet north of Rock 1. This rock is characterized by slightly overhanging faces seasoned with a few roofs. The large left-facing open book on the west wall has two trees growing out of the bottom, with an obvious offwidth crack above. The northern end of this rock is lichen-encrusted, however, but most of the other faces are mostly lichen-free.
No Surrender, No Retreat goes through the roof and high narrow wall on the right side of the photo, Epiphanies goes up the obvious inside corner just left of the photo center; Signs And Portents deals with the roof to the lower left of the photo
At the west-most pointed end of this outcrop is a wide roof, and above a sea of lichen wall. There may be several routes in here, but pulling the roof is significantly harder than 5.10 (or at least it appears to be; if you discover otherwise...). The next route is at the far left end of this roof/face. You can use trees for anchors here.
Descent Route (3rd) - About 20-25 feet left of Between The Darkness... is a notch in the wall. This is the easiest access area to get from bottom to top (or visa versa) for this area (the other is to do an exposed 2nd/3rd class traverse on the west-facing wall by the boulder-choked chimney on the other side of the Tower of Babylon rock. There are a couple of 3rd class steps that need to be negotiated to get through this, but otherwise no problemmo.
Much of the rock bands in the woods above The Tower of Babylon are short (~10-15 feet high) with some interesting problems. These would basically be boulder problems, and probably too easy for your True Boulderer, but as practice for the general climber, there exist a number of interesting problems. But watch your landings; some of them have jagged, uneven rock below (personally I'm just as happy to rig a rope ;-).
Lat: N 39°39.xxx'
This set of rocks is located some miles north of Black Rock, along the northern portion of the Appalachian Trail. It is a grouping of broken rock bands, some of them set back a few minutes up the trail from the road, some of them closer to the road but tiered in steps. There are some interesting and easy routes in this area to play on.
In the summer of 2003, shortly after the "Climb Maryland!" guide came out, a few locals (Steve Byrkit, Mike Miles, Brendan O'Connor, and Matt Birmingham) began developing the main bouldering area here. They established 9 boulder problems (plus variations) on the Roadside Bouldering Wall. No difficulty rating info is known at this time.
From left to right these problems are:
GPS coords (from Wolf Rock):
Lat: N 39° 38.041'
Long: W077° 26.259'
Lat: N 39°xx.xxx'
Long: W 077°xx.xxx'
Catoctin Mtn/Cunningham Falls is located off of Rt 15, north of Frederick ~10 miles or so (probably less). Climbing in Catoctin Mtn is draconianly restricted. The park rangers wish for you to check in prior to going up (and check out again when you come down), and you must have a helmet for every member in your party. You may only climb during the time the Visitor Center is open (the hours are rather restrictive in the summer months). The Park operates on a permit system, and will only issue climbing permits for up to 25 people per day. You can arrange to have reservations up to 5 days in advance if you want. The Park Service will dictate to you if the weather/conditions are okay for climbing (some people attempted to go up and practice crevasse rescue techniques early in Jan '01 but were turned away as the rangers indicated the conditions were not conducive to having people up there; this despite the fact that the people who went to practice the rescue techniques were probably better prepared than the Park staff is). Topping all this off, the only area in the Park that the Park Service allows climbing at is at Wolf Rock.
This long band of rock is primarily composed of easy to moderate level climbing (where 'easy' is 5.4 or less, 'moderate' tops out around 5.9, though the hardest moderate route is probably no more than 5.7), though at the far right end there is a short wall which has some seriously blank faces to short roofs for you to step past, and are much harder than 5.9. There are some other routes tucked away in the crevices on top of this band of rock. The rangers indicate that not many people climb here (wonder why!) and that it is mostly used by rappellers.
There are other areas in these parks which have climbing potential, but as was indirectly noted above, climbing is not permitted in these locals. The adventurous climber will find some hard stuff at Chimney Rock. Cat's Rock has just some short boulder problems and 3rd/4th class scrambling (more than exciting enough for the non-climbers who visit). There are other outcroppings hidden away in the woods here that no one talks about (for fear of drawing crowds and thus unwanted attention from the local authorities).
Climbing at Cunningham Falls is also off-limits, like most of Catoctin Mtn noted above. So all the little outcroppings there that you could play on are left quietly for you to find [quietly!] on your own.
Be warned, however: some of the local climbers may be hostile to 'outsider' climbers (so much for a climbing 'community'). A couple told me quite bluntly they would prefer that the 'city folk' stay at the main climbing areas, and not come out to these local crags. This is especially true for the Frederick Watershed rocks.
There is a outcropping of rock behind the gun club that you pass just before entering the Watershed itself, but it is closed. Why? Too many people who didn't ask permission to climb there, didn't notify the landowner when they would be there, and then got freaked out when there was a scheduled gun shoot down below them (they went off to call the police, saying that people were shooting at them; it made for a bad situation between the landowner and the climbers who were considerate, so to prevent future incidents, the rocks are now closed - and since there is now a house above the rocks, it is doubtful they will ever be open for climbing again)
Note: parking is extremely limited in the Watershed! Visit in small groups or carpool in a single vehicle.
Lat: N 39° 32.471'
Long: W 077° 27.920'
Lat: N 39°32.487'
Long: W 077°27.923'
After following the gravel road for nearly 1 mile even, the road will curve to the left and there will be a small (1-2 vehicle) pull-off on the right, next to the small brook. Park here. Rock-hop (step) across the brook to follow a path back downhill to the right. You will see rocks ~100' away from the parking spot.
The rocks here are smooth, almost frictionless, quartzy-type stuff. Holds are few and either sharp and incut, or smooth and slopey. The rocks reach upwards of 30' in places. It is an outcropping of seperate sections of rock. Some nice corner/finger crack climbs, some blank-looking faces. Nothing much in the roof department except across the road where there is a small line of 10' high or less rock which has a 15' high section in the middle housing a roof 8' off the ground. There may be 3 lines on this section across the road, but the rest is bouldering problems.
This area has possibly some of the hardest climbing in the Watershed.
Lat: N 39°32.464'
Long: W 077°27.922'
The first outcrop of rock you can see from the parking area. Large, wide, flat landing area, it is often full of glass from broken bottles from partiers, and the nearby firepit sees a fair amount of use when climbers aren't around, as well.
Lat: N 39°32.451'
Long: W 077°27.931'
Blob Rock is located between Death Rock and Piton Rock
Furious Angels (5.10a/b) - Uphill to the right of The Boulder Problem is this fun little problem. Start at the base of the wide chimney and layback up the left arete until you can reach a left-leaning crack system. Slam a jam, crank, and fight your way up to a horizontal. From there stand and the top is yours! Pumpy, stout, but short. Some might consider this a boulder problem.
Lat: N 39°32.441'
Long: W 077°27.993'
Last outcrop of climbable rock in this stretch.
Lat: N 39° 31.991'
Long: W 077° 28.484'
Lat: N 39°31.980'
Long: W 077°28.520'
Travel down the road just about 0.75 mile and park in one of the few small pull-offs here. The closest pull-off to the rocks here is on the left almost exactly 0.75 miles from the fork in the road, in the middle of an S-curve. The rocks are barely 50' away from the road, and are readily visible from the road. This place is a myriad jumble of house-sized rock with washboard featured cracks. There are easy routes, moderate routes, and hard routes, 'slab'-like rocks to overhanging faces and roof problems. The holds are pretty positive overall. A very different type rock than that found at RIGHT FORK ROCK. Much more frictionable. Potential here for doing pretty easily protected (but short) leads. The rocks reach a height of about 35' in some places. The horizontal cracks that permeate the rock here may give Gunk junkies a momentary respite from not travelling all the way up to the Gunks itself.
Lat: N 39°31.986'
Long: W 077°28.489'
This is the rightmost outcrop of the lower tier of rocks, one of the first visible from the road as you come up from Mountaindale. While not overly tall, there are a few decent lines on it worthy of playing on.
Free-range Tofu (5.3) - 27'. Climb up the jutting blocks forming the sharp arete immediately left of the tree, left of the main face, until you reach a ledge. Traverse right and finish on Rock Zombie
Rock Zombie (5.5) - 27'. Start just right of the tree at the far left corner of the main face. Shamble pretty much straight up to the final overhangs at the top. There are decent holds up there; you just have to find them.
Karmic Koala (5.7) - 26'. Begin 4' right of Rock Zombie. Climb pretty much straight up the middle of the main face to the top. Some of the moves offer a bit of a reach problem, and there are not as many buckets as you might like. Meditate and pull through.
Games People Play (5.6) - 26'. Start a few feet right of Karmic Koala, at a low, blocky left-facing corner. Climb up on rounded holds to the broad ledge. Angle left and finish on Karmic Koala
Lat: N 39°31.998'
Long: W 077°28.499'
This is the main climbing area at Left Fork Rock.
Errata: The route Ladder is more accurately 5.2 than 5.4.
V Notch (5.1) - Climb/stem up the acutely angled corner with a tree growing out of the middle of it to the block above. The crux is getting past the tree w/out using the tree (you are, after all, rock climbing, not tree climbing!).
Lat: N 39°32.003'
Long: W 077°28.503'
This tower sits behind, or to the left of, Stair Wall.
Arguing With Idiots (5.1 G) - 27'. About 50' left of Greg's Birthday Gift stands a lone tower at one end of an amphitheater of rock. Climb up the main face with a plethora of holds to the top.
GOOD ADVICE ROCK:
Lat: N 39°32.021'
Long: W 077°28.501'
This outcrop is located about 100' northwest of Lone Tower. While the main face is broad, due to the nature of the ledges, there are only a few routes here. The routes here are described left to right.
Never Smile At A Monkey (5.5) - 27'. Locate the crack that bisects the center of the main wall facing the road, the base of which forms a right-facing corner. 4th class it up through jutting blocks and ledges to the final steep overhang. Follow the crack up a few moves to the top (and the middle of a move). There are numerous variations on this wall. If you opt to top out, the exit move is more on the order of 5.7 than 5.5. But fun.
Don't Poke The Baby (5.1* G) - 21'. About 25' to the right and just around the corner from Never Smile At A Monkey. Climb anywhere up the face between the outside corner and the left-facing corner near the center of the face. The plethora of holds and cracks makes this an easy lead.
Never Pet A Platypus (5.7+) - 18'. Unless ya wanna be hurt. Begin a few feet right of the left-facing corner marking the right end of Don't Poke The Baby, where a vertical finger/thin-hand crack splits the rock. Follow the crack up to a wide horizontal. Creative jamming will enable even shorter climbers to reach up high to a broad pinch. Grab that and move up (crux) to increasingly better holds at the top.
Lat: N 39°31.995'
Long: W 077°28.483'
This is the main climbing block above and behind Stair Wall.
Noted in the Climb Maryland! book as being within the Frederick Watershed, this area actually lies on the border of the Frederick Municipal Forest (Google maps shows a road here where there is no road to be found; go figure). Of course, the Municipal Forest is part of the overall watershed. But anyway... The rock has a rich history of people visiting it, all the way back to the 1700s. But it is no longer often visited by contemporary climbers. However, it is [b]heavily[/b] visited by partying spraypainters (as evidenced by the artwork adorning the west side of the rock). There are a dozen routes that exist here, but either the lines are very easy one-move-wonder climbs, or very difficult and overgrown with greenbriar at the base. In addition, as of 2008, someone purchased property just below and to the south of the rock band. Their driveway used to be one of the two pulloff areas for this rock, and is part of the trail heading up to the rock. See "Note" below.
Lat: 39° 29.868'
Long: 077° 28.450'
There is extremely limited access for parking at this pull-off. If you are creative, you MIGHt be able to fit more than two cars here and stay off the roadway. Good luck. And do NOT block the two driveways which are here. Park across from them, perhaps a little downhill.
Note: the rocks themselves are on private land, but the landowner is visitor-friendly and graciously granted permission for climbers to climb here - as long as they know they do so at their own risk.
And risk here is considerable. Not only do you have the standard inherent risks you assume while climbing, but White Rock is also a well-known hibernaculum for the local population of Timber Rattlers, copperheads, and a number of other snake species in the region. Take GREAT care when climbing here!
One other request from the land-owner: please practice low-impact visiting. Leave no trace, pack all your garbage out with you. And don't burn the woods down (seriously).
To get to the rocks, From the left driveway (you didn't block either of them, did you?), go past the "No Trespassing" signs 30' up from the road and angle left into the woods. You should pick up the faint Stoner Trail here, which continues to angle left and ascend the hill. The trail isn't always evident at first, but as you near the rocks, it becomes more apparent. The real climbing area starts where the spraypainted "bonedancer" skeleton figures are displayed.
Lat: N 39° 30.483'
Long W 077° 28.152'
Lat: 39° 30.552'
Long: 077° 28.846'
Wave Wall and J Wall are two adjoining sections at the south end of this band of rock, and offer the most climbing opportunity. The main vein of rock faces primarily east (J Wall faces north), on the opposite side of the ridge of rock from the fireroad. There is not a huge amount of climbing here, and most of it is pretty short, but what is here is well worth paying a visit to. Many of the routes are quite stout given the length of rock you climb. The climbs on J Wall, especially Jammin', are of a quality that if they were 2x-3x taller, the routes would be among some of the classics in Maryland.
The easiest way to get here is to park at the coordinates above near the fire road trailhead, then follow the fire road into the forest for 0.6 miles, bearing right when the fire road forks left. You will eventually come to a band of rock a few tens of feet off the left side of the road. The far right end is where Wave Wall and J Wall are located.
J Wall is a short, steep (somewhat overhanging) wall of bulletproof rock, very much like some of the hard, compact rock you can find at Sugarloaf. There offers four distinct routes to play on. These are:
Just Jaws (5.6) - 17'. So-named for the bloody fingers after finding certain holds while climbing up. And yeah, there are a few sharp holds. Be tough. Climb the blocky left end of the face to a high horizontal. ANgle up right to the terminus of the Jammin' crack.
Jeez, Can't Find My Knees (5.7) - 17'. Long name for short route! Climb the blank-looking face between the blocky Just Jaws on the left and the obvious jam crack to the right, without using either, to the top straight overhead.
Jammin' (5.8+*) - 17'. As the name implies, follow the thin hand crack as it rises and archs to the left at the top. A beauty of a line that gives lovin' from start to finish. Damned shame it is so short.
Juxtaposition (5.8+) - 21'. This route climbs the face to the right of Jammin', and left of the corner chimney. You can use the right edge/arete that forms the left wall of the chimney, but shouldn't use anything of Jammin'
Unnamed Chimney (5.?) - 23'. Follow the chimney in the corner between J Wall and Wave Wall to the top.
Wave Wall doesn't have any real distinct 'lines'. More like 'sections'. The ones noted below are more suggestions for routes rather than "you must climb here". Most routes stop at the bulge 23' up where the anchors should be hanging. If you can pull past the bulge, you are in serious hardman territory.
If you want, you can make the climbs harder by not using various holds. Or by just missing them entirely.
Unnamed (5.9+) - 23'. Start a few feet right of the corner chimney, climb the sloping quartz 'steps' up to a thin vertical crack in the bulge. Climb as high as you can before you hit the sloping slopers above the bulge.
Wing And A Prayer (5.7) - 23'. Very technical. From below, find the square-cut notch at the top of the bulge in the rock. Work your way up to it as you find holds to ascend with. The route ends once you've grabbed the top hold in the notch.
Unnamed (5.?) - 23'. A little easier than Wing And A Prayer. Begin about 5' right of the aforementioned route, climb up the quartz crystals with positive holds.
Unknown (project) - 23'. Climb the blanker face a few feet right of the preceeding route.
Lat: N 39° 30.209'
Long W 077° 28.440'
This broken rib of rock runs parallel to the White Rock band south and east of here. It lies within the northeastern confines of the Frederick Municipal Forest, not in the Watershed. It is not tall heightwise (max 30 or so feet), but lengthwise it is extensive, offering a few dozen routes, and is littered with boulder problems. In the mid/late-1990s there were a couple bolts placed on Old Timer Wall for no discernable reason other than to just do it).
There is an enormous amount of bouldering to be had here. In 2011/2012 a lot of boulder problems were being established. Consult Robin Close's Bouldering Page blog for more info and some videos.
WARNING: this area is open to hunting during season - be aware of when the hunting season is in effect and if you go here, dress accordingly!
WARNING #2: in addition to the above, or even superceding it, the rocks here are a known hangout for timber rattlers and copperheads, as well as other, non-poisonous snakes (but do you really want to get close enough to identify which is which?). In the warmer months practice extreme awareness of your surroundings. Rattlesnakes will give you a warning rattle, but copperheads...not so much. And you don't want to be bit by a baby copperhead...
Hamburg Road Parking: This parking area makes for a longish (half mile) walk to the rocks, but the hike along
the fire road is far friendlier. Though eventually you'll have to break from it to the right and bushwhack over
to the rocks - hence the name of this crag
Lat: 39° 30.552'
Long: 077° 28.846'
The fire road/trailhead is located here:
Lat: 39° 30.525'
Long: 077° 28.804'
It is possible, but usually considered a Good Idea to not park directly in front of the fire road gate, though unlike other parks in Maryland, there is no sign suggesting otherwise. And people do tend to park in front of it periodically. It's your call.
If you have a high clearance vehicle, it's easy for you to park across the road from the gate.
There are no trails to these rocks. No matter which way you come at this area, you will be bushwacking for a bit. Be prepared.
A good point to turn off the trail and angle hard right to the rocks is here:
Lat: 39° 30.448'
Long: 077° 28.511'
Otherwise continue following the fire road until you come to a ridge and rib of rock angling out into the woods to the right. Climb up atop that and follow that out. This will bring you to the crag from the top.
As the rock rib is extensive, the sections, and then routes, are described from left to right as you face the rock.
Compliments of Todd Hill, a basic overview survey map of Bushwhack Rocks. The locations in white boxes are climbing walls, the locations noted with yellow boxes are boulder problems locations relative to the roped climbing walls. The last three walls (Old Timers, Suk Me, and Led Zepplin) are not noted here, but should be findable easily enough once you are oriented to this map. The map at a scale of 1" = 50, on a basic 8-1/2 x 11" sheet of paper.
Lat: N 39° 30.248'
Long W 077° 28.450'
This is the leftmost extent of vertical opportunities on the rib. The problems here are really boulder problems, short and sweet.
Hat's Off (5.5/5.6) - ?'. Climb the discontinuous set of cracks up the mostly lichen-free face to the short roof. Pull through and head on up to the top! Don't lose your hat.
Unnamed (5.5) - ?'. Mildly contrived. Climb the main crack just right of Hat's Off as it widens to a large cavity near the top. Reach up to finish.
Lichen It Or Not (5.5/5.6) - ?'. I hope you lichen it. Begin at the lichen-encrusted face to the left of the main vertical crack of the aforementioned route. Climb up discontinuous cracks camoflouged by the sea of lichen.
Lat: N 39° 30.229'
Long W 077° 28.436'
Bad Wolf (5.6) - 28'. This route begins at the boulder blocks around the corner left from the prominent quartz face. Climb up on good holds past a sapling on its left. Continue up the blank-looking face that has holds as you need them to the broad notch at the top.
Quartz Avatar (5.8) - 28'. Slightly contrived. Climb up the white quartz crystal arete shared with White Line Fever until the quartz ends. From here, staying left of White Line Fever, continue up the non-quartz crystal face to the top.
White Line Fever (5.7) - 28'. Climb the arete and quartz veins between Quartz Avatar and White Lightning. The crux is in the first 10', but is still non-trivial as you follow the main quartz vein up to the notch at the top.
White Lightning (5.10*) - 27'. Climb the main quartz face split by a broken crack to the top. If top-roping, take care in the first 10-15' to not fall - or have a spotter or a crash pad to prevent bashing into the projection of rock that would be behind you!
Lat: N 39° 30.228'
Long W 077° 28.440'
Back in the 90s some bolts appeared on this wall. Then after 2009 they were apparently pulled out. Otherwise, this wall is very much covered in lichen. You'll need to scrape it away to find some of the desperate holds you might need.
Angel's Punishment (5.10d) - 31'. Braille climbing at its best. Start at the left end of the wall, clambor up blocks to a ledge. Staying on the left half of the face (and avoiding the large ledge to the right partway up), stretch, friction, and crimp your way to the top.
Cartoon Physics (5.9) - 32'. Start as for Angel's Punishment, but diagonal up the face right until you gain the top of Earth Dancer. Thin, but not as thin as Angel's Punishment. Variations exist for you to exit top early, keeping the climbing stout.
Earth Dancer (5.5+) - 32'. Start behind the detached flake/boulder on the right side of the wall, where a large fallen tree trunk is laying next to the rock. Climb up past a couple of horizontals and an undercling flake to reach a right-facing flake system. Follow that to the ledge, then continue up along the vertical quartz lines on the left to the top. All the holds are there, even if you might not see them. Escape Variation: From the ledge halfway up, trend right past a small tree and white corner to the top.
Lat: N 39° 30.216'
Long W 077° 28.439'
This is the main section that sees the most traffic. There are nearly a dozen routes packed in this section alone.
TBD (5.2) - x'. This route climbs the fractured face, cracks, and finger/hand ledges fully around the corner left from the deep chimney at the left end of the Main Wall area. Gear anchors up top.
project (5.12? +?) - x'. This steeply overhanging face is just left of the deep chimney of the Main Wall. Climb up by following the vertical crack and right arete to the small overhang above, using nothing but virtual holds in some cases. Fight past the overhang and up about a body length until you can gain happier, easier ground. The bulk of the route is the crux. You might consider 2-3 crash pads to protect the climber from the rocks at the bottom in case they fall low on the route.
Michelle is Short But Sassy
Machete With A Twist (5.9) - 24'. Slightly contrived in the beginning, otherwise 5.7. Start midway back in the chimney and utilize chimney techniques (e.g., stemming) to get up to the top. The 'twist' comes in where you might start facing toward the back of the chimney and end up turning about 180-degrees to face out by the time you're halfway up. The crux really is the start. Variation is to start on The Way Life Should Be... then bridge across to the other wall at your earliest convenience.
The Way Life Should Be... (5.7** G) - 24'. As the title says, and so sweet this climb. Start in the back of the broad chimney. Climb up the right wall, working right under and around the low roofs to a layback corner. Do a classic layback up the corner until it rounds over to the right. Step left onto the face and make a couple of delicate moves to gain the top. One of the best routes in this area.
Short But Sassy (5.10a/b*) - 24'. Most definitely. Ascend the broad corner 5' right of The Way Life Should Be.... Layback, stem, and very creative use of the outside arete will enable you to keep this problem in the 5.10 range (w/out using the arete it's solid 5.11). The crux is right in the middle of the route. Follow the corner to the top.
Bifurcation (5.11a*) - 24'. Start 4' right of Short But Sassy, climb up the fairly blank but not quite featureless face to the overlap. Work up slightly left to the vertical incipient crack and follow that to the top.
The White Rider (5.2) - 24'. Is Gandalf, who else? This corner is 7' right of Bifurcation. Starting next to the nearly black boulder, follow the prominent quartz vein and the right-facing somewhat overhanging corner to the top. Easier than it first looks.
Layback Crack (5.4) - 24'. Start 7' right of The White Rider, layback the right-facing flake next to the vertical quartz vein. As the two diverge, step left and follow the crack formed by the quartz vein, finishing on a series of hand ledges buried in a sea of lichen.
Beginner's Crack (5.6-*) - 24'. Work up the crack immediately right of Layback Crack. Follow that up to and through a couple of blocky overhangs until it thins out at the top (crux).
Siren's Call (5.9-) - 24'. You may not want to go home again. Locate the thin crack 5' right of Beginner's Crack. On good face holds follow the thin crack straight up to the blocky overhangs and left side of the square notch (crux) straight up to the top.
Funemployment (5.7) - 24'. The fun of unemployment - more climbing opportunities! Starting a couple of feet right of Siren's Call, follow the incipient crack up to/through the square notch above. Nice two-move layback partway up this route.
Vision Quest (5.9+) - 24'. Beginning 4' right of Funemployment, follow the easy and gently sinusoidal crack punctured by a couple of quartz veins to the roof. Step right around the roof, and search to find holds to get to and through the steep corner at the top.
Here To Kill The Pain (5.1) - 22'. Start 3' right of Vision Quest. Climb straight up the face on a plethora of good holds to the top. No buckets, but none are needed for this route.
Sickle Edge Anemia (5.8) - ?'. Begin 10' right of ...The Pain, next to a tree by a fissure chimney. Climb up the wall on thin tips, angling a bit left at the top.
Anduril (5.7*) - ?'. Start as for Sickle Edge Anemia, but angle up right towards the quartz crack. Follow the crack until it peters out, where a few more moves gains the top.
JEFF DUNHAM SLAB
Lat: N 39° 30.204'
Long W 077° 28.443'
This is a real slab, with a real overlap in the center of it! Have fun. This section is actually one broad slab split in two by a narrow chimney, and includes the short, easy wall on the right. The slab left of the dividing chimney is the 'main slab'.
Silence! I Keel You! (5.5*) - 28'. Don't piss off Achmed! Or else... A classic slab-overlap problem. Start at the leftmost end of the main slab. Climb up the slab past a short, broken cavity up to the widest part of the overlap. Using the small, right-facing flake above, high-step and pull through the overlap (crux). Continue on to the top.
Premature Detonation (5.4) - 28'. Begin in the center of the main slab, climb straight up to the overlap. Step right and up through the overlap at its narrowest point. Continue on up on easy terrain.
Peanut-Fu (5.3) - 28'. Hi-ya! Begin just right of (above), follow the discontinuous crack system up to a break in the overlap. Climb through the break and up to the top, following the crack.
Jose Jalapeno (On A Steeek) (5.5) - 28'. An interesting first half that, if longer, would be an excellent little route. Begin 6' right of Peanut-Fu and delicately step up along two thin parallel cracks, intersecting Peanut-Fu at the overlap. Step left and above the overlap, then finish on Premature Detonation.
Suicide Bomber Training Camp (5.0-5.2) - 28'. It was a nice facility, until some idiot tried to practice. Climb pretty much anywhere up the wrecked face of the slab to the right of the chimney bisecting the two slabs mentioned earlier. It's difficult to make this harder w/out playing the "eliminates" game.
Dumbass! (5.2) - 24'. Walter's favorite expression. Begin 10' right of Suicide Bomber Training Camp, at an open book to the left of a large, dead tree. Climb the shallow book up to and past a small triangular overhang halfway up the rock. Scramble off to the right at any point.
Lat: N 39° 30.192'
Long W 077° 28.439'
Ice-nine is a fictional material featured in Kurt Vonnegut's "Cat's Cradle" which could solidify any water below 114.4 degrees F that it mixes with. Some of the early climbers here were playing on this rock one winter and froze their hands numb before they could even gain the top of this short wall, and thus they dubbed the rock name. The rock is marked by one of several free standing pillars or walls along the ridge, and extends to the right along the vertical blocky wall to a short wall with a series of vertical parallel cracks and seams. The best climbing is on the west face of the pillar. Most top-rope anchors can be set by using trees on or behind the main rock ridge.
Indy's Harem (5.4** G) - 32'. Locate the downward-flaring chimney on the left end of the detached pillar. Climb up the chimney using a variety of holds (and a jam crack in the back if you are so inclined) until the chimney narrows and you are forced to step out. Continue up the easy face above to the top. Disclaimer: I didn't name this.
Spellbound (5.7* PG) - 32'. This just draws your eyes right to it. Just to the right of Indy's Harem is a left-leaning splitter hand crack. Jam, or layback, the crack that ends far too early, step right, and climb past the brief bulge followed by a short slab to the top. There are very few options for gear placements once out of the crack. Note: it is quite possible to climb this route and totally avoid using the crack - but why deny yourself the pleasure?
Earthquake Prediction Theory (5.6*) - 32'. Named in honor of Steve Ahrens (1952-2009) who, in the early 2000s, discovered a direct correlation between P-rings from earthquakes and where they cross fault lines which seemed to seed the generation of new earthquakes. Using his (now patented) algorithm he had a forecast accuracy greater than 90% for several years running (until he passed away), yet geologists (with forecast accuracies of 0%) kept telling him he was "just getting lucky". Think they were jealous. Begin 7' right of Spellbound, climb the quartz corner until it is possible to move left beneath the roof. Climb up and through the short chimney, and continue on moderate terrain to the top. A fun climb, too short by far.
Indy climbing Earthquake Prediction Theory
Veronica's Open Book Test (5.4) - 32'. Same start as Earthquake..., but instead of moving left, continue straight up through a sharp open book until it ends. Finish on Earthquake....
Nothing Worth Dying For (5.2) - 30'. Another one-move-wonder route. Start on the dark green boulder just right of Veronica's Open Book Test, scamper up the blocky and ledgy green wall to the top. The crux, such as it is, is at the start.
The M&M Route (5.4) - 28'. Won't melt in your mouth. Begin 8' right of Nothing Worth Dying For, a couple feet left of a wide vertical quartz vein. Climb the corner and cracks to easier ground and the top. It is possible to avoid the corner and cracks and climb up the quartz vein for a few moves before moving left, but that makes this route two grades easier.
unknown (5.?) - 24'. Climb up the parallel vertical cracks until the vertical wall ends on extra-easy ground halfway up. 4th class it from there to the top or scramble off right.
This wall offers some fun little traverse problems that start to the right of Veronica's Open Book Test.
Lat: N 39° 30.188'
Long W 077° 28.443'
A self-standing wall with a few moderate to somewhat difficult routes on it.
Brian's Way (5.4) - 21'. Locate the stark white and obvious quartz vein on the left side of the main face. Climb the quartz line to a detached flake and then up to a stance. Take care that at some point some of that detached flake may break off. May be best to belay off to the side.
Dale Did It (5.6) - 21'. Begin immediately right of the quartz vein. Climb the greenish face on incuts and ledges until the holds evaporate. Reach up left to snag the detached flake and finish on the preceeding climb. Note the warning in Brian's Way re: the detached flake and belaying.
Bill's Route (5.8+) - 26'. Start at the vertical crack splitting the wall up the center. Climb up the crack and the face with some discontinuous horizontal and diagnol cracks, as the holds allow until you can gain the high point on the rock. Note there are two old, rusty bolts (sans hangers) on the right half of this route.
TBD (5.10c) - 26'. Start on the face just right of Bill's Route. Climb up along the left side of the A-shape set of cracks to three parallel horizontals. Crimp and delicately work a right-leaning right-facing crimp-corner to gain a fourth horizontal. Big reach up right to a large horizontal then work the easier finishing moves to the top.
SUK ME WALL
Lat: N 39° 30.167'
Long W 077° 28.437'
This is the next wide (but short) band of vertical rock just ot the right and around the corner from Old-Timer's Wall. At less than 20' high for most of its length, some might consider this a wall of bouldering problems. Others (like myself) prefer a rope. :-D The routes are described relative to the "Suck Me Baby!" graffiti.
Golden Tour (5.7) - 19'. Begin about 16' left of the "Suck Me Baby!" graffiti, on a block ledge. Climb the lichen-covered face, staying left of the large incut notch on the right halfway up, using horizontal cracks, edges and other holds to gain the vertical splitter crack holds at the very top.
The Golden Hour (5.8**) - 18'. Start in the 8' tall notch-corner left of the "Suck Me Baby!" graffiti. Stem up until you run out of holds, then creatively bridge over to another corner to the right, and/or gain a crucial flake hold in the center of the face. Work your feet up on small somethings until you can snag the large ledges overhead.
LED ZEPPLIN WALL
Lat: N 39° 30.149'
Long W 077° 28.442'
This is the southernmost extent of vertical rock on the rib. Again, not overly tall, but some interesting problems do exist here.
Stairway To Heaven (5.1+) - Not quite a ladder. Climb up the blunt arete on the left side of the prominent slab to the top. Good holds most all the way up make it a fun little romp.
Houses Of The Holy (5.5-5.8) - A variety of options await the explorer of this slab. Begin below the downward-flaring V-notch system. Climb up to a ledge, then either head up right to a right-leaning right-facing flake/crack (easier) or straight up on small features, slopers, and shallow dishes (harder). Either way you go, once you reach the uneven horizontal near the top, the climbing tapers off to finish with a satisfying couple of moves.
TBD (5.5) - Start at the base of the offwidth chimney. Either do the offwidth directly (awkward!) or work your way onto the face immediately to the right, then follow that up, keeping the offwidth crack on your left. As the offwidth crack ends at a ledge, continue straight up to an overhanging finish.
Here, There Be Dragons (5.3) - Begin at the prominent right-leaning crack system 7-8' right of the offwidth crack. Climb up until you reach a roof on the right. Then either continue up the corner and crack to another roof and traverse left to where another right-leaning crack splits the overhang, or traverse left on a left-rising crack line to the previously-mentioned right-leaning crack system. Continue up this second right-leaning crack system to the top.
project (5.ballsy) - Approximately 10' right of Here, There Be Dragons, climb up to the large corner formed by an enormous block. Work up to a left-rising crack system on the main face of the block above the overhang, traverse up and left until you can reach the arete. Stand and you're done!
Lat: N 39° 30.317'
Long: W 077° 28.877'
This is another area not technically within the Frederick Municipal Forest but part of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources lands. However, due to its proximity to (and being nearly surrounded by) the FM Forest lands, it is included in this section. In this area the FM Forest boundary stops at the creek below the rocks, and extends downstream for about a quarter of a mile before the FM Forest lands cross the road to the east.
This parcel of land was set aside in memory of Nathaniel Marquez, a graduate of Frederick High School who had passed away. On a website dedicated to him, his parents invite anyone who wishes to help keep the area litter-free to visit. They tell a story of how he organized a huge reclamation project that returned the area to pristine wilderness. Ironically, since then, much trash (primarily from teenagers who hang out there) has re-accumulated.
Lat: 39° 30.XXX'
Long: 077° 28.XXX'
The band of rock runs almost due north-south, facing west towards the stream. It is not overly tall, but for those of you who are non-boulderers or not into borderline high balling, you'll want to drop a rope. Between the taller sections of rock there is a plentitude of short bouldering opportunities. Some of it very easy, some of it quite challenging.
Lat: 39° 30.352'
Long: 077° 28.874
This short rock is located about 200' to the right of the chimney marking the Nathaniel's Place foundation. It has virtually no poison ivy worth speaking of, unlike some of the other rock walls here.
Donum Dei (5.2-5.4) - 23'. "Nathaniel" means "Gift from God". In Latin, it is "Donum Dei". Starting at the lowest right-facing corner, climb up onto a short slab and aim for the obvious crack breaking the light tan band of rock above. Go up either following the crack, the face to the left, or the face to the right (5.4) for a few moves before you hit the top. Alas, the route is entirely too short. If only it were 3x taller...
Pastel Roof (5.6+) - 23'. Probably the most interesting line on this wall. Starting at the next right-facing corner up and right from Donum Dei, climb straight up to the middle of the tiered ceilings above. Pull through and up left, reaching high for good holds (lower, intermediate holds tend to snap off; belayers beware). Unfortunately, this route does not have a nice finish, as the rock ends while you are trying to pull through the roof. Either top off, or stop halfway through pulling the roof and lower.
Got Milk? (5.6) - 23'. Begin at the large, black right-facing corner just right of the elm sapling. Climb straight up to the lower right end of the tiered ceilings. Pull past this lower roof onto a featured face above, searching for the few small sharp holds that are offered.
Eet More Chikun (5.7) - 18'. Shortest line here, with the most awkward start, which looks initially easier than what it is. Begin on the right end of the initial overhang at the top of a slab. Pull through the initial overhang on so-so holds until you can stand again. Work up past a couple of ledges until you get to a nearly flat, vertical, but featured face that offers very few holds. Find an intermediate, work your feet up, then stretch for the broad finger ledge high above, just below the top. Stand up and lower off or top out.
Lat: 39#176; 30.308'
Long: 077#&176; 28.xxx'
This wall lies directly below the Nathaniel's Place foundation area. Caution as there is poison ivy growing up along the primary anchor tree.
Lat: 39#176; 30.xxx'
Long: 077#&176; xx.xxx'
So-named because of the huge foam 'mattress' that sits near the base of this wall.
Lat: 39° 30.302'
Long: 077° 28.xxx'
This is the last real section of climbing as the rocks peter out into boulders and butt up against the stream. This also offers probably the hardest climbing opportunities in the area, given the thin, sustained and steeply overhanging nature of the rock. You will need to be creative with anchor options, as all the trees up atop of this outcrop are either dead or rotting. There is also a plethoria of poison ivy all around the deadfall here.
This tall (~40-50'), severely overhanging rock outcrop is located along the shores of Lake Linganore, in the private community of Linganore. Alas, since this is a private community, it means access to these rocks is off-limits. You can only go there as a guest of one of the few climbers who live in the community. That said, if you do get an opportunity to check this place out, be prepared for sharp holds on extremely overhanging (~45 degree) rock! There are around half dozen lines here, probably no more, depending on how contrived you want to be. If you are fortunate enough to run into an Old Timer climber dude named Bill, he would be your best source as a guide to the area.
Note: the pump factor is HIGH on these routes! There are no rests - be prepared!
Trail of Tears - ~5.9/5.10. This route climbs up the severely overhanging inside wall of the cave.
Sundance - ~5.10+. This climb dances up the line to the right of Trail of Tears
Wounded Knee - 5.?. So-named from one of the first climbers who sliced his knee during a fall on this route, but didn't realize it until he was down and preparing to belay the next climber. This route runs up the face just right of the outside corner, and is a bit shorter than Trail.. or Sundance.
Pale Face - 5.?. This route climbs the face to the right of Wounded Knee
The Gunpowder Falls River winds its way from the Prettyboy Dam region down to the Bay. Along the banks of this lengthy river are scattered a handful of crags, of which Route One Rock is part of. However, being so far downstream, it remains in a seperate section below.
Lat: N 39° xx.xxx'
Long: W 076° xx.xxx'
On the northside of and immediately adjacent to the Prettyboy Dam is a two-tiered rockwall. Access to these cliffs at this time is restricted (i.e., closed) but it is being pursued with the assistance of the Access Fund. Little is known about routes on this rock except that the lower tier hosts some very difficult lines, and there is at least one old bolt midway up a route on the upper tier. Local firefighters have been known to utilize these cliffs for vertical rescue practice sessions.
Lat: N 39° xx.xxx'
Long W 076° xx.xxx'
Lat: N 39° xx.xxx'
Long: W 076° xx.xxx'
Located just upstream maybe 0.15 miles from The Fin, this mini-amphitheater of rock is tucked away out of sight behind a jumble of apartment and livingroom-sized boulders. You cannot see it from the road. Parking is the same as for The Fin. You will need long slings or webbing for anchors here, as the available trees are set pretty far back, and the rock is not strong enough to really accept gear in the few places you might be able to place something.
One word of caution/warning: copperhead snakes live in this area, and stay active fairly late into the season.
Route 1: (5.Unknown) - Climb the short wall at the rightmost end of the wall to a ledge (12'). Then follow the arete up and left to the highest point on this wall (also the top of Route 3).
Route 2: (5.10?) - 19'. Climb the thin face in the center of the right wall to a horizontal crack and finish a body length or two (depending on your height) at the angled arete at the top. For a few extra feet of climbing, follow the arete up and left a few feet to the top of Route 3.
Route 3: (5.hard) - 25'. Start below and right of a short fin-blade, left of the right wall, beneath a small roof capping the top of the rock. Climb up through the rounded groove corner and pull past the small roof at the end.
Chunky Monkey (5.7/5.8?) - 24'. Climb up to and through the broad shallow chimney with vertical cracks and flakes in the center of the rock wall to the top. Somewhat harder than it initially appears.
Route 5: (5.Unknown) - 25'. Starting 5' left of "Chunky Monkey", gain the sloping ledge about 4-5' off the ground. Climb up to the left of the vertical fin, right of the roof, catching a small horizontal crack just right of the roof. Blast past this another 5' to the top.
Route 6: (5.Unknown) - 23'. Start in the corner to the left of Route 5, directly below the roof. Climb up onto the ledge, then up the corner and face, skirting the roof on the left wall. Finish the last few moves by either chimneying the crack or working up the face.
Lat: N 39° 37.072'
Long: W076° 41.403'
Lat: N 39° xx.xxx'
Long: W 076° xx.xxx'
The Fin is located approximately a mile downstream from the Prettyboy Dam itself. From the parking area you need to walk down the road to a trail or bushwhack in from behind. Anchor set-ups are not always straight-forward. You may have to be creative. Some of the routes, though, are straight-forward, and thus are climbed the most (also, having one of the more friendly belay areas helps ;-) .
Lat: N 39° 36.802'
Long: W076° 40.556'
Lat: N 39° 36.770'
Long: W 076° 40.337'
Bunker Hill rock is nestled right on the banks of the Gunpowder Falls river. It is very scenic...but the rock quality is lacking, unfortunately. However, if you can get past that aspect of the area, you can have a nice time here. AND it's close to the cars (though not close enough to belay from the steering wheel; sorry).
From the parking area cross the road and follow the river upstream for all of maybe 4 minutes. The path is flat and easy. You will come to the rocks on your right. If you miss them, you are looking for the wrong thing - they're only 30-40' tall at best.
Lat: N 39° 37.104'
Long: W 076° 39.169'
Lat: N 39° xx.xxx'
Long: W 076° xx.xxx'
This expansive band of rock is located nearly a mile downstream from where York Road passes over the Gunpowder Falls River. It is set back a hundred or so feet from the river itself, so not readily apparent unless you are looking uphill to the left through the trees. You'll see a tall wall (~40') that looks quite appealing, but climbing on it is....well, let's just say the rock is rotten. You'll do better climbing the shorter sections that flank the main wall; they are more stable.
Lat: N 39° 37.047'
Long: W 076° 38.907'
Lat: N 39° xx.xxx'
Long: W 076° xx.xxx'
Located about 700-800' downstream from Raven Rocks, this is a small outcrop that boasts rather stiff, short problems. Almost boulder-problem like in nature. The rock is made up of the same type of rock as Raven Rocks above, and is prone to breaking, so take care when climbing here.
Lat: N 39° xx.xxx'
Long: W 076° xx.xxx'
This crag is located ~700-800' upstream and across the river from Raven Rocks. It is often overlooked as a potential climbing area due to its apparently slabby and tiered nature, but you can find some problems on some of these exposed faces. Most are probably what one would call "boulder problems", but due to the landing area, a rope might be desireable.
Lat: N 39° 38.133'
Long: W076° 24.753'
Parking coords (Main Upper Lot):
Lat: N 39° 38.104'
Long: W 076° 24.945'
Parking coords (Lower Rte 24 Lot):
Lat: N 39° 38.278'
Long: W 076° 24.752'
Parking coords (Chrome Hill Lot):
Lat: N 39° 37.907'
Long: W 076° 24.857'
Rocks State Park (also called Rocks of Deer Creek, although this name has fallen out of usage) about located 50 minutes north-northeast of Baltimore. Rich in history, the park used to belong to the Susquehannock Indians, who held ritual ceremonies up around the King & Queen's Seat area. Now it is a place for many types of recreation - including rock climbing.
There is a fair bit of climbing to be done here at the main cliff (bring at least a 50m rope for Breakaway Wall!) as well as some more secluded shorter outcroppings tucked away in the woods. The rangers are pro-climber; they feel that climbers are as legitimate a user-group as anyone else, and if you work with them, they will work with you. Bearing this in mind, there are three hard and fast rules that the rangers will enforce on you (and other park users):
The rangers take a dim view of people throwing anything off the cliffs here. This is a criminal offense, and the rangers will charge offenders (if caught) with reckless endangerment and assault. So, if you catch any bastards throwing things off, feel free to notify the authorities!
The park is a Trash Free park! If you pack it in, pack it out. Bring a bagto put your trash in if you need to. And be helpful: pick up any extra trash you find laying around. Other climbers and the rangers will definitely appreciate it.
There is a weekend admission fee of $2/person if you park up top at Rock Ridge. This is in effect from late spring until late autumn. During the week, however, park usage is free.
There are copperheads in the park. They like the rock, especially to warm themselves on during chillier days. The author has not yet (in 11+ years of climbing there) encountered one (now next week I'm sure I will!), just some evidence of their passing. Just be warned. Forewarned is forearmed, and you don't want your forearms on the receiving end of a couple of poisonous fangs - do you?
There is a micro-moss which grows on the rocks (what kind, I don't know; that's not my balliwick). This moss, after it rains or mists, suddenly comes 'alive' and causes the rocks to be slicker than oil. I know of at least one person who face-planted while walking along the base of the cliffs here, but the moss is not restricted to just the bottom. Be aware and extra careful when the conditions are wet.
The rock here is of high-quality. There are a number of great and moderately nice climbs here. The number of low-quality routes is lower on average than elsewhere (your mileage may vary, of course). A 'real' guidebook was said to be in the works back in 1994, but nothing ever came of it that I've been able to track down, thus the expansion of my online guide for Rocks State Park. There is a lot of history here, and almost every square inch of the rock has been touched at one time or another. There are even some 2-pitch routes (the rock here is over 100' in places). A few of the top-rope routes can be led here, and I tried to give some semblence of a protection grade to those routes (eg, G = Good pro, PG = Pretty Good, R = Runout/Danger Will Robinson!, and X = solo time)
PLEASE CLIMB SAFE!! This should go without saying no matter WHERE you climb, but bears repeating. People die at Rocks State Park almost every year. Until the late 90s (1998 and 1999) these have not been climber deaths (just stupid people doing stupid things). But the sudden demise of three climbers (two who were soloing, one who was bouldering above the Breakaway Ledge) here has woken some people up to how dangerous this recreation really is. KNOW YOUR LIMITS and TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR ACTIONS! Self-rescue if possible. The rangers will assist in true emergencies, but they are not baby-sitters. If you solo, know that if you fall you are going to get seriously injured or killed. This could potentially jeopardize the future of climbing in the park. No one likes to do body recoveries (been there, done that). I'm not telling you not to do it. I AM saying be extremely aware of the consequences your actions may have on the area.
Local Historical Note: When you are first walking out to the overlook from the King & Queen's Seat, note the faded tombstone on the last large boulder you have to step over (note also a lot of the other grafitti etched in the boulders around here from that era, too). The tombstone etch is dated 1837, and the initials are "A.H.". Back in the 1800s off in the woods a hundred or so yards away (in the old quarry) there used to be a mining/quarry operation going on. There were the "acceptable risks" accidents and injuries and death, but in one incident there was a collapse in the quarry, and one worker was buried. His body was never recovered, so the other quarrymen carved a tombstone in his memory on the boulder by the King & Queen's Seat. It is faded from thousands of people walking over it lo these many years now, but it is still visible.
Errata for Rocks State Park:
This section will contain any errata for/corrections to information in the guidebook itself.
Route #3, Biceptennial, is drawn slightly incorrect in the second topo photo. At the roof it pops left then up, when it should be reflective and curve right then up the corner above the roof.
The route Toast, #36, should be listed as being 5.9+, not 5.8.
Vertical ascends the crack/flake just right of center through the small roof, then angles up and left to the top. Piney is the roof in the upper right skyline of the photo. Mike's Finger Buckets follows the line just left of center.
This is the 'main wall' of Rocks State Park, accessible only by an exposed 5.1 downclimb scramble down past the Pinnacle. Please be very careful when going down/up this area (especially when it's wet). A fall could be terminal (see earlier note about body recoveries). Rope up if you have to, okay?
The wall is south-facing, and rises 65-80' high. There is a lower platform and an upper platform (which also serves as the base for Epitaph Wall), a height difference of 15'. The lower platform offers a tree and some cracks (finger-sized to fist-sized) for pro. The upper platform houses a nice column tucked in a corner, which most people use as a primary anchor for Breaaway Right, Superbulge, and Mike's.... You'll want gear, though for backup anchor, or for setting up Breakaway Left and other routes to the left of that.
The Breakaway Wall hosts the longest top-rope routes in this guide, pushing 80+ feet in length. Be sure your rope ends reach the ground before trying these climbs!
There are a number of other routes, lead only, exist between Green Subtrafuge and the King/Queen's Seat area, varying difficulty levels, from moderate to hard. Some are top-rope problems, but a handful two-pitch leads, or 120+ foot top-ropes are piled inbetween.
The following routes do not appear in the current edition of the book. The first is located on the lower broad ledge at the top of Vertical. The second next to Shark Tooth. The third is a new route put up by Nick Crowhurst of England.
Blister 5.10c - X'. Mainly a boulder problem, but you'll want a spotter in case you slip and stumble - it's a hell of a drop off the edge down Vertical! So please take care. From the broad ledge at the top of Vertical, below the Epitaph Wall ledge at the top of Breakaway, find the large vertical crack in the corner. Climb up the thin face immediately left of the crack. Using the edge of the crack for your right hand is considered "on". The name derives itself from a crystal about 8-9' up on the right that you lock your thumb onto as you are making the upper moves on the problem.
Jumpin' Jack Flash 5.11a/5.11c - X'. Climb the short and fairly blank face just right of Shark Tooth. If you do not throw for the right edge arete at the crux, the climbing stays at 11c. If you use the right edge before the undercling (beware that wasps use this as their home, too), the climbing is 11a. Be sure you're up for some seriously sharp holds.
Horizontal 5.8 (G/PG) - ~100'. In fine British tradition, a horizontal traverse route! This was a vision of Nick Crowhurst, and put up by he and Indy. While you could top-rope most of this from one anchor point above Superbulge, this is probably best done on lead. Begin by climbing up the gully/chimney of Green Subtrafuge until you are beneath the roof. Begin traversing out right (there is no real good place to put gear in until you are under the Green Subtrafuge roof). Hand-traverse the ledge of Breakaway Left to the formidable Breakaway Block (protection here is good), then stem/bridge beneath the Breakaway Block roof to gain the bomber bucket hold on Breakaway Right. Continue following the horizontal line of weakness right to another, smaller ledge that ends 20 or so feet above Mike's Finger Buckets. Step up onto this ledge and traverse right another 6-8' to the parallel Vertical cracks. Climb up another 4-5' to the thin horizontal crack at the top of the parallel Vertical cracks. Delicately continue the traverse right, following this seam around to the slab face beneath the Piney roof. Just as things get really thin, there is a large bucket hold you can reach blindly just past the corner. Continue traversing right until you can step off onto blocks near The Pinnacle. If you are leading you might consider setting up a (hanging) belay either at the end of the ledge above Mike's or in the Vertical cracks.
Breakaway Direct - This was noted as 5.11 in the guide; it is more correctly rated 5.12-.
Breakaway Bulge 5.13 (R/X) - X'. this is a slightly contrived route. Climb Super Bulge until you are through the crux. Now, instead of continuing on up, traverse left until under the Breakaway block roof, and finish by climbing Breakaway Direct.
The following few short routes are located above the Breakaway Ledge, and access the summit section directly. Need medium to large pro to set up top-rope anchors up top for these routes. There is a quick and exposed 2-move 4th-class traverse (don't fall!) on the north side of the rock to access this broad ledge.
Note: Be damned careful if you boulder the wall left of Slimey! At least one person missed a hold, stumbled on their fall, and continued on down to the base of the rock while bouldering (March 2003, in fact :-( ). Just be careful, okay?
The only way to set top-ropes up here is to do a lead or solo. Easiest is to clamber up the west edge route on The Pinnacle. Second easiest is the route is to follow the crack left of Better Balance on the north face of the Pinnacle (medium to large pro; watch for the loose block near the crux). The anchors up top are a couple of bolts.
There are some easy cracks on the northeast side of the Pinnacle, left of Better Balance, but almost no one climbs these anymore.
This is the mostly rounded wall which most people either walk past without a second look or set up some very easy stuff for beginners to play on. There are some short but keep-your-attention routes here, also.
This is approximately 70' uphill from the Pinnacle where the rock is a low-angled round wall cut by a right-arching crack. This is a popular spot for beginner classes to set up.
Located behind the King & Queen's Seat, on the west side of the south-facing wall.
Anchors are generally off the boulders behind the King & Queen's Seat block. Access to the base of the climbs descends down the steep erosion trail to the right of the rocks, cutting back to the cliff face at your best opportunity.
MOBY DICK WALL:
Lat: N 39°xx.xxx'
Long: W 076°xx.xxx'
A seriously overhanging boulder problem. There are a couple of videos of people working it (successfully) on youtube. One such video is here
Another bouldering video here
Lat: N 39°38.069'
This is about 300' south of Vertical, buried in the woods. When the leaves are off the trees you can catch a glimpse of rock out there.
There are other routes on the main rocks of Rocks State Park. More info will be added later. A rough online map exists at http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/EM1/rocksair.html
Lat: N 39°41.557'
This is a small outcropping of rock immediately next to Falling Branch waterfall, also known as Kilgore Falls, and at 19' is the second highest waterfall in Maryland. There is climbing here, as I have talked to a few climbers who have visited this area during the drought period in the late 90s, but route information is unavailable at this time. This park is a subsection of Rocks State Park.
Lat: N 39°xx.xxx'
Long: W 076°xx.xxx'
Lat: N 39°40.778'
Just off of the end of Madonna Road, along Deer Creek, sits this subsection of Rocks State Park. There is limited parking along the road. A trail follows the creek upstream a little less than 1/2 mile to the climbing area. There is not a lot of room at the base of the rocks for belaying, as the creek is right behind you, so be aware with how you place your rope, gear, packs and other stuff around so other people who are just walking through can do so without tripping over your stuff.
Directions: From Baltimore follow MD 146 to an intersection with Rte 23 (complete with blinking red light, stop signs), about 16 miles north of the I-695 beltway in Towson. Continue straight onto Madonna Rd and follow that a few miles until it ends at a T-intersection with XXXX and XXXXX. Turn left and park in the small area on the left. Follow the flat trail from the parking lot to the rocks.
Lat: N 39°40.836'
Long: W 076°29.534'
There is growing evidence that this section really refers to either the Conowingo Dam
area further upstream, or a private(?) crag further downstream on the opposite side of the river.
For what it's worth.
For what it's worth.
There is some climbing up and down the Susquehanna River in Maryland and Pennsylvania. Much of this is on private land (90% of that you should steer clear of!), but there is a little on public land. Specifically the old quarry in the Susquehanna State Park.
The rock here is a granite, like that across the river at Port Deposit. It is of pretty good quality, but there IS loose rock around - be careful!. There is climbing upwards of 5.9 or so in difficulty. Probably not a destination for your way-honed hardman climber, but a nice diversion from all the other places around.
Access to this little crag is difficult for now. Either you can canoe in along the river, or walk along the old canal tow path, following the railroad tracks (be careful that you have to work around some questionable bridges). Please keep clear of private property, and if confronted about trespass issues, please don't get all up in arms with the nearby landowners. The Park is trying to get a trail system in, and any antagonistic actions between you and the local landowners will hamper their efforts.
Ultimately it is hoped that the Greenways Trail System will be finished to go up/down the Susquehanna, and when it is done, the trail will take you right past the rocks. Access at that point will be a LOT easier! Just be patient for the time being, okay?
As with all Park property, there is NO bolting allowed on this rock.
TRAVELLER'S ADVISORY: as of Aug 2001, there have been numerous break-ins of cars (convertibles seem most vulnerable) at the various crags up and down the Susquehanna (whether the crags are on private or public land makes not much difference). The Cauldron (a private land area and will probably ultimately be closed to climbing in any event; the landowners are cracking down on trespassers via the state troopers) has seen over 30 car break-ins in the past 3-4 months - WARNING! Don't take valuables with you and leave them in the car! Out of sight or not. This should go for most all areas, but it seems the Susquehanna region is being plagued more with assholes who get off on this sort of thing [breaking into cars and vandalism]. Thanks to Joanna of Baltimore for the warning (who also suffered from the predations of these [censored] [censored] [censored] people).
Note: the crags off of Cooks Landing Road (notably The Cauldron and Middle Earth) are actually pretty much in Pennsylvania. The Middle Earth area probably straddles the PA/MD border. There is rumored to be upwards of 80 sport lines here, but again, access is a significant issue, as land ownership is debated between the railroad and the power companies. In any event, this spot is not public land.
Lat: N 39° 25.277'
Long: W 076° 26.008'
Lat: N 39°25.663'
Long: W 076°26.607'
There is a small outcropping of rock east of Rt 1 in the Big Gunpowder Falls State Park. It is not very big, it is tucked away a bit off the path that follows the north shore, and doesn't see a lot of traffic. Some might consider these boulder problems; others might want to drop a rope. More detailed information to come in the near future.
There are 5 individual rock outcroppings here, noted as Rock 1, Rock 2, Toby Rock, Starship Trooper Rock, and Rock 5.
This is the first boulder that you come to from the Lost Pond Trail. The access path splits left and right around this rock. There are a couple of short boulder problems on the dirty face facing the Lost Pond Trail.
This blocky clump of rock is located ~20' back and to the right of Rock 1. It, too, has a couple of short boulder problems on the face facing the Lost Pond Trail.
This is one of the larger outcroppings in the area, standing nearly 15' and over 30' wide. Its main feature is the large overhang that most routes start with right off the ground. It is about 25' left of and uphill from Rock 1.
STARSHIP TROOPER ROCK
This is another large outcropping that rivals Rock 3 and is 30' to the left of TOBY ROCK. It also starts as a low overhanging wall/roof, but rises a bit higher up than TOBY ROCK does. It is about 20' at its highest.
Nothing much is known about this outcropping. The trail over to it from Rock 4 is massively overgrown, as no one visits it any.
Lat: N 39° xx.xxx'
Long: W 076° xx.xxx'
Lat: N 39°xx.xxx'
Long: W 076°xx.xxx'
This small quarry lies in the woods next to the North Central Railroad Hike'n'Bike trail near Sparks, Maryland. There is a definite trail system that leads to the cliffs, and a fainter trail ~50' further down the NCRR trail that leads to the top to set up anchors.
Anchor set-ups: Trees are fairly abundant up top; no need for gear. But 20'+ slings may be in order to set some routes up. Be extra careful when setting up anchors for routes near the Sentinel Corner, as the terrain up there is an extremely steep dirt/mud slope, from which a slip may be unrecoverable. There are a few nice trees near the edge to anchor off on, but there are also trees further back in the woods as well.
Don't forget to bring a wire brush to clean off the dirt & grit that's run down from the tops after it's rained.
Warning: there is loose rock - some of it quite massive! - in this area. Take extra care and caution when both climbing and belaying! One pair of climbers, with just a gentle tug, pulled off a 1000 lbs boulder from broadway face 2 just recently (mid-July, 2000) that would have crushed the belayer had he been standing directly underneath. The quality of the rock is not 100% great (it is an old quarry, after all!). TAKE CARE WHEN CLIMBING IN THIS AREA!!
Warning #2: THIS AREA IS PRIVATE LAND! Access issues were being investigated (Sept, 2000) but let to no real joy. Refrain from overt activity in this area until access issues can be sorted out (that or just avoid this place altogether).
The rock here is mostly smooth, quarried from when the railroad was first put in. There are some corners, some cracks, some overlaps, small roofs, and overhangs. The cliff band averages 30-40 feet high, and is nearly 200 feet long from end to bitter end. The place does not see a lot of climber traffic, though there is some evidence of climbers on Che Schifo. Most of the hard stuff (5.11+) appears unclimbed (the named routes are only 'place-savers', until they can be climbed for real). Even though this is an old quarry, leave the rock as it is. If it's too hard for you, either get better or let someone who climbs harder take a crack at it. There's more than enough other rock around to climb without modifying that which is here.
Note: the Sentinel Corner is often wet for a couple of days after it has rained in the area. Kind of a bummer, but...
Warning: Beware of deer ticks that lurk in the woods! There have been no known incidents of late, but this doesn't preclude the fact that they are not there. Lyme disease...you don't want it !
Directions: From I-83, north of Baltimore (and Hunt Valley), get off at exit 24 (Belfast Road). Go east on Belfast road until you come to York Road (can't miss it; Belfast Road ends here). Turn right and go south (back towards Baltimore) for just about 0.4 miles and turn left onto Sparks Road. Continue down Sparks Road a short bit until you come to a one-lane bridge. Immediately past the bridge the road intersects with the North Central Railroad Hike'n'Bike trail. Find a place to park (there are a couple of parking areas in the immediate area). From here go south (downstream) along the path, paralleling the Gunpowder Falls river. Please be courteous and share the trail with the other hikers and bikers (bikers seem to make up 80+% of the traffic on the trail). After about 5 minutes of leisurely hiking you'll pass a house on the left. 5 minutes later you'll come to a definite footpath heading into the woods on your left. Enter the woods on this path, and voila`! Sieta qui! (you are here!) The access trail to the top is a mere 50' past this on the main trail (and is fainter; hunt for it).
The rock band can be divided up into several main sections: Slab Wall, Broadway Wall, Back Wall. The Slab Wall is the first thing you come to off the NCRR trail, and is blank ~80-degree 'slab' featuring a couple left-leaning cracks, some overhangs, and a left-facing corner on the far right. The wall breaks at another, larger left-facing corner. The Broadway Wall starts at this large, left-facing corner (Dirty Dihedral) and goes for about 120' to the left, passing a smaller left-facing corner to a mostly blank wall (with a couple of small cracks/seams and a shallow arch halfway across) to a broad and shallow right-facing corner/wall (Sentinel Corner). After an overgrown section, the Back Yard continues with broken and blocky corners. Routes are described from right to left.
Some of the routes named are 'working names' (eg, Jeanne d'Arc, Joan Left, the Stellar names, Fixed Line). Better than saying 'unknown route x' each and every time. When the route is freed or the first ascent party is found, the name will be updated to the route's given name.
This is the first rock face encountered on the right as you stumble up the path from the NCRR Trail.
sparks slab 1 (5.?) - Follow the face up next to the first left-facing corner using cracks and shelves and whatever is available.
sparks slab 2 (5.?) - To the left of NCRR-SLAB-1, right of the second left-facing corner, go up the face using friction, cracks, ledges, etc.
The Queen Spider corner on the right end of Broadway Wall; Che Schifo goes up the face immediately to the left in the center of the image. The 1000 lbs block formed by the cracks in the upper left corner was pulled off the wall with just a gentle tug.
This broad wall starts with Dirty Dihedral and continues left to the Sentinel Corner, ~120' away.
Dirty Dihedral - Climb the large, 10-foot wide blocky corner to the top. There are three ways to go:
Dirty Dancing (5.3) - 20'. Use a variety of techniques to dance your way up the rightmost corner with the smooth face. Almost a flaring chimney in spots, with some interesting, inobvious moves. If it's feeling awkward, you're missing something.
Dirty Mind (5.3) - 20'. Wear a hat to keep your mind (and head) clean from the dirt above. Climb the middle of the three corners/flaring chimney-like lines up to the top. Easy moves on inobvious holds makes for some interesting climbing.
Dirty Laundry (5.3) - 20'. You will need to do laundry after climbing this grungy route! Plow through the dirt up the leftmost blocky corner next to the face up to the 'gully' above. Be careful (both you and your belayer!) for loose stuff (rocks, dirt, twigs) funnelling down from above.
broadway face 1(5.?) - climb the face left of Dirty Dihedral.
The Queen Spider (5.6) - 25'. Climb up the flaring chimney/left-facing corner ~15 feet left of Dirty Laundry. Surmount the block above to gain a ledge. From the ledge follow large, horizontal cracks up and left to the overhanging headwall (crux) at the top. Good holds. Watch for a large spider in the big cracks above.
Che Schifo (5.7**) - 25'. An Italian phrase, pronounced 'ke skee-fo', this route is nowhere near as disgusting as the translation would lead you to believe. Climb the face on good holds a few feet left of The Queen Spider corner to a large horizontal crack. Trending to the left momentarily, yard up the left-facing flakes using great holds until you gain the left-leaning flake/crack system above. Follow those for a move or two then cut right when they are about to end to finish on the overhanging wall above. Good but inobvious holds allow you to top out if you want.
broadway face 2 (5.11?) - 30'. Start 7 feet left of The Queen Spider, just right of the mini-roof formed by the horizonal crack 5' off the ground. Follow the slightly rust-colored water streak through slopers to a small ledge. Step up and claw your way up the steep wall above (V1). Note: a 1000 lbs boulder was pulled off the the ledge, narrowly missing the belayer. Be careful in this area, hear?
broadway seam (5.13??) - 35'. Several feet left of broadway face 2. Follow the left-trending seam on slopers to the top.
Jeanne d'Arc (5.12/5.13?) - 35'. Start in the middle of the Broadway Face, below the highest point of the shallow arch and above where the green rusted-out hulk of an old automobile is buried. Be careful where you step. Climb up the almost blank face to the arch at it's highest point. Turn the arch and continue on nothing to the top.
Joan Left (5.11d/5.12a) - 35'. 10 feet left of Jeanne d'Arc, follow the thin, left-leaning crack/seam through the arch to the top. Totally blank and smooth. There is a single bolt at the top of the seam, several inches to the right.
broadway face 3 (5.12?) - 35'. Begin 15 feet left of Joan Left, between two sizable trees. Desperate moves up the face with a sloping ledge and a small left-facing 'corner' yields to a small bulge in a blank wall above.
Bob's Route (5.?) - A working name route. Start on the mud-encrusted face directly behind the tree left of broadway face 3. Climb up the wall to the overlap halfway up, then traverse left to the end where the overlap becomes a seam. Finish on Three's Company.
Stellar Atmospheres (5.10/5.11) - This rarified route doesn't have a lot of positive holds on it. Start 7' left of the large tree on the left of broadway face 3, at the base of the boulder/dirt ramp that rises up to the Sentinel Corner. Climb the brown face full of very shallow pockets to the blank wall above. Pull around on the right when you reach the overhanging blocks above. Warning: these large blocks may be loose - be very VERY careful when climbing this route, both as the climber and belayer!! Take proper precautions in case of rock fall! (and a helmet isn't going to do it all alone - not if one of these 1000+ lbs monsters drops on you!
Three's Company (5.11d/5.12a*) - 35'. Starting 5' feet left of Stellar Atmospheres, on the first block partway up the boulder/dirt ramp leading up to the Sentinel Corner. Tricky moves at the bottom are avoided by stepping onto the higher block up left to bomber handholds. After this the climbing gets stiff, fast. Working on good and marginally good holds, follow the black streak studded with bumps and rounds holds up next to the tan, mud-encrusted line to a horizontal seam halfway up. Be careful that some of the good holds may break on you. At the seam find tiny slopers and sloping finger ledges to work the blank but slightly undulating face above to the next horizontal crack that starts the overhanging wall. Yard on up through the overhang using good holds in the cracks. This wall is often soaking wet after it has rained, unfortunately (water seeps through the ground above and out the cracks in the overhang). Warning: some of the large blocks may be loose - be very VERY careful when climbing this route, both as the climber and belayer!! Take proper precautions in case of rock fall! And a helmet isn't going to do it all alone - not if one of these small-car engine-sized monsters drops on you!
Stellar Conquest (5.10/5.11) - This route lies halfway between Three's Company and the Sentinel Corner itself. Starting 5' left of Three's Company, battle your way up the undulations and features in the face to the overhanging blocks above. Pull through the 'hangs, or step left to go around them. Warning: these large blocks may be loose - be very VERY careful when climbing this route, both as the climber and belayer!! Take proper precautions in case of rock fall! (and a helmet isn't going to do it all alone - not if one of these 1000+ lbs monsters drops on you!
Sentinel follows the shallow, wet corner; A Simple Kind Of Life goes up the wall along the left edge of the wet section
The Broadway Wall ends here with this right-facing corner face. Past this is a section of overgrown blocky rock before you come to the Back Yard, approximately 50' away. It is unfortunate that the corner itself, as well as the rock upwards of 5-10' on either side (particularly on Broadway Wall) stays wet for days after it has rained in the area.
Warning: the large blocks atop of the routes here may be loose - be very VERY careful when climbing these routes, both as the climber and belayer!! Take proper precautions in case of rock fall!
Sentinel (5.10*) - 30'. Be on your guard if the wall is wet! (and it often is after a good rain). A double-* route if drier. Following the shallow and thin crack in the right-facing corner, step left when you reach the overhanging blocks above and finish (V1) on welcome (and sharp) holds formed by the blocks and cracks.
A Simple Kind Of Life (5.10a*) - 30'. Not so simple a climb, although fairly straight forward when you know the moves. Start near the center of the face, just left of the micro-nut thin crack several feet left the Sentinel corner. Use inobvious face holds (finger ledges in most cases) and the thin crack to welcome holds at the horizontal break 20' above you (there was a 'downed' tree immediately left of this route in the 1990s, still hanging on with a few roots in the first horizonal break, hiding a few nice 'exit' holds from the face; the climbing's not that much harder if you don't use them to get off the face). Finish past the blocks on the last few moves of Sentinel.
sentinel face 1 (5.10) - 30'. Starting at the far left side of this wall, several feet left of A Simple..., layback up the small right-facing corner, arcing over to gain the horizontal breaks above. Traverse right and finish past the blocks on Sentinel.
THE BACK YARD:
There are only a few routes worth climbing in the back half of this quarry. Most of the rock back here is block and/or heavily overgrown with vegetation. Setting top-ropes up on many of these routes is nigh impossible (due to the slope of the ground above and the fence which seperates the mowed property with the woods). ~30 past the Sentinal Wall is a stack of broken rock and a large boulder that form a small 'cave' or cavity. This starts The Back Yard.
Fixed Line (5.?) - another route with a working name until I can learn what the first ascent people are calling it. Just left of the cavity at the start of The Back Yard is a finger crack that jaggedly works its way up the wall. Follow this past a bolt or two (first bolt may be a rivet) to a second horizontal seam (just past the upper bolt). Step right around the outside corner and go up the friction wall past two bolts (upper bolt may be the rap station). Gear to lead this consists of small nuts, camming devices, RURPs.
When time is short, your non-climbing significant other is demanding retail therapy and you need some rock time, drop him or her off at the Hunt Valley Mall, then pop over to the northeast corner and get vertical! As this crag is short, you won't be "stuck" halfway up two pitches while your SO waits impatiently by the car. You'll easily be able to meet him/her for lunch at one of the local establishments.
Along McCormick Road, barely 200' west of the intersection of McCormick and York Roads, is an outcrop of solid quartzite that offers some of the best friction climbing in the state. You have options for bouldering or doing top-rope problems. The crag faces south, so even on those nippy late fall and early spring days you can still get out to play.
Note: you are not coming here for a wilderness experience!
Further along McCormick Road is another exposed band of rock. This, however, is a rotten schist formation, and is just crap for climbing. The rock flakes off on you as you try to work it. Not worth climbing on, this area of rock will not be covered.
Park on the side of International Road halfway between York Road and the crag. 100' up from McCormick the road is gated closed (private). Try to pull off of the road as much as possible so as to not block any potential traffic that may come down/go up this side road.
Lat: N 39°30.063'
Long: W 076°39.083'
Note: as the police and county trucks sometimes use this side road pull-off area, optional parking can be found across McCormick Road in the Mall parking area behind what used to be the Wal-Mart.
Fauna note: Due to the tall grasses, and the, ah, 'wilderness' environment atop of the hill, you should be aware that deer use this place for overnighting. Deer means ticks. Ticks means...you should be more dilligent than most places to check yourself over after having climbed here, esp if you were up top setting any anchors.
Located halfway up the steep hillside, this is the first boulder on the right end of this rock band. It is short (15'), and offers one or two boulder problems with a not so optimal landing (if you slip, you're gonna tumble a good distance before you reach the bottom of the hillside - the there's another boulder to hit down there).
This is the first large rock on the right end of the roadside outcrop, just left of Boulder 1. It offers a few routes that can either be bouldered or top-roped. Anchors points are a couple of pine trees 30-40' up the hill from the top of the slab.
Yet Another Roadside Distraction (5.9+) - 28'. Start in the center of the main wall, below the overhang 10' up. Work up and right (using the boulders on the ground keeps the start within human norm difficulty) until you can grasp the overhang. Pull up through the broad V-notch, step high, and reach a small sharp fingers-only handhold. This is as good as it gets. Finagle your way through the overhang (crux) and onto the slab. If you are bouldering, you might as well walk off to the right here, as the main excitement is over. Otherwise walk up another 10' on 3rd class slab until it steepens briefly to a 5.4 friction section. Two or three moves and you're at the top.
Cell Phone Drivers (5.10c) - 28'. While you are sitting there waiting your turn to climb, or taking a rest from bouldering problems, count the number of cars going by that have drivers on their cell phones. Better yet, count the number of cars going by whose drivers are NOT on their cell phones! Start as with Yet Another Roadside Distraction, but instead of trending up and right, head straight up to the left side of the overhang. Pull it. Finish on Yet Another... or walk off to the right.
Unknown (5.?) - 28'. Start a few feet left of Yet Another Roadside Distraction at the white buttress with a vertical drillhole, just right of two horizontally drilled boreholes. Work up the white buttress onto the slab. Either finish going up the slab or walk off right.
This rock is immediately to the left of The Slab. Routes here range from 22-25' high, and offer more vertical options. Like The Slab, the anchor options here are set pretty far back from the rock.
Nerd Powers Unite (5.7) - 25'. Start 5' left of the rightside bottom outermost corner of The Wall. Climb up onto a ledge, then up angling slightly left, passing the deep cleft on the left side, until you gain a smaller ledge. Continue up another move or two until you can reach the edge of the ramped arete. With hands on the arete, work yourself up left along the face in a rising traverse until you get to the top.
Wall Street (5.4) - 22'. Start 10' left of the rightmost edge of the wall, by a short left-right upward angled crack, 5' left of the previous route. Climb up until you can stand on a small ramp. Drift up and left through a brief blank section until the handholds improve once again. Two or three more moves and you're at the top!
The next rock to the left of The Wall hosts a steep 33' tall dark grey wall with a set of tiered overlaps about halfway up. While the anchor options are more plentiful, that's not saying much. Be prepared to go a ways back to get to a decent-sized tree. (Note: there are two bolts at the top here, but one - as of spring 2014 - is very loose and pulls halfway out, so do NOT use it)
Milton toughing it out on Avoid The Temptation
Banks of McCormick (5.10*) - 30'. Named (and graded) in honor of renowned British climber Mike Banks, known locally for his 1962 first ascent of Carderock's Silver Spot. Starting on the right half of the face, work through thin slab and crumbly crystals until sidepulls and underclings make it possible to move past the overlaps, then ride the right arete to the top.
Suckered In (5.6+*) - 33'. Pretty sustained for its grade. Start on the left side of the grey face below where the overlaps rise to their higher range, immediately left of the large hole in the ground at the base of the rock. Climb straight up the face using the arete as you need it.
Avoid the Temptation (5.9+**) - 33'. A very enjoyable route, and really, a contrived variation to Suckered In. Climb up the left side of the grey face without using the arete. Employ any and all the horizontal grooves, compression wrinkles finger pockets, divits, side pulls, crystals, cracks, and undulations offered on the route. At the overlaps, be delicate as the rock sands away between the harder layers. Near the top there are a couple of ledge handholds up left to help you get past the final overlap. Without them the climb is that much more challenging. Great friction climbing.
Daylight Dancer (5.9*) - 31'. This used to be a nice 5.7 until some of the critical face holds sheared off. Now it's a nice 5.9 route. Begin in the broad corner in the center of the rock, just left of the sharp 9" wide right-facing corner capped by a small, long roof. Either climb the arete and west face to the top, passing a small prominent roof low down, or work up just left of the sharp corner until you can tag the arete for a couple moves. Reach left to a fingerhold, then up to another hold and continue upwards on ever improving handholds until you reach the top.
Oh Sunny Day! (5.5) - 32'. The actual climbing is a very short for being on such a long stretch of rock. Climb up the face next to Daylight Dancer. One tricky move (crux) 10' up from the ground where the vertical transitions to slab needs to be negotiated before the climbing dramatically eases off and finally becomes 3rd-4th class scrambling to the top. If you keep on the ramp next to the broad left-facing wall of you can squeeze a few more easy 5th class moves out of it. Entirely too short a route. You might consider bouldering it if you have a pad and/or a spotter.
Tree In My Way (5.6) - 32'. Climb the short vertical stretch of rock 5' left of Oh Sunny Day!. Beware of the tree branch stretching across the top of the vertical section (if it is even still there when you climb this). Once on the slabby 3rd class area you can either walk up the groove tube-like feature or climb the short stretch of easy 5th class slab straight above you, then walk up to the anchors. Another entirely too short of a route
GROOVE TUBE ROCK:
This is the slab uphill from the tree in the middle of the crag. There are a couple of bolt anchors at the top of Tunnel Vision. The fair-sized tree hiding the rock from the road provides welcome shade during those slightly too warm, sunny days.
Tunnel Vision (5.6+** PG) - 34'. Great friction climbing, and one of the closest things to a western desert slot canyon you'll find on the East Coast. Walk up into the cavity formed by the left end of the Grey Face rock and the clay-muddy lower block to the left by a tree. Without using the back wall, head up the groove tube towards the top. The challenging crux will find you when you least expect it. Stay focused!
Adopted By Default (5.6*) - 39'. Start on the left side of the clay-stained block to the left of Tunnel Vision. Scamper up the block to a stance, then with a couple of modificed (or full-on) layback moves (crux), continue up the V-corner until it ends. Finish on easier ground to the anchors.
Panic Attack (5.5** PG) - 42'. Start as for Adopted By Default. Once up 10' and on the block ledge, traverse a few feet left to the thin finger crack. Follow the gradually widening crack up to and past a small tree until the crack ends. Continue straight up using good feet to the right and hands where you can get them. The crux of the climb is starting the crack. The name of the route comes from the first ascent party who did the climb in trad style - and discovered why there exists an "R" rating.
Named after the Pioneer spacecraft, this short rock is located on the upper half of the hillside, above a broken slab section, between Groove Tube Rock and Serpent Rock. Anchors are 30-40' back. There is a drill hole at the very top of the rock that a small blue #2 tri-cam will fix just perfectly.
Hubble (5.6) - 21'. The Hubble has given the world views of the universe that were never before suspected. As is the case with the giant quartz block on this route, which you don't necessarily notice from above or below. Begin on the pointed step next to the large thorn bush. Make a few tenuous moves to reach the arete on the right and step over onto the friction slab. The large quartz deposit will be above you. Climb up the slab, passing the quartz knob, to the top.
MESSENGER (5.9*) - 21'. The gem route on this rock with a variety of problems for you to puzzle out in just over 20 feet of climbing. Dance up the face to the left of the large left-facing corner in the center of the main face on a series of thin finger ledges. When you get to the last one (not even halfway up), doing a mantle or an 'iron cross' style mantle might prove helpful. But the fun isn't over! On round holds, pass the small, pointed roof directly and layback the final buttress-like section to the top.
FUSE (5.7) - 21'. Named for a little spacecraft that could. Begin at the left end of the rock. Climb the face, using the left arete if necessary, until the left arete leans over to be ramplike towards the right. Follow the ramp up to the final block. A couple of bear-hug moves will get you within reach of the top.
This is the leftmost rock in this quartzite outcropping. So named because of a black snake found tucked in a crack halfway up the rock during one of the first ascents.
Use the trees (~30 feet back) and rocks to set up an anchor. A #4 or #5 C4 will fit nicely in the large crack about 10 feet back from the edge.
Snake Skin (5.4) - 24'. Start on the bulbous looking face 6 feet to the right of the large bush at the base of the rock, which is the start to Copperhead Venom. Climb straight up on not so good rock. Rock is soft and rotten. Once near the top, traverse left and finish on Copperhead Venom.
Copperhead Venom (aka, Book of Serpents) (5.6) - 22'. Start directly behind the large bush at the base of the rock, power thru the large right facing flake and mantle the open book. Continue up on the right side face of the book to the top.
Mucalinda (5.6+) - 22'. The name of the mighty king of serpents who protected Buddha from the elements as he meditated for days under the Bodhi tree. Begin a few feet left of Copperhead Venom, next to a thin crack, and below the large dark brown slanted roof. Climb up and right, following the trend of the roof (crux), until you can turn it and reach a bomber flake. Above this step onto the slab and turn left. A quick one or two lay-back move up the slab at the outside left corner of the large open book will gain you the top of the block. The route is not really much harder than Copperhead Venom (though some might think it is), but the start is more awkward and poses an interesting challenge.
There are a number of crags and boulders strewn about the watershed property here. Unfortunately, it is Baltimore City property, and they are not wholly receptive to climbers. That said, there is a small group of local climbers working with the Access Fund to negotiate with the City the option of opening the watershed up to climbing. With fingers crossed this will hopefully be the case. In the meantime, the noted areas and routes herein this guide are for historical purposes only.
This lonesome outcrop of rock resides just north of the Warren Road bridge,, between the upper and lower set of Warren village ruins (of which only the foundations remain for the most part). Much of this rock is seriously overgrown with several types of vegetation, including poison ivy. Take care when poking around this area! Fishermen sometimes use the base of the rocks as a platform for fishing. Try to be courteous.
There are fair-sized parking pull-offs immediately east of the bridge over Loch Raven Reservoir on Warren Road. The northern parking lot (the smaller of the two) puts you right near the rock. The southern parking lot, while larger, requires you to negotiate crossing Warren Road. Sometimes a little challenging during peak travel hours.
Lat: N 39°29.374'
Long: W 076°36.548'
The crag faces primarily south, but the five established routes here (so far) face east.
Unknown (5.?) - 15'. Start directly beneath the squarish roof 8 or so feet off the ground. Climb straight up to the roof, pulling past it on good but sideleaning holds on the right. Once past the roof, stand up and move up the final few feet to the top by a large tree. Shortest of the routes here.
Oh Shit (5.6/5.7) - 23'. Climb up the wall to the left side of the roof. Turn it on the left and follow the crack that splits the left-facing corner. Instead of stopping at the tree on Unknown, drift left and continue up broken blocks. Step left and finish on Sneakers to the top.
Sneakers (5.3) - 23'. So easy you can climb this in them. Begin at the featured wall just left of the Oh Shit overhang, and climb straight up to the top.
Watch Out For The--- (5.1) - 23'. Starting a 4-5 feet left of Sneakers, follow the blocky, narrow left-facing corner up right to the top.
Unknown (5.?) - 23'. Somewhat contrived middle section. Starting on the overhanging wall just left of Watch Out..., climb straight up through the hanging poison ivy to a featured face just left of the Watch Out... corner. Staying off the Watch Out... corner, continue straight up to the top where the two climbs merge.
There is more potential beneath some of the carpet of foliage to the left of these routes. But that will require gardening, and for the most part gardening is frowned on in state park lands. There are also a couple of small bouldering areas on the opposite side of the bridge.
There are a couple of bouldering areas to the west, on the other side of the bridge. Best place to
park for them would be:
Do NOT park along the grassy stretch on the right side of the road as you approach from the above parking coordinates!! This is a known accident zone, as routinely people coming west over the bridge tend to lose control coming too fast around the curves, especially when the road is wet and slick. They always end up plowing through this grassy zone (note any grooves of tire tracks from the most recent people to have inadvertently taken their car 4-wheeling).
Bouldering Area 1:
Tucked off the north side of Warren Road, out of side from passersby, lies this little outcrop of short boulders facing northwest towards the reservoir. Some worthy problems to play on, but bring a spotter, as the landings are not always ideal.
Bouldering Area 2:
This only offers a couple of quick-move problems. You can almost stand and reach the top of this boulder if you are tall enough.
At no more than 15' high, this small moss- and lichen-covered outcrop looks larger than it actually is when you look up the hill at it from the trail. There are only a few lines here, and it is best climbed from late fall to early spring, before the foliage explodes and keeps the immediate area humid, promoting growth of the moss and lichen on the rock face.
If you don't feel comfortable bouldering the routes here, there are sufficient trees up top to secure some anchors.
The rock is so-named due to a vulture that sometimes uses the cave-like opening on the lower left end of the rock for a nest.
From the parking area, it is a 3/4 mile hike back to the rock. Take care crossing Warren Road. The trailhead is off to the left in the bushes, an old gated fire road. Cross the stream and follow the main trail along the shore of the lake. As you round an inlet and cross a minor stream over boards, take the higher trail to hop over the projecting penninsula, picking up the shore trail on the other side of the hill. Keep then to the shore trail, hopping over fallen trees as required. When you get close, the rock will be uphill on your left about 80-100'.
Just south of the Papermill Road bridge, in the woods on the east shore of Loch Raven, lie several small rock outcrops with a plethora of boulders strewn about.
The rock type here is a Loch Raven Schist. Beware that poison ivy exists near most of the rock here.
Parking is limited along Papermill Road. There are three nearby options, and then more further away if you don't mind a hike. The three nearby options are noted here:
East Bridge Parking:
Lat: N 39°30.147'
Long: W 076°37.299'
This is the nearest parking spot to the crag, immediately past the bridge. If you are judicious in your parking, you should be able to squeeze upwards of five cars/pickups here. Be VERY aware when pulling out of traffic coming across the bridge!
West Bridge Pullout:
Lat: N 39°30.079'
Long: W 076°37.447'
This is a small parking pull-off at the west end of the bridge. Again, not much room for many cars, and be VERY aware of traffic coming across the bridge when pulling out. If you park here, walk back across the bridge on the north side (facing oncoming traffic) as the shoulder here is 7-8' wide. The shoulder on the south side of the bridge is only a few feet wide. You could walk across the old white grated bridge, but there are 'No Trespassing' signs on it. Best you don't utilize that avenue of access (plus if you drop anything here, it's likely to go straight down into the water below).
Long: W 076°37.093'
This is the largest of the nearby parking areas (there are other places down the road a quarter mile that offer more parking opportunities). But be considerate and try to park in such a manner as to maximize the number of vehicles here. Climbers are not the only users of the reservoir lands. Fishermen and hikers far outnumber climbers on most any given day. Don't give them a reason to resent you being there. Note, take care while walking along the road back to the bridge during high traffic periods. There isn't a lot of room on the shoulder for you and the cars.
Lat: N 39°30.102'
Lon: W 076°37.310'
Located down by the water, approach by following the fisherman trail down from the east end of the old bridge. This will be the first rock outcrop after you pass the boulder with the severely overhanging start wall (sit start boulder problems). The crag is maybe 12-18' tall? There may be 6-7 lines on it. Good flat ground for the base. There are often fishermen hanging out at the shore of the lake, fishing.
Boulder #1 - as you go down the fisherman trail you will pass on your left a boulder with a severely incut overhanging face at the start. This offers some sit-start problems. Just uphill and behind to the left of this boulder stands another boulder with one or two short problems.
Lat: N 39°30.056'
Lon: W 076°37.275'
This outcrop of rock probably has the most potential of the three areas here. There are perhaps a dozen lines on this rock. There are several boulders immediately around and behind it that offer their own problems and challenges. The main rock itself is composed of two parallel 'fins' of rock, stacked against a cluster of large boulders between them. The main walls of the two fins face north and south. The sections are thus named accordingly.
Outer North Wall:
The Historian (5.7) - 24'. Located on the left end of the outer north-facing wall. Start below the prominent detached left-facing flake. Climb straight up through an incipient crack until you can reach the top.
Time Of The Profits (5.8) - 24'. This climb follows a series of flakes on the north facing wall, just to the left of the large oak tree, a few feet right of . Start where the small boulder (V1) sticks up out of the ground directly below a left facing flake. Using the boulder makes the first crux easier. Avoid it if you want to keep a stiffer challenge. Small crimpers, slopers and an undercling will get you to the flake (crux). Power up to the top of the first flake and head to the right aiming for a small right facing flake on good but small crimpers (crux). Once you make it to the right facing flake, work your way over to the left to another left facing flake at the top.
Time Of The Profits V1 (5.10c) - Climb the same route, but do not use the boulder at the start. That one little change makes all the difference.
project (5.?) - X' Climb up onto the large boulder. Continue up the face just a few feet right of the large two-trunked tree.
Fly From The Inside (5.7+) - x'. Clambor onto the large boulder. From the center of the boulder, about 8' right from the large two-trunked tree, work straight up and slightly right as holds present themselves until it is possible to step left and tag the large boulder at the top of the climb.
(5.5) - x'. Climb up the right corner of the boulder. Continue up the face just left of the right-facing flake/crack system, intercepting the flake/crack system as the wall lowers in angle. Head up left to the top.
Inner North Wall:
The Remains Of Mankind (5.9 R) - X'. Start 7' from the right edge of the rock. Climb up past a small right-facing corner (crux; V1) to a ledge. Follow the ledge with your hands (taking care not to dislodge the small rock) left and up, working your feet on what seems like a blank wall, heading for the large right-facing flake/corner. Once in the corner; layback, jam, work the face or stem your way to the top. Rated R because the bottom half is unprotected.
V1: Dawn Of Mankind (5.7) - Instead of making the 5.9 move off the ground, move to the far right and work up the edge of the arete till you get to a small upward facing flake, on small holds work the small flake over to the left until you met up with.
unknown (5.10?) - x'. Start 6' left of unknown, directly below the right-facing flake/corner system. Tricky moves on slopers and angled holds (and nigh non-existent feet) gains easier ground on which you can then finish on unknown
P2 Project - Follow the large chimney/large offwidth to top.
The Fins Boulder Field:
There are actually several boulders immediately around The Fins that host a handful of problems. Two of these boulders are next to each other to the east of the main rock, and the other is a lichen-covered slab just east behind the crag.
More of an oblate right triangle than an isocoles one. The main face has three problems on it. Walk off the steep ramp left when you finish a problem.
The Quiet Sun (V0-) - 11'. Start at the base of the shallow, right-leaning corner/ramp. Head up the brown face, passing a sharp white quartz handhold on the left, to the arete. Traverse up and left a few feet until you hit an easy top-out.
Why Don't Goldfish Bounce? (V2) - 12'. Tougher than it looks at first. A nicely sustained problem, from start to finish. Start as for The Quiet Sun, but follow the shallow ramp/corner up right, passing the white quartz hold on the right, until you reach a small crack. One or two moves to the arete from here. Top out.
Noisy Cricket (V1) - 14'. Locate the thin, left-facing flake 5' to the right of The Quiet Sun. Climb the flake straight up to a detached upward-facing flake near the apex of the wall. One or two creative moves gains the top. Take care that the detached flake near the top will be pried off one of these days (and the difficulty will probably go up).
Boulder #3 - Uphill from The Fins sits a tallish rock forming a cave beneath it (something lives in the cave). There are a few potential bouldering lines on this.
Lat: N 39°30.036'
Lon: W 076°37.241'
Just past and diagnolly uphill from The Fins is this long-ish short (height-wise) wall. The right side of the wall offers the taller problems. The left side is pretty covered in moss and has at least one section which is prone to water drainage from the ground above.
If you set up any top-rope anchors here, be aware that the nearest tree anchors are a good 2-30' away, up a steep 3rd/4th-class ramp. Take all the proper precautions so no one has to carry you out of here.
Routes are described right to left.
Black Canary (5.4) - 20'. At the right side of the main wall, climb up the lichen and moss-covered ramp to flakes and blocky dark quartz lumps to the top.
Vision (5.6) - 20'. Start immediately left of Black Canary, below the slightly overhanging right-facing corner . A few moderately difficult moves with thin feet gain you somewhat better holds towards the top.
Wolverine (5.8*) -24'. A climb you can really sink your claws into. Start a couple feet left from the right edge of the main wall. Follow a sinusoidal-ish right-facing flake/crack system until you can reach over left to a prominent left-leaning crack. Follow this second crack left and up until it turns vertical, and finish.
Sylar (5.10a) - 23'. Start 5' left of Wolverine at some obvious right-facing flakes. Climb up the face on thinner sidepulls until you can reach the top of the left-leaning crack of Wolverine. Pretty sustained most of the way up.
Elektra (5.10a) -22'. Start on the blunt arete, 8' left of Wolverine, just right of the Digrunashafuposh chimney. Climb straight up to the right side of the detached block at the top. Tough start.
Digrunashafuposh (5.3) - 20'. Dirty, grungy, nasty, sharp, etc. Struggle(!) up the offwidth chimney to the top (but really...why?). More pleasant and somewhat easier if you instead stay out of the chimney.
THE GREAT WALL
Lat: N 39°29.996'
Long: W 076°37.266'
This is a long bouldering wall located downhill and 'downstream' from HERO WALL. Though short, it offers a number of problems: an overhanging wall with slopers, juggy faces, cracks, etc.
Past here are a fair number of boulders scattered in the woods on the hillside that have at most 1-3 problems on them. Unless there are notable problems, they won't be tracked here.
Lat: N 39°18.309'
Long: W 076°41.705'
Lat: N 39°18.270'
Long: W 076°41.632'
Partway up the hill past the abandoned white building (an old bathroom) to the west of the parking area, is the outcrop. In the middle of summer it will be a little difficult to see, but once the leaves thin out a bit, it'll be fairly obvious.
In the summer months (well, spring, fall, whenever) watch for ticks in the area. The first ascents in this area belong, as far as your author knows, to John Kelbel and Mike Grims back in late 1988 and 1989.
Travel Advisory - I was informed that recently (spring '94) some climbers who went to visit Leakin Park in search for some climbing were confronted and told by a substantially-sized cop that "the only time we see [white] folk around here is when we find 'em in the park and hafta put 'em in body bags". Bearing this in mind, please be aware that "the natives may not be friendly and apparently do not ascribe to conventional morality regarding the preservation of life. Accordingly, the suggested rack includes quickdraws, nuts, a variety of camming devices, and a Heckler & Koch MP45." (quotes from said visiting climbers)
Now, that said, understand this occured over 15 years ago. The park has gotten a serious face-lift and undergone a lot of rennovation since that time. It is a much nicer, safer place than it was 15 years or more ago, although the stigma of that time still lingers in the minds of most people who are not familar with the area as it is now. It may not offer a lot for the average climber (come on, the rock outcrop is BARELY 25' tall, and boasts only 5 routes!), but there are a lot of trails to hike and explore, as the Greenways Trail has been completed, this is now the largest metropolitan park east of the Mississippi. The above "Traveller's Advisory" is left here as part of the history to the place.
Note: in the past few years (between 2005 and 2009), some very large and very dead trees had fallen near and around the crag, making access to the rock...a little more of a deadfall bushwhack. Fortunately, most of the routes are unaffected (though setting up any top-rope anchors will be MUCH more challenging!). Only Feather is impacted by some of the deadfall, but that can be broken away to clear the route if you so wish.
In any event, probably the best way to access the rock is to walk in from the parking area, cross the bridge and turn right towards the old building. Pick up the Old Fort Trail/Nature Center trail behind it to the left. Cross the first footbridge (nice to have, as the ground here can get VERY muddy/swampy!), and go 1/3 of the way across the second foot bridge. At this point turn right and follow the small foot path up the ridge. You can then either continue to the top and swing around to the right to get to the crag, or halfway up turn right and bushwhack through the deadfall to get to the rock. Your choice.
Patapsco State Park is a relatively long and winding park west of Baltimore which follows the Patapsco River. And within its boundaries lie a myriad of small rock outcroppings, some large, some small. Only a handful of these are covered here and in the "Climb Maryland!" guide. The bulk (nearly all) of them are covered in John Kelbel's online Google Earth-powered guide. Check it out. Lots of cool stuff here.
Lat: N 39°14.390'
Lon: W 076°45.109'
Parking (inside the park):
Lat: N 39°14.478'
Lon: W 076°45.040'
Parking (Landing Road):
Lat: N 39°13.810'
Lon: W 076°45.640'
Located just downstream and approximately 80' up the western hill from the main falls stands a silent crag, often overlooked by everyone. And unless you are making a lot of noise or commotion at this crag, most anyone coming up to the falls will never notice you, as the falls draws their visual and auditory senses away from the rock.
Warning: watch for poison ivy at the tops of some of the routes. Particularly Classic Route and the rought to the right of Popular Route
The routes are described left to right as you approach the cliffs face. Look for the large, lichen-covered left-facing corner that bisects the wall off to the right as a landmark.
unnamed (5.10a/b) - 29'. On the left end of the crag, climb up the flakes, ledges and corners to reach the top of the very overhanging wall. Fairly strenuous, and a tough finish.
unnamed (5.10d) - X'. Start as for unnamed above, scramble up onto the ledge 10' off the ground. Then climb up the center of the large overhanging wall next to the shallow left-facing corner.
Popular Route (5.8) - 33'. Almost everybody does this one. Start at the left of two open books at the base of the rock. Climb up the right side of the overhanging wall through a series of easy angled ledges. The crux comes at the last ledge before the top, when the buckets vanish to small, sharp holds and feet are scarce.
unnamed (5.?) - X'. Start at the right of two open books at the base of the rock. Climb up the finger crack in the open book to the shelf above. From there climb straight up the face and outside corner right of the large left-facing corner
Climb The Tango (5.10c) - X'. Begin just left of Classic Route. Climb up the steep face (crux) to gain the lower-angled section above (still non-trivial). Continue straight up and intersect the last few moves of Classic Route
Classic Route (5.10a/b**) - 29'. Probably the best route on the wall, hence the name. Begin 6' left of the large lichen-covered left facing corner, work good (but small) hand- and footholds up the steep face. Be sure to not miss the undercling flake! (different then the undercling on Power Play) Without it, the crux move will be a LOT more difficult. WIth the undercling in hand, reach up high left to a small and sharp finger bucket (but not buckety enough to hang on forever) just below the ledge. Keep moving up, bump the left up a few more inches to a larger rounder hold if necessary, and slap up high right for a decent hold. Roll onto the ledge, and angle left to finish the final few moves to the top.
Power Play (5.10c*) - 29'. Begin 3' left of the large left-facing lichen-covered corner in the middle of the main wall. Step up on the wall and catch an undercling right. Power up for a long reach to a small, flat hold left. Without losing momentum (crux), grab for a small undercling about 20" under you left hand, reset you feet and reach for a good side pull up and right. Finish on easier, but still non-trivial, ground.
unnamed (5.6+) - 29'. This climb can be contrived to be more interesting in a few different ways. The basic route ascends the large lichen-covered left-facing corner/ramp system, stemming off the main wall when necessary, until it is possible to turn left and clambor up onto a ledge. From there a final few moves gain the top. No harder than 5.6, the "+" comes into play by either stemming more, or leaving the ramp earlier to climb up the steep face to gain the ledge, but getting much nicer, bucket-ier holds than the normal route - but at a cost of steeper walls, fewer footholds, and more difficult climbing. Well worth exploring the other opportunities.
Pillar Climb (5.4+) - X'. Climb up the detached flake/pillar formation. Then downclimb it, as it doesn't quite reach the top of the wall behind it. Alternatively, stand atop the pillar, step onto the wall and make the last few moves to the top.
unnamed (5.?) - x'. Climb someplace up the wall to the right of the pillar, left of the large left-facing corner with a large tree in it.
unnamed (5.?) - X'. Locate the huge left-facing corner with a large tree growing out from the top of it, 30' right of the large lichen-covered left-facing corner ramp route. Climb the face on the outside right of the corner to the top.
Lat: N 39°14.808'
Lon: W 076°45.656'
Bloede's Dam (pronounced "blerda") was built by the Patapsco Electric and Manufacturing of Ellicott city in 1906, fully operational in 1907, and was the world's first underwater hydroelectric plant (i.e., the power plant was actually housed beneath the spillway). The dam was named after PE&M's president, Victor Gustav Bloede.
There are three areas to climb right near the dam: Bloede's Dam Rock, Bloede's Dam Crag, and Bloede's Dam Wall.
Rock Type: For Bloede Dam Rock and Crag, the rock is identical to that of Ilchester. For Bloede Dam Wall, it is something more shale-y and brittle.
From I-95 south of Baltimore: Go to exit 43B and head West on Rte 100 for ~1/2 or 3/4 miles. Get off onto 103 (Exit 4), bearing right as you exit. Go 1.4 miles to the 2nd traffic light and turn right onto Ilchester Road. Continue 1.9 miles, eventually going down a steep (18% grade) hill to the bottom. The parking is off to the left just as you come to the railroad overpass.
From I-70 and points west of Baltimore: From I-70 exit at Exit 87A onto Rte 29 South. Continue for a 2-3 miles and bear left onto Exit 22 to get to Rte 100 (East). Either follow 100 to Exit 4 and follow the directions above (going through 2 traffic circles that bracket the Rte 103 bridge spanning Rte 100) or get off at Exit 2 for Rte 108/Old Annapolis Road. Turn left at the light at the end of the off-ramp, then left again at the next light onto Rte 104. Pass over Rte 100, go halfway around the traffic circle, and continue for 1 mile to a third light. Bear right onto 103 at this light and go 3/4 miles to yet another light. Turn left here onto Ilchester Road. Follow the last part of the directions above.
From Baltimore and points N/NE of Baltimore: Take I-695 to exit X [and use the same directions as you would for Ilchester]. Once passing the Ilchester parking area, continue on through the narrow, winding road. It will start to drop, steeply, and remain very narrow. Take care for oncoming traffic, especially in areas where the rocks on the side of the road are painted red (you can easily smack them with your vehicle). At the stop sign near the bottom of the hill go left, pass under the railroad bridge, and park on the right.
Lat: N 39°15.005'
Lon: W 076°45.877'
From the parking area, hike up the road towards the south, away from the RR overpass, passing X road coming in from the right, until you come to an inobvious trail on the left (if you reached the end of the guardrail, you went too far; turn around!).
Lat: N 39°14.947'
Long: W 076°45.930'
Follow the foottrail, passing over, under, or around fallen trees, until you reach the end of the old roadbed near a short bouldering wall to the right. Bloede Dam Crag is up the hill beyond the bouldering wall. Bloede Dam Rock is immediately next to the dam. And Bloede Dam Wall is downstream a bit.
An alternative approach would be to take the main trail across from the parking area, over the footbridge, and down to the swinging bridge, 1 mile away. Cross the swinging bridge then come back upstream along the River Road Trail for 0.6 miles until you reach the dam. But...why would you do this? You're here to go climbing, on shortish walls, not walk all over the park! If you're going to walk this far to climb, you might as well to go Annapolis Rocks or to the Far Wall area of The Narrows. Sheesh.
This outcrop is on the south side of the dam, which incorporates the rock into its construction. Because it is more hidden from view by passersby on the path above, and because it forms part of the dam, most climbers have ignored this little wall for years. But it has some worthy things to play on.
Left 5.8 - 30'. climb the left side of the face.
Center 5.7 (but with a 5.10 top-out) - 32'. Starting at, on or next to Left wander up the center section of the main face until you are very nearly at the top. Then the climbing becomes extremely difficult (5.10). Stop here or fight your way up the last body length of rock to the top.
Right 5.9 - 32'. Start in a deep pile of leaves under the overhang in the bottom right corner of the rock. Climb out through the short chimney and step left onto the face. Topping out is about 5.10, like Right. Hint: lay back facing right using underclings with the left hand and reach right around the right side of the overhand for a lip.
100 feet west of and upstream from the dam, pass a boulder with one cool high ball problem on it, head up into the woods to an overhanging face. This overhanging face has a really good 5.9 maybe 5.10 climb up the center of it, These were established in the 70s or 80s and were named. Unfortunately I don't know it. The right side of this rock is low angle and offers many good lines from 5.3 to 5.9 the harder stuff toward the right.
From "back in the day" this was also refered to as "the rock above the dam".
Routes are described from left to right, as you approach the rock from the trail below. These first three are on the steep overhanging wall facing the river. The rest are to the right around the corner.
unknown (5.?) - <20'. Climb the short wall to the left of the tall overhanging wall.
Blood Sacrifice (5.10a) - 26'. Start near the 'HEaD'(?) graffiti. Very steep. Overhangs a good 6' in 20-some. Climb the right-rising ramp until it gets vertical. Continue up (crux) to a ledge, then finish on the overhanging wall above.
unknown (5.?) - 26'. Hard. Begin 7' right of Blood Sacrifice climb up and past the vertical incipient crack until the easier 5.10 holds are reached. Finish by surmounting the ledge and climbing the final headwall to the top.
The next set of routes are located around the corner on the slabby west-facing wall.
C Cup (5.9) - 28'. You'll understand the name for this route when you find the hold. Layback the arete until about halfway up when you reach blocky-ish holds on the right face. Pull over and aim for going straight up the blank-looking face above using a flake and a hand ledge. Finish at a broad ledge up top.
Beginner's Crack (5.3) - 28'. Starting a few feet right from the arete, follow the left-leaning hand crack until it ends. Step up, reach up, and pull to the victory ledge.
Beginner's Route (5.3) - 30'. Start as for Unknown above, Climb straight up the face, climbing along a right-facing corner on great holds that appear as you need (or search for) them. Buckets all the way up. The crux is at the very top when the buckets get a little sparse, but the climbing remains fairly reasonable. Just look around.
Friends and Lovers (5.7) - 35'. Begin a few feet right from the 5.3. Climb up the wall, staying right of the right facing corner. Climb up on crimps, crystals and rounded holds until you reach a right-facing left-leaning corner ramp. Step up that and a few final thin-ish moves gains you the top.
Crystal Madness (5.9) - 33'. A little contrived, especially as you near the top. Start a few feet right of Friends and Lovers, on a ledge that meets the erosion step in the hillside. Climb up the thin face on plagioclase crystals and crimps, doing some creative face moves along the way, and staying off of the right-facing left-leaning corner ramp of Friends and Lovers. Sustained moves in the beginning lead you to the final crux moves at the top.
unknown (5.?) - X'. Start further up the hill to the right of Crystal Madness. Climb the thin face to a crack near the top.
Located 400' downstream from Bloede's Dam is a rock wall just off the right side of the trail. It ranges from short top-rope problems to moderately tall boulder problems. The rock here is fairly brittle and prone to breaking off as you climb on it, unlike the bullet-proof plagioclase and amphibolite of the other two nearby crags.
The climbs are described left to right. The first few routes ascend the short, flat west-facing face 10-15' uphill from the River Trail.
Glitch In My Brain (5.10a) - X'. This route begins at the left end of the main west-facing wall, just left of the tree, at the left-facing corner. Battle your way up the corner until you can stand on its upper section. Work the few face moves available until you can snag the arete to the left. Walk up using the arete for hands to the top.
Have You Seen John Lately? (5.10c) - X'. This might be his kind of route. Start as for Glitch In My Brain, but totally avoid the arete, sticking to the rather featureless face until you reach the top. Really a contrived variant of Glitch..., but a challenge nevertheless.
Anorexic Thin (5.10b) - X'. If you want to do a problem with thin moves that sometimes verge on imaginary, this route won't disappoint. Start a couple feet right of Glitch In My Brain
The next three routes follow lines up the center of the main north-facing wall.
Sand In Yer Eye (5.4) - X'. What you'll have if you look up while climbing this route. Begin a couple feet left of the lowest point of wall. Climb up onto a couple of ledges, then step left and shoot straight up, passing the Dirty Feet roof on its left. Angle slightly right once past the roof and finish next to the overhang at the top.
Dirty Feet (5.6) - X'. Probably the nicest line here. Begin at the lowest point of the rock wall, directly below the square roof 2/3 of the way up the face. Climb up to the roof (the face immediately below the roof is the crux), pulling it on good holds (watch, though, for lots of dirt!). Finish up the blocky section to right side of the overhang at the top.
A Way Of Life> (5.8+) - X'. What climbing is for many of us. Begin a few feet right of Dirty Feet, climb up the pillar-like protrusions on the rock face with some...interesting moves (crux) until you reach the roof above (to the right of Dirty Feet). Pull through the roof, step left, and continue the last few feet to the top.
Lat: N 39°15.038'
Long: W 076°45.770'
Lat: N 39°15.175'
Long: W 076°45.611'
Joe McManus, Mike Endicott, and Rob Savoye are some of the few who pioneered most of the routes in this area back in the 70s and early 80s. Mike Endicott did the first ascent of Friction Wall, as well as a number of routes in the Rocks State Park area (Mike's Finger Buckets, for example). Rob Savoye lives now out in Colorado and can still be found plying the 'Net (firstname.lastname@example.org was the last I heard he could be reached at).
Ilchester itself is an 80' wide, 35' tall outcropping of rock up and left of the railroad tunnel that leads to Ellicott City.
Geology of Ilchester
"The rock at Ilchester is described as part of the Mount Washington Amphibolite formation. It is from the Baltimore Mafic Complex and is of Cambrian age. It is characterized as generally a fine to medium grained massive amphibolite with pyroxene. Amphibolite is a crystalloblastic rock (has a crystalline texture due to metamorphic recrystallization). Amphibolite mainly consists of amphibole and plagioclase. The rock will be sharp and rough on your hands due to the mineral structure of the plagioclase." - Don Mullis
This west-facing cliff can get very crowded during the weekday afternoons! It's not overly large: the cliff is barely 35' high, and hardly 100' wide. It's not uncommon to see 20 or more people here on a late afternoon during the week. Anchors for the top-ropes are few. There used to be some iron shafts poking up (and bent over) out of a concrete column in the rocks (this anchor system was apparently put in by Catonsville local and climbing instructor Mike Carroll), but it is no more (rumor has it that it was taken out by the same Mike Carroll who plans on replacing it with a better one - now mind you, this is now third-hand information, so take it for what it's worth). Until it is replaced (IF it is replaced!) I suggest you bring plenty of long lengths of webbing for anchors. Also, there used to be a huge tree over the north wall for Midnight Lightning and Renaissance, very useful for anchors, but a few years ago it was taken out.
The local climbers have done a good bit of trailwork here, and I'm sure they would appreciate any extra help anyone decides to lend during future projects.
Also, be warned, that while I have not had this experience, there are stories of non-friendly anti-climber types who occassionally come in and sabotage the top-rope anchors (like putting a cup and candle (lit) under your webbing). Just keep an eye open for such antics. I'll even help you pitch them off the cliff.
However, on the otherhand, there are a lot of non-climbers who do visit these cliffs for the view. Be courteous; some of the hiker/visitors are themselves friendly to climbers (and may offer you some food, drink, or, um, other stuff...).
From the parking lot on Hilltop Road, follow the obvious trail (used to be a footpath, but suddenly in '98 it became a 5' wide herd highway!), staying with the main path as it goes back through the woods then curves and heads downhill. At the end of the path is the top of the rocks. Access the climbs by scrambling down to the left or right (most people go right; just easier)
Dan Jacober hanging out on Blood Finger
The back of the boulder left of Beginner's Corner has a couple of nice problems on it (the overhang and the north face), as well as a myriad of variations (including several 'hands-free' problems - one of them backwards). Traversing left along the overhang on the back side using toe/heel hook combinations then working up the thin arete is known as Blood Finger
There is a nice traverse (High Traverse) of the main face that starts with Middle Climb and ends up at the start of Beginner Slab, traversing through the start of Omega (crux). Be careful that a fall, especially early on, could bust an ankle or two. There is also a harder, lower traverse (Perverse Traverse) that parallels High Traverse until they meet at the start of Omega Direct. Both of these traverses are much harder going from right to left instead of left to right. And apparently there was a local climber who some 20 or so years ago used to do laps on these traverses (10 or so laps without touching the ground - if you're feeling spot-on one day, do it!).
One of the smaller details that got dropped when writing the book was the name of "Ancient Bob" who did the route Special Kay. He is Bob Lincoln. Sorry about that, Bob.
Another item is that the route Captain Crunch was first done by Pat Egan, not Chris Schenking. Chris was the second person to send it, months after the FA.
Lat: N 39°15.861'
Long: W 076°47.509'
Lat: N 39°15.983'
Long: W 076°47.688'
An old quarry, the rock here is very different from Ilchester. Most routes in this area are top-ropeable, though quite a few new bolts have been added by some 'new' climbers in the mid-90s (not the original pioneers).
Errata for Friction Wall:
There are a few errors in this chapter in the book. After further research (i.e., additional feedback ;-) the route Four Bolts (#16) is in reality Dirty Dog (5.6). Said route does not finish where the route is indicated to end, but rather continues up the upper portion of route line #17. What #17 is, then, is unknown at this time.
For the record, the routes listed as the "Eagan-Schenking Bolt Routes", Pat Egan had nothing to do with #s 1, 3 or 4. He put up Unknown-FW-2 on top-rope (and is actually called Interzone, 12d/13a*). He later bolted it to protect it from "drill monkeys" in order to establish it as a legitimate route. The other three unknown routes surrounding it were put in (bolted/drilled) by Troy Desworth and Chris Schenking. The moves on Interzone are pretty hard to see from the ground, and require some creativity to pull through them. If you climb at this level, definitely give it a go.
The directions are also a bit off. The printed directions to Friction Wall from Columbia say to turn left on Oella Avenue, but (as the directions from DC say correctly) you need to turn right. (Also -- though this is pretty obvious -- that undercut tree hanging over Friction Wall looks like it will take the plunge soon.(note as of Nov 2007))
The area still has room for a few more new routes. One went in late in 2007, and is noted here:
Blood on Tracks - A2. 30-40'. Gear: pitons (knifeblades) and stoppers. This route is located in the corner of the wall 15' to the left of What We Did Was Harder. The route goes straight up the corner, then little to the left, exiting at the 45deg. dirt slope. Had to chop many steps with a hammer in that dirt in order to get to the nearest tree - this is a reason for the name. General impression: dirty, like real life:)
Update for What We Did Was Harder. It is more A3 rated now, that weathering and repeated ascents have weakened some of the flakes. Eventually they will bust off. Be careful!!
Lat: N 39°16.104'
Lat: N 39°1X.XXX'
Long: W 076°47.XXX'
This wall is part of an old trolley line cut through the rock when the original trolley line was built. The line has since turned into a 'rails-to-trails' path, and with parking not very far away, easy access to get to. There is an assortment of bouldering options here, as well as some top-rope lines to play on (getting up to the top to set the ropes, however, may prove tricky; please don't fall.
Lat: N 39°19.010'
Lat: N 39°18.924'
Long: W 076°47.601'
If your heart is up for a little adventure but time is pressing and you cannot get very far away from Baltimore, and either you've climbed-out the Ilchester/Friction Wall areas or they are too crowded for you, there is still hope: Alberton Road Rock! Located in Patapsco State Park, along the Patapsco River, on the border of Baltimore and Howard Counties, this little outcropping of rock has some quite infrequently travelled rock (as is evidenced by the amount of green lichen, spiderwebs, and foliage covering the rock). A leisurely 10-minute walk from your car puts you at the base of the 50' tall rocks.
For ease of descriptions, the main crag can be divided into 3 sections: The Green Wall, River Wall, and Left Wall. The tallest section of rock is the River Wall, and boasts the most number of lines. There are routes on the Left Wall (probably 4-5), but it is so overgrown that nothing is readily obvious. The Green wall has the shortest routes, practically boulder problems that go up through the light green dust-like lichen. Route descriptions are from right to left. There is a faint but detectable steep path ~30' left of where the River Wall and Left Wall meet that takes you to the top. A better path goes up from the main roadbed 30' right of Green Wall. Fight your way through the pricker bushes up top to set anchors (some routes are easier to set than others; bring extra-long runners for the harder-to-set routes - and avoid the dead trees!!). Most of the routes on River Wall are probably the best ones here.
WARNING: Beware of deer ticks that lurk in the area! There have been some local residents who recently picked up Lyme disease from deer ticks in these woods, SO BE CAREFUL! Lyme disease...it's not a pretty thing.
WARNING #2: Beware that copperheads DO live in the area, and have been seen on/at these rocks.
THE GREEN WALL:
So-called because of the dusty-like lichen which so covers the lower half of the rock here.
The blank short section of all on the right end of this crag sports a few boulder problems. Be sure your landing doesn't take you into the thorny bushes of wild roses.
THE RIVER WALL:
The tallest routes are here. Most routes are fairly easy to set up using the trees above (caution with the dead trees!). This wall is characterized by a series of large and small roofs, plus a couple of oblong 'cavities' partway up at the tallest section. The lower 'cavity' has a pointy rock projecting out of it; the upper 'cavity' has not. Over all the wall, watch for spiders...
Two Tips (5.11?) - A thin variation to Alberton Roof. Start as for Alberton Roof but head right instead of straight up, to the blank section of roof just left of Dai!. Find the two-tip flake, get your feet high, then pull, crank, and reach up to something better. Finish on the upper section of Alberton Roof.
Kelbel's Klimb (5.11d) - Until John comes up with a better name. Start as for Alberton Roof, but once you hit the center point of the main roof, instead of traversing out right, head straight up and trend left on crimper holds, toe/heel camming at the inner point of the main roof. Claw your way up a few awkward moves until you can snag the jug that was just out of reach a moment ago and continue up to the top.
There are also several routes on the upstream left side of the crag, from 5.8 to 5.9. No further information about them is available yet.
In addition to the above, there are several bouldering areas prior to reaching the main Alberton Road Rock. Two of them are as follows:
ALBERTON BOULDER A
Lat: N 39°18.905'
This somewhat popular bouldering wall is located just off the Alberton Road, reached in just a few minutes from the parking area. The approach is about as friendly as it will ever get for rock. Problem information is unknown at this time.
ALBERTON BOULDER B WALL
Lat: N 39°18.927'
A few more minutes down Alberton Road sits this severely overhanging rock partway up the side of the hill. The main wall is a steep face that overhangs 13' in 16'. Not quite at a 45 degree angle, but damned close. There is a shorter, 10' tall at most, wall below and in front of it as you come up from the road. There are a good half dozen problems on this rock.
Be very aware that the top of this outcrop is a veritable meadow of poison ivy! Roundup anyone?
Lat: N 39°19.042'
Lat: N 39°18.924'
Long: W 076°47.601'
High atop the hill overlooking the Alberton Road trail, just west of Alberton Rock, sits a broad outcrop of rock. Nearly 200' long, this broken wall of rock ranges from 20' to nearly 40' tall. For years various climbers have looked at it, however, it wasn't until the mid-2000s when a group of local climbers started cleaning up sections of it and establishing routes. Most of the rock in the middle stretch is 3rd/4th class terrain, but on either end there are sections of verticality worthy of dropping a rope. Most notably on 8 Wall.
This is the long...and short...section of Upper Alberton. It makes up the entire left half of the crag. Routes are noted from left to right.
No Knees Pleeze (5.3) - 22'. Starting at the leftmost end of the crag, climb up the juggy blunt areteto the top shelf. At this point you are at the end of the climb. The top of the rock is just above your head.
Bill Me Later (5.2-5.4) - 24'. Begin 5' right of No Knees Pleeze. Scamper up the juggy overhang to an awkward move (5.4) onto a shelf (skirting around to the right makes this easier). Stand up, touch the top.
Climbus Interruptus (5.7) - X'. Start 5' right of Bill Me Later, climb up to a ledge below the final overhanging wall. From here continue up by following a thin crack. The climb unfortunately ends in the middle of pulling through the overhang, so either stop here and lower, or top off. You can add variety to your climb by opting to reclimb the route and try an alternative angle through the final overhang. If only there were another 10-15' of vertical rock above the end of the overhang, this would be a cool little route.
The next two routes are on the short wall immediately left of the overhanging crack climb.
Pocket Change (5.3) - X'. Start below the blocky set of overhangs. Climb up and through them on large holds until you reach the 3rd class ramp at the top. Yet another "if this were only longer..." routes.
Elbow Grease (5.4) - X'. Start 4' right of Pocket Change. Climb up the slabby face broken by a few overlaps. The somewhat awkward crux is getting past the middle slab section.
Diagnol (5.9*) - 30'. Steep and sustained. Climb up the very steep arete on good holds, aiming for the finger crack overhead. Excellent moves through the crack will gain you to positive holds above it.
unknown (5.8) - 30'. Instead of climbing up and aiming left for the finger crack, climb up and trend a bit right to continue straight up to the top.
(next jenneration) (5.8?*) - 37'. Staying just right of the foliage up the wall, climb up through the bulges as you work your way up to the top.
face route (5.6*) - climb up the wall between next jenneration and center face route, finishing on next jenneration. Weaving through the blanker sections of the wall keeps the climbing no harder than 5.6.
center face route (5.8*) - 35'. Start directly below the large multi-trunked tree at the top of the cliff. Climb up the steep wall on good to moderate to good holds, making faith reaches when you need. Staying just left of the sapling growing out of the middle of the wall, follow the thin finger crack/flake up and surmount the overhang with good holds off to the right. A few more moves and you are at the top!
Handle With Care (5.9) - 34'. This route is 43' from the right end of the rock outcrop. Start at the right-facing block corner where a prominent crack splits the base of the cliff. Climb up to the left-leaning overhanging ramp. Lieback up the ramp until it ends a few moves later, then find the thin hold to get through the next few feet until better holds can be attained. Finish on good holds up the final steep section to the top.
There is a short but challenging set of boulder problems at the far right end of Upper Alberton
Lat: N 39° 19.880'
Lat: N 39°19.xxx'
Long: W 076°52.xxx'
Enjoy beautiful clean rock with good, Yosemite-like holds - buried somewhere underneath all the grit, moss, spiderwebs, and dirt! This small crag is by the railroad tracks near Woodstock Road, north of Rt 99. It is somewhat larger than Ilchester, but doesn''t see as much traffic (you can tell after your first visit). It has far more roofs and overhanging problems then Ilchester, is somewhat taller overall than Ilchester, but due to the lower numbers of visitors, it is dirtier than Ilchester. This north-facing crag is just a 2-3 minute walk down the tracks west of Woodstock Road.
Much of this rock was climbed over in the 70s and 80s by Rob Savoye and others local to this area, but most of the recorded information didn't come about until the early 90s by John Kelbel. John has continued developing this rock, and there are a ton of variations that he and others have come up with over the years. These numerous variations are not covered here.
Local spirits: there is a tavern, Ye Old Woodstock Inn, across the street from the parking area where you can get a drink (beer or whiskey) or some food (a non-climber local praised the ham&cheese sandwiches and the greasy pizzas). It is usually frequented by a rather rough crowd, so if you want quiet, your best option would be to head north on Old Court Road 6 miles until you come to Liberty Road. Heading either left or right on Liberty you will find a collection of fastfood and sit-down restaurants scattered about.
From the parking area walk on the left side of the tracks to the west. When the 2 sets of tracks merge together at the switching station (first small building you come to on the left), look uphill to your left. You will see up in the woods a substantial shadow of rock. The path rises steeply up from near the small building to the rocks. These can be top-roped, led, or solo'd (a lot of people 'boulder' these routes).
The Cave - Possibly some of the cleanest stuff here, this spot sees far more traffic than the rest of this outcropping of rock. Probably owing to the fact that this place stays dry even when it's raining hard outside and the rest of the north-facing rock takes a while to dry, due to the large numbers of cracks which cut the rock, allowing water to seep out everywhere (however, after extended periods of rain, even the Cave gets wet). The Cave is located on the left end of the outcropping, around the corner and up hill from the main wall. There are innumerable variations in and around the cave.
Note: there is a bolt most of the way up the face above the cave that ballsy climber can try to lead to. Be warned that you face imminent crater potential until you clip that bolt! (and said bolt is not the best, or placed in the best place on the rock; just be warned).
Lat: N 39°21.882'
Long: W 076°54.498'
This hidden 'outcrop' of rock is located a few hundred feet uphill and off the road into the woods, above what was probably once an old quarry (where there is a large and chossy slab) in Patapsco State Park. There are a number of bouldering opportunities nearby (on boulders named Marriottsville Silver and Marriottsville Bronze, but this webguide is only going to cover the routes on the main outcrop of rock.
Parking is available directly across the road from the entrance path to the crag, room enough for a half dozen cars. Be very aware that Marriottsville Road 2 is heavily travelled, especially during rush hour. Don't go blocking traffic.
Directions: From I-70 get off at exit 83 onto Marriottsville Road (those coming from Frederick direction will need to get off at Rte 40 and take that to the first light, then turn left onto Marriottsville Road). From the offramp go north 3.4 miles to some railroad tracks (remember, if you came from Rte 40, add a bit more to the distance travelled). 0.2 miles later will be Marriottsville Road No. 2 on the left. Go 0.9 miles, and being aware of traffic around you, park on the left side of the road.
Routes are noted left to right.
Syncrhonize Your Dogmas (5.5) - 26'. Climb the leftmost arete a few feet left of Journey
Journey (5.7) - 28'. This is the classic line at the crag. Climb the crack system on the left side of the main cliff wall, taking care with the semi-detached flake halfway up. Might be wise to have the rope and belayer off to the side in case it comes pealing off.
Sharp Enough to Shave (5.10b) - 28'. The name is descriptive of a couple holds you'll find on this route. Begin in the center of the main face. Reach up over the bulge for a good horizontal and work your way straight up the right side of the hollow flake noted in Journey. Same caution wrt the rope and belayer applies.
Barn Storming (5.10) - 28'. Climb the outside corner of the chimney between Sharp Enough To Shave and Ride the Barn Door.
Ride the Barn Door (5.9) - 28'. Begin on the right side of the main face, a few feet right from Sharp Enough..., and just left of the chimney. Reach high for two good handholds (you'll know them when you find them!) and 'ride the bard door' into a layback. Follow the right-facing flake up to the top.
Impassable Tower (5.9) - 30'. A challenging puzzle on one of the tallest routes here. Be sure to give it a whirl. Step into the V-notch leading to the chimney and ascend the wall on your right near the right edge to the top.
Plausible Pillar (5.8) - 30'. Climb the arete immediately to the right of Impassable Tower
Return to Sanity (5.3+) - x'. Climb the center of the main face of the tower to the top.
Keep Fear Alive (5.1) - x'. Begin a few feet right from Return to Sanity. Climb the right side of the main face of the tower up to and along a right-facing left-leaning corner system. Much easier than it first looks.
No Need for Cheating (5.0) - x'. Climb the left edge of the slab just left of Keep Fear Alive to the top.
Level of Cheating (5.8+ - 5.10) - x'. Climb the vertical wall to the right of the No Need for Cheating slab, using a short finger crack formed by the flake, then scootch right a bit to reach the top. Depending on how much stemming you use on the left and right wall is the level of 'cheating' you do (and thereby the easier the grade of the route). Another way to 'cheat' is to do a right-facing layback at the base of the finger crack and use the crack at the back of the flake on its left end. Many variations possible, but only one goes cleanly at 5.10.
Lat: N 39°22.342'
Long: W 076°54.063'
This small outcrop is nestled in the woods right next to Liberty Reservoir, just west of Baltimore off of MD 26. Nothing is higher than 20' here (said it was small!). However, while for most this would be bouldering, there are others who might visit and would prefer to drop a rope (after all, a fall, even from 15' up, could hurt!). There are some anchor options in the woods above the rock. You will need a system reaching 40-60', though.
John Kelbel discovered this crag in 2001 while hunting for an old quarry he spotted on a topo map one evening while browsing Terraserver's online topo maps of the region (his later find of the quarry turned out to be not a very appealing climbing location, unless you're mega-desperate). He noted the location of the old quarry, then headed out to Liberty Dam a day or two later to orientate himself with the dam and a map. Drawing a line between the dam and the quarry he headed off into the woods. As he was walking, he came across this little gem. He began working the ground around it to be more "climber friendly" (meaning the jutting rocks that would be Bad For You If You Fell (while bouldering) were moved to the side, and a small stone wall constructed for people to rest on ("The stone wall is not very stable, so please help maintain it for this is your climbing area, too" - John). He also donated a small carpet to the area for visiting climbers to clean their shoes off with before getting on the rock. It is tucked in one of the cracks. Please, if you go here, try to have the courtesy for the next visitors by replacing said carpet, okay? Thanks.
Directions: From I-70 get off at exit 83 onto Marriottsville Road (those coming from Frederick direction will need to get off at Rte 40 and take that to the first light, then turn left onto Marriottsville Road). From the offramp go north 3.4 miles to some railroad tracks (remember, if you came from Rte 40, add a bit more to the distance travelled). 0.2 miles later will be Marriottsville Road No. 2 on the left; take it. Go 2.2 miles to an intersection with Ridge Road (you have no stop sign for your direction). Turn right and travel another 0.6 miles to the top of the hill (be sure to wave at the cows on the farms just before you head uphill). You will see a paved drive heading off to the left with concrete barriers hosting various warning signs. You park here, on the side of the road (either side, but please, do not block the driveway on the right! safest if you park on the left side of the road - just be sure your vehicle is fully *off* the road, okay?).
If you are coming from Liberty Road/MD 26, your directions will be slightly different. From the Baltimore direction, you will take MD 26 west towards Frederick. You will cross over two bridges that span Liberty Resevoir. After you get off the second bridge, there will be a road going off to the left 0.6 miles later (Old Liberty Road). Turn left there. The road is a wierd access road to the residential area off 26 here. Turn left again 0.1 mile later onto the next road you come to (Sunset Drive; it will turn into Marriottsville Road No 2 later). You'll follow this road through the residential area for 1.6 miles until you come to the intersection with Ridge Road. Turn left onto Ridge Road and go to the top of the hill, 0.6 miles later. Park as noted in the previous paragraph.
If you are coming from the Eldersburg region or points further west, head east on MD 26, passing the intersection with Rte 32. 1 miles past Rte 32 will be Ridge Road on the right. Take this and follow it for 1 miles until you come to the intersection with Marriottsville Road No 2. Continue another 0.6 miles onward and park as noted two paragraphs above.
From the cars hike on down the paved drive, passing the concrete barriers. A couple hundred feet down the drive turns sharply left. There will be a roped off fire road before you. Hop the rope and continue down the fire road. After about 5 or so minutes there will be a trail/gravel "road" heading up left (if you come to another set of concrete barriers, you missed by a hundred feet or so; turn around and look to your right). Follow this trail for about 780 feet to a 2-3 foot high grass-covered mound on the right (after cresting a gentle hill) next to the trail (pay attention for this; this is your only landmark to navigate by here). From this point, using the trail direction as "12 o'clock", bear off between 1 o'clock and 2 o'clock into the woods, doing some minor bushwhacking as you go. A couple hundred feet later you will come to a drop. You will either have come to the crag itself, or be just a little uphill from it. If you are uphill from it, work your way through the broken boulders and look down to your left. The crag will be evident.
The crag has two "faces" to it: a rusty brown one on the right, a grey-green moss-covered one on the left. The two are seperated by a deep chimney fissure. The rock is extremely rough, so if you are not used to this kind of coarse material, your fingertips will let you know after pulling down on the routes for a while. There are currently 6 established routes. Most are on the right face. The routes are described from right to left.
Dirty Vegas (5.9+) - A traverse of the main face. Start from the extreme right end of the rusty-brown colored face. Get on the rock here (it's a 5.9 move off the deck) and traverse the easiest line to the Candy Corner arete on the left. You can obviously make this more challenging by not following the easiest path from right to left.
Right Face (5.5 - 5.9) - Starting next to the relatively large tree, climb up the center of the rough face on jugs to the top.
Trade Folk (5.7+) - Find the obvious jagged left-rising crack in the center of the rusty-brown face. Climb it. The tilted nature of this route ensures that straight-on jams won't always be obvious, yet face climbing it is not trivial either. This was the first route climbed at this crag.
Left Face (5.9+ - 5.11) - Climb anywhere up the face between Trade Folk and Candy Corner, without using the corner arete or the crack (note: using the upper final move or two of the crack is legal if you need). Crimpy, crimpy.
Candy Corner (5.1) - Look, all you Seneca junkies: Maryland's own "Candy Corner!" Despite how easy it is rated, this is a fun little route! Named for some candy that was found on the routes here. Jug your way up the arete following the jagged blocks to the top. Be aware that one is loose...
Unnamed (5.?) - This route climbs the grey face to the left of the fissure chimney, to the right of the cavity in the rock 2/3 of the way up the face. You can make it as easy or as hard as you want but using or not using the corner or cavity.
Lat: N 39°28.015'
Morgan Run Natural Environment Area is a small little place off of Klee Mill Road. The rock is not tall - 20' or so high - but it offers a quick area to get to (maybe 100' from the parking area) plus a small collection of random boulder problems tossed further back into the little river valley here. The main slab hosts only 3-4 top-rope problems.The rest of the climbing in the area is bouldering (though you might want a crash pad and/or spotter for some of it).
Beware that ticks infest the woods during those warmer months. Use whatever means necessary to prevent these nasty buggers from sucking on you and possibly giving you a present back that you really don't want (e.g., Lyme Disease, Rocky Mtn Spotted Fever).
Megan Moore climbing Gamma Flake
Most of the routes on the main wall were named once, but the gentleman who named them had vanished from the area prior to my being able to track him down, and the person who knew who he was also disappeared, so the names given are
(note: the road name "changes" between "Klee Mill" and "Klees Mill", depending from what direction you get on the road; whichever, it's just a minor issue so Klee/Klees is the same road throughout).
From northern Baltimore take I-795 west towards Westminster until it ends (~8 miles from I-695). Follow Rte 140 towards Westminster for another 3.75 miles and turn left at the intersection of 140 and Rte 91 (stop light). Take Rte 91 ~3.5 miles to Rte 32 in Gamber, and turn right onto 32. Take Rte 32 for 1.4 miles to Klees Mill Road and turn left. Follow Klee Mill Rd for 1.1 miles and just before the bottom of a windy, relatively steep hill the park will be on your right. The main wall will be visible off to the right as you pull into the parking area.
< b>From Columbia region and points south: Take I-70 west from Rte 29 and get off at the exit for Rte 32. Follow 32 north for 13.5 miles to Klee Mill Road (you'll pass through Gamber and by Rte 91 after 12 or so miles). Turn left onto Klees Mill Road and follow the directions in the paragraph above.
From Frederick and points west: Get off at the exit for Rte 97 and head north (turn left). Go 7.6 miles to Rte 26, and continue on 97 another 1.8 miles to Bartholow Road and turn right. Follow Bartholow Road until it ends 0.75 miles later at Klee Mill Road. Turn left and go another 1.7 miles to Morgan Run Natural Environment Area.
Lat: N 39°28.002'
Local Eats: After a pleasant afternoon of climbing or bouldering and you're hungry, there is a recently opened restaurant just barely a mile away at the intersection of Klee Mill Road and Rte 32 called the Triple Creek Cafe. While the food is not world-class, it is fairly decent and the prices are reasonable. A perfect place to stop for eats (unless you know someone in the area for a homecooked meal!) before any drives home.
The Main Wall: There are a half dozen top-rope lines on the main outcrop of rock, located just a hundred feet or so away from the parking area on the hillside. The wall is short (~25' or so tall), but fairly obvious through the trees from the parking lot as a broad slab.
While you'll approach the rock from the right side, the routes are described from left to right due to ease of landmarks used for some of the descriptions.
Angry Potato (5.7) - 29'. This route is at the far left side of the main wall. Climb up between the left-facing corner/arete and the 7-inch diameter hole ~5' off the ground. You can use the hole for a handhold, but using the arete makes the route a lot easier. A couple of high step and thin finger moves gets you to increasingly larger ledges until 25-30' or so up it becomes 2nd/3rd class terrain. The rock is 34' to the very top here, but the climb was only measured to where it seemed reasonable the route would end.
Conspiracy Theorist (5.10a) - 29'. Locate the 7-inch diamter hole 5' off the ground, about 8' right of the left end of the wall. Note a smaller finger hole a bit higher up to the right a few more feet. Climb up the wall between these two holes on thin yet fairly sharp finger ledges (foot holds are almost imaginary). Once halfway up the holds (both foot and hand) get more reasonable. Crux is short, almost (but not quite) reminiscent of Mike's Finger Buckets at Rocks State Park.
Morgan Run It (5.5) - 27'. This route starts about 7' right of Conspiracy Theorist, at a step at the base of the rock. Run right up the face on inobvious finger flakes to the top. Probably the most popular (at least most often set up and climbed) route here.
Gamma Flake (5.7) - 22'. Begin ~5' right of Morgan Run It, below a tall left-facing crescent flake. Climb up to - and through - the left-facing flake to the top, staying to the left of the flake until at or near the top. It is unfortunate that when you finally really get into climbing the route it is over because you run out of rock. A nice climb still, so size isn't everything. You can do a harder(?) variant by staying to the right of the flake instead of left and working up right on some small holds (almost nothing for the feet, though). Just if you want a different challenge.
Tactical Grace (5.9+) - 21'. Begin ~5' right of Gamma Flake. Climb up the thin face to an overlap halfway up. Continue past the overlap to reach a slightly detached flake then scamper up the last few feet to the bushes above. It will keep your attention most every step of the way.
Club Ninja (5.9) - 19'. Start immediately right of a vertical crack at the base of the wall. Delicately climb straight up on thin holds through the apex of the arcing overlap in this section of the rock. Stay to the left of the right-leaning crack above the overlap. Thin, balancy moves below and above the overlap. You can power your way through them if your fingers are strong enough.
Smooth Ride (5.7) - 19'. Starting a few feet right of Club Ninja, climb up to the small detached flake below the overlap. You might or might not share a couple holds on the left with Club Ninja here. Pull through the overlap onto a small but welcome ledge, then easily finish the last few more or less moderate moves to the top.
There is more climbing to the left of the main wall. You have to kinda bushwhack through some of the growth, and do quick steep scrambles in places, but you can find a small plethora of routes tucked away here. Not many of them are overly tall: 15-25' or so. But hey, climbing is climbing and these are vertical, and therefore, by definition, fun!
Bouldering - there is a fair amount of bouldering located in Morgan Run NEA. Some of it is upstream from the main wall. You can wander 10-15 minutes upstream before you run out of outcrops of rock to play on. Some of the routes are V0, V1, V2. Some are a bit harder. There is also a great piece of rock across the stream from the main wall and up the trail ~20 feet that boasts a V4 on the lowest part of the overhang and a V7 directly to the right. You'll need to boulder-hop to get across the stream without getting wet.
Lat: N 39°xx.xxx'
Long: W 077°xx.xxx'
There is more bouldering downstream across the road. There are various outcrops along the way, but the good stuff is a solid 10-15 minute walk from the road.
The Nose (V3) - One of the first rocks you come to when you hit the "boulder field" downstream from the road. It is a single standing rock apart from the others, rather thin and flows outward to a point. An area favorite.
Lat: N 39°xx.xxx'
Long: W 077°xx.xxx'
The Wedge V3 - Located just to the right of The Nose is a very large slab with a large triangular-shaped hole in the bottom left corner. That hole is the route. Follow the large flake on the left up to the apex and lean out and grab a large block, working your way out through the wedge. If you start to the right of the hole it is a V2 variation.
Unnamed V0 - In front of the rock there is a small piece of rock next to a large tree. At the top of this rock is a very weather-worn slab that has this V0 problem.
Finally, down the trail is the largest piece of rock in the area. It used to have a V6 problem on it, but a key handhold snapped (the rock is a bit brittle, so be careful!). The gentleman working this problem has it in project mode right now and hopes to get to sent soon.
Lat: N 39°xx.xxx'
Long: W 077°xx.xxx'
As you travel along northward on the Appalachian Trail out of Gathland State Park, you will come to a ridge rising on your right a couple hundred feet from the trail about 3/4 mile north of the Park. This ridge is populated with periodic boulder fields that eventually give way to short boulder problems, and finally some taller stuff. The rock is all part of the Weverton Formation Quartzite that is predominant up and down South Mountain (i.e., it is the same type of rock as at Annapolis Rocks). The strata layering is horizontal along the ridge here, creating massive roof problems.
Directions: Take I-70 west to Frederick, and get off at the exit for Alt 40 just west of Frederick. Turn left at the light and go 4 miles to Middletown, turning left onto Rte 17. Follow Rte 17 6 miles to Burkittsville. In downtown Burkittsville turn right onto Gapland Road. Follow that for a mile to Gathland State Park. Turn right at the intersection there, then a hundred feet or so later turn left into the parking lot. From the parking lot walk past the burned out ruins of a building to get on the Appalachian Trail. Follow that north for a mile or so.
TOWER OF POWER:
Lat: N 39°25.684'
At over 30' tall, this is the largest of the outcrops along the trail here. There are some seriously daunting roof problems to be tackled. This outcrop is 1.5 miles from the parking lot.
Double Exposure - 5.9 (29'). This Gunks-like roof route ascends the 'chimney' between two stacked projections of roofs on the right side of the rock. And for a chimney, with everything overhanging so much, you get a decent amount of exposure. Start behind the large slab block and climb up between the large chimneys. Pay attention as a fall through here will net you some big air time. Climb up to the large, imposing summit roof above, then turn left to get onto a shelf in whatever manner elegant or not you can. Stand up and finish the last move or two through the weakness at the top of the rock.
Lichen Or Not - 5.7+ (34'). This route begins on the left side of the large slab to the right at the base of the cliff, ~8' left of Double Exposure. Climb straight up the slightly overhanging blocks, following the path of least resistance, to the final roof. Then either pull the roof directly at the narrow notch (crux) (be careful your rope doesn't get wedged in the notch), being careful of the lichen above (lest you get it in your eyes as you reach for a hold) or, slightly easier, turn right and come up on large holds and a step. There isn't a lot of room from where the rope can drop down and where the lip of the final roof is.
Lat: N 39°26.816'
Lat: N 39°xx.xxx'
Long: W 077°xx.xxx'
Lamb's Knoll is located 2.8 miles due north of Gathland State Park (as the crow flies), though while the trail is nice, it winds a bit, so plan on a 3 mile hike one way. This is another outcrop of Weverton Formation quartzite along the hill top of South Mountain, near the Appalachian Trail. Unlike the preceeding areas, this one is tucked away in the woods, and offers now good views of anything other than more trees. The rocks are barely visible from the AT during the winter months when there are no leaves to block the view. In the summer months, forget being able to see it at all from the trail.
This band of rock is short and broken, but offers some interesting routes if you can deal with the greenbriar. There is a free-standing pillar here as well, which offers some interesting climbing opportunities.
Directions: Take I-70 west to Frederick, and get off at the exit for Alt 40 just west of Frederick. Turn left at the light and go 4 miles to Middletown, turning left onto Rte 17. Follow Rte 17 6 miles to Burkittsville. In downtown Burkittsville turn right onto Gapland Road. Follow that for a mile to Gathland State Park. Turn right at the intersection there, then a hundred feet or so later turn left into the parking lot.
Pick up the Appalachian Trail North to the side of a ruined building and start marching uphill a bit. Once you finish the uphill part (steep, but nowhere near as steep as the section leading from Rte 40 to Annapolis Rocks!), the trail is more or less flat and pleasant, punctuated by a few rocky areas (how the people in "The Blair Witch Project" supposedly got lost up here I'll never know!). After ~2.5 miles the trail will make a sharp, 90-degree turn to the left (there will be a blue-blazed trail coming in from the right at this point). You are close (if you were feeling masochistic, you could continue straight into the woods and bushwhack to the cliffs from here!). The AT will slowly bend right as you continue onward. In a few minutes you will reach another noticeably rocky area. This is the western terminus of the outcrop. The climbing area is 600' to your right. I would suggest following the rocks and boulders uphill rather than staying low, unless you are impervious to jungles of thorns (or just like pain). Bushwhack from here to the rocks. You will be atop of them. The easiest way to find things would be to go to the far end of the rock band and find the free-standing Pillar. The climbable cliff pretty much ends at this point.
The bottom area between the segments of cliff is choked with greenbrier and loose rock, much of the latter covered with leaves and long-dead downed trees. Feel free to cut back the intruding greenbrier so you can navigate w/out being sliced to pieces (don't worry, it'll grow back! :-/ ). There are a few areas which will allow relatively 'easy' access to the base of the cliffs. The most obvious is to slide/scramble down the far east end of the outcrop. You can also come down between Unknown roof and Face Hugger. There is some 5.0 scramble downclimbing you can do between Anti-Gravity Crack and Kindergarden Blocks. There is another scramble/slide between some of the [currently] unrecorded segments further west. In all cases beware the greenbrier. And in the warmer weather days, beware of ticks as well!
The routes are described from right to left, starting at the far right end at the Pillar. There are nigh two dozen routes in this area.
Deception (5.9* PG) - X'. This route ascends the tall, south-facing wall of the Pillar by following the wandering thin crack to the top. You may need to use the right arete a couple of times in the latter half of the route. Committing moves don't look so bad from the ground.
The Confessor (5.8) - X'. This route climbs the shorter, east-facing side of the Pillar. Not quite as committing as Deception, but not trivial, either.
Restricted Access (5.5) - X'. This is one of those one-two move wonder routes. It offers the easiest access to the top of the Pillar (unless you want to leap across the gap from the main wall!). Start in the 'chimney' formed by the north side of the Pillar and the main wall, climb up the line of weakness to the top.
The next set of climbs ascend the wall next to the Pillar.
Aqua Crack (5.8) - <20'. Climb the short crack at the far right end of the wall to the sloped-off top shelf. The crux is getting off the ground.
Neubauer-Reinhart Right Crack (5.7*) - 20'. Work your way up the gently left-leaning finger crack to the top.
Neubauer-Reinhart Route (5.8) - 22'. Climb the face in the center of the wall between the two crack systems to the top. Try not to use the left or right cracks if possible (you may have to at some point halfway up, though).
Neubauer-Reinhart Left Crack (5.6) - 22'. Climb the prominent double-crack system on the left side of the main wall.
High Voltage Soulchild (5.10d) - X'. Start below the arete on the far left end from the main corner left of Neubauer-Reinhart Left Crack. Climb the face and arete, following a shallow, left-facing corner (of sorts) partway up the face. Starting from the ground makes this a solid 10d route; stepping on the block and boulder to get onto the wall drops the rating to a comfortable 5.10b.
Unknown roof (5.13?) - X'. Just around the corner and up the hill to the left of the Pillar is a block of rock criss-crossed by cracks, capped with a jutting block roof. A smaller, similar-looking block to The Prow at Sugarloaf. Climb up the center vertical crack to the roof, then pull around/through it to the top.
Face Hugger (5.10a) - 22'. Shades of the 'face hugger' from the "Alien(s)" movie series. Start at the large, flared crack in the center of the outcrop and pull onto a ledge at head-height. From there climb up the rounded wall to the right of the crack, hugging the face where you can find purchase, laying back left on rounded holds to the right when you cannot. Eventually gain some flat holds and finish the final moves happier than you were down low.
The Kneepad (a.k.a. The Kneeler) (5.6) - 22'. The start might be the crux, particularly if you try to not use your knee! Climb onto said ledge about chest or head high (depending on how tall you are) to the left of the wide, flaring crack. Follow the crack as you can, and climb up the rounded arete as the holds direct you to the top. If you stay off the arete and climb the face proper, it is more 5.8 in nature.
Anti-Gravity Crack (a.k.a., Plumber's Crack) (5.8) - 15'. Short but funky. Gravity doesn't seem to work normally here as it does elsewhere in the world, as you want to fall left, not down, while going up. Follow the nice-looking finger crack (it isn't) to rough slopers (good friction, though you may have a raw palm or two after the fact) at the top. Stemming off to the left is illegal (and would drop the rating down to probably 5.5 or 5.6). If this were a longer route, this could be a classic wierd line. An alternate start to give you a few more feet of climbing begins below and right of the wannabe finger crack. You gain said wannabe finger crack after your feet leave the ground.
Kindergarden Blocks (5.2/5.3) - 27'. To the left of The Kneepad about 30-40' is a wall broken with cracks and blocks. Climb the right half of this wall pretty much anywhere on jugs everywhere.
Bear Hug (5.7) - 31'. Start at the lowest section of the wall just to the left of Kindergarden Blocks and follow the hand crack up and right to a cleft in the middle of the wall. Reach up right to a downward pinch and climb up through the slightly bulging section to the top.
Stretch (5.9) - 31'. Start at the same spot as Bear Hug, but instead of following the crack right, go straight up the wall, using the arete as needed. A reach problem; this will be more difficult for shorter people. Note also that not all the horizontals are going to be as nice as you'd like them to be, but there generally are finger ledges nearby. The crux is at the top.
Angela's Face (5.10b) - 31'. Start to the left and around the corner from Stretch, at a left-leaning crack. Climb the crack to a ledge about 7' up. From there climb the smooth, nearly featureless face to the triangular roof overhead without using the arete until you can reach the roof. The crux is the few moves immediately below the roof to pulling through the roof. Finish on increasinly better holds to the top. If you use the arete prior to gaining the roof, the climbing drops down to about 5.9 or 5.8. This is a reach problem route; the crux is notably easier if you are 6'+.
Gert's Route (5.4) - 32'. Start as with Angela's Face, but climb the blocky face to the left, following a crack to the top.
Phil's Chimney (5.5) - 30'. Climb up the deep chimney using blocks in the back until you are forced to actually go into "chimneying mode". Follow the thin crack on the left wall up through the narrow portion of the chimney to the top. You might find facing left easier at the top than facing right.
Pressure Under Grace (5.8+*) - 35'. One of the tallest routes here. Climb the wall just outside the deep chimney, following the featured right-facing corner and crack system without actually going into the chimney. Gain some ledges and make some delicate moves in order to finish on easier rock. Not many places to put a cam (or anything else) on this route if you want to lead it.
Addietude Direct (5.9) - X' Climb the face to the left of Pressure Under Grace straight up to and through some "bear-claw" grooves near the top.
Addietude Arete (5.8) - X' Start at the base of the blunt arete and work your way to the top, climbing the arete and face on either side as you find (or don't find) holds.
Exoplanet (5.10a/b*) - 31'. Start at the of a deep cleft in the base of the buttress in the center of the face a couple feet left of Addietude Arete. Climb up to (crux) and through the short overhang and lieback the vertical flared crack to gain a stance. Breathe, then continue up the wall to the top on small holds. You'll need to be perceptive in order to not make this bit any harder than 5.8 or 5.9.
40' left of Exoplanet is the last tall-ish outcrop of rock. Everything past this point to the AT is either a boulder problem lt;10' high, or just a small protrusion of geologic interest. There is a large, broken, twisted tree at the top of this outcrop; the upper half of this tree has fallen over and is covering up a couple of the routes here. The tree will need to be removed (by someone with more stubbornness than I!) before these routes will be available. In the meantime...
Unknown Crack (5.?) - Climb the left-leaning, flared, wide, vegetated crack as far as you can to reach the top.
Unknown Face (5.?) - Climb the lichen-encrusted wall that currently lies beneath the dead, inverted tree.
Pokey (5.2) - 25'. Climb the buttress around the corner left of Unknown Face on exceptionally large holds.
Tiger (5.3) - 27'. In the deep corner left of Pokey, climb the left face as holds present themselves. There are some incredibly nice, friendly side-pulls here to play on halfway up.
Panther (5.6*) - 28'. Starting just uphill left from the lowest point of rock, left of Tiger, climb over bulging rounded rock until you can gain the flat, almost lichen-free, apparently featureless face. Finding good holds, ascend to the small roof. Pull through the roof using holds left and high right (crux), then reach high to finish. One of the better routes of its grade here.
Unknown Chimney (5.?) - Climb the chimney around the corner left of Panther.
Unknown (5.?) - Climb the rounded blocky wall left of the chimney.
There are a few more (but shorter) routes further to the left from these. They are unrecorded at this time.
Lat: N 39°19.920'
Long: W 077°40.593'
Lat: N 39°19.984'
Long: W 077°41.000'
This outcrop sits on the southernmost shoulder of South Mountain, barely 400' away from the Appalachian Trail (the sign, however, claims it is 300 yards; do not be dismayed!). There are only a few recorded routes here at the moment, but there is room for more. The ground below, though, is not the most friendly to be moving around, being a mix of burnt out trees and overgrown bushes (thorn bushes), along with lots of loose rock. Some of the wall is in good condition, other parts of it is loose. Take care when climbing here.
Elk Ridge is the northern extent of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Maryland. The ridge is located to the west of South Mountain and runs roughly parallel to it from Rohrersville, in the north, to the Potomac River across from Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, in the south. Across the Potomac the ridge continues as Blue Ridge Mountain in Virginia and West Virginia. The southern end of Elk Ridge, which is part of Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, is known as Maryland Heights. There is a plethora of climbing to be had on Elk Ridge. You just need to want to get out and Do It.
Lat: N 39°19.496'
Long: W 077°43.071'
Lat: N 39°19.498'
Long: W 077°42.954'
Be sure to pull off to the side as much as possible. First of all, the locals in Sandy Hook use this place as a turn around. Secondly, there are Other Users (fishermen, hikers, etc) who also park here on the weekends, and even this turnout can get...overcrowded.
Balcony Rock is a "hidden" gem of an area right outside the community of Sandy Hook, just upriver from Maryland Heights. It has a rather expansive cliff that tops out over 80' tall at its highest point. There is a good bit of untapped routeage here for one to explore. People have been coming here for some time, as evidenced by the chalk and bolts on the main cliff. Parking is a problem, however, for this place: mainly, there almost isn't any. The nearest place to park is a turnaround pull-off a 100 yards or so away, immediately outside of the Sandy Hook community. This is the school bus turnaround, and there is a No Parking sign there. During the weekdays, don't even think about using this for parking - you will be ticketed and/or towed! During the weekends, as long as you keep yourself well off the road so people can still turn around (the locals use this as their primary turnaround spot, too), you should be okay. If you block them from being able to use it, though, you could find yourself with a nasty surprise at the end of your climbing day. This south-facing rock is an ideal place to play during the chillier months of the year (provided it is sunny out).
Getting there: Coming from Frederick, MD, follow Rte 340 15.7 miles until the highway part of 340 ends and you come to an intersection just after you crest a small hill. Turn left at the intersection onto Keep Tryst Road. About 0.3 miles later turn right onto Sandy Hook Road. Follow that down a hill and through the community until you come to the turnaround pull-off, 1.1 miles later.
From there walk down the road about 100 yards until you come to a line of white
boulders and a couple of gates that close off an old and now very unused
turnaround/pull-off. 5 boulders right of the first gate is a faint trail that
leads to the hill, and up some stone steps.
Trailhead GPS coords:
Lat: N 39°19.473'
Long: W 077°43.077'
Follow the steps up, then continue on the faint trail to the rocks. By this point you can't miss it! The main cliff is right here - there is more off to the right (shorter, not often as visited).
From Harpers Ferry, take Rte 340 to Maryland, taking the first exit you come to after you cross over the Potomac River. Go About 0.3-0.4 miles and turn right onto Sandy Hook Road. Follow that down a hill and through the community until you come to the turnaround pull-off, 1.1 miles later. Follow the rest of the directions in the paragraph above.
Brian Walker gets jiggy with it at Balcony Rock
The routes will be described from left to right as you look at the rock.
Thumb Press (5.8) - X'. Near the far left end of the cliff is a broken quartz vein trending up and right. Follow this up to a very blank shallow corner. Vigorous stemming will gain you the top. You can anchor on trees above.
Thumb Press Right (5.8) - . If you want a more continuous challenge, start anywhere on the right-facing corner/ramp down and right from the quartz vein and climb up to the detached layback flake just right of the quartz vein. Haul yourself up that until you join the quartz vein, and finish on Thumb Press.
Gold Medallist (5.10b) - X'. Starting at the base of the ramp just right of Thumb Press and left of the "GLD" graffiti, climb up the ramp and reach up right to a small detached block. Getting your feet on nothing, smear over and reach up right again to a decent ledge (or follow the rather thin finger cracks straight up for a couple of moves). From the ledge trend up and left, aiming for the noticable U-slot in the huge detached flake above. Grunt through the slot and continue up on somewhat thin moves on the face above until you can reach slightly better (if sloping) holds on the right and pull up to another stance. Easy climbing from there gains the top.
Silver Medalist (5.9+) - X'. Start ~10' right of Gold Medalist, just right of the "GLD" graffiti. Climb up the blocky face and cracks and small left-facing corner passing a couple of ledges until you are at the base of a large left-facing corner. Climb the blankish wall up and left and pull through the U-slot (stemming off the corner will ease the pain of the blank face; not using it pushes the grade to a 10a or perhaps 10a/b). Once through the U-slot, finish on Gold Medalist.
Bronze Medalist (5.8) - X'. Climb Silver Medalist to the ledge at the base of the large left-facing corner. From there ascend the corner to it's top. Step right a few feet until you are below and to the left of a boulder on the shelf above with a bush growing out from under it on the left bottom side. Climb the short crux wall here (height-dependent problem) to rounded holds and eventually better stances. Finish on Gold Medalist.
Cliff Monster (5.8*) - X'. Approximately 30 or so feet to the right of Thumb Press is another right-facing corner/ramp system. Climb up the finger crack to a small corner, and follow the corner up to a small ledge 5' higher. Hop up to the next ledge, then climb the nearly dead-vertical face to a large, spacious ledge. While not the top of the rock, it basically is the top of the climb. Anchors are gear, wrapping boulders/trees, or perhaps (at your own risk) clipping the single bolt that is up there on the ledge (and a little to the side). The black section 2/3 of the way up with the green lichen is referred to as "the Fairway". You can climb through that, but the rock is a bit rotten there. You are better staying to the right of it. There are many variations that you can play on around the "pure line" of this route.
Heather Ortiz is about to find the Crown Of Thorns
Cliff Monster Direct (5.8+*) - X'. Instead of climbing the ramp/corner, start on the face about 5' to the left. Climb up the steep face until you gain a stance and eventually join Cliff Monster, finishing as above. Be careful of the dead tree should you fall and swing on this lower section.
Crown Of Thorns (5.6**) - X'. A neat route that climbs the inside corner system 20' right of Cliff Monster. Layback the crack in the corner, then work your way up rounded ledges, aiming for the large, detached block above. Chimney behind the block a few moves, then aim left up the left-facing overhanging segment to the broad notch at the top, putting you on a large ledge with bushes. A variant start climbs the outside arete of the corner (5.7-ish) to a ramp, after which you maneuver to rejoin the main route. Many other variations exist by climbing pretty much anywhere up the face. Anchors are gear placements.
Sceptre Of Might (5.8) - X'. A mid-route variation to Crown Of Thorns that will keep your attention. Harder if you are taller (one of those few times when it's better to be shorter in climbing ;-) ). Climb Crown Of Thorns, but instead of heading up inside the chimney formed by the detached block, climb up the left-facing corner outside that same detached block to a roof, and traverse left to gain the top of the block. Finish on the steep, outrageous-looking wall to a spacious ledge. Try not using the blocks behind you to the right when working the steep wall; all the holds are there. Fun.
Popeye's Left (5.10d) - X'. To the right of Crown of Thorns is a jagged arete in black rock, just left of the white-streaked black rock. Climb this arete through a large, blocky left-facing overhanging corner. Staying right of the tree, climb the corner to the ledge high up.
Popeye's (5.10b*) - X'. This is a reach problem for shorter folk. Climb the white-streaked black rock using occasionally good holds to a small roof. Undercling in the crack to reach a pair of "bucket" holds, kick a little bit and reach up to another flat hold in order to get fully past the roof. The fun isn't over. Climb up non-trivial rock past the bolt to a wide ledge. From here you can either trend left (5.10a), go straight up past two old bolts (no hangers; 5.10+), or step right and work your way up the blockier stuff (5.8). Finish the last moves on easy ground.
Unknown (~5.9?) - X'. Starting ~10' right of Popeye's, climb the right-facing wall of black rock to the top.
Around the corner to the right the cliff band continues, albeit shorter than the main face.
Unknown (5.10) - X'. There is a large, detached "pillar" block around the corner from the main face and up another level. Climb the main face up a very shallow corner to a blank section before topping out.
Hound Of Hell (5.9+/5.10a) - X'. Approximately 30' right of Unknown 3 is a black and brown section of rock broken by a set of ramps and overhangs, all below a sizeable slab-boulder resting in the woods above. Climb up through the overhangs using nasty slopers and aggressive layback techniques. Pulling through the final roof onto the final slab is the crux. Beware the loose stones at the top of the cliff.
The Education Of Ben (5.6+) - X'. Immediately right of Hound Of Hell is a right-facing corner. Romp up the blocky lower section to the steeper part halfway up. Using holds on the right, drag your way up the notch at the top of the corner to the top. Alternatively, pull around to the left and climb that slab to the top (a body length and a half either way).
There is more rock further to the right of these routes.
The area is also strewn with boulder problems. As you come up the trail from the road, the first significant rock you pass is known as has a very overhanging face with several problems on it.
The Doc Boulder is located in front of the main wall. Standing in front of Crown Of Thorns, with your back to the main wall, before you are some large boulders. One has a significant left-facing overhang with a razor sharp edge. There are several problems on this and the ratings are just approximate.
Doc Ock (V3/4) - start at the lower left edge of the steeply overhanging rock and work your way to the edge in a couple moves. Pinch the edge with the right, grab a side hold with the left, keep your feet high, then palm/smear your way up the ramp to the top. This is also problem #14 on Conrad Schaefer's Balcony Rock Boulders
The Goblin (v4) - Start as for Doc Ock, but once you reach the razor-sharp edge, traverse right to the end, then go up. Take care that you don't fall backward into the next boulder and crack your head open! A spotter or multiple pads are nice.
Problem #12 (V1) - Climb the short, relatively easy south-facing face left of the Doc Ock roof. This is also Problem #12 in Conrad Schaefer's Balcony Rock Boulders
At the far east end of the rock band is another blocky roofy boulder problem next to a large tree. The fall here is not forgiving if you have no spotters to keep you from going over the edge!
The Notch (V1) - Climb up the overhanging wall just right of the tree, aiming left for the square notch. Climb up through the notch and squeeze past the tree and the rock at the top. This is the same as problem #25 in Conrad Schaefer's Balcony Rock Boulders
Gravity Kills (V3/4) - Start just right of The Notch and climb up, using a toe-hook to keep yourself in after you reach out right and back to a fairly decent side-pull hold at the end of the overhang. Climb up onto better blocky holds and top off. Try not to fall. If you do, hope your spotter(s) is quick enough to grab your shirt and haul you back in before your balance takes you over the edge. This might be problem #26 in Conrad Schaefer's Balcony Rock Boulders
Lat: N 39°19.515'
Long: W 077°43.194'
Lat: N 39°19.498'
Long: W 077°42.954'
The parking is the same as for Balcony Rock above. See also the associated note about parking there.
Balcony Jr is no "junior" to it's better known cousin, Balcony Rock. If anything, there is more climbing surface here than Balcony Rock provides! It's just a little bit higher up the hill, weeding out the less-hearty or less-driven. The best way to get to the rocks is to go straight up the hill above Balcony Rock, then once at the power line cut, turn left and follow that until you come to the rock wall on your right. You can't miss it. It is quite...extensive.
The rock is about 150' long, and tops out around 70'. Many of the routes here are very steep and pumpy. There are challenges from moderate to rock master.
Balcony Jr is also south-facing, like Balcony Rock, but with the power line cut right in front of the rock, there are no trees blocking the sun from baking it in the winter time. While not so great for mid-summer outings (not only heat, but foliage overgrowth at the bottom), this would be an ideal spot for those sunny mid-winter climbing days.
Conrad Schaefer and friends had put a few lines up here, and discovered an old RURP in one of the lines. Further research turned up no information on the identity of the climbers who pre-dated Conrad. It will likely remain a mystery for the rest of time. So while, yes, some lines had been done up here decades ago, most of the rock is newly developed. Enjoy the area, as crowds will be few and far between.
The routes are described from right to left, as you would approach the wall from Balcony Rock
Groovin' Up Slowly (5.5+) - 30'.The easiest route here, but don't let that fool you. If you miss a hold, the crux can get significantly more interesting. Climb the blunt arete to a spacious ledge where the climb basically ends. You can continue the climbing by traveresting left onto The Founder's Forge and head up from there.
Mojo Filter(5.7) - 44'. Begin below a ledge just left of Groovin' Up Slowly. Climb up and pass the first roof on the left. Continue up, staying right of The Founder's Forge, weaving around or climbing through bulges as they come, until you reach a ledge. Step left and finish on The Founder's Forge.
The Founder's Forge (5.9+/5.10a*) - 44'. Start 5' left of Mojo Filter at the left end of the ledge thigh high off the ground. Follow up the white-streaked shallow groove to a white knob at the top. An excellent route.
The B&O Burn (5.?) - 50'. Begin 10' left of The Founder's Forge. Bold initial moves gain the rounded rock above. Climb over/around/between/through bulges, overhangs, and grooves. Don't burn out before you hit the top!
Potomac Power Plant Pump (5.?) - 50'. Begin the same as with The B&O Burn. but trend somewhat left as you pump up the wall.
The Paymaster (5.?) - 50'. Like so many of the routes here, steep and pumpy. Begin 10' left of The B&O Burn, where the left-leaning left-facing corner comes down to the ground. Climb up the wall immediately right of and above the corner, angling for a notch at the top.
Forearm Furnace (5.11d/5.12a) - 50'. Start 20' left of The Paymaster, just right of the large black 5' tall boulder by the wall. Climb up the wall and left-facing corner to a ledge below the roof and finish on non-trivial terrain. There is an unfinished project variant that moves right at the ledge below the roof and skirts the right orange wall to go up at the corner.
Salty Dog Saloon (5.10c**) - 65'. Excellent route. Begin 20-25' left of Forearm Furnace, next to the black 3' tall step. Climb up to and around the inverted ramp roof to the left (alternatively, pull the roof directly). Traverse up and right to gain the left-facing corner then run to the top.
Project (5.?) - 65'. Begin 15' left of Salty Dog Saloon, at the broken tree below the stepped ledges. Climb up to the roof between Salty Dog Saloon and Cold Steel Corner. Pull through and climb the steep face above to the top.
Cold Steel Corner (5.9*) - 65'. Begin 10' left of Project. Climb up the ledge to a blocky ramp system (alternatively, start 5' right and climb the wall straight up to the ramp). Follow the ramp up and right until it ends below a roof. Step left and work your way up and back right (V1), following the corner as closely as possible until you gain the top. The crux is right as you pass an old RURP with a wire attached.
V1: Cold Steel Face (5.9*) - Instead of working up and back right to the obvious corner, move a bit left and continue up the face to the top. A little steeper and more technical than climbing the corner. But no less fun.
John' Project Route (5.11a) - 67'. Start at the same point as Cold Steel Corner, but head straight up the face instead of right up the ramp, keeping to the outside of the large left-facing corners. The crux is a dyno in the middle, but the lower and upper wall sections are stout and pumpy in their own right.
Serious Callers Only (5.10b/c*) - 67'. Sustained climbing from the ledge to the top and the wall is steeper than it looks. If you fall low, odds of you getting back on at the fall point are low. You'll have to reclimb up to it. Work your way up to the main ledge 10' off the ground in whichever manner possible. The route really starts here. Climb up the face and left-facing corner to gain a ledge. Step right to the rose-colored area, breathe, then head left and up, following the face and the left-facing corner as the holds direct you.
Gravitas Free Zone (5.6) - 47'. Have a nice romp! Begin 15' left of Cold Steel Corner, scramble up ramps to a large ledge. Move left to a shallow left-facing corner system and climb it until it ends. Trend up and right to the broken blocky corner at the top.
Harpers Ferry bouldering! There is quite a lot of that here, more than you can shake a 'biner
at. I've been wanting to chart it out, but have not had any time to do so. A friend of mine had taken the
initiative and created a very comprehensive online guide, covering not only the rocks in Maryland, but
as well as those in Virginia and West Virginia. In 2007 it was taken down off the web, but two years
later it was resurrected and is now back! Please visit it, and visit the boulders. Climb your little
hearts out. You can find all the info he has collected here:
Harpers Ferry Bouldering
Note, it is still a work in progress, but until it is finished, there should still enough to keep you occupied for quite a while. A few of the problems noted in Conrad's guide are also noted in the Balcony Rock section above.
There is a nice collection of boulders located up in the Highlands here:
Lat: N 39°19.570'
Long: W 077°43.236'
Getting to them? Bushwhack up and left from Balcony Jr Rock!
Conrad's guide also includes information for several rope climbing areas not covered in this webguide.
Parking is the same as for Balcony Rock.
GPS coords: (main overlook)
Lat: N 39°19.524'
Long: W 077°43.538'
GPS coords: (top of The Sign)
Lat: N 39°19.482'
Long: W 077°43.546'
GPS coords: (top of A Slab)
Lat: N 39°19.466'
Long: W 077°43.526'
GPS coords: (top of B Slab)
Lat: N 39°xx.xxx'
Long: W 077°xx.xxx'
This area isn't the best or prettiest place to climb, but for having both multi-pitch and top-rope routes, it has some of the tallest stuff within a 90-minute drive of Baltimore (note: there is some taller stuff at Chickies Rock in Pennsylvania, but not as much). A lot of the routes are not very heavily travelled, and there is probably good reason for this: the area has difficult access (many of the climbs are just physically difficult to get to), a lot of it is chossy, and the only known copies of the original guidebook put together by Rob Savoye exist only online, on the web (much as this does). But even still the online guide is sketchy and lacks helpful details in locating various routes. This section is an attempt to clear up and clarify where the routes are for the intrepid adventurer who wishes to pit themselves against this 'wilderness next to civilization'.
Much of the information from this section has been taken from Rob Savoye's old guide, but it will have more in-depth coverage as I can get out there to expand on things. I added what little info I have for protection ratings of the multi-pitch routes herein. Most of the rappels on the multi-pitch routes require the use of 2 50-meter ropes (or make two raps using a single 60-meter rope).
Warning about some of the belay stations: some stations have bolts set in at the belays. While these bolts are less than 10 years old (as of 2000), they are small - 1/4-inchers! Please pay careful attention when using them for belays or rappels. Some of the belay stations on the main wall (around the sign) have rap-links in the hangers.
Note: this section will be updated as personal knowledge of the routes is gained. I had originally thought to merely parrot Rob Savoye's info, but after speaking with him and after having done a few routes here over the years, I'd far far rather use my own words to better describe the routes. And Rob agrees, this section is in serious need of updating.
In the mid-late 2000s, and early 2010s, there has been a resurgence of interest and activity at Maryland Heights, most notably at the Train Tunnel Wall. Two to three aid lines in the A3/A3+ range have gone in, as well as some moderately hard to stiff trad, mixed, and sport lines.
Warning: If you climb at Maryland Heights and leave rap anchors behind (such as at the top of A Route or D Route, but elsewhere as well), be warned that over the years people have been stealing these! (as if they have nothing better to do) This includes rap slings that were set in places Joe Hiker Public would not easily get to (i.e., some of the scoundrels are fellow climbers). Be prepared to bring rap slings and rings if you intend on rapping off of any of the routes, and be prepared to part with them permanantly when some ill-mannered RAPscallions has made off with the one you left behind, unable to afford the courtesy of leaving it for others to use at their need.
Warning!!: The mixed and sport lines on the Train Tunnel Wall have recently seen a rash of perma-draws disappearing, most notably from the lowest bolts on the routes. If you go there to do one of the bolted lines, consider packing a perma-draw of your own, or working out some convoluted manner to retrieve it on the way down (or solo climb up to it, which is how some guttersnipe has probably stealing these to begin with)
TRAIN TUNNEL WALL
This entire wall overhangs just enough to stay dry in a light to modest rain. However, this is not a beginner's area. You still need to check in at the ranger's station before climbing. It is possible to gain the Grand Ledge ~20' below the top by traversing in from the right, but you need to get through a VERY exposed section near the beginning before the ledge widens comfortably. Routes listed are from left to right.
Black Tie Affair (5.12a* PG/R) - ~180'. One of the hardest trad lines in the state. PITCH 1: (95 feet) This is the money pitch. Begin at the far left corner of the wall where the train tunnel platform wall meets the rock. Follow the jagged, overhanging crack in black rock up to a tricky mantle move onto some unprotected but easier slab climbing. From the end of the slab climb another overhanging face (a #0 metolius or #6 C4 helpful here, a #0.5 C4 is good for higher up) until you come to another slab. Follow this second slab to the final crux section at a blank wall split by a narrowing crack (#1-3 C4 good here). Climb up this steep section of rock, getting a tricky #1 C3 to the right of the crack just as it closes up, until you gain a roof (#1 C4). Make another mantle move to attain the anchors. Either rap or continue up PITCH 2: (85 feet) Climb up and right on VERY loose rock until you intersect with Spectacular Spectacle midway through the last pitch. PITCH 3: (25') Finish up on easy rock of the last pitch of Spectacular Spectacle.
Long And Hard (5.9, PG/G) - 180'. This is fully described in the Climb Maryland! guide, but included here for landmark idenfication. This route begins 15' right of Black Tie Affair, shares the start with Whirlwind.
Whirlwind (5.10-*, G) - ~75'. A mixed trad/sport route. Bolts along the crux section, but you will either need some gear for the easier stuff, or be willing to run it out. Same start as for Long and Hard, but once you've made the first move onto the rock, stay low and traverse right on a ledge to an outside left-facing corner. Climb through the corner (crux) past several bolts and small ledges until you reach easier ground and a ramp. Follow the ramp up right to bolted anchors. Hint: being able to stem really high will help immensely with the initial crux moves.
On October 16, 2005, John Kelbel and Dominic Albanese established Maryland's first (and so far only) grade 4 route: Spectacular Spectacle.
Spectacular Spectacle (5.8 A3+ IV) - ~200'. This 4-pitch aid line climbs up the 200' overhanging wall of Maryland Heights over the train tunnel. The bolts that are on the route may be difficult to see as they are painted the same color as the rock. PITCH 1: Climb Center Stage And All Alone. PITCH 2: Step down to the lower ledge and walk left until it ends in 12'. Ascend the small left-facing corner until it runs into an overhang 8' up. Climb over the overhang and continue to follow the obvious right-leaning line ending below a prominent 2' roof and a 2-bolt anchor. Note: the belay anchor is a full-on hanging belay! One fish hook is needed on this pitch. PITCH 3: Tension-traverse out right, plug in some gear and lower out on it. Move up to a wide slot in the roof and place a #3 & #4 camalot. Move up and left on thin short knife blades in a seam on the overhanging face (crux). Step left and follow the bolt, dowel pin, dowel pin, bolt ladder. Move up and right under a small left-facing corner/overhang. Follow the overhanging corner to its left end and make a l-o-n-g move up to a horizontal seam. Over a shelf to the right are 2 fixed pitons. At the bottom of the most prominent overhang on the wall plug in a #3 camalot, then climb the small right-facing corner and crack 6' to a spacious ledge. PITCH 4: Free-climb (5.8) the 25' long crack and face straight up to The Grand Ledge. Finish by climbing the final 25' up an excellent crack just left of a massive 6' square detached block. Top out.
Topo for John's Spectacular Spectacle
Outrage (5.12b G) - 65'. Sport/mixed. Same start as for Tomentosa Torment. Climb the left-facing corner with metal bars covered with spray-on cement to the first bolt (sometimes a perma-draw is there, sometimes it is stolen). Continue straight up the crimpy face to the second bolt, then drift right to a jug (thin gear) to make a big move to the 3rd bolt. Trend up and right onto a very steep face to a jug just right of the 4th bolt. Continue straight up past a 4th bolt and a fixed nut to the black-painted bolt anchors in a right-facing corner. Lowering from here will give you an idea of just how steep this face and route are. A second pitch is being planned.
Tomentosa Torment (project) - so far unfreed. Just noted here for clarification. It uses the same start as for Outrage but begins traversing right and up earlier than Outrage.
unknown sport route (5.? G) - x'? Toward the right third of the cliff is a steep, somewhat overhanging left-facing broad corner. Follow the bolts up and left to the anchors.
This chunk of rock appears to be a free-standing pillar as seen from the road, but in reality merges straight into the hillside behind it. It is located at the far far right end of the broken rock band that makes up the Train Tunnel Wall.
Ishmael (5.10c) - 30'. This line ascends the road-facing face. Climb up to a roof near the top. Pull through it and top out. Walk off.
Ishmael Escape (5.9R) - 30'. As much of an 'escape' as you can expect to have with no gear. Climb Ishmael until you get to the roof near the top. Scoot around to the right then up to the top.
Project (5.?) - ?'. Around the corner right of Ishmael, climb up the face to the top.
John Kelbel worked out a challenging alternate start variation to Hard Up
The Hard Way Up (5.10c/d R/X) - ~45'. Beginning about 6' left of the start for Hard Up, near the right end of the graffiti "Debbie", climb up and pull through the overhang, moving left and up the face, to a ledge. Continue up to the slightly overhanging blank face (2nd crux) directly below the rap anchors. Top-rope recommended, as there is almost no protection on this route.
Daniel's Variation (5.10 R) - ~50' This variation adds some spice to the already exciting Sign Route. Climb as you would for the Sign Route, but at the middle of the sign (good rest) build a life nest of gear and take off up the unprotected face above past a large bulge and a long reach. At the horizontals above, you can finish in nearly any direction you want: climbing straight up will take you past some loose rock, and going left will bring you to a sturdy tree (105' rap down D Route) and a comfy belay ledge at the top of the D Route slab. Do your best to protect well for your second, for if they fall at the beginning of the runout, it can be hard to get back on.
The Great Escape (5.12a/b PG) - ~140'. Start on D Route and climb the corner for about 30' until you reach the bottom of an overhanging, left-leaning crack system above you. Carefully protect the blocky stretch of rock that leads to the base of the crack. Climb the steep crack up and around the corner (having two yellow C4s helpful for pro). At an undercling/sidepull near the end of the crack, plant your feet well, make a big move up to an obscure pocket, and roll over onto the slab on the left. Either stop here and build a gear anchor, or finish on Dee's Rival. The crux of the route is only 25-30' in length.
BABY BURN WALL - Instead of turning off to the right in "The Gully" to access Dee?s Rival, et al, continue up 15' and scramble through the ramp on the left to reach another platform at the base of a short friction wall. Metropolis (5.10) - 60'. This prominent face and point of rock is directly above the Baby Burn Wall area.
YELLOWJACKET WALL - 45' to the left of BABY BURN WALL is a large ledge with a few trees and boulders. Below this is a short and steep wall. The easiest way to get to the climbs is to rappel down to the ledge with a cedar tree. Note: the climb Yellowjacket was put up by Scott McClurg (who in the book was mentioned as the belayer whom the yellowjackets were bothering).
Metropolis (5.10) - 60'. This prominent face and point of rock is directly above the Baby Burn Wall area.
Lat: N 39°19.355'
Long: W 077°43.996'
Sick Pursuit (5.11) - Climb the crack through the overhang and top out. Ths route is actually on the Jefferson Rock on the other side of the town of Harpers Ferry. From downtown, follow the Appalachian Trail south for a few minutes until you come to an overlook. The route in question starts on the side of the rock closest to you as you approach from town, but down below the brush. You'll have to find a way (there are several) to get to the base of this rock. Find the huge crack that cuts through the overhanging wall/roof. That will be this.
Lat: N 39°19.586'
Long: W 077°43.531'
Skink Rock is one of a number of outcrops located on Elk Ridge, and is a hidden gem not far from the more well-known Maryland Heights. An excellent destination for doing top-ropes and short leads, as the ground along the base is flat and level, affording many places to stand, sit, and relax. The only drawback to this area is the dusty lichen that coats much of the rock. Of course, the more people come to play here, the less the lichen will clog your pores...
Skinks are not geckos, and geckos are not skinks. They are two different species. One way to discern the two species is to check out their feet. Geckos have suckers for toes; skinks have little claws. You can google more differences; I'm not going to cover them here. That said, there are 600-800 different types of skinks in the world. If you are quiet while visiting this crag, you may see a few of them around.
If you come at the right time of year (mid/late summer), there is a small patch of blueberry bushes growing along the top of the cliffs. Take care not to crush them too much while setting up top rope anchors, so others can enjoy.
Lat: N 39°19.498'
Long: W 077°42.954'
The parking is the same as for Balcony Rock above. See also the associated note about parking there.
To get to Skink Rock, walk down the road away from town, towards Harpers Ferry, until the road does a hard S-curve to the left and crosses over the RR tracks. Step over the guardrail and find the well-worn footpath that goes uphill from behind the concrete barrier retention wall. Follow the path upwards and left until you come to the main Maryland Heights overlook. From there locate the main MH path that would take you to the parking area for the Maryland Heights hike. As you go up, find the fainter footpath that veers off to the left 20-30' up the main MH trail. Follow this fainter path (that gets more obvious higher up) for about 300' or so, then peel off steeply downhill towards the rocks.
For anchors you will need either fairly long lengths of webbing/static line (20-30' in most cases) and you can also use gear in some places. If you have no gear, you may need to have some webbing/static line that will reach 50-60' for some routes. Most of the anchors are trees, but there are a number of exposed sections of rock that will take some gear. Most of the horizontal cracks are flaring, so you need to be well-versed in your gear placements here for TR anchors.
The routes are described right to left as you would see them approaching the cliff. The routes to the right of Unyielding Finale are pretty clean and lichen-free. Everything left of Unyielding Finale is coated with a dusty lichen. You might want to bring a wire brush.
Skink Rock Chimney (5.?) - This is the first 'real' climb on this rock. Climb the short, blocky chimney to the top.
project (5.12?) - Climb the face immediately left of Skink Rock Chimney and right of the Carpet Crack corner, without using either.
Carpet Crack (5.8* G) - 27'. A classic corner crack climb. If it were taller it'd get two stars. Jam, layback, or stem your way up the corner to a ledge, but continue up a few more moves following the corner and face moves on the left to the top. If you want to lead this, you'll need gear from 3-5 inches. You bought that #5 Cam for a reason...didn't you?
Skink Magic (5.9+) - 27'. Staying out of the corner of Carpet Crack, climb straight up the face on small but decent finger ledges to the top. The arete is off route as well.
Bluepill (5.10a) - 27'. Constrain yourself to the arete immediately left of Skink Magic to the roof. Finish by continuing up the face, using the arching left arete as needed. For more fun, pull the roof when you get to it, finishing on easier moves.
Air Show (5.11) - 33'. Begin in the middle of the broad, lichen-free face below the wide roof 10' left of Bluepill. Climb up the face on small holds that just get more and more technical. At the roof (V1), climb up through the weakness that forms a small right-facing corner to the top. If you fall below the roof, you will understand the name of this route.
V1: Air Show Right Exit - When you reach the roof, exit out on jugs and slopers, slightly to the right of the line you followed up to the roof.
Rags To Riches (5.9** G) - 33'. Stellar route, one of the best in Maryland. Begin 10' left of Air Show, climb this fantastic corner crack system up to the roof. At the roof, follow the crack out and step left, reaching up to either a ledge or a jug, depending on your ape index. Power up to the top. Pumpy route, a solid lead that takes mostly medium to big gear. A rack of #0.5 to #5 camalots with some long slings is about perfect.
Unyielding Finale (5.10a/b) - 37'. A bit sustained, and requires some brains. Climb the jagged arete that leans funny up to where it meets the roof of Rags To Riches. Finish on the last moves of Rags To Riches.
Conquest (5.10d) - 37'. One move wonder crux, otherwise this would be probably 5.9. Start on the face just left of the right-leaning, right-facing corner and climb up past a sharp fin. Step up and left and aim for a very small mini triangle 'roof'. From there trend slightly right up the face (crux), aiming for the 2' wide stepped roof high above. Once at the uppermost roof pull through to the top.
Driving With The Top Down (5.8* ) - 37'. Start on the small boulder at the base of the cliff 5' left of Unyielding Finale arete. Follow the line of weakness up, trending somewhat right, to a small overhang. Continue up gently right (crux) and then straight up to some horizontals near the top. The nice holds around the crux lean the wrong way. Enjoy!
Dancing With Trees (5.6) - Really, though, there is only one tree to dance with. Begin at the series of short, blocky right-facing corners 8' left of Driving With The Top Down. Climb up these short corners to a stance. Then either step right and continue up the main corner (awkward, with the tree) until it ends, or aim slightly left and ascend the outside face just left of the main corner on a series of welcome but not obvious holds (avoids dancing with the tree). Where the two lines meet again, follow the thin crack in the face left of the shallow left-leaning corner to the top. There are other finish variations to this route on the right.
Conrad Vs. The Skink Monster (5.11-) - Who will win? Begin at the crack system 6' left of Dancing With Trees, just right of a medium-sized oak tree growing next to the base of the cliff. Climb up to a ledge, then delicately work straight up the face to the small roof near the top of the wall. The crux here is finding feet while on tiny crimps for the hands. Pull past the roof by following the crack and corner on the right.
The White Man Headbob (5.10a) - Begin as for Conrad Vs The Skink Monster. Once on the ledge, drift left as the holds lead you, then angle back right when you are immediately below a long, few inch wide roof. Reach over to the longish right-facing corner and work extremely tiny footholds which verge on imaginary until you can reach the slightly flaring hand crackabove (crux). Once you've got the crack, you'll still have feet issues, but should be able to work it out to gain the top in a few short moves.
Oh My Eyes! (5.7) - So-named for the amount of lichen that showered down on the climber when he was looking up, searching for another hold. Start at a broken finger crack 8' left of White Man Headbob. Face-climb, layback or jam up this short crack to a ledge 8' up. At this point aim left for the left-leaning right-facing flake system in the middle of the face (V1). Follow that until it ends, then work your way up the face (crux) to some good horizontals then the top.
V1: Oh My Eyes Right Finish (5.7-) - Instead of heading up left, climb directly up to a fissure notch at the top of the wall. Climb up that until you run out of rock.
Eyes Of A Stranger (5.9+) - Start on the broken hand crack 8' left of Oh My Eyes!. Once standing on the ledge, make a very commiting move (crux) to head straight up and right to grab a deep ledge. Without losing momentum, keep angling up and right to gain the right-facing flakes of Oh My Eyes!. Finish on Oh My Eyes!. You might consider this a variant start for ...Eyes! or a worthy standalone route.
Kuutamo (5.8-) - Finnish for "moonlight". Begin either on Eyes Of A Stranger or at a blocky corner 5' further left of that. Climb up 8' to a stance and high-step into the widely flared crack and gently following it for a few moves until it peters out. If you are height-challenged, you will need to make a couple of creative and delicate moves (crux), possibly employing a mono-doigt pocket in the face, in order to gain a hand ledge up right (but thin feet). Reach up, crank down, and hit the top.
Skink Rock tapers off to blocks after this point.
Northwest Branch Creek has a rather nice collection of boulders and boulder problems that are 1) fairly easy to access, 2) fairly close together, and 3) host a nice range of problems from V0 upwards to V11 - something for everyone!
Cory Hanson has put together a very nice pdf guide to the area, so this site does not presume to supercede or replace the work he has done. You can access a copy of his bouldering guide here.
From here follow the path down to the C&O canal, turn left, go a short distance, turn right, and head down the steepish hill to the boat put-in.
Carderock Take-Out coords:
Lat: N 38°58.192'
Long: W 077°11.941'
Carderock Take-Out Parking coords:
Lat: N 38°58.255'
Long: W 077°11.904'
This is the easiest place to take out boats downstream from Vaso Island. Otherwise you can try fighting the current and go back upstream to where you put in...
Lat: N 38°58.469'
Long: W 077°13.460'
Lat: N 38°xx.xxx'
Long: W 077°xx.xxx'
Lat: N 38°xx.xxx'
Long: W 077°xx.xxx'
Lat: N 38°58.486'
Long: W 077°12.681'
This is the large island directly across from the main Carderock climbing area. The far southern side of it holds most of the climbing on the island.
GPS coords:(Bonsai Wall area)
Lat: N 38°58.486'
Note: desired gear anchors here include blue tricams, #0.5-1 Camalot (for a couple routes the #2 or 3 could be helpful)
GPS coords:(Salad Bar Wall area)
Lat: N 38°58.404'
GPS coords:(3rd wall area)
Lat: N 38°58.396'
GPS coords:(base of Crack With No Name area)
Lat: N 38°58.369'
GPS coords:(Ventura Highway area)
Lat: N 38°58.366'
GPS coords:(Kayaker area)
Lat: N 38°58.341'
GPS coords:(Next Wall area)
Lat: N 38°58.330'
For Carderock itself:
Lat: N 38°58.567'
Long: W 077°12.323'
GPS coords: (Hades Heights)
Lat: N 38°58.509'
Long: W 077°12.393'
GPS coords: (Jungle Cliffs)
Lat: N 38°58.554'
Long: W 077°12.412'
Located off the Carriage Road trail to Matildaville is a grassy meadow partially surrounded by a short wall. There are not many routes here, and most all are short (less than 20-25'), but the area does offer alternative climbing when the river-side routes are all taken! Or when the Potomac is flooded so much that many of the river-side routes are underwater. The routes range in difficulty from 5.2 to 5.9 or so (maybe a 5.10 or two around). The 'main' area has a tree right at the edge of cliffs to rig a short toprope anchor to (to set up one can either climb the 5.4 route to the right, diagnoling to the tree, or bushwack around the far right up to the top). Bring a frisbee to play in the meadow. Bring a blanket to lay in the sun. Bring a picnic to munch on while watching everyone else climb...
Add the following to this section:
b>Wake Up Call (5.9/5.10 - 5.10/5.11) - Climb the face between Dark Corner and Skid Row. Following the hairline seam only w/out using the left-facing corner to the right makes it a *much* harder route! Can climb off of either setup (Dark Corner or Skid Row).
As the largest concentration of climbers in the central Maryland region are located in....well, central Maryland, the rock in western Maryland often goes overlooked by the central Maryland climber. If the central Maryland climber decides on a road trip, it's usually a "destination" spot such as Seneca, the New, or the Gunks. Whoever heard of climbing in the hilly, mountainous region of western Maryland, anyway? That's just crazy talk!
It's a shame that not more know of the resources that western Maryland offers. What follows in this section are a few areas that you might choose to explore if you are either 1) not up for a full weekend commiting road trip or 2) are "in the area". So pack your rope, harness, shoes, and other climbing paraphenalia, and get yer butt out on the road to explore some new stuff!
Rocky Gap State Park is located 30 miles west of I-70 off of I-68 (but before you get to Cumberland). It is fairly easy to get to, and the setting and area is quite nice (the state park is mainly the lands around a lake with a resort attached). The climbing is hidden off in the woods past the far western end of the lake. And there is quite a bit of climbing to be done here! There are essentially two main cliff bands (with a third waiting investigation) to explore: the Spillway Cliff (until a better name is learned) and the Canyon Overlook Cliffs.
The rock here is very reminiscent of Sugarloaf Mountain and Annapolis Rocks. Have fun.
Warning: during hunting season you might find it prudent to wear bright colors, as the rock outcrops tend to be in managed hunting zones. Or just skip climbing there when there are gunshots going off in the hills nearby.
Directions: From Hagerstown and points east, take I-70 to Exit 1A, which puts
you onto I-68 West. Take I-62 for 30 or so miles to Exit 50. At this exit bear
right at the offramp and in about 1/3 mile you'll approach a guardhouse. Just
before that you want to turn left towards the resort. Follow that winding road
back for 0.8 miles to the parking area near the North Canyon Overlook trail. As
of 2009 the road beyond is closed to public vehicles, open only to bicyclists,
pedestrians, or park vehicles.
Lat: N 39°41.757'
To get to the Spillway Cliff, stroll down the pedestrian/bicycle-only access road for 0.3 miles until you reach the guardrail on the left just after a green electrical box, over the earthen dam. From here follow the path/trough down alongside the woods and steep hillside until you reach a small bouldering wall on the left. You can play here, or continue down another 40' or so and you'll be at the start of the main cliff band. As there is no established trail system here (it is visited, but not heavily), you'll find yourself bushwhacking a bit now and again as you make your way along the base of the cliff. Pick a line and find a way to the top (there are a few break points in the rock that will allow you to get up top), set up your rope(s), and play! The tallest stuff will be at the far right end of the cliff (note the huge roof problem at the far right end of this rock band).
If you wish to proceed straight to The Great Roof, from the electrical box mentioned above, turn left off the road and head straight up the hillside following a small footpath into the woods. If you keep the cliff band on your right as you go up, you will come to a small overlook after a few hundred feet. You're there!
The great roof of Rocky Gap's Spillway Cliff area
To get to the Canyon Overlook Cliffs, take the North Canyon Overlook trail (located just north of the wide parking area, on the left) back to the overlook. Enjoy the view, then backtrack a dozen feet or so and head off into the woods as the loop trail will take you. As you pass the small #7 marker post you'll see rocks downhill to your right; aim for them. You'll end up scrambling a little to get to the base of the rocks. Once you do, turn left and start walking! You'll find a number of small roof problems here to play on. Some of the rock is difficult to get to, being overgrown and all. But other sections are tree-free (all you need to do is find your way to the top and set up your ropes; if you walk the entire length of the cliff you will get to a ramp that will lead you up, and from there you go left; you'll be walking next to the short upper tier of rock at that point).
Route information has been difficult to come by so unless a route name is truly known, a note will be placed in the route description indicating this is a placeholder name (until either the true name is revealed or it is discovered that no one's climbed it before, then the placeholder will become the name of the route).
Lat: N 39°42.047'
This band of rock faces northeast.
The Great Roof (5.6/5.7*) - X'. At the far end of the Spillway Cliff is a massive roof 45' above you. Climb up through the blocky 'hangs, staying right of the squarish block roof split by a hand crack, and finish on the left side of the roof. If you climb up through the handcrack (not all it's cracked up to be, either), it's more like 5.7/5.8.
There are more routes to the left of this one. The rock band essentially ends [for climbable rock] to the right of the great roof.
CANYON OVERLOOK CLIFF
Lat: N 39°41.880'
Quietly Confident (5.9+/5.10a*) - 39'. Start between two blocks by the wall to the left of the large tree, directly below three wide roofs, 30 feet right of the left end of this cliff band. Climb up the blocks and through the first roof on small holds (5.6/5.7) to a stance. Stay solid pulling slightly right through the second roof on decent, flat holds (5.9/5.10a). Once you've cranked this, work up left to the shelves below the final roof, climbing through the imposing roof on great holds. Pull through and claw the last few feet to the top.
You Look Like A Nail (5.8) - 47'. Begin 16' right of Quietly Confident, directly below a roof midway up split with a jagged crack. Climb up to the roof and crack then crank through the roof, reaching high up to a sharp jug (if you can; height-related problem, so find other half-decent holds if you can't reach the jug) and stepping high right onto the small arete point. Crank through this, reaching high again to a small horizontal finger crack below the next overhang. Get yourself back into position, then bang through this next wall, aiming for the small tree just above - and being very delicate as you approach the ledge covered with dirt, rocks, and tree debris - it is all loose!! Stop at the small tree, or very delicately work up the decent holds out the right end of the roof (take care your feet do not dislodge any of the loose stuff below the roof - you might want your belayer (and rope!) to be off to the side somewhere while you climb this!).
Gray Area (5.3-5.5) - X'. Begin 26' right of You Look Like A Nail, 10' right of a big tree growing on a ledge a couple feet off of the ground. Climb pretty much anywhere through the small blocky overhangs to the top.
Ode To Lichen (5.9) - X'. Start 26' right of Grey Area, immediately right of the rhododendron bush/tree combo next to the wall. Climb up easy shelves to a bulging overhang. Work through the overhang at the or to the left of the square notch in the 'hang, pulling up on marginal holds above. Once through this scramble the easy ground to the top.
At just under three-quarters of a mile long, The Narrows is perhaps the largest crag in the state. For years climbers have driven under it, and gazed up, wondering how to get there, and what the rock was like. During those years, a very few hearty souls actually managed to brave the trek to the rocks and do a few routes. PATC has been there a few times some decade or three ago, and a handful of other climbers (such as local guide Darrel Spence) have visited the wall, but left about as quietly as they came. For whatever reason, word of their feats never really reached the climbing community. And so the crag slumbered for years, with the only visitors being locals who would sit up on top to make out, or drink and toss their beer bottles in the void below, or both. Even the geocaching community attempted to foster interest in this area by putting a geocache atop of the cliffs, but so few geocachers bothered to visit it, the cache was eventually removed. The place was too remote, too far off the normal beaten track - even if it was just a couple miles outside of downtown Cumberland.
The main wall of The Narrows. "1" is the top of Cumber Honey, "2" is the top of the Jim Pick Wall
Then in mid-2002 Mike Varlotta of Pittsburgh hooked up with Darrel Spence, and through conversation Darrel led Mike and a small group of other Pittsburghians to The Narrows. With dropped jaws, Mike and crew were understandably awed and impressed. Here was a goldmine of untouched, BIG rock, about 2 hours distant from Pittsburgh! And while, yes, they knew some routes had already been done, it was very clear that a lot of the area had never been climbed. So began a campaign over the next few years to begin developing the area, putting up new routes and making them safe by trundling literally tons of loose rock from the walls above. It was adventure climbing at its finest. By the spring of 2004 there were 70 established routes, and by the end of that summer, over 100. 90% of these are noted in this webguide (that should be enough for you for now until the guide itself comes out, no? :-) The routes went from 5.2 to 5.10+, with the bulk of them in the 5.7 to 5.9 range. So not only was this a superb find, the bulk of the routes appear to be in the realm of your average climber. This was not to be an area where elite-only climbers could play.
To describe The Narrows, it is easiest to say that it is like Seneca Rocks, except laid horizontal like the Gunks. If you can imagine that, you have this place pretty much nailed down. Lots of ledges, numerous horizontals for gear placements, some quite imposing roofs, walls upwards of 200' tall allowing for multi-pitch climbing opportunities - everything a growing climber needs without travelling to Seneca or the Gunks.
Mike and his Pittsburghians, as well as more recently Indy and a handful of Marylanders, have been working steadily to develop the area: install and maintain trails, clear out loose rock, set up rappel stations, etc. While first-ascent fever does rage among climbers, it is asked of those climbers who come to visit this crag that they take a hand in helping maintain what is there, and not come out, do a few first ascents, then go away again. This is a resource for everyone, all climbers, and all should share in its growth and development, as unpleasant as some of those tasks are.
When you first come to this area it is encouraged and suggested that you stroll along the bottom and attempt(!) to identify various landmarks before you climb (difficult as that might be, esp when the foliage overgrows down low), in order to keep your bearings and learn where your access and decent areas are on the cliff. There are over a half dozen rap stations already established here, most of them easily reached by walking along the cliff. There should not be a need for too many more.
While a couple pitons do exist, there are no bolts at this crag (except at a few rap anchors), nor is there a need for any. For multi-pitch climbing, there are plenty of ledges to anchor off on. For single-pitch climbing, there are plenty of trees up high to use as anchors and rap stations. Some places can be set up on top-rope, but these are primarily over at the Far Wall area. Some of the shorter leads along the main section of cliff can be set as top-ropes, but someone will have to do a lead climb up them first. In any event, with so many other places in Maryland and the surrounding states already having a large number of top-rope crags, the top-rope routes here will not likely see much visitation for the time being.
Climbing at The Narrows
Given that the cruxes tend not to be sustained in the Seneca fashion, it has been found that sending the routes in one long pitch has given the most bang for the leader buck - almost all routes have been put up in a single pitch. However, since some of the routes are 180'+, and sometimes wander, it has been found to be extremely useful to climb using two 60-meter ropes and doubling up on cams. Otherwise, if you want to do routes in multi-pitch fashion (generally two pitches), a standard rack and single 50 to 60-meter rope will do the job (note, however, that a few rap stations require two 50-meter ropes!). Given the abundance of ledges, comfortable, well-protected stances should not be difficult to find.
While most of the established routes here are pretty clean of loose rock, do not assume that every hold is solid - ALWAYS TEST SUSPECT HOLDS AND BLOCKS! You don't want to accidently pull on an abdomen-sized (or larger) block that everyone else has managed to miss and drop it on your belayer, now, do you? There is still loose rock on a number of the climbs here, even those which have been done a few times over. Holds also might snap off over time. This isn't Seneca (which has loose rock still, even after decades of people climbing there, and has large sections periodically fall every couple/few decades) or the mostly pristine Gunks. This is a new, pioneering area. Treat it with respect. And if you do find a large loose block but it is unsafe to trundle (due to the presence of others below you), please mark it with a chalk 'X' to let others know that it is a danger. Hopefully someone will be there to trundle it later when no others are below.
Rockfall on the trail below Dancing Spanish...
NOTE: in the winter/spring of 2009, the enormous hanging arete of Dancing Spanish... fell from up high, obliterating the mini-gendarme noted in A Winter's Tale below, leaving piles of rubble on the ledges above the trail, half destroying the trail itself, and leaving a swath of debris and destruction into the woods below, obliterating trees and foliage for nearly 50-70'. Take great care while in this area!
NOTE: on June 26, 2011, a large block forming the crux section of the route Unexpected Party broke free and fell to the ground while someone was on it.
The rock itself is Tuscarora Sandstone, identical to that of Seneca. Except the strata is horizontal, not vertical (i.e., Gunks-like). For those of you who have frequented Seneca, this will be familiar yet "new" rock. Enjoy it!
There are a half dozen already-established rap stations for the main section of cliff, but if that isn't an option, you can still always walk off! It is suggested that on your first visit(s) you climb some of the routes near established rap stations in order to familiarize yourself with them as you venture further and further afield (acliff?) on other routes.
Remember that much of the main cliff band exceeds 150' in height, so it would be prudent for you to do double-rope raps (or do two raps if you have an intermediate rap station on hand; more common for people to do double-rope raps).
At present time the following rap stations are established with approximate associated heights:
Due to the potentially unknown nature of the rap stations, especially those built out of webbing, it is generally a good idea to carry 1-2 pieces of 10-15' 1-inch webbing with you on a climb, to either add to an existing rap station (and thus bolster its strength; some of the webbing rap stations are quite old and are in need of replacing) or to re-establish one that's missing.
If you are coming from the far end of the cliff and want to hike out, it's almost easier to just hike down the hill than deal with rapping off. But if it is just a couple of you and you don't want to deal with the steep road hike out, you can easily access the Jim Pick rap station via trails that run along the top of the cliff. For you climber-geeks out there, GPS coordinates for the rap stations have been included in the descriptions below.
Flora & Fauna
Be aware that this is a not-heavily human-trafficked crag. You will encounter biting ants, poison ivy, and greenbriar. The possibilities of snakes is real (though they seem to prefer the more heavily angled cliff band across the valley; I've been advised there is a host of timber rattlers over there), and wasps/hornets are also a very real possibility (in the summer of 2011 I got a report of an enormous nest of highly aggressive hornets on Tunnel of Love - aggressive and so many that the report said "wall of hornets...stinging the rope").
Take Exit 44 for Alt 40. Once off the highway, bear to the right and continue 0.7 miles until you are forced to turn hard to the right (the road before you will be one-way towards you, and there is a concrete median that will divert you to the right). A couple hundred feet later you will come to an angled intersection; head right. The road (Alt 40) is now once again two-way. After another 0.9 miles you'll have come to the third in a series of traffic lights. Turn right here onto Pear Street. At the first/next intersection turn left onto Columbia. Follow Columbia (~0.25 miles) until it ends with a yield sign at an angled Y-intersection with Piedmont Ave.
From I-68 west of Cumberland:
Take Exit 43D, follow the road until it turns left and comes to a stop sign. Turn right onto Park Street. Within 0.1 mile or so you will come to a multi-directional intersection and a sign indicating "JCT 40". Continue straight (very slightly left) through this intersection and then quickly turn right, getting into the left hand lane immediately. Within less than a rope length the left lane turns left. A couple hundred feet later you will reach the main run of Alt 40. Follow this to the third light (~0.75 miles) and turn right onto Pear Street. Follow the directions from this point as per above.
If you are going to the main area (the tall, lead stuff), note that as of June 1, 2007, the parking situation has changed! In the past we had informal permission to park in the church's overflow parking lot. But recently they have been forced to deal with people abandoning cars in the lot, and have had to pony up for having these cars towed away. Very uncool of the people abandoning the cars there, and the fallout from this is if there are any cars that the church does NOT directly know about, nor have they given direct permission to, the cars will be ticketed and towed! This is the only solution they have right now for the problem. And alas, given the lack of parking for climbers, it can be problemmatic. So, if you are planning on climbing anywhere on the main wall, it is suggested (until such a time that the situation changes) that you park on the street somewhere and go in from there.
Parking Coords, Main Wall:
Lat: N 39°39.698'
If you are going to the Far Wall area, turn right onto Piedmont and go up for about 0.2 miles to the base of WIlls Mountain Road. Park off to the side of the road opposite the houses.
Parking Coords, Far Wall:
Lat: N 39°39.909'
To The Rocks:
From the car - approach time is ~15 minutes to the main cliff! Walk west down Piedmont until the street ends. Take the right onto Zihlman Way and follow that final street back until it ends several hundred feet later (note: the cliffs you see across the valley to your forward left are not the cliffs you are actually heading towards). Push on through the woods on a footpath and follow that, trending upwards (steep in places) until you reach a large, overhanging rock 'cave' called the Front Porch (N 39#176;39.809' W078#176;46.741'). There are faintĘpink blazes on some of the trees to keep you on the trail.
As noted in the directions above, if you plan to hit the Far Wall area, it is actually easier to hike up the PlastiCorps road to gain access to the state park fire road that will bring you over to that area. Follow this up until it turns sharply to the left towards the main PlastiCorps complex itself and a fire road (Wills Mountain Road; unmarked as such) leads uphill from the curve. Do not take the gated road straight ahead, but rather the gravel/rock dirt road left of that. Follow that to a large clearing atop of the cliffs (the Sunshine Buttress area will be off to your left). Off to the right is a trail in the woods. Follow that until it splits, and take the left fork. After about 5-10 minutes there will be a large, TV-sized arrowhead-shaped rock in the middle of the trail pointing off to the left, and a stack of rocks against a tree on the left. This is your turnoff marker for the Far Wall. The whole hike will take 40-60 minutes, depending on your individual hiking speed (it is essentially uphill pretty much the entire way; steepest section is the paved road, after which the grade eases back somewhat). Until the trail system is established at the base of the cliff all the way, this is the easiest manner in which to reach the Far Wall area.
The weekend of June 11, 2005, saw the first organized trail clean-up/maintenance weekend, in which no less than 5 tvs, a 5-CD player, a cassette radio, a sheet metal door, and the remains of a shopping cart were dragged from the base of the cliff to the trailhead, all filling up the volunteer pick-up truck. New stairs were put in place on the initial steep section of the approach trail, and belay platforms and steps were put in at the base of the Jim Pick Wall. Please help take care of these improvements to the area whenever you can, and please help take out any trash that the few not-so-caring locals feel they need to deposit over the top. Thanks!
Update for 2007: alas, two years after the above clean-up, the Narrows is in dire need of it once again. Currently, as of June 2007, there is now a computer and monitor, tent parts, driveway sports toys, beer cans galore, some steel rod structure thing, and an oven, most of this at the base near I Wanna Live/Shardly Worth It. Some stuff was taken out on the visit where this was all discovered, but there was enough that a more organized effort will need to be made.
Note: Hawks and eagles use this area (well, the ridgelines just north of the Narrows) as a migratory path. You can see them readily if you know what and when to look for. Also, sometime in 2011 the Cumberland Gap Hawk Watch started to set up a hawk and eagle observation post at the top of Sunshine Buttress. (although the blog has not been updated since fall 2013, they are still up there observing). Very friendly folk if you are up here and see them. Stop over and say hi, they will readily be willing to help you spy the hawks (and any eagles) that are flying over. Since they don't often get visitors, and hawk/eagle watching can be a very isolated activity, they may talk to you non-stop. :-) But you'll learn more than you might have ever thought to ask. You can track their daily and monthly count progress here
Additionally, peregrine falcon are known to visit these cliffs. Whether or not they are nesting here is yet TBD.
Being so long, The Narrows is segregated into sections or segments, delineated by description and approximate GPS coordinates (for you high-tech geek climbers out there ;-).
If you feel you have done a new route, please contact me with the details so I can keep things recorded properly. As you can see from the FA attributes, there are new routes going up almost every year.
Some alternate route descriptions and topos are available at Mountain Project.com. Unless otherwise noted, all routes are listed from right to left.
FUNLAND GPS coords:
Lat: N 39°39.798'
This area is the most beginner-climb friendly of the entire cliff for several reasons:
Free, But Worth It (5.3* G) - 70'. Easy for a 5.3. Start 10' to the right of
Monk on the short section of wall that meets the path. By taking the path of
least resistance up this breadth of wall, you can keep the climbing at or below 5.3;
by working alternate lines you can add couple grades of difficulty.
FFA: Annie Jones, Chuck Jones & Mike Varlotta, April 2004.
Monk (5.6*) - 60'. Climb the left-facing corner on the short section of
wall that is below and just to the right of the striking (but short) arete that
is about 15' to the right of the Kiddie Land corner. Reach the ledges
directly below the arete and then climb the arete and the crack just to its
right. Take a step to the right where the arete is at its steepest in order to
reach the big ledge while keeping the climb at 5.6 difficulty.
FFA: Mike Varlotta, Jim & Lori Johnson, April 2004.
Carousel (5.4*) - 42'. 5' to the right of Kiddie Land is a 15' crack that starts about 4' off the ground. Climb up the crack and then move slightly right ot the featured section of vertical wall that leads up to a big ledge. Like the two climbs to the immediate left, this is a great beginner lead. Nice easy moves on good vertical rock with good gear.
Top-rope variation (5.9) - Start about 5' to the right and climb
directly up the face avoiding the crack on the left and the corner on the
FFA: Mike Varlotta & Bill Forrester, March 2004.
Kiddie Land (5.4+* G) - 42'. Hard for a 5.4. In between where the two branches
trail meet the rock is an obvious inside corner that leads to a rap station at
a pine. Climb the wide crack, blocky corner, and flakes to the tree.
FFA: Mike Varlotta, November 2002.
Preschool Dropout (5.5*) - 42'. The days prior to putting up this climb,
Gigi, Mike Varlotta's 4 year old, told him that she was "never, ever going
back to preschool..." that there'd be "no more school until
kindergarden.". Begin between the starts of Kiddie Land and Rain
Check and climb up to the short right-facing hand crack/flake partway up
the bottom third of the wall. Move up the crack through good stances and holds
and then straight up to the top of the wall.
FFA: Mike Varlotta & Jim Johnson, March 2004.
Rain Check (5.9) - 80'. Begin 10' to the left of Kiddie Land
and 15' to the right of Tunnel of Love. Climb straight up the wall
aiming for the bulges/small roofs. The crux over the final bulge of this route
is very brief, but it is probably two grades harder than the rest of the
FFA: Will Dameron & Mike Varlotta, May 2003.
Tunnel of Love (5.6*) - 80'. Climb the leftmost part of the wall 25'
to the left of Kiddie Land, aiming for the 'tunnel' 35' high. Step left
of or climb over the tunnel then continue straight up to the ledge. Finish on
fun 15' vertical section of wall to the rap station at the top. Nice, easy
moderate lead. Good gear on good rock. There is a bolted rap station near the
top of this route, as well as a webbing anchor rap station 10' higher.
FFA: Mike Varlotta & Jim Cirilano, November 2002.
To Great Lengths (5.8) - 80'. Start directly in front of the tree that
marks the arete between Fun House and Tunnel of Love. By running
this line directly up the arete you can avoid sharing holds with the climbs on
either sid. The roof at the bottom can be ascended in three distinct places:
it's 5.7 on the left, 5.8 in the middle, and 5.9 on the right.
Variation: Upon nearing the top of the arete, situate yourself on the
headwall slightly behind and to the left of the ledges that cap the arete. Send
the roof without the advantage of starting from the ledges (5.10).
FFA: Mike Varlotta & Will Dameron, May 2003.
Fun House (5.8*) - 80'. Climb the blocks and wide cracks 15' left and
around the corner of Tunnel of Love. Continue straight through a series
of three roofs, taking each at its widest point. Gain the ledge and finish as
on the final vertical section of Tunnel of Love. Much like Rain
Check, the crux is blind but brief.
FFA: Mike Varlotta & Jim Cirilano, November 2002.
Mystery House (5.4*) - 120'. Climb the first part of Fun House to the
roofs, then traverse up and left on easy ground, finishing on the upper tiers of
Mystery Scat. A variation of the two routes, really.
FFA: Johannes Reisert, Angela Roberts, Summer 2004
Mystery Scat (5.4*) - 110'. Quite a nice climb, the crux is early in the route.
Climb up the face 15' to the left of Fun House to the very top of the rock.
Lots of variations you can do to make things harder. You could also cut off the last
20-30' and bushwhack over to the webbing rap station atop of Tunnel of Love,
but you deny yourself that much more rock to play on.
FFA: Chuck & Annie Jones, April 2004.
ONE PITCH WONDER WALL GPS coords:
Lat: N 39°39.776'
The One Pitch Wonder section starts about 40-60' right of Free But Worth It in Funland. A handful of routes wind their way up through and/or around overhangs and roofs. The rappel station is located at the GPS coordinates.
The routes in this section are listed left to right. It will help to be familiar with Funland first!
King Tut (5.5/5.6) - 65'. Begin next to a 6-inch diameter pine tree at
the edge of a steep drop about 60' right of Free, But Worth It. Climb up
the white block to a platform below a roof that forms the bottom of a blunt
arete. Move right on the ledge and climb up the corner below a tree, passing
the tree on the left (crux) to another ledge. Work up and trend right, passing
several roofs, climbing short, steep sections to ledges, aiming for the pine
tree at the top. The climb ends at a jumble of boulders just before the pine
FFA: Mark 'Indy' Kochte and Johannes Reisert, May 2004.
TBD (5.5) - 60-65'. A nicer variation to King Tut. Start as per King
Tut, but instead of moving right below the roof, weave left then right through the
overhangs in the blunt arete until you reach a spacious ledge 10' or so from the top.
From there either bear hard left and climb easy rock out, or to keep a little spice of
fun, clamber up to the right and top out.
FFA: Brendan Cathcart, Mark 'Indy' Kochte, August 2014.
King Butt (5.2) - 60'. Another variation to King Tut. Start as King
Tut, climb over a solid detached block, then break left-ish and work you way through
some groaning loose stuff, then up the left side of a series of ledges with a few easy
FFA: John Harman, Adam Byrd, August 2014
I'm Too Sexy (5.7+/5.8-) - 55'. Begin 40' right of King Tut, at
the right side of an open stretch of rock, at the low pointed arete. Climb up
to the left side of a large, pointed block jutting out from beneath a roof
about 30' up. Pull onto the block (crux) and ascend the 10' section of
blank-looking slab to a huge ledge. Continue up easy rock immediately right of
the massive roof to the pine tree (rappel). Alternate variations exist both at
the first roof and for pulling through the larger, upper roof. A unique line
could be put in starting about 10' left of this one and going straight up
through the first roof and then somewhere through the second roof. If this
were longer, cleaner, and not broken up by the large ledge, this could be a
FFA: Mark 'Indy' Kochte and Lisa V. Smith, August 2004
Jungle Love (5.3) - Begin around the corner 10' right of I'm Too
Sexy, starting just right of a pine tree on a ledge about chest/head high
(depending on your height). Climb up past the pine tree to a small, blocky roof
on a steep section of rock. Step right around this, weaving through trees and
bushes as you go (there are enough holds around that you do not need to bother
with the trees or bushes). Once at the large ledge step forward and continue up
to and through a square notch at the top of the wall (just avoid the 4th class
escape gully to the right; it's not worth it).
FFA: Mark 'Indy' Kochte and Lisa V. Smith, August 2004
CHUCK WALL GPS coords:
Lat: N 39°39.815'
The following climbs can be reached by continuing along the path for 30' beyond the Front Porch mentioned in the preface to the first set of climbs (in the Funland area). There is a 30' breadth of wall that is about 40' high and marked by a small roof at waist height off the ground in the middle of its breadth. The upper rap station for this area is located at the GPS coordinates.
Jay Levy ready to top off on Unexpected Party
Unexpected Party (5.7** G/R) - 85'. NOTE: On June 26, 2011, there was a very
significant rock fall event from the opening moves of this climb! A very popular
route, and used to be an excellent 5.5 climb for budding leaders, as the crux is at the bottom
(still is, though now it needs a bolt and is trickier to pull through; until a bolt is installed,
the 'R' rating has been added.). Start the climb where the large boulder is laying on the trail.
Work up some initial foot ledges near the center of the wall, then climb directly
up the blankish lower section to reach the vegetated ledge (when in season - blueberries!!!).
Romp directly up the blocks and ledges to a belay at the pine tree. Either finish on After
Hours or rap from the pine tree. Except for the early crux moves, an easy and fun route for
FFA: Chuck Jones, Annie Jones & Mike Varlotta, April 2004.
After Hours (5.6R*) - 65'. (this could be thought of as the second pitch
of Unexpected Party and the two climbs could be done in one long pitch)
Continue directly up from the pine tree rap of the previous climb over 45' of
very good rock to gain a ledge that is 20' from the top of the climb. Beware
that the final 20' (off the ledge) surmounts rock of much lesser quality than
what was below. To avoid that (R) section you could set a belay on the ledge
from which you could walk to the right in order to reach the Tunnel Of
FFA: Mike Varlotta, Chuck & Annie Jones, April 2004.
The E Street Shuffle (5.2*) - 45'. This begins 50' above the ground, on the
broad ledge above the Chuck Middle roof, about 10' left of where Unexpected
Party continues off the ledge. Climb the path of least resistance to the top.
FFA: Mike Varlotta, Chuck & Annie Jones, May 2004.
Chuck Left (5.?) - 40'. No route description available.
Chuck Middle (5.9TR) - 85'. Start 20' to the left of Unexpected Party about about 10' right of the left side of the wall. Climb directly up the wall and take the roof at its widest point. The crux is short, bouldery, and very pumpy. Once at the ledge above (~40'), continue up following Unexpected Party or The E Street Shuffle.
House of Sticks (5.5*) - 85'. This often overlooked and obscure line starts between a
small but tall pine tree and an oak tree, a few feet to the left of Chuck Middle and 5' from
the left side of the wall. Climb up and left so that the roof can be passed on the left (crux).
Continue up the left side of the wall to the top. A very nice route, both below and above.
FFA: Chuck Jones, Annie Jones & Mike Varlotta, May 2004.
Lat: N 39°39.835'
Continue 150 feet along the trail to a large TV-sized boulder embedded in the middle of the path. From this boulder scramble to the base of the cliff up right for the next two routes.
Robinson Crusoe (5.7* G/PG) - 140'. One or two pitches, as you feel. Start a bit
left of the center of the 20' concavity, aiming for upward to some sizeable right-facing
flakes. Go around the flakes on the left (easier) or inside them to the right (harder)
and continue up to a small tree ledge at 90'. Belay here or keep going. Make some awkward
moves through the overhangs (with questionable rock quality) immediately above the ledge
and saunter up the final 35-40' to the top. Take care not to kick off any of the loose
rock on the ledges above onto your belayer below. Use either the Fun House/Tunnel Of
Love rap station (over to the right) or the School House Rock rap station (just
to the left along the gully).
FFA: Mike Varlotta & Will Dameron, November 2002.
Buddy (5.8**) - 120'. Begin slightly to the left of Robinson
Crusoe climbing up and left on a diagonal through easy initial moves and
then straight up to the top.
FFA: Mike Varlotta & Will Dameron, June 2003
From the TV boulder continue another 120' on the main path to a slight upgrade where the trail meets the cliff.
How Yick Ying (5.5) - 160'. Start in the dihedral just around the right
side of the lower crack that leads directly to the arete on the right side of
The Howling face. PITCH 1: Climb the dihedral to the first sloping earthen
ledge. From there climb the wall on the left until it is possible to begin stemming up
both right and left sides of the inside corner. Either end the first pitch on
The Howling ledge, or move right of the ledge to gain the top section of
the wall on the right side. Periodically this pitch will need pruning/gardening. PITCH2: A very
nice finish pitch, no harder than 5.3. From The Howling ledge proceed to the stacked blocks.
Either climb up right or left around them (going under is also an option) until on top of the
blocks. Continue up the pocketed and featured left wall to the top.
Variation 1 (5.10) - Rather than finishing on the left-facing corner of the right wall, move out and right onto the face and up a series of short roofs to the top.
FFA: Mike Varlotta & Nate Ghubril, November 2003
The Howling Arete (5.8**) - 90'. Climb the crack (just to the left of
the start of How Yick Ying) to the arete. Climb the arete proper to the
FFA: Mike Varlotta & Nate Ghubril, November 2003
The Howling Direct (5.9-***) - 100'. Use the boulder start 8' to the
right of The Howling start (5.8) and then climb the center of the wall
through the overlaps to the roof mentioned above. Here, climb directly over the
last roof to establish on the slab and then straight up the slab (5.9-) before
moving back left to gain the exit notch. The crux section here is brief with a
single, very small, but decent wire placement. The remainder of the climb (both
before and after) offers very nice moves with good pro on good rock and the
notch is reminiscent of the classic moderate "roofs" at the Gunks.
FFA: Will Dameron & Mike Varlotta, September 2002.
The Howling (5.7***) - 90'. Start directly above the point where the
trail meets the cliff at the left-facing flakes/corner. Soon after start, move
slightly right in order to continue up a series of overlaps that lead to a
small roof below a clean 20' slab. Climb the corner to the left to the slabby
wall and finish through the notch to the rap station at the pine tree on the
ledge. Beware ants at the belay/rap station (but enjoy the blueberries when in season!).
FFA: Will Dameron & Mike Varlotta, September 2002.
Varlotta's Daughters Would Totally Flash This (5.3*) - 50'. This climb
starts from the far right side of The Howling ledge. Climb the highly
featured section of headwall on the far right side of this section of wall.
An enjoyable, easy lead.
FFA: Nate Ghubril & Mike Varlotta, November 2003
School House Rock (5.7***) - 80'. Climb up and left from The
Howling pine tree ledge to directly beneath the large roof. Traverse back
right underneath the roof until you can turn the corner. Finish going straight
up. There is a rap station here that will get you back to The Howling
FFA: Mike Varlotta & Will Dameron, September 2002.
The Christening (5.9*) - 180'. Uses the same start as Who Do You
Believe for 50' up a series of easy big ledges. Aim for the double cracks
that lead to the first roof that is an additional 25' above the ledges. After
that roof continue up the headwall for another 25' and through a series of
three roofs. At this point you can either finish on School House Rock or
try to send the climb through the the two angled cracks out the left side of
FFA: Will Dameron & Mike Varlotta, June 2003.
Misty Splitter (5.9+*) - 180'. Use the same start as Who Do You
Believe, 20' to the left of The Howling. Climb to the left of the
pines on the ledge that is 50' high, and straight up to the roof. Jam out
through prominent left-diagonalling hand crack that splits the roof at its
widest point. Grab the lip and cut loose! A very easy first half of the climb
leads to an awesome finish. By doing the first pitch of Deconstruction,
you could reach the spectacular finish and turn this into a three-star outing.
FFA: Will Dameron & Mike Varlotta, October 2002.
Who Do You Believe (5.8*) - 180'. This was the first climb established
during the 2002 development. Same start as Misty Splitter, but from the
pines mentioned above, this climb moves up and to the left to gain the dihedral
that leads to the roof. Traverse left under the roof until an exit can be found.
Like Misty Splitter, the first half of WDYB is very easy. Whereas
Misty makes up for it with a spectacular (but shorter) finale, the top of
WDYB gives back 40' of quality climbing.
FFA: Mike Varlotta & Anne Jones, Summer 2002.
JIM PICK WALL GPS coords:
Lat: N 39°39.847'
Further around the corner from Who Do You Believe is this area. You'll need to boulder up a 10' headwall right next to the trail to access the routes here, then scramble up the 20' vegetated slope to get to the cliff proper. The rap station (two ropes, 50-meters minimum) is located at the GPS coordinates.
Jim Pick (5.8***) - 160'. There are several starts that can be done to begin this route. All are 5.5-5.6 in difficulty.
There is a 5.9 variation put up by Will and Mike in June 2003. It basically climbs the middle roof on the left side before rejoining the main route.
Jim Pick Wall as seen from the top of Cumber Honey
Deconstruction (5.7***) - 180'. This route uses one of the start
variations (#3 or #4 best) as Jim Pick, but climbs up to the right.
PITCH 1: After gaining the first ledge continue up the face and to the right
until gaining the third series (from left to right) of left-facing flakes.
Climb the flakes until it is possible to traverse even further right aiming for
a spot more near the somewhat blunt arete. Climb the arete an additional 50-60'
until gaining the very large ledge that is approximately 35' below Who Do
You Believe. (5.7, 130'). PITCH 2: Climb up and to the right off the belay
ledge, gaining the left side of the large rectangular block that is wedged
precariously in the headwall. Traverse right along the block until reaching the
crack system above it on its right side. Once on the block, climb up and
to the right until you can exit at the first notch on the right of the Misty
Splitter finish (5.7, 50').
FFA: Mike Varlotta & Will Cross, August 2003.
Smoke 'em If You Got 'em (5.10*) - 160'. Use either variation #3 or 4
from the Jim Pick starts. After gaining the first ledge, continue up
the face and to the right until gaining the second series of left-facing
flakes. Climb the flakes straight up, passing the tree on the left, and then up
to and over the next roof at its widest point (crux). Maintain a direct line up
to the exit notch of Jim Pick, staying to the right of the shallow
left-facing corner on the top third of Jim Pick. Finish through the exit
notch of Jim Pick. Note: the gear under the roof is good, but the next
15' (crux) over the roof is rather difficult to protect.
FA: Mike Varlotta & Jim Johnson, August 2003
You can skirt the roof crux with this variation:
Smoke 'em Variation (5.7***) - 170'. Climb Smoke 'em If You Got 'em up
to the roof. Skirt around the left side of the roofand rejoin the climb above.
FFA: Mike Varlotta & Jim Johnson, August 2003
Second Pick (5.7+*) - 185'. Climb the left side of the Jim Pick Wall to
the roof on the left then traverse right across the wall to gain the shallow
left-facing corners of Smoke 'em.... Finish on Jim Pick.
FFA: Mike Varlotta & Dave Gibson, October 2002.
Slim Pickins (5.10***) - 180'. Climb the start of Jim Pick until reaching
the middle roof. Pull the roof and then continue straight up the center of the
wall. The top section is "almost R/possibly R" --sustained 5.9/5.10 climbing at
times over gear that is not as good nor as close as you'd like. This climb was
attempted on two different occasions (whereby the leaders of both teams downclimbed
after entering the unknown runout near the top third of the top section). It is
the only climb thus far to have been top-roped before being led; although Chris &
Bob did send it on their first attempt, with beta only.
FFA: Chris Thomas & Bob Georgantas, June 2004
Left Pick (5.9**) - 160'. Climb the left side of the wall to the roof on
the left. Climb out the right side of the roof and then straight to the top.
FFA: Will Dameron & Mike Varlotta, October 2002.
Easy Pickin's (5.7-***) - 175'. Climb Left Pick to the roof and
then move left around the roof, up past a ledge to a left-facing inside corner
that offers some cool backstepping and stemming moves. Be sure to climb the
final 15' section of headwall off the left side of the Jim Pick Rappel ledge.
FFA: Mike Varlotta & Will Dameron, June 2003.
Dirty and Cheap... (5.3) - 175'. Start in front of the small trees about
20' to the left of the left-facing corner that bisects the bottom part of the
Jim Pick Wall. Climb up and to the left along the path of least foliage until a
line can be taken straight up to the top of the cliff.
FFA: Mark Perry and Mike Super, August 2003
CUMBER HONEY WALL GPS coords:
< href="https://maps.google.com/maps?q=N+39+39.871%27+W078+46.717%27&bav=on.2,or.r_cp.r_qf.&bvm=bv.74649129,d.aWw,pv.xjs.s.en_US.mrQEfghoF0I.O&biw=1184&bih=657&dpr=1&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=X&ei=3UgQVOCaLoSvyAScyoDgAw&ved=0CAYQ_AUoAQ"> Lat: N 39°39.871'
This next striking wall is one hundred fifty feet further along the trail. It is capped by a prominent pie-shaped roof to the left of the Jim Pick Wall and marked on the lower half by a wide fractured crack system up the middle of the left page of the open book.
Tips (5.6) - 180'. Climb the right wall of the open book. Not as much good
gear as you would think or like.
FFA: Mike Varlotta & Will Dameron, October 2002.
Mini-skirt (5.9**) - 180'. Climb the crack in the back of the open book
up to the roof that is halfway up the wall. Traverse left under the roof to
join up with Yellow for 10' in order to get above the roof. Traverse
back right to reconnect with what would be the continuation of the straight
line above the open book crack. Continue up this line to the big ledge 20'
below the final roof, and then straight up through overhanging ledges to the
FFA: Will Dameron & Mike Varlotta, June 2003.
Yellow (5.7**) - 180'. Climb the left side of the open book up the
fractured crack that splits the wall. Pass just to the left of the midway roof
then follow the crack to the ledge. Finish by moving bcak to the right up the
path of least resistance.
FFA: Darrell Spence, 1990s
Richard's Roof (5.7/5.8**) - ~180' Climb Cumber Honey (below) to
the large roof at the top. From here traverse right under the roof and exit trending
upwards to the right. Named after one of the first ascent party members who passed
away shortly after the route was done.
FFA: Scott Richards and Tim Anderson, November 1998
Cumber Honey (5.8+***) - 180'. Do not miss this route! Climb the start
of Yellow up toward the ledge. When approaching the ledge, rather than
moving right, continue straight up and slightly left in order to gain the
finger crack that diagnols up and right. This crack leads to the right side of
the 30' bulging/overlapping black rock that leads to the final roof over a
right-facing corner. Climb the right-facing corner to the center of the roof,
then traverse left (good hands, no feet; crux) until you can turn it and pull over
on the last moves to the top.
FFA: Mike Varlotta & Will Dameron, September 2002.
The Verve (5.9+*) - 180'. Start on the left side of the ledge from which the previous four climbs begin. Climb the first 20' of face that leads up and just left of a small treee on a ledge. From the tree climb either to the left of the large face/corner to the right (easy) or straight up it (5.8). From atop that ledge, continue up through the middle section of easy climbing until you reach the roof on the left side of the wall that is about 30' from the top. The entire final section is high quality and makes the pitch worth the effort. FFA: Will Dameron and Mike Varlotta, September 2003
Charged Emotion (5.7*) - 180'. This climb can be accessed either from the start of The Verve (and somewhere to the left), or to the right of Cumber Bunny. The climb goes up the section of wall between the two. Start in the right-facing corner. Climb up to a stance beneath an overhang for gear. Continue up the wall straight until you gain a large ledge. From the right side of this ledge pull the rooflet to gain the crack which starts several feet above. Climb this crack then move slightly left for the splitter crack at the top of the headwall. Climb this crack until it ends then head up and left to finish to the right of the loose overhang at the top of the wall. FFA: Will Dameron and Josh, September 2003.
This next section of routes starts about 45' further down the cliff from Cumber Honey. Scramble up the broken section of wall that meets the path at the three-trunked tree.
Cumber Bunny (5.6) - 180'. Climb the path of least resistance up the first section of wall to the left of the jagged "ship's prow" that marks the leftmost edge of the top of the Cumber Honey Wall. FFA: Mike Varlotta & Will Dameron, September 2002.
The Boulder Wall (unrated) - 15-20'. A short way further along the trail (before reaching the start of When the Buffalo Roam) there is a 15-20 foot tall, clean wall that is some 25' wide. Although the landing leaves much to be desired, there are plenty of big holds and traverse possibilities to make this a good area for warming up without having to top off. The wall also appears to offer some harder and very cool problems for those willing to top off.
When the Buffalo Roam (5.6** G) - 190'. Start at the low point of the
trail, 45-60' before the upturned tree that marks the base of A
Winter'sTale.Start in front of the thin twisted tree and climb directly up
the initial 50' face. Continue up and slightly to the right in order to pass on
the right the roof 2/3 of the way up the cliff. Continue still further up and
more to the right in order to climb behind the final large left-facing
flake/corner that leads to the top. The first ascent was done in three pitches
while exploring other route possibilities on this section of wall. There are
two very large, comfortable ledges if a multi-pitch outing is what you're
looking for. On the other hand, double 60-meter ropes would get you to the top
in one, long, high-quality pitch.
FFA: Ranjeet Tate, Pat Broderick & Mike Varlotta, September 2003.
Rendezvous With Rama (5.8*** PG) - ~190'. This is best done in three pitches.
Relax and enjoy the views from comfortable belay ledges! PITCH 1 (~90'): Start on the
mostly buried boulder, A few feet uphill from a cluster of three small trees, approximately
25' left of the start for When The Buffalo Roam. Boulder up to a stance to get
gear in, then boulder up to a ledge with a tree to the right (and other foliage). You
can keep the climbing to 5.6 through this initial section by using the hidden flake off to the
left. Step over to the tree where a block sticks out from the roof at waist level. Step up onto
the block and head up, trending slightly right as you go. Climb up just left of the tree to
cleaner rock. The last section (5.7) goes through a shallow corner with a block or two sticking
out of it. Look for the key hidden hand hold to get up to the belay alcove. PITCH 2 (~60'): Climb
up and right, aiming for a horizontal break about 10' below the roof above, and make an airy traverse
around the corner. Step up to a ledge below a small roof. Balance up (5.8-; no gear after the ledge)
12-15' to the spacious belay platform with a moderate sized pine tree. Alternatively, to avoid
the 5.8 no-gear crux, traverse right about 5' to a small right to a fractured right-facing
corner and climb up that (still no gear, but it's also no harder than 5.7, and is about 5'
shorter) to the belay ledge. PITCH 3 (~40'): Climb the short, featured and fractured wall above,
pulling through the low roof (5.6) 15' above the belay and drifting up right to any exit you desire
(through the notch, through the high roof, step left). The climbing is no harder than 5.6, depending
on your exit. The first pitch was established over three different visits while avoiding vultures on
the first pitch of Where The Buffalo Roam; pitches 2 & 3 of this route went in on the third
FFA: Mark 'Indy' Kochte, Carlos Carro-Dupla, Mike Hopkins, Johannes Reisert, Robert 'Bud' Roper, June, 2005
Rama II (5.9*** PG) - 180'. This is almost a variant of Rendezvous With Rama,
except that it climbs an almost completely different line, save the start and the end. PITCH 1 (~85'):
Begin on Rendezvous With Rama, but do not step right to the tree when you reach the first
vegetated ledge. Instead, continue straight on up the wall for another 75 or so feet until you come to a
broken ledge above most of the foliage. PITCH 2 (~55'): climb up the wall above, aiming for the narrowest
part of the wide, imposing roof above. Be sure to get gear in at the last horizontal, as the crack
immediately below the roof is too wide for anything but a #72 Camalot. Find the GOOD handhold at
the lip, and reach up to the right-leaning corner crack above (you can get gear in at this point; a
red #1 camalot will work) and yard on up. Regain your balance and finish the last moves to the
belay ledge above. PITCH 3: Finish on Rendezvous With Rama. The route has plenty of gear-placing
opportunities, except for the 10' or so section below the crux roof on pitch 2. Enjoy this climb.
FFA: Christian Kammerer, Mark 'Indy' Kochte, June 2005
A Winter's Tale (5.9-** R) - 180'. From the trail, continue 45-60' past When the Buffalo Roam to the upturned tree at the path's fairly subtle crest. Locate the mini-gendarme on a ledge ~25' above the crest. Climb the lower section of wall beneath and slightly left of the mini-gendarme. Continue up west-facing sections of headwall that meets the clean white roof at the cliff's midway point. Climb the vertical wall until the roof can be passed on the left (note: this is where the climb might deserve an "R" - the crux is over a margine thin wire and a piece of brass). Continue up to the big roof. Traverse some 20' right until you can locate the moderate (5.7) exit through the roof. FFA: Mike Varlotta & Will Dameron, February 2003
Note: in the winter/spring of 2009, a huge chunk of rock fell from up high, obliterating the mini-gendarme noted in A Winter's Tale, leaving piles of rubble on the ledges above the trail, half destroying the trail itself, and leaving a swath of debris and destruction into the woods below, obliterating trees and foliage for nearly 50-70'. Take great care while in this area!
A Winter's Tale (The Uncut Version) (5.10** R) - 180'. Climb the
original route to the roof. Rather than traversing right to the moderate exit,
climb directly up through the broken notch. A pumpy crux that keeps on coming!
FFA: Will Dameron, April 2003.
Dancing Spanish Through the Chimney (5.8**) - 180'. A two-pitch route.
PITCH 1: Use the same start as A Winter's Tale until you reach the 30'
vertical section of headwall directly below the clean, white roof. At this
point, rather than moving up and left on a diagnol to bypass the roof on the left,
move up and right on a diagnol to enter the chimney/flake system up to the
right. Creative movement and problem solving in the chimney (5.8) are required to
continue. Traverse right after this, out to and up and around the TV-sized chockstone
that can be seen from the ground. Belay from the ledge just above and right of the
chockstone to minimize rope drag. (5.8, 130') PITCH 2: A great second pitch for its
grade. Climb directly up from the belay for 15' until it is possible to make a short
traverse to the right. After the traverse, finish by climbing a direct line to the
top of the cliff. (5.6, 50')
FFA: Mike Varlotta and Patrick Broderick, April 2004
Buffalo Soldier (5.9**) - 180'. Could be a three-* route. PITCH 1: Start about
30' to the left of the start for A Winter's Tale at a small, chest-high roof
in front of several trees that mark an (uncommonly) shady belay. Climb up the lower
section to the first vine-coverd ledge and then up the next section to the next
ledge aiming for the obvious finger crack that splits the roof at about half of the
cliff's height. Use the crack to pull the roof and then climb the face above to a
spacious ledge (5.6, 100'). PITCH 2: Continue up and left to the notch that passes
through the roof and then continue straight to the top. (5.9, 80').
FFA: Mike Varlotta & Ranjeet Tate, September 2003
Shardly Worth It (5.5) - 190'. Start about 15' to the right of the
left-facing corner that is just to the right of I Wanna Live. Climb up a
series of short headwalls that each lead to various large ledges and eventually
to the top.
FFA: Chuck & Annie Jones, August 2003.
I Wanna Live (5.10+***) - 180'. Without a doubt the area's wildest and
most spectacular finish. Climb the wall beneath the impressive-looking
square-cut roof approximately 600' from A Winter's Tale. PITCH 1: Climb
the broken crack in the middle of the wall to the highest pine tree that is in
line with the left side of the roof (5.4, 80'). PITCH 2: Climb up and right
from the pine belay back to the middle of the wall and a series of small roofs
and overlaps (5.9) to the granddaddy finish (5.10+, 100'). The crux goes out a
7-8' horizontal roof, following a jagged "S" finger crack into a hand
traverse/heel hook section and then through the overhanging notch finale.
Perhaps 25' of crux in all. Pump Factor High. Gear placements abound - if you
can let go long enough to get it in!
FFA: Will Dameron & Mike Varlotta, November 2002.
I Wanna Give (5.6*) - ~180'. This route is actually to the right of
I Wanna Live, but to keep with poetic licensing, listed after. Climb the
face just to the left of the bottom left-facing corner that is in line with the
right side of the I Wanna Live roof. Climb superb rock up a direct line
that skirts first the bottom roof band and then the top one on their right.
FFA: Mike Varlotta & Bob Dodson, August 2003
The Chase (5.7** G) - Start by climbing the 5', diamond shaped roof, 6
feet off the ground, 130' feet left of the I Wanna Live overhang. Pass
the prominent nose on the left side. Continue past a ledge and up the broken
column to the large roof above. Breach the roof directly above the column (5.7)
or step right to avoid crux number one. Continue to a spacious belay ledge
beneath a broken corner. Pitch two, climb the broken corner and flakes,
trending up and left to meet the largest roof at a deciduous tree. Mount the
roof directly above the tree and climb the easy ground beyond to the final
roof. Traversing either left or right will avoid the final crux but it is
highly recommended to climb straight through the final roof for a perfect
finish to this esthetic line (and the easiest roof on the climb).
FFA: Scott Haines and Curt Taras, May 2004
Ghetto Booty (5.6** PG) - ~140'. Start 30' right of The Chase, next to
the roots of a tree crossing the path at eye level. Climb up to a large block behind a
pine tree. Follow straight up to a system of grassy ledges. The belay is to the right
at a small pine tree (5.5, 60'). From there climb left of the belay straight up to a
shallow right-facing corner with flakes and a vertical crack system. Exit through the
notch (5.6, 80').
FFA: Annie Wislowski, Johannes Reisert, May 2006
Gin and Tonic (5.6* PG) - ~140'. Start just to the left of the fallen tree in the
shallow corner to the left of Ghetto Booty. Climb until you reach a belay ledge
to the right of a triangular roof (5.6, !70'). Continue straight up and move left over
the roof. Climb straight up the face above through a series of ledges, over a small
roof, and to the top (5.6, ~70').
FFA: Johannes Reisert, Annie Wislowski, May 2006
Cave of Silence (5.5/5.6) - 180'. Start low on the main trail where the
far right side of the Amphitheater reaches the trail. PITCH 1. Climb up staying
to the right of some small trees, and head for a small alcove the "Cave of
Silence" 60'. PITCH 2. Step up to the roof of the Cave and exit left
(crux) once out of the cave your will be on the left facing wall of the
amphitheater. Shoot straight for the top staying to the right of the
amphitheater's main corner and left of the gully at the top. 120' The climb was
named because you can barely hear you partner from the Cave of Silence which is
something like the cone of silences from the Get Smart show.
FFA: John Kelbel and Ben Ardwin, May 2004
GPS coords: (for the top of Little Jimmie Arete)
Lat: N 39°39.977'
Archetype (5.8*) - 40'. Climb the obvious arching crack to the tree (a
bit harder and more awkward than it looks).
FFA: Tim Howe, Aaron Schmid & Mike Varlotta, April 2003
Low Rider (5.10**) - 100'. From the belay tree, traverse up and left 25'
to sling the small tree. From that tree, move up and right back to the first
roof. Pop over the roof and up to the next roof under which you traverse left
until you can climb through the notch. Of the handful of 5.10s at The Narrows
here, this one gets the nod for being the most lead-friendly. There are great
moves with good gear on quality rock. Be prepared to handle the initial (easy)
traverse off the belay with care - the three-star stuff begins after you sling
FA: Mike Varlotta, Tim Howe & Aaron Schmid, April 2003
Low Rider Double Direct (5.10**) - 120'. Begin slightly left of the belay
tree that is a bit to the left of the start of Archetype. Climb the face
directly up until reaching a large horizontal that is slightly higher than the
belay tree on top of Archetype. (Beware of a short section about 30' off
the ground of suspect rock.) Once at the horizontal, compress and hand traverse
left to sling the tree. When moving back to the right, rather than going far right,
up and then traversing back to the left as on Low Rider, reach high over
the first roof at your first opportunity which will put you directly under the exit
notch, thus eliminating the cruxy left traverse of Low Rider.
FFA: Will Dameron & Mike Varlotta, August 2004.
Cha-Cha (5.8**) - 110'. Use the same start as Cheetah, below, but
rather than taking a rising diagnol to the left, climb straight up the cliff.
Belay under the final large roof and subsequent 5.2 leftward traverse along the
ledge to escape the final roof and easily access the Sisters Rappel.
FFA: Mike Varlotta and Chuck Jones, April 2004
Cheetah (5.7+**) - 130'. Belay from the largest tree on the left side of
the amphitheater, about 20-30' left of the start of Archetype. Begin by
ascending through large holds up and left on a diagnol. Surmount the
penultimate roof gainging a great stance 15' below the final roof and traverse
left to gain the large ledge (you can trim down the difficulty to about 5.6 by
skirting the roofs on the left by continuing the upward left slanting diagnol
in order to gane the large ledge system). The Sisters Rappel is located 50' to
the left at the end of the ledge. A 5.9- variation would have you pull through
the final roof section and 20' exit crux finish.
FFA: Mike Varlotta & Bob Dodson, May 2003
String Theory (5.6***) - 120'. This climb starts on the far left of the
amphitheater ledge and moves directly up the clean face just to the right of the
arete (stay left of the lower pine). Very nice moves on vertical rock. Together
with I Wanna Give and Easy Pickins, it is one of the best climbs
for the grade on the cliff.
FFA: Mike Varlotta & Ranjeet Tate, June 2004.
Little Jimmie Arete (5.4***) - 120'. This climb can be started along the
path below the base of Elisa and Gigi. From the trail, scramble
up and right to the bottom of the wall and begin climbing up and right over
blocks until gaining the arete. The majority of the climb travels directly up
the arete, occasionally moving to one side or the other as the holds lead you.
The crux is at the final roof. You can either pull through it (reminding
yourself it is only 5.4) or end it at the ledge below and traverse over
to the Sisters rap station. It is recommended you finish the route for
the full experience. This climb is a classic for its grade. Pleasant, long
vertical climbing from one big hold to the next. Plenty of rest stance when you
need them. Great moves over great rock on great gear. Not to be missed.
FFA: Mike Varlotta, Patrick Broderick & Annie Jones, August 2003
Elisa (5.8*) - 85'. This climb ascends the blocky corner on the far
right of the wall that can be found around the corner to the left of the
amphitheater. It ends at the "Sisters" rappel station on the tree
atop the corner (the majority of the climb is a couple of grades easier than
the brief, well-protected curx, making for what will feel like an easy climb
for the grade).
FFA: Mike Varlotta, Tim Howe & Nate Ghubril, April 2003
Gigi (5.9**) - 85'. Climb the face 10' to the left of Elisa.
Surmount the low roof at its widest point. Continue up through the bulging
section and then up through and amidst the many small triangular roofs. Top off
at the same point as Elisa.
FFA: Mike Varlotta & Chuck Jones, April 2003
The Test (5.7**) - 100'. Bashed fingers, red [biting] ants, a huge
teetering rock that was a key handhold...next to a wasp next, a sliced rope,
and impending darkness made this climb one for the first ascentionists (Mike
Varlotta and Will Dameron) to remember. Start 20' to the left of the Sisters
corner. Climb directly up the lower face to the first tree and then up the
middle section of cliff to the second tree. Move slightly to the right a short
ways above the first tree and gradually move back to the left to reach the
second. Because of darkness the climb was ended at the same ledge as the
Sisters rappel rather than sending it through the vinal roof band.
Variation (5.9): maintain the most direct line possible up from the first tree (rather than moving slightly to the right) in order to climb the roof and low angle section directly above it.
FFA: Mike Varlotta and Will Dameron, September 2003
Lat: N 39°39.XXX'
Due to the nature of the rock on the remaining section (~300') of cliff, the next four routes offer real adventure. Beware of the broken band of stacked rocks that crosses the next three routes. The good news, though, is that these stacked sections are very obvious before you get into them and, for the most part, can be largely avoided. The exception is Con Cuidado - should you try to send this climb direct, you will be forced to climb straight through 20-30' of sketchy 5.7 that probably isn't worth protecting. With all this in mind, the routes are starred conservatively at 1 "*" - yet, for the climber that doesn't mind (or even perhaps enjoys!) discerning the good rock from the bad and the ugly, these routes arguably deserve a double or triple star rating.
Decent Exposure (5.7+*) - 170'. PITCH 1: Begin at a small step about
waist high about 5 yards to the right of the tree trunk that marks the start
of The Ballad.... Continue straight up and into the steeper section (5.7+)
about 50' off the ground and then further up to the ledge. PITCH 2: From the
belay, move up and right into a 50' traverse (5.4) that allows a finish without
pulling the roof.
FFA: Ranjeet Tate & Mike Varlotta, June 2004.
The Ballad of El Goodoo (5.9*) - 170'. 45' left of Gigi, start
directly above the 4' sawed off tree trunk. Climb straight up through blocky
ledges and flakes to the triangular notch that is 15' to the right of its twin
triangular notch. Climb through the notch and straight to the top. Given the
rotten nature of some of the rock, belayers might consider being well off to
the side so as to 1) not get pancaked and 2) minimize potential rope cutting
FFA: Mike Varlotta & Ray Tuttle, March 2003.
Twisted Oreos (5.8+ R) - 170'. The route shares the start of White
Corner (below), directly under the stack of white blocks in righthand side
of the scooped out area and about five feet left of a large left facing crack.
Climb the face to a short right leaning crack in the middle of the face about
25 ft up. Continue up through the open book to the first small white roof.
From this roof pull the four roofs (crux) directly up to the first prominent
notch just off to the right (the second notch is that of The Ballad of El
Goodoo). From the notch, gain the face and climb directly to the top,
passing the large roof barely on its right side. The face (minor crux) is
run-out for 12-15 ft, with delicate, easily breakable, and fracturable rock.
There are some shallow seams in this section, that will take micro-gear, but
will most likely not hold a fall. Once past the large roof the protection
becomes good again. This climb can be done in two pitches by setting up a
belay on a protected ledge directly beneath the prominent first notch.
The ledge was created by trundling large rocks out of the scooped out area.
Considering the high potential for rock fall on the second pitch, it may be
a good idea to break this climb into two pitches and take advantage of the
FFA: Bob Georgantas & David Wilkerson, June 2004.
White Corner (5.10-**) - 170'. 60' further up the trail there are some
belay seat stones placed at the crotch of a two-trunked tree. Climb the right
side of the scooped out area of rock slightly to the left of the belay tree.
Gain the short vertical crack that is 25' high. Continue straight up to the
left-facing white corner. Climb the corner and then up to the white roofs,
passing them on the left until you can step back on top of them in order to
pull the next roof band that is 20-30' below the top roof (crux) band. Atop of
the middle roof angle up and left to gain the horizontal crack/ledge that runs
out to the right underneath the highest roof. Unlike some of the harder roofs
in the area, this one stays cruxy for several moves beyond the lip of the second
roof (but not so much cruxy as surprisingly without much pro until you get to
the third roof).
FFA: Will Dameron & Mike Varlotta, March 2003
Con Cuidado (5.9+ R) - 170'. The first ascent climbed the route straight
up which entailed ascending the loose unprotectable section mentioned in The
Ballad Wall descriptor above. This required climbing next to, behind, and
ultimately up and over the massive square blocks that lead to the square notch.
It would be possible to hit the lower cruxes, meander left onto Maid...
and then return right for the exit crux - thus avoiding the "R"
section of the route. Doing the route: maintain a direct line between 5 and 15 feet
to the left of White Corner. Climb the middle of the scooped out section
up to and left of the pine and then back and slightly to the right. Pull the
roof 5' to the left of the left facing white corner then straight up to and
through the square notch. From the slanting ledge 15' below the final roof,
climb off the right edge and up through the right hand gunsight notch.
FFA: Mike Varlotta & Chuck Jones, April 2003.
A Man Needs A Maid (5.7+***) - 170'. Climb the left side of the scooped-out
section up through several tiered sections of left-facing corners to the ledge
beneath the final roof (this is the same ledge mentioned in Con Cuidado).
Climb up to the roof and then traverse left beneath it into and up through the
FFA: Mike Varlotta & Will Dameron, March 2003
Lat: N 39°40.100'
Sunshine Buttress is a striking butress with climbing on both faces of a 90 degree arete. It is located about 200 yards north of the Ballad Wall. The trail goes down, then follows ducks across and up a couple of scree slopes. The first two climbs are on the south facing wall.
Getting down from Sunshine Buttress:
You can bushwhack a walkdown by going south along the ridge about 100 yards, just past a meadow on the ridge, then working down through a tree-covered ledge and scree system. You can see this route quite well from the top of Sunshine. There is a bit of careful scrambling involved, but by judicious route selection, it can be done quite safely. It brings you out on one of the scree fields between Sunshine Buttress and the Ballad Wall.
The Further Passage (a.k.a., Sorry Ray) (5.8+***) - 100'. Good things come
to those who wait...but not to those who wait too late! Locate the obvious
clean-looking face at the start of the second section of cliff. Climb the easy-looking,
steep, blocky start to gain the 20' fingercrack in the back of the corner. Follow the
crack to the sloping ledge above. Continue up the steep 20' wall directly above to a
second ledge from which you continue up steep rock to a third ledge and then the top.
Much like the rest of the cliff, this climb offers distinct sections of great climbing
that are broken up by good ledges from which you get no hand rests and ample gear
placements. The pump factor is low but the overall quality of rock is high(!) and the moves
FFA: Mike Varlotta & Will Dameron, July 2003.
The Klophaus Dameron (5.8*) - 120'. Start just to the left of The
Further Passage. Climb the wall directly to the top.
FFA: Jason Klophaus & Will Dameron, November 2003
The Lost Era (5.8*) - 120'. Upon first climbing this route, Will Dameron
discovered several piton remnants from a previous era of climbing activity at
Cumberland. These pitons must be clipped for protection and range in quality. Some
appear good, others may need to be equalized to ensure safety. Scramble down
the series of ledges and around the free-standing pillar. Move ? feet left of
this pillar to a small arete leading up to a stance for gear. Head up and
slightly right to the right hand edge of the obvious overhang, clipping a piton
on the right of the overhangs. Head directly up to the next two pitons, then
begin moving up and left, clipping another piton, then head directly up to the
FFA: Will Dameron & Jason Klophaus, November 2003.
Dawn of a New Era (5.7** PG) - 50'. This is a great short pitch to the top
of the clean SW face of the big partially freestanding pillar at the corner of the
Sunshine Buttress. The route starts at the beautiful ledge from which one can
traverse (via 3rd class scrambles in places) along the cliff face toward the far
(NW)end of the Sunshine Buttress well above the actual base of the crag. (Based
on the information in the guide packet, the first ascensionists believe Dameron and
Klophaus began their ascent of The Lost Era from the NW side of the big
partially free standing pillar which would put this climb around the corner to the
left as you face the wall.) Start several feet to the left of the 4th class chimney
that leads up toward the wall with The Further Passage on it. Climb directly
up the center of the face to the overhang. Pull the overhang directly on small holds
(crux) and continue up the face on easier but less protectable moves to a giant
ledge on top of the pillar. Two stars because the rock quality is excellent and the
line is obvious and natural with a fun crux. This route can link with The Lost Era
(for a second pitch) by stepping from the top of the detached pillar across the void to
the wall where a cam can be placed before reaching a series of pitons (an angle followed
by a Z and angle together, followed by another angle). Putting them together as a single
pitch seems like it would cause unreasonable rope drag, as the line would run over a few
edges at the top of the pillar.
FFA: Robert Hayes & Joe Neubauer, June 2004
Just Before Dawn (5.6*) - 50'. This climb starts on the clean SW face of the
lowermost section of wall below Dawn of a New Era, (i.e., below the big partially
freestanding pillar at the corner of the Sunshine Buttress). Climb directly up the
face to the rooflet above which can be seen a thin seam that continues for a body
length up to a good horizontal (Variation: climb directly through the seam, 5.10). By
making a move to the right you can avoid the seam and keep the climb at an easy/moderate
FFA: Mike Varlotta, Bob Dodson, Doyle Tarwater, August 2004
Our Horses are Turning to Mice (5.8*) - 50'. Begin 15' around the corner to the
left of Just Before Dawn. Climb the face (just to the right of the wide crack)
that leads to the roof and then move slightly to the right in order to protect the
finger crack that leads up the face above the roof (5.4 variation: climb the wide crack
to the ledges above the roof in order to gain the easy finish to the top). Pull the roof
at the crack. Once through, easier climbing leads to the top.
FFA: Mike Varlotta, Bob Dodson, Doyle Tarwater, August 2004
[the exact location of the following few routes is not 100% known by me at this time, but are to the left of the main Sunshune Buttress]
THE NORTHWEST FACE GPS coords:
Lat: N 39°??.???'
The following three routes are on the Northwest Face of the wall and therefore do not receive sunshine until very late in the afternoon. Facing directly into the valley NW of the Narrows, the wall also receives the full force of the prevailing westerly winds. These two factors taken together make the NW Face a great wall for the dog days of summer. It starts from a ledge which is roughly 70' off of the forest floor, and 50' below the ledge from which The Lost Era begins. The NW Face is amazing, containing two huge off-width cracks that lead to large overhangs, many other face lines contain multiple small overhangs to pull through.
Whereas the weak band of rock very evident on the Ballad Wall, is near the top of that section of cliff, on the NW Face the weak band is roughly 40-60 feet off of the ledge. This particular feature makes the face climbs difficult to protect, requiring microgear. Yet, the hold structure of this rock band keeps the climbs fun and interesting.
Welcome to Sunshine (5.10 R**) - 130'. Start the climb at an inverted Y-crack about
50' left of the two large chimneys and 70' left of the 4th class scramble leading from the
free standing column of the Sunshine Buttress. The cracks end on either side of a small
overhang and large shelf. Take the left crack up to the first small roof. Go directly up
and pull the four small roofs (crux) to gain the face. Climb the run-out face (sling the
two large trees on sides of the face for pro) to a ledge. Finish by climbing the multiple
faces to the top. NOTE: With a normal rack this climb is an R with serious ground fall
potential. The crux itself (roofs), and face after the crux are not protectable with a normal
rack. There is only one questionable placement for a Red Alien or Red TCU. The climb is PG-13
with micronuts and microcams (a couple of Screamers would be advisable as well) allowing
protection of the multiple roofs comprising the crux. The face after the crux is still
devoid of gear placements for almost twenty feet, but there are two bomber trees on either
side of the line that can be girth hitched with long runners.
FFA: David Wilkerson, Bob Georgantas, and Robert Hayes, June 2004
Southern Exposure (5.6+ G*) - 100'. Climb the stair-step blocks and arete to the small
ledge at approximately 60'. The gear is very good and the climbing easy to this point. As the
arete rises above the tree level, enjoy the exposure as the climb becomes a bit steeper. At
the ledge move onto the slightly overhanging, exposed face. Good handholds and gear appear
when needed. Work slightly left up the face the last 40', topping out to the left of the
blueberry shrubs. Excellent views and solid belay are at top.
FFA: Joe Neubauer & Robert Hayes, June 2004
Southern Exposure Direct (5.7+ G**) - 90'. This is a beautiful natural line that
starts 40 ft right of Southern Exposure and takes a direct line to the crux and the amazing
overhanging of Southern Exposure. Start the climb in the middle of the face, just
left of a large off-width crack and small rectangular outcropping of rock. Climb the delicate
face to gain a short crack system beneath a small overhang (crux). Continue through the
overhand directly to the ledge and arete of Southern Exposure. Traverse the arete
and finish on the overhanging section of Southern Exposure. Once on top enjoy the spectacular
view of the Cumberland Valley, and of the entire northern side of the Sunshine Area Walls.
FFA: Bob Georgantas, Robert Hayes & David Wilkerson, June 2004
VARIATION 1 (5.7): Start the climb by pulling the small rectangular outcropping of rock into the large crack. Stem up the crack to a horizontal finger crack that joins the vertical crack of the main climb. Traverse the horizontal crack over to the (description incomplete)<>
Fortune Cookies And A G-String (5.5 G) - 80'. This climb starts on the second
face left of The Sunshine Buttress and the free-standing column, about fifty feet left
of Welcome to Sunshine, next to a large left facing crack that leads to two left
pointed horns/overhangs. Climb straight up the slightly overhung face to small ledge, then
continue up the face passing the top most horn on the left hand side. Climb the short arete
(thin pro), to gain the huge ledge with the tilting boulder. Belay from the ledge. There
is an easy, protected 4th class gully to gain the cliff top.
FFA: David Wilkerson & Bob Georgantas, July 2004
Where The Sun Don't Shine (aka West Virginia Virgin) (5.4* G) - Far more fun
than it looks and cleaner than you would expect. Start the same as Partial Eclipse
(below) but climb into the chimney. You will notice that the chimney section has
a floor that slants up and back into the depths, but the route stays well off the deck
inside. Get inside and continue straight up until you are just below the TV-sized
chockstone at the top of the chimney. At this point traverse right and upwards into the
depths. You will be able to see light from the hole at the top - aim for that! Holds
about and there are plenty of cracks for pro. Follow these up and towards the light
(the exit). The crux comes right near the end where you will have to do a difficult
squeeze while moving up and left to attain a stance still in the chimney but just below
the belay ledge. If you've never gone caving, this might give you an idea of what some
cavers do underground - without rope! Once through you can stand on the wedged rocks
that constitute the ceiling of the chimney you came through below. Finally, clamber
up the last couple feet onto a spacious ledge system where an anchor can be built by
slinging the pinch between the two enormous boulders directly over the finish. From the
ledge, a short 3rd class scramble up the ramp gets you to the top.
FFA Robert Hayes, Robert Georgantas & Marty Taylor, July 2004
Partial Eclipse (5.8**) - 70'. Locate the massive, left-facing chimney
formed by an enormous flake 30' up from the start of the climb, between
Fortune Cookies... and Easy-X. Climb up a wide crack to gain the
chimney. Work up the chimney to the first horn/overhang. At this point traverse
out of the chimney to the right, around the horn, onto the short face. The pro
is very G rated until this point, then becomes very thin - a couple of micro-cams
(Two 0.2 Camalots, Blue Aliens, Purple TCU) would be useful to protect the one
small crack on the face, which is just left of the line. Continue to traverse
right to a small ledge. After a little rest on the ledge, climb directly up to
the large ledge with the tilted boulder.
FFA: Bob Georgantas, Bob Hayes & Marty Taylor, July 2004
Penumbral Eclipse (5.8+* PG) - 70'. This is a variation to Partial Eclipse
above. After pulling the horn/overhang, rather than traversing right to the small ledge,
climb straight up the face from the horn. As with Partial Eclipse a couple of
micro-cams (Two 0.2 Camalots, Blue Aliens, Purple TCUs) would be useful to protect the
one small crack on the face, which will now be on the right hand side of the line.
FFA: Bob Georgantas, Bob Hayes & Marty Taylor, July 2004
Easy-X (5.3 X) - 70'. Start about 20' right of Where The Sun Don't Shine
and Partial Eclipse. An easy climb and a good route to play on to gain the large
ledge and 4th class ramp, but there is only one real opportunity for protection in a
horizontal seam about 50' up.
FFA: Bob Georgantas, Bob Hayes & Marty Taylor, July 2004
MOSS SHELF WALL
Lat: N 39°40.xxx'
This wall is on the right side of the 4th class gully, which bisects the middle of the far cliff. (2014 note: exact location still TBD) The wall faces west by south west and receives a good deal of sunshine in late morning until sunset. It begins at a 5-6ft tall block with a small tree growing out its top, and it continues to the right until the mossy ledge (very few thorns) comes to a protruding rock buttress on its right hand side. There is an easy down climb at this buttress that leads to a lower shelf, and also an easy up climb that leads to another 4th class ramp, which appears to continue to the cliff top. The most obvious features of the wall are the 6ft block with the tree, a white area 15 feet right of the block, which leads to some small black overhangs, a ledge (at 35-40 feet off the deck) just above the overhangs, and a huge 60 foot tall column of rock with overhangs to the top.
Fair to Middlin' (5.10*** PG/R) - 100' Note: this grade needs to be confirmed -
it may be harder, but it needs to be repeated for further verification. Start directly
beneath the whitish area/small overhangs and climb up to the overhangs. Pull past the
small overhangs using a small crack system on the left (harder) or directly through the
middle of the overhang (easier). Gain the rock ledge, and climb directly up some easier
ground to the next overhang with a small tree growing out of the crack. Pull the overhang
(crux) on the left side of the tree and continue directly up the face to the top. This is
an excellent climb with really exciting moves to pull through the overhangs.
FFA: Bob Georgantas and Lindsey Grenier, Nov. 13th, 2004
Fair to Piddlin' (5.7** G) - 110' A variation of Fair to Middlin'. Start
directly beneath the whitish area/small overhangs and climb up to the overhangs. Pull past
the small overhangs using a small crack system on the left (harder 5.7 crux) or directly
through the middle of the overhang (easier 5.6 crux). Gain the rock ledge, and climb
directly up some easier ground to the next overhang with a small tree growing out of a
crack. Move right of the overhang and the small tree to gain an easy corner to the top.
Even without the second overhang, this is a great route since the moves through both crux
variations are interesting.
FFA: Bob Georgants and Lindsey Grenier, Nov. 13th, 2004
BRIAR RABBIT WALL
Lat: N 39°40.XXX'
This wall is on the left hand side of the 4th class gully, which bisects the middle of the far cliff (2014 note: exact location still TBD). The wall faces west and receives a good deal of sunshine from noon until sunset. It begins at a tall left corner and crack system on the left hand side of the gully, and continues until thin rock outcropping about 60ft left of the corner. The rock outcropping has a small notch below an overhang that is just about 6 feet off the ground. This notch makes for a superb belay stance, since it will shield any rock fall from above. The prominent features of the wall are the tall left facing corner with a large area of orange rock about half way up to wall, and the belay notch.
This is called the Briar Rabbit Wall since he is the only creature that could have gotten to the base of the wall without being ripped to shreds by the abundant thorn bushes, which the first ascensionists had to deal with - thank you Prana for making thick Denim/Kelvar pants...
The Flake and Crack Coalition (5.6* G/PG) - 105' Climb the short thin face (crux)
to gain a beautiful right facing flake with a ledge on its right hand side. Stay on the
short face between the flake and the off-width crack about 4 feet to the left of the
flake. Use the flake and off-width (very nice climbing) to gain a ledge about 50' up.
Climb over some easy ground and slightly to the right to gain an easy corner to the top.
G rated with a few big cams (#4, #4.5, and #5 Camalot; or two #4 and one #5 Camalot C4,
or two #3 and one #4 Big Bros) for the off-width.
THE FAR WALL
Lat: N 39°40.276'
The Far Wall area is the shortest (height-wise) stuff here, and being so far away, will probably see the least amount of traffic at this crag. Since the routes are so short (from 20' to ~80'), it is relatively easy to set up top-ropes on these routes. However, given the walk, and all the great climbing you would pass on the way here, you'll probably opt to save the top-roping stuff for crags closer to home and concentrate on the earlier-mentioned taller stuff off to the right half of the cliff. Nevertheless, there are worthy routes in this section worth doing, if not necessarily worth driving out exclusively for.
The rock actually continues on into the woods to the right, but it is heavily overgrown, with only a few unexplored 'towers' poking out of the trees.
For ease of locating routes, the climbs are described from left to right as you face the wall.
Phat Ass Potatoes (5.2 G) - 20'. Climb the blocky face to the left and
around the corner of Hot As Slim Silver. This is about as far left as
you can go along the main wall before you reach another break (and the cliff
continues on through the woods).
FA: Mark 'Indy' Kochte, Phil Hodge, July 2004
Venus (5.8*) - 32'. Begin a few feet left of the large
left-facing corner. Climb up to and through the small roof to a blank-looking
face above split by two thin horizontals. Trend slightly left, aiming for the
arete as you pass the roof, and finish on the arete to the top. Solid 5.8 crux.
FA: Mark 'Indy' Kochte, June 2004
Size Isn't Everything (5.4* G) - 32'. Climb the blocky left-facing corner
next to a short and deep chimney that becomes a wide handcrack halfway up. Stem
the corner and use the crack or just climb the left-facing blocky face itself;
the grade is the same either way. Looks more intimidating than it really is.
FA: Mark 'Indy' Kochte, June 2004
Trundle Monkey (5.8* PG) - 40'. Climb the deep, blocky roof-ridden outside
corner to the right of Size Isn't Everything to the top.
FA: Scott Haines, June 2004
Free Falling (5.6/5.7*) - 40'. Climb through the wide but narrow roof a few
feet right of Trundle Monkey, then straight up the face to the top.
FFA:Scott Haines, June 2004
He Speaks Foreign (5.4) - 40'. From the belay ledge below, climb up
through a wide weakness between two blocks to gain a ledge with a large
fin-like block to the right. Step left until over a bush, then head straight up
the face, passing to the right of a shallow right-facing corner a few feet
right of Free Falling.
FA: Phil Hodge, June 2004
I Speak Regular (5.7) - 40'. Start the same as He Speaks Foreign,
but once at the ledge, pull through the overhang and continue straight up the
steep face w/out using the fin-like block on the ledge. The black finger crack
is deceptively shallow and flaring, but has a three-finger pocket that is key.
FA: Mark 'Indy' Kochte, June 2004
Treppensteigen (5.4) - 38'. German for "stair climbing". Begin X feet right
of I Speak Regular, scramble up big ledges to a brown-tan
right-facing blocky corner until it ends below a whitish rock left-facing
corner. Transition from the lower to upper corner and finish on the upper
corner to easier ground to the top.
FA: Angela Roberts, June 2004
Project (5.v-hard) - 38'. Do the same initial scramble as for Treppensteigen, but instead of following the corner, head straight up the fractured face to a small overhang. Pull through the overhang directly and finish on the steep face above (thin!). Once above this, easier climbing yields the top.
Gesundheit (5.9** X) - 38'. Best line in this section of the cliff. Don't
sneeze at the crux! Begin as Treppensteigen and project, but instead of
pulling the small overhang directly, trend right to the higher section of the
overhang to gain two dynamite and bomber underclings. Work right on the
underclings and reach up to a thin flake in the black wannabe finger crack. You
may find a kneebar extremely helpful at this point. Work up and right one more
move to catch the U-slot notch (bomber hold). A couple more struggling moves
will surmount this stiff section and bring relief in the form of larger holds.
A powerful, technical crux section. Best top-roped; no gear for leading.
FA: Johannes Reisert, June, 2004
Easy Corner (5.5) - 46'. Begin ~20 feet right of Gesundheit, climb the
long, blocky corner to the top. The crux is in the first half of the climb. As
the finish is anticlimatic, to spice up the final stretch, near the top of the
corner turn right and climb the blank-looking wall (5.6+) just left of the roof
at the top of the cliff.
FA: Patrick Polvinale, June 2004
Solid Adrenal-Ten (5.10* X) - 46'. Start on Easy Corner, but once
on a wide ledge partway up climb the steep and forboddingly thin wall directly
below the roof at the top on thinner holds with imaginary foot placements
(avoid using the blocky corner for feet if at *all* possible). At the roof pull
it on the right. Best top-roped; no gear for leading.
FA: Scott Haines and Mark 'Indy' Kochte, June 2004
Lat: N 39°40.265'
This section is barely 40' tall, and has an amazing abundance of blueberry bushes growing all around the area. Careful where you step! Many of the blueberry bushes are protected from birds by massive greenbriar with dagger-like thorns. The bushes not protected will be eaten clean probably before you get there, so try to take care with any maintenance trimming you do here (in order to have blueberries to munch on between climbs). The routes are again listed from left to right, using the Far Wall routes as the initial measuring point.
The routes are again listed from left to right, using the Far Wall routes as the initial measuring point.
Desert Rose (~5.4/5.5) - 41'. This route starts at a six-foot tall
right-facing corner behind a multi-trunked oak tree 55' right of Easy
Corner. Scramble up the corner and step left a few feet until below
the blocky arete. Climb up through continuous blocks on good holds,
passing directly through a stained rose-colored section of rock halfway
up. Continue to the top.
FA: Mark 'Indy' Kochte, July 2004
Blueberry Bush (5.5* PG) - 41'. This line ascends a few feet right
from Desert Rose, starting in the middle of a blueberry bush patch. Head
straight up the wall to the top. Several variations are possible, but all are
essentially about the same difficulty level. The 'PG' lead rating is only
because if you fall, you _will_ hit a ledge somewhere along the drop.
FA: Mark 'Indy' Kochte, July 2004
Blueberry Pie (5.7*) - 40'. Start 5' right of Blueberry Bush,
climb straight up, aiming for the hardest-looking section of rock halfway up
(a blankish-looking concave section capped by shallow, dark overhangs). Pull
through the 'hangs (crux) to easier ground. Take care to not climb hard on
the column to the right at the top! The first ascention team attempted to
kick this lose, but it wouldn't budge. Feels pretty solid. However, it looks
quite fragile. Your belayer may be decidedly unhappy with you if this breaks
up while you are on it.
FA: Mark 'Indy' Kochte, July 2004
Sassafras Tree (5.4) - 40'. Start 5' right of Blueberry Pie,
take the path of least resistance to the top, ended up just right of the column
at the top. Without using the column, climb the final 7 or so feet to the top
FA: Lisa V Smith, July 2004
Lat: N 39°40.251'
This is the next area to the right of Blueberry Wall, where the first route stars approximately 70' to the right of Sassafras Tree. This section is the left end of the Sci-Fi Wall area.
Red Shirts Rule (5.7*) - ~45'. Start on the left end of a the
rectangular boulder at the base of the cliff. Climb straight up through the
blocky overhang approximately 12' up, then continue up the broken face to the
overhanging arete. Skip up the right side of the pointed arete through a notch
at the top.
FA: Mark 'Indy' Kochte, October 2004
Aragorn (5.8* PG/R) - ~45'. Start just to the right of the rectangular
boulder that marks the start of Red Shirts Rule, a few feet before the
right-facing corner with small elm at the base of it. Climb the steep wall up
to and through two small successive roofs (5.7; height-dependent problem; you
can make life easier by avoiding them to the right). Continue up the featured
wall to a small ledge. Finish on the steep wall below the final rounded crux
roof (protectable with large-ish gear).
FFA: Mark 'Indy' Kochte, Aura Garrison, October 2004
Redneck Martians (5.4 G) - ~45'. Start 5' right of the small elm tree at
the base of a right-facing blocky corner. Climb up the deep, broken black crack
system straight to the pine tree overhanging the wall from the broad ledge
above. Push through to the right onto the gravel- and dirt-covered ledge, then
quickly escape over easy 4th class terrain up to the right.
FFA: Aura Garrison, Mark 'Indy' Kochte, October 2004
Striped With Radiation (5.8+? R/PG) - ~45'. Start as for Redneck
Martians, but instead of climbing the crack system, stay on the steep face
to the right of it and climb straight up to the gravel- and dirt-covered ledge.
Up to that point the climbing is quite easy. From the ledge aim up left for the
large detached block in the steep wall above the pine tree. Continue up left past
the detached block (pumpy crux) to the top, ending just to the right of Aragorn.
While protection is sparse on the first part of the climb, the crux finish takes good
FA: Aura Garrison, Mark 'Indy' Kochte, October 2004
The main section of the SF Wall stars with the tall buttress and continues on for ~150-200' to a large right facing corner. Routes here range from top-rope to short two-pitch leads.
Lat: N 39°40.249'
project (5.?) - As yet unfinished. Climb the left side of the buttress that bisects the Sci Fi Wall.
War of the Worlds (5.5) - ~40'. Climb the large, blocky, slightly overhanging
right-facing corner of the tall buttress to a narrow notch near the top.
FA: Mark 'Indy' Kochte, Johannes Reisert, June 2005
War and Peace (5.7) - ~40'. Begin 5' right of War of the Worlds, between
the moderately-sized oak tree and the main wall. Casually weave through overhangs to a
small roof, and pass the roof on the left, gaining a small stance with a tree (crux).
Easy, peaceful climbing from there gains the top.
FA: Johannes Resiert, Mark 'Indy' Kochte, June 2005
You Klingon Bastard (5.9) - ~40'. Start 10' right of War of the Worlds.
Climb straight up and through a series of small roofs and bulges. The final bulge
halfway up the wall is passed on the right (pulling it straight on seriously ups
the ante on this route). After the final bulge gain a ledge, and continue past that
up the final short steep section to the top.
FA: Mark 'Indy' Kochte, October 2004
Use The Force (5.8* PG) - ~40'. Pumpy crux, do as the route name
suggests! Begin 5' right of You Klingon Bastard, just to the left of a
series of left-facing corner cracks at the base of the rock wall. Wander up the
steep dark tan face to the roof. Pull through the roof following a crack of
weakness (extended crux, pumpy for hanging out placing gear) onto the white
rock above, then up to a ledge. Finish on the pleasant final wall up through a
square corner at the top.
FA: Mark 'Indy' Kochte, October 2004
Crackers Don't Matter (5.5 G) - ~40'. Crackers might not, but handholds
do! Start with the right two of the three left-facing corner cracks, ~6' right
of Use The Force. Climb up following the taller crack system (right) to
a small roof where the handholds run out. Step right onto a small hold and pull
around the roof (crux) onto a blocky ledge/ramp system. Finish by heading up left
over easy ground to the top.
FA: Mark 'Indy' Kochte, Lisa V Smith, October 2004
Number Six (5.6 PG) - ~35'. Starting 8' right of Crackers..., climb up the
bulgy face through small shelves to a broad ledge about halfway up. Continue straight up
to a small bulging block/roof system just right of a small pine growing out from the wall
near the top. Pull the block and easy ledges to the top. Beware that some of the ledges
may be sandy.
FA: Mark 'Indy' Kochte, Toni Price, November 2006
New Caprica (5.9) - ~35'. Start about 12' right of Crackers.... Climb up
easy holds to a broad ledge. Continue straight up to a short, left-facing flake/corner,
passing it on the left. Make a few somewhat not-so-positive moves until a sandy ledge is
gained, then pull up to finish on a final few jugs. Crux is the wall just above the broad
FA: Mark 'Indy' Kochte, November 2006
Arrow of Apollo (5.7) - ~35'. Climb the first half of New Caprica. Instead
of heading up to the left-facing flake/corner, climb the face to the left, aiming for the
right side of the block roof system at the top of Number Six. Pass it on the right
and up easy shelves to the top.
FA: Mark 'Indy' Kochte, Toni Price, November 2006
Lat: N 39°40.233'
This stretch of rock is the tan and grey wall to the right of the Sci-Fi Wall, starting with the huge right-facing corner, and going over to a shallower left-facing corner/chimney ~150' away. The center section of this wall is featured with a stretch of tan rock adjacent to a stretch of grey rock. There is a fair amount of dust on some of the climbs, from water run-off from the top. Take care in the area that there are still loose holds, and definitely loose rocks up at the top. You can either rappel in, or traverse over along the base from the Sci-Fi Wall.
DAK stands for "Deutsches Afrika Korps", the proud but rag-tag German-Italian army commanded by Erwin Rommel in North Africa during world war 2, and despite lack of adequate support from the home front, nearly defeated the British before their supplies were exhausted and the US forces became involved.
Ariete Arete (5.8** R/PG) - ~40'. 'Ariete' is Italian for 'ram', and is the name of
the elite Italian armoured division that served in North Africa during WWII before it was
destroyed to the last tank by the British 8th Army during the third battle of El Alamein.
This route climbs directly up the sharp arete seperating the Sci-Fi Wall and the DAK Wall.
Hug the arete and climb it straight to the top. There are places to put gear above the crux
(which is at the bottom, hence the 'R' part of the rating), but some of the blocks higher up
are not to be trusted, as a good fall could very well blow out a stack of them onto your belayer.
FA: Mark 'Indy' Kochte 5/20/2006
Halfaya Pass (5.7* PG) - ~40'. Start a few feet right of the sharp Ariete
Arete and climb up the blocky corner system to the top, ending a few feet right of
the arete itself. As with Ariete, there are gear placements for leading is there,
but some of it is not bomber, as some of the blocks are not solidly in place and could
blow out on a fall.
FA: Mark 'Indy' Kochte, May 2006
I Deserve A Klondike Bar (5.10a*) - 42'. Begin up a ramp 8' above the base of the
wall, 20' left of DAK Crack and 30' right of Halfaya Pass, below and to the
right of two moderate sized pine trees on a ledge 10' below the top of the cliff. Climb
straight up the tan face through easy moves until you get to a pair of sharp "shark tooth"
holds (crux). If you miss them, you'll be on big slopers. The right tooth has a nice hold
for the right hand deep on the bottom, but be careful to not get bitten! Match hands and
reach up to decent holds. Continue up, passing to the left of a small bush, and arrive at
a very dusty ledge. The final 10' to the top is easy climbing.
FA: Stanislav "Stas" Edel, May 2009
DAK Crack (5.5+) - ~40'. Start at a set of finger cracks below
a crack that seperates the tan wall on the left from the grey on the right, 50'
right of the large right-facing corner of Halfaya Pass. Climb up to a very
sandy ledge (crux), then follow the slowly widening crack to the top, climbing on the
tan or grey rock as you need. Feet get a little tricky up near the top. Take care of
loose blocks on the left as you climb the final few moves.
FA: Mark 'Indy' Kochte, Johannes Reisert, June 2005
Kasserine Pass (5.8*) - ~40'. This clean line starts 10' right of
DAK Crack, at the right end of a wide and narrow roof 6'
off the ground. Boulder up through the roof and short wall above to a spacious
ledge. Work up to a right side pull/flake on the next steep section in order
to gain a series of horizontals, not all of which are as nice as you'd like
them to be (avoiding the side pull flake bumps the rating to about 5.9 or so),
gaining a small ledge with a small tree. Finish on the clean rock above to an
FA: Mark 'Indy' Kochte, June 2005
German Hair Force (5.6) - ~40'. Begin 5' right of Kasserine Pass.
Climb up an obscure line to a shallow corner with a crack. Finish by following
the corner/crack system to the top. This tends to be dirty due to the run-off
of silt and dust from above.
FA: Johannes Reisert, June 2005
The Gazala Line (5.7) - ~40'. Start 13' right of German Hair Force, atop of a
stack of 3-4 blocks. Climb up the black and white face to a ledge about 15' up. Continue up
the lightly golden brown face just left of the tan rock mottled with black splotches to a
smooth stretch of rock directly below the right end of the roof above (danger! at the
extreme right end of this roof are three stacked blocks cammed into the wall; they could
bust loose if pulled on, so keep your belayer well off to the side!). Pull through the
roof onto sandy ledges and continue over somewhat shakey blocks to the top.
FA: Mark 'Indy' Kochte, Stanislav "Stas" Edel, May 2009
Astrophysics student Stas Edel contemplates the Nature of Time and Space - and the need for chalk!
It's All About Me (5.4) - ~40'. Start at the base of a chimney in the large left-facing
corner 15' to the right of The Gazala Line. Climb up the chimney for about a body
length up. Just before reaching the awkward section, step outside to the right and delicately
step up another body length (alternatively, you could just struggle up the rest of this
section of the chimney, but really...why subject yourself to this?). Once above the broad ledge
that forms the base of the larger chimney in the corner, bridge across left to the compact
golden brown wall and continue up steeply on excellent holds until you reach the overhangs
above. Pull through the overhangs (crux) to the top.
FA: Mark 'Indy' Kochte, May 2009
Bombs Away Baby (5.3) - ~40'. Start as for It's All About Me, but after stepping
out of the chimney onto the right face, instead of stepping left across the gap to the steep
wall on the other side of the broad chimney, continue up the face to the right of the same
large chimney. Take care as there are still loose blocks and holds all the way up this climb.
FA: Kylee Underwood, Stanislav "Stas" Edel, May 2009
Nature of Time and Space (5.8* G/PG) - 50'. Begin 20' right from the It's All About
Me, below a small blackish roof 9' up. Boulder up to and through the roof on okay holds
(crux #1; you can bypass this by starting a few feet left and climbing up 10' then step right)
until you gain the shallow corner crack system. Layback the corner crack line for about 20'
until it veers sharply to the left. Continue straight up the golden brown blunt arete (crux #2)
to the upper overhangs. Pull through on more welcome holds and finish on easier ground.
FA: Mark 'Indy' Kochte, Stanislav "Stas" Edel, Bev DeVuono, May 2009
Fragments Of Faith (5.8* R) - 50'. Have a little faith, the holds are all there, in some
shape or form. Start 6' right of Nature of Time and Space, on a partially detached block,
between the small elm tree and the large wedge-shaped boulder. Climb straight up the face to
the overhangs a few feet left of the prominent projecting roof near the top. Once through the
overhangs climb the final 8-10' on easier ground to the top. Note: the cruxes (there are
several) are height-dependent. If you can reach high, you can by-pass the intermediate holds
between the horizontals.
FA: Mark 'Indy' Kochte, Bill DeVuono, Bev DeVuono, May 2009
Touch The Sky (5.7*) - 50'. This and the next two routes start in the same chimney, a few
feet right of Fragments of Faith. Climb up the 6' chimney to the ledge. Facing the main wall,
climb up the center of the tan face (crux), occasionally sharing a hold with Fragments...,
until you reach some larger holds. Trend right and up to a notch to the right of the square roof
at the top.
FA: Mark 'Indy' Kochte, Aug 2009
He Stole My Dress (5.6) - 50'. Same start as for Touch The Sky. Once at the ledge,
move right to the arete/chimney. Climb up the arete (or the chimney if you're a masochist) until
it is possible to step fully onto the wall on the left. Climb up the left portion of the face,
staying right of Touch..., then work the blocky corners (warning: some loose stuff here)
to the top.
FA: Michelle Mercier, Regina Schulte-Ladbeck, Aug 2009
The Tebaga Gap (5.4) - 55'. The crux is the start, really. Begin as per He Stole My
Dress. But instead of stepping onto the main wall, continue up the arete until even with a
pine tree off to the right. Then either slip around the right of the block before you into a 4th
class gully and climb up, or climb up the block before you (more enjoyable) to its top, then
finish on the blocky left and around the corner from the finish of He Stole My Dress.
FA: Mark 'Indy' Kochte, Aug 2009
THE SAND PILE
Lat: N 39°40.217'
This area starts around the corner approximately 30-40' to the right of The Tebaga Gap, and about 15-20' down on the ground proper. The sand that is evident at the DAK Wall is even more so on the holds and ledges here. But that aside, the area offers some nice moderate level climbing - unless you like serious roof problems, then you can up the ante a bit!
Belayer note! Given the amount of debris that litters the ledges above, and potential for other holds and blocks to unexpectedly break off, it is suggested you belay far left or right from where the climber is going up to avoid any gravity missiles that may come shooting down. Wearing a helmet is a good idea here, but won't protect your shoulders, back, arms, etc.
The first four routes climb the face and ledges to the left of the large roof high above.
Trundle Warfare (5.7*) - 82'. Begin 12' right of the short, sharp-edged right-facing
corner, 15' below a right-facing crack. Climb straight up on long but shallow flakes and
inseams to reach a ledge. Continue up and layback the crack until you reach a flaring
chimney system. Continue up the right wall, using whatever you have available, until you
reach another ledge. Continue up the next steep but short section of wall to another
spacious ledge. The great rock ends at this point. From here work your way up another 30'
to the top, weaving through short, steep steps and ledges of sand and debris as you see
FA: Brendan Cathcart, Mark 'Indy' Kochte, Sept 2014
Trundle Junkie (5.8*) - 82'. Really a variation to Trundle Warfare, but
well worth the time to explore. Start as per Trundle Warfare, but upon reaching
the first ledge 10' up, avoid the layback crack (and flaring chimney above), instead
work the arete on the right. Rejoin Trundle Warfare at the next ledge up.
FA: Brendan Cathcart, Sept 2014
Dancing for a Vision (5.7*) - 82'. Start 5' right of Trundle Warfare, below
a short, shallow right-facing corner. Work up to the spacious sandy ledge, then directly
up the steep wall above, trending slightly right. After 35' of steep rock dancing, pass a
black bulge/small roof of rock on the right, taking care that some of those black holds
could break off unexpectedly (somewhat fragile seems to be the nature of that rock type).
It is possible to avoid using the lower black rock holds by working out an inventive
arm-deep undercling and reach tall for solid holds above. From there continue directly up
to the top. Steep, sustained, but not outrageous. Would be an awesome route if not for
all the sand on the holds.
FA: Mark 'Indy' Kochte, Brendan Cathcart, Sept 2014
Enter Sandman (5.4) - 82'. A bit of a wandering route, really. And a whee bit
sandy. Start at a short crack 5' right of Dancing for a Vision and climb up to a
spacious and sandy ledge. Sand will be the name of the game here. Join Dancing for a
Vision for about 10' then traverse and climb up right as easier ground dictates.
Continue following the path of least resistance (and larger holds) just right of
Trundle Warfare until about 30' below the top. From here finish as per Trundle
FA: Katie Bechtold, Mark 'Indy' Kochte, Sept 2014
Jeffrey Lash on the first ascent of Thank You Space Expert
Theater of Tragedy (5.7*) - 77'. Start at a short right-facing corner that is
about 6' above the ground, uphill and 8' right of Enter Sandman, directly below
the stacked broken blocks below the large roof 35' up. Work up to a ledge then up the
broken blocks until you reach the broad roof. Pull around the roof to the left (fun) and
up the steep face (crux) until you reach a small ledge and a bush. From here trend
slightly left and hit the top.
FA: Mark 'Indy' Kochte, Sept 2014
Thank You Space Expert (5.9*) - ~70'. Locate the narrow vertical finger crack line
a few feet right of Theater of Tragedy. Dance up the face directly to the right
half of the large roof above. Working the block on the right, pull through the roof
employing some good side pulls as you can find them, then aim for some hand ledges (crux)
up the steep black face above. From here continue straight up to sandy ledges and
FA: Jeffrey Lash, Brendan Cathcart, Sept 2014
Travel is Dangerous (5.7) - ~70'. Begin at a vertical crack/groove system 12'
right of Theater of Tragedy. Follow that straight up to the roofs where there is a
large crack separating the blocks of the roof. Pull through and continue up the steep
orange and black rock to the top.
FA: Jeffrey Lash, Sept 2014
Yes! I Am A Long Way From Home (5.8*) - ~70'. Begin 5' right of Travel is
Dangerous at a broken vertical crack line. Follow that past a bush to the two
tiered roofs directly overhead. Step past the first roof on the left to reach the
second, main roof. Stepping right, and with limited feet options, pull through the main
roof. Intimidating due to lack of feet, but easier than Thank You Space Expert.
From there climb up the black and orange face to the top.
FA: Jeffrey Lash, Sept 2014
Jenga Me Crazy (5.6) - 54'. Start at the broad chimney that bisects the
north-facing wall, 7' right of the broad corner and 10' right of Yes! I Am A Long Way
From Home. Climb up/around/over/through the chimney until it ends, and continue up
following the large, somewhat rotten left-facing corner until another chimney is formed.
Take care for loose blocks! Climb up the left side of the chimney for a few moves until
it is possible to step out right onto and around the arete, onto the outside face. Climb
up the face and/or finger crack system to the top. Sketchy when in the chimney systems,
climbing is much more solid once on the face.
FA: Brendan Cathcart, Mark 'Indy' Kochte, Sept 2014
Disintegration (5.7*) - 54'. Start a few feet right of Jenga Me Crazy,
at a wide crack (narrow off-width-sized). Follow that up to a block roof. Pull through
the roof and continue up the face for some pleasant climbing to the top. Note: there is
some potential for some loose large rocks in the corner on the left side of the climb.
Take care when climbing up if you end up into the corner.
Brendan Cathcart, Sept 2014
Lat: N 39°40.205'
Located to the right and around the corner of Sand Pile Wall, this area offers unique level ground at the base of the rock unlike most of the rest of the cliff: no thorns, only a blanket of moss and partially buried rocks. The routes here all start with a steep, lichen-free white face. Except for the ledges at the upper ends of the routes, the rock here is pretty clean. The route cruxes are generally, but not always, somewhere in the bottom third of the wall, in/around the bullet-proof white face.
Our Solemn Hour (5.9*) - 69'. Begin approximately 7' right of the blocky
right-facing corner at the left end of the wall, below a short, sharp right-facing block
about 8 feet up. Work up the short right-facing block to a stance. Continue pretty much
straight up the white face through a rectangular orangish rock alcove, and onto more
white (and black) face climbing (crux). Once at a ledge, step left and climb up black and
orange rock, staying left of the line Not Human Kind, aiming for the square white
wall at the top of the rock. Once at that final stretch of rock, finish as you see fit to
keep the climbing fun.
FA: Mark 'Indy' Kochte, Jeffrey Lash, Brendan Cathcart, Sept 2014
Not Human Kind (5.9+*) - 69'. Mildly contrived opening moves. Either start on
Our Solemn Hour and move up right quickly past the right-facing block, or begin a
couple feet to the right below several shallow roofs. Avoiding the right-facing block 8'
off the ground on Our Solemn Hour, work long reaches up the white wall and through
the shallow roofs (crux; also, look for a sideways undercling finger 'pocket'), until you
reach a ledge with a bushy tree on it. Either step through the tree and climb the shallow
inside corner behind the tree, or (better) stay to the left and climb the short buttress
until you reach a ledge. From here either trend left and climb the upper section of
Our Solemn Hour or continue up ledges and steps, aiming for a pair of
diverging gully chimneys at the top. Finish how you want to make the final moves fun up
along the gully chimneys.
FA: Mark 'Indy' Kochte, Sept 2014
Two Steps from Hell (5.9*) - 55'. Start 20' right of Our Solemn Hour, below
the right side of the roof 15' up. Delicately work up the bullet-proof white wall (crux)
to the roof, and step through it as handholds dictate on the right. (significantly more
challenging to the left). Continue up to a second roof, and step through it on the blocky
right side. Finish on steadily easier ground to the top, taking care of loose rock on the
ledges for your belayer below. There's a lot of climbing packed into this 50-odd foot
FA: Mark 'Indy' Kochte, Brendan Cathcart, Sept 2014
(next wall over)
Lat: N 39°40.185'
SENTINEL TOWER GPS coords:
Lat: N 39°40.346'
This outcrop tower can be seen far to the left of The Far Wall area, poking lonely out of the woods. It actually is easy to reach, but takes a bit of time. You can either follow the directions to The Far Wall area, but instead of veering off into the woods at the arrow-head rock, continue on the trail (semi-overgrown with greenbrier due to lack of foot traffic) until you reach the dirt road. Turn left and follow this to a wide area where the road bends hard to the right, and go off left to the overlook. This is the top of the Tower. An alternate way to go would be to follow the dirt road from the paved road of the plastics factory the entire way. It will add a few minutes to the walk, but you will be free of greenbrier.
Lat: N 39°40.317'
Long: W 078°47.328'
The great slab walls outside of downtown Cumberland
Lat: N 39°40.267'
Long: W 078°47.365'
This is a fairly well-developed sport/trad/top-rope climbing area a mile or so north of The Narrows, a few miles northeast of downtown Cumberland. To access it from I-68 get off at Exit 43D (Maryland Ave; these directions assume you are coming in from the East). Follow the road as it turns left a block later and then turn right at the stop sign onto Park Street. Follow that about 0.1 or so miles to a multi-directional intersection. Continue straight (bearing ever so slightly left) and turn right when you can. Immediately get over to the left lane at this point and follow that to the left. A short distance later you will reach Alt 40 proper.
After the third light (Pear Street) you'll then go over a bridge and come to another light; bear right. Continue on Alt 40W for 1.1 miles, passing the Fruit Bowl market on your right. As you approach another light at the junction of Alt 40 and Rte 36, there will be a small road to the right called Locust Grove. Turn right here! Cross over the small, one-lane(!) bridge, and park along the street near the utility building on the right immediately after the bridge (do not park at the utility building!). You'll see the cliffs on your right, across the tracks. The cliffs face northwest.
There are around 40-50 routes here: a mix of top-rope, trad, and sport. Be warned: not all of the bolts are well-placed. There are a number of trad lines in the area as well. It is best, at this time, to find someone who frequents the area if you want to climb there, to get more information on the routes.
The entirety of Locust Grove faces northwest, so does not get a lot of mid-winter sun. In the spring and fall, however, sunlight should be plentiful by late afternoon. Midday in the summer it can get pretty hot on the rocks. (not to mention ticks, mosquitoes, etc).
Note that parking is thin, and is just-off-the-street. You then have to walk past the brick utility building, following a footpath to the railroad tracks. To get to the rocks you'll have to either walk across the tracks (PATENTLY ILLEGAL! BE WARNED! IF CAUGHT, YOU WILL BE ARRESTED!) or float over them (legal) to the retaining wall on the opposite side. Scramble up on rocks to the right side of the retaining wall to gain a flat trail directly beneath the right-leaning rock wall above.
Land ownership issue #1. There is some discrepency on who owns the land: the railroad, the city, or is it part of the state park. It is my belief that the rocks are on railroad property (given some of the signs I've seen on trees below the cliffs of the Narrows), and thus climbing here is considered trespassing (railroad companies are notorious for not liking the public to be hanging around on their property, much less crossing tracks anywhere but at controlled intersections). Nevertheless, people have been climbing here for easily three or more decades. Others have claimed that the cliffs are public land, but whether they are or not, unless you come up and over from the Narrows, you still have to cross the railroad tracks, which is private (see warning above). So if you visit, be discreet and on the down low.
Land ownership issue #2. There is a section of rock a fair ways down (I do not yet know exactly how far; TBD) that is not on railroad property, but is still private nonetheless. And the landowner does not wish for the general climbing populace visiting. Yes, there are bolts on the rocks there, but you are not allowed to climb on them. This is their private wall. Please respect it.
But if you really really have to climb those routes, get to be friends with the landowner.
The coordinates for the walls noted below are mostly for the top, but in some cases they were taken at the base of the slab(s).
TIMBARB BUTTRESSGPS coords:
This is the first leaning slab you come to after you cross the tracks. There are at least four established routes on it.
Unknown (5.? PG) - x'. This route is the first clean and clear ramp you come to as you get onto the trail. It is not often climbed. Climb up the right-leaning ramp and corner system to the top. No anchors. Walk off left.
West End Boys (5.10a* G) - x'. Starting to the right of the blunt arete that is the start of Copperhead, climb the blocky and right-leaning face to the roof above. Staying low, get a good left hand hold, right heel hook, and stretch up to a solid right jam in a coarse hand crack. Crank, get another jam, then reach up to finish the crux. Finish the climb by running up the stellar arete to the top. The crux protects very well with #0.75-#2 cams. No anchors up top, establish your own. Then either rap off from the Copperhead anchors or down-scramble left from there.
Copperhead (5.6** G) - x'. So-named because of the periodic copperheads that have been found nesting in the cracks of this climb. Gear would include everything from small nuts to a #5 Camalot near the top, plus something to deal with any snake encounters you might experience. Begin at the right corner of the "Tim + Barb" slab. Climb the blocky corner until you reach a thin crack. Continue up to a sizeable boulder on a ledge below a long left-facing corner. Follow the corner and jam crack until it ends at another ledge. Finish by going up the easy (hah!) offwidth to the fixed anchors. Lower off or walk off to the left.
Timbarb (5.7** PG/R) - x'. Use the same start as for Copperhead. At the large block on the first ledge, traverse right and up. If you are leading, get in some good gear at the horizontal. Your next pro placement isn't for another 10-15', and if you blow it here, you're smacking the ledge on the way down (hence the "/R" attribute). From the horizontal dance delicately up the face and shallow right-facing flake systems until you get to a broad ledge. Finish by either climbing the offwidth crack of Copperhead or delicately climbing the thin-holds face to the top. Lower off or walk off to the left.
Lat: N 39°40.xxx'
Long: W 078°47.xxx'
The Pittsburgh Route (5.10b) - X'. This is the first bolted line you come to from Timbarb Wall. Follow the bolts (4) to the top. There are no anchors. So-named because a climber from Pittsburgh established it.
Lat: N 39°40.312'
Long: W 078°47.330'
This obviously green wall is located 100' down the trail from the Pittsburgh Wall. There are short and tall lines here.
Unknown (5.?) - This is a partially bolted line located a bit around the corner to the right and uphill of the main Green Wall. Follow the 3-4 bolts up the first half of the wall, and use gear (sparse) for the second half.
Green Wall (5.10b*) - 32'. Area testpiece and a crimp master's dream. This short sport route is in the center of the Green Wall. Follow up 4 bolts to anchors. Crux is passing the first two bolts. Relatively easy if you know the sequence. If you don't, it's going to feel much harder than it is rated.
Baker Flake (5.4-5.6* G/PG) - 69'. This route starts a few feet left of Green Wall at a shallow left-facing corner system. Work up the corner and face until it is possible to traverse easily left to gain the large right-facing corner system above. Follow this until it ends and finish the last 10' up to the anchors. A nice route with a multitude of variations that one can use to make it harder or easier.
Baker's Way (5.6-* G/PG) - 69'. Start on Baker Flake but instead of traversing left to the right-facing corner system, continue up the face passing three bolts. Finish on the last block with the Baker Flake anchors. Really a variation to Baker Flake
Baker Street (5.9+*) - 69'. Really, a variation start to Baker Flake. Begin halfway between the start of Baker Flake and Superman. Climb the thin face up to gain a nice horizontal. Finish on Baker Flake.
Superman (aka, The Overhang) (5.10b*) - 66'. This will test your Kryptonian-born powers. Start directly below the large detached offwidth-sized right-facing Baker Flake. Climb the thin crack (crux) to the overhang, clip the bolt (if you are leading) at the lip of the overlap, step right and heroically pull through it. From there fly up the face to the anchors at the top.
The piton of Piton Crack
Piton Crack (5.8** G) - 60'. A classic route. Begin 12' left of Superman at a detached flake boulder buried upright at the base of the wall. Follow the thin finger crack past a piton until it tapers off, then past two bolts bolts to gain a broad ledge with two beefy rap bolts. There is a second pitch (~30') with at least one bolt in the wall above the ledge.
BEE STING WALL
Lat: N 39°40.324'
Long: W 078°47.297'
To get to the start of these routes, zig-zag scramble up a few ledges for about 30'.
Project (5.13?) - 12 bolts. This starts to the right and around the corner from the following few routes. As of the fall of 2009, no one has sent this entire line yet. If you get past the 4th bolt, you are doing good!
unknown (5.10b) - 76'. This stout blank line follows four bolts from bottom to top. The first two bolts are 15-20' off the ground, and within 5' of each other. The third bolt is a very very long runout 5.9 slab away, as is the 4th bolt from there. The anchors are not exactly close to the 4th bolt, but a fall from there won't ground you. Good luck and be careful! Or top-rope it and just enjoy the climbing.
Unknown (5.9) - ?'. This route starts in a right-facing corner system formed by a slab 'pillar'leaning against the main face, to the left of the above 5.10b problem. Climb up the corner until it ends. From here trend right and left as the holds present themselves on this golfball-dimpled slab until you reach easier ground at the anchors.
Killer Bee Sting (5.8-*** G) - 76'. Excellent! Begin at the base of the mini slab 'pillar' leaning against the main wall here. Climb up through a few horizontals (crux) until you gain the top of the 'pillar'. Step up and onto the main wall, following the fantastic finger crack system to the top. Probably one of the most aesthetic lines in Locust Grove. If you like crack.
Bee Sting (5.6+** G) - 70'. Great climb. Start uphill to the left from Killer Bee Sting, at a left-facing corner. Climb the corner until you reach a nice, right-leaning discontinuous finger crack system. Follow that towards the anchors at the top. A fun and slightly easier alternative to Killer Bee Sting itself.
Unknown (5.9) - 51'. Climb the shiney bolted line just left of Bee Sting. The first three bolts are fairly close together, then the fourth is quite a ways up. You have to deal with the first crux to get to the fourth bolt. The final crux is getting to the bolt anchors. Interesting face climbing problem.
Unknown (5.?) - 51'. Climb the sparsely bolted line just left of the previous route, and right of the left-facing corner/chimney that marks the right end of Barbed Wire Wall.
Our Little Secret (5.4* R) - 75'. While off-putting to most folks, if you want to experience an easy and nice chimney route, this one's for you. Climb the clean chimney formed by the right facing corner at the left end of Bee Sting Wall, just left of the previous sparsely bolted route ascends.
BARBED WIRE SLAB
Lat: N 39°40.330'
Long: W 078°47.294'
So-named for the rusty coil of barbed wire wedged between some boulders a few feet past the anchors at the top of the wall. This wall is just to the left of the Bee Sting Wall.
Unknown (5.10c) - 40'. Just left of Bee Sting Wall is another slab, with the base a little higher up than that of Bee Sting. Follow the bolt line on the right half of the slab up to anchors below some breakdown boulders.
Lat: N 39°40.329'
Long: W 078°47.288'
Lat: N 39°40.345'
Long: W 078°47.250'
Sometimes called White Slab or White Wall. There are four or five routes on this exposed above-the-trees rock. Due to the lack of tree cover, this can still get afternoon sun as late as November, or as early as February. And be a reflector oven in the summer.
Right Now Arete (5.3* R) - 55'. Climb the right arete of the slab.
Upper-Unknown (5.8*R/PG) - 44'. This gets an 'R' rating for the first 15-20', as there is no gear (unless you brought your skyhooks) until you reach the crack. Begin a few feet left of the rightmost bolt line, delicately work up the right-arching crack. Once you've gained the crack, follow that up and to the right until it reaches the arete. Angle left and up the face to the bolt anchors.
Upper-Unknown (5.10c) - 44'. The is the rightmost of the two bolt lines on the face. Delicately balance your way up the almost mostly useless featured face, following the bolts, to the anchors up top.
Upper-Unknown (5.11a) - 44'. This starts a few feet left of the above route, and follows an exceedingly thin crack/seam along a bolt line, eventually intersecting with the above route.
Upper-Unknown (5.9) - 40'. Climb the thin face and seams 5 or so feet left of the leftmost bolt line on the face. No bolt anchor for this one; you need to build it with gear and natural pro.
Fork Run Recreation Area is a small heavily wooded area a couple miles behind the Wisp Ski Resort that hosts some bouldering, top-roping, and short trad & sport leads. It's gritty nature is very reminiscent to that of Coopers Rocks 20 miles or so to the west. And the plethora of pockets on this rock make it even more unique in the Maryland repetoire of climbing styles for you to exercise on.
Nothing here is overly tall, 35' max with 25' being the average. This is not going to be a 'destination' crag. But if you live locally, or are going to be spending any time in the area (i.e., at Deer Creek) and feel that desperate need to get some vertical action in, this place will fit the bill!
The lands and climbing area are managed and maintained by Adventure Sports Center International (ASCI).
Only REAL boulderers go it barefoot!
All climbers are asked to register at the kiosk and sign a waiver before heading in to climb (although the sign-in area does not always have a register or waiver for you to fill out).
At this time, short of some route descriptions, no difficulty information is available, other than routes range from "pretty darn easy" to "damned impossible". Until I can learn more, you're on your own judgement.
From I-68 take exit 14 onto Rte 219 south towards Wisp Ski Resort (alternatively, if coming from the west, take exit 4, get on MD 42, and take that 7.5 miles south to 219; keep right and continue another mile to the Wisp ski Resort area). Once you get to the environs of the Wisp Ski Resort, turn right onto Sang Run Road (you can short-cut this by jumping off of 219 onto Deep Creek Road, but it's not going to save you any real time). 0.2 miles later turn left onto Marshall Road. Go slowly through the resort cottages, houses, and other businesses for 1.1 miles, then turn right onto a very inobviously marked Overlook Road. This road is a private road (which is why it's marked differently from all other road signs). Travel up the sometimes steep and always continuous hill until you come to a stop sign at the top of said hill (0.7 miles). Turn left onto Wisp Mountain Road and go for another 0.7 miles to a stop sign (2-way) at Shingle Camp Road. Turn right onto Shingle Camp and follow it for 2.25 miles, almost to the very end of the road (and another stop sign). Just before you reach the end of Shingle Camp, turn right onto a 1 lane gravel road that is the entrance to the Fork Run Recreation Area. 500 feet later you will arrive at an ample parking area.
From the parking area, saunter down the gated dirt road past the kiosk. About 500' later you will come to a shack on the left with a couple of picnic tables. You'll have also passed a porta-privy halfway between the shack and the parking area (so no need to use a tree). Continue on another 50-80' to the trailhead on the right. Follow the trailhead (and signs) to the climbing spot of your choice (below).
Word of Caution: Some of the bolts, hangers and rings have gotten rather...rusty in the time since they were put in. Use your judgement in trusting whether or not to use these as anchors or for clipping purposes!! Pre-inspect the bolts on the route, or scout the anchors from up top to be sure they meet your level of acceptable risk. This is especially of note for the fixed anchors in The Boulders climbing area.
This is the first climbing area you can get to from the trail. It consists of 4-5 free-standing boulders clustered together, just far enough apart to offer some fissures for you to squeeze through (and access climbs on the "inside" of these boulders). There are 5 bolted sport lines on the steep rock face on the left side of the boulders, a couple of top-rope lines on the buttress you first see coming in from the trail (that could also be trad-led), plus a handful of additional top-rope lines in between the boulders. There are some personal anchor bolts on the very top, but being spaced out so that more often than not a single bolt covers two or three routes, they are likely anchors for people to tie off on in order to set up the top-ropes.
In order to most easily get to the top of these boulders, the ASCI maintains an aluminum ladder on the 'back' side of the rocks.
The routes are described right to left, starting just right of the top-roping buttress. It is possible to chimney straight up the fissure to the top. Good for some chimney practice, if you're into that sort of thing. ;-)
If you continue on down the path past the Main Face, you'll come to another short, overhanging boulder to play on.
TR Buttress Area:
Boulder Buttress Right (5.8-* PG) - 23'. Standing before the boulders from the path, locate the anchors atop the right, very featured and somewhat overhanging wall with a leaning right-facing corner, to the right of the fissure that splits the two rocks apart. Clamber anywhere up the wall to the anchors. You can trad lead this route, but given the angles you have to work with, getting gear in may be a little tricky. Hence the PG rating.
The next two routes are located on the buttress you first see as you approach from the trail. Warning: as of summer 2009, the anchors and rap rings were getting seriously rusty. You might want to back up the anchors with gear, wrapping the boulder, and/or using one of the personal anchor bolts atop the plateau portion of the rock. Or just not use the anchors and set up your own top-rope anchor system.
Boulder Buttress Center (5.4* G) - 25'. Pockets, side pulls, underclings, and pinches abound. This is the right of the two climbs on the first buttress to the left of the fissure splitting the rocks. Starting at the heavily-pocketed, featured face and work your way up to a small, blank bulge halfway up. Step around on the right, and continue up to the anchors up top, using good holds on the right arete when necessary. Optionally, pull directly through the bulge (5.5) and then move up to the anchors. It is possible to trad lead this route.
Boulder Buttress Left (5.6*) - 25'. Start the same as above, but as you go up, move left 5' and climb the somewhat less-featured face to the anchors.
The next set of routes are located to the left, around the corner from Unknown Boulders TR 3.
Unknown Boulders TR 1 - 25'. This route starts around the corner, 12' to the left of Boulder Buttress Left. Start at the tufa-like hold and climb up the wall next to the blunt arete until the face angle eases a bit. Step left and up to the boulder. There are no fixed anchors for this route. You will need to use gear or natural anchors.
Unknown Boulders Bolted 1 (5.?) - 26'. Begin 6' left of Unknown Boulders TR 4. Follow the 3-bolt line up and left to the anchors. The crux is at the start, but the finish isn't trivial, either.
Unknown Boulders Bolted 2 (5.?) - 26'. 9' left of the narrow chimney is another 3-bolt route. Start on the boulder (harder w/out) and follow the bolt line to the anchors overhead. Some nice pockets on this climb.
Unknown Boulders Bolted 3 (5.11) - 29'. 6' left of Unknown Boulders Bolted 2 is a line of 4 bolts. Side pull up coarse but good pockets to gain a ledge with a few small chickenheads. Work up the smoother face above to gain the next ledge (crux). A friction sidepull on a shallow divot to the right is key. Finish by standing up and tagging the anchors.
Unknown Boulders Bolted 4 (5.11) - 29'. 5' left of Unknown Boulders Bolted 3, on the blunt arete, is another 3-bolt line. It shares the same anchors as Unknown Boulders Bolted 3. Use lieback, pocket sidepulls, and a chalked-up knob, work up the bolt line to the top.
Unknown Boulders Bolted 5 (5.?) - 20'. This is the shortest sport route here, with 2 bolts and anchors. Begining 5' left of Unknown Boulders Bolted 4, climb the steep face past the bolts to the anchors. Best if your rope doesn't stretch too far should you fall.
Shards (5.8) - ~20' or so. This climb is on the face around the corner from Unknown Boulders Bolted 5. No bolts, no gear, it's a TR route only. Or solo it. Just don't fall and break something.
There are a couple of TR routes with bolted anchors inside the fissures between the free-standing boulders, to the right of the top-roping buttress.
Unknown Fissure 1 (5.?) - 20'. This route is located inside the narrow chimney between Unknown Boulders Bolted 1 and Unknown Boulders Bolted 2. Either face climb or chimney up the fissure to the anchors above. This is a TR or trad-lead (small gear) only.
Unknown Fissure 2 (5.?) - 20'. This is a TR route located in the very center of the main fissure area, 15' right of Unknown Fissure 1, and visible from the fissure from between the first and second routes of the TR Buttress area. Climb the short face up to the anchors.
30-40' around to the right of the TR Buttress and the fissure entrance is a massive roof between two of the free-standing boulders. This is the Lynn Hill Cave area, and hosts a handful of boulder problems for you to work on. Bring a crash pad or two for the Lynn Hill Cave stuff!
Coy cranking through the huge Lynn Hill Cave 2 overhang!
Lynn Hill Cave (V?) - Located on the far right side (from the trail) of these stacked boulders, climb up the steep wall just to the left of the huge roof. A quick dyno past a vertical hand jam slot to a huge horizontal followed by a toe/foot cam allow you to grab some decent-sized pockets on the steep wall above. Crank up, hit another horizontal, then top off. Return to the ground either by way of the ladder, down-scrambling something, or by sliding down the nearby leaning tree.
Lynn Hill Cave 2 (V?) - You'll need some strong guns for this problem! Use the same start as Lynn Hill Cave, but at the first major horizontal, angle right and reach up to the big pockets, getting yourself seriously inverted. Keep cranking until you can top off.
unknown boulder problem (V?) - The short wall to the right of the large Lynn Hill Roof has 2-3 variations to play on. But mainly step up the face, hit the lone pocket, tag the horizontal, then step up and top off.
Face Off Arete (V?) - Climb the highly featured arete just right of unknown boulder problem.
360 BOULDER (aka, TAMS)
This is a shortish (10-20' tall) set of boulders right along the trail to the Ledges Climbing Area.
360 Boulder (V?) - Namesake traverse problem. Start anywhere on the rock, and traverse around counterclockwise w/out touching the ground (or going over a body length up) until you return to your starting point. A good pump!
Cup of Tea (V?) - Unknown. Best seen in this youtube video
This is a nicely cleared area with what is probably the tallest stuff at Fork Run, with one outcrop topping out at 35' high. The main wall faces east and is 30-32' tall.
Overhanging Ledges: this is the first rock outcrop you come to after passing 360 Boulder. It is showcased by several ceilings and offers 2-3 lines up it. There are no bolts or bolted anchors at the top, so this is primarily a top-rope (or high ball boulder) spot. The biggest problem for top-rope anchoring is weaving the anchor line through the thick rhododendron trees/bushes from the 'real' tree 20' back from the top of the rock.
Main Ledges Wall: This wall offers 6 bolted lines with bolt anchors and rings at the top and several non-sport TRs or trad leads. The bolts, hangers and rings are in better condition (overall, but not fully) than those at The Boulders. There are five bolts and hangers on top of the rock near left four bolted routes on the wall. These are likely for people to anchor themselves to while setting top-ropes, but could be used as an alternative anchor system from the bolts/hangers/rings at the top of the routes.
The routes are listed right to left, as you approach the rock. To get to the top, you can either go through the fissure at the right end of the main face, or walk the trail around past the main face, which will swing you around the left to the top. About half the routes have 3-4 bolts plus anchors. A few lines have no anchors, so you will have to build your own up top. Most of the routes are one- to two-move crux problems wrapped by more mellow climbing.
Who Cares (5.5) - 27'. Sometimes noted as a 5.4. Start on the rightmost corner of the main face, just left of the fissure that allows you semi-technical access to the top. Using pockets and rounded features, climb up to a horizontal break, then up the bulge to the anchors at the top. TR or trad only.
P.F.R. (5.7*) - 30'. As I understand it, "Pointing F*cking Rocks". Fun opening moves lead to an awkward crux, then a straight-forward finish. Start halfway up (or down, depending) the sloping ground beneath the first bolt line 5' right of Who Cares. Follow the line of 3 bolts past several left-facing corners to the anchors.
No Balls Allowed (5.7+) - 30'. Another awkward route. Start 2' left of P.F.R.. Climb up following the bolt line, initially working a left-facing layback flake to the first bolt and a featured section with a left-facing corner. Continue up and right past two more bolts to the anchors. 3 bolts.
Rabies (5.8) - 31'. The awkward theme continues with this route. Begin 10' left of No Balls. The crux is getting off the ground. Undercling and layback the thin left-facing corner to the 1st bolt. Keep working up the face past a couple of left-facing corners to the anchors. 4 bolts.
Santa Clause (5.8+) - 32'. Begin at a featured left-facing corner 6' left of Rabies. Climb up to and past a ledge, angling slightly left for a few moves, then straight up to the anchors. Stay right of the black water streak. 4 bolts.
Underwater Bears (5.9**) - 32'. The area classic! Begin atop the larger of 2 boulders, 6' left of Santa Clause. Climb up to a good ledge, then continue up the face left of the chunky left-facing corner to an overhang. Either pull the overhang directly (fun!!), or step right to by-pass it. Finish on pocketed ledges to the anchors. 4 bolts.
Amphibious Attack Tigers (5.10a*) - 30'. A good route with a thin crux. This might be one of the hardest routes at the Ledges. Begin 11' left of Underwater Bears. With thin feet, dance up to the first bolt, then to a ledge. Stand, clip the 2nd bolt, and delicately work the face (crux) to the ledge and 3rd bolt. Continue up to the corner and 4th bolt, gaining the anchors after a couple of awkward moves.
Unknown Ledges 8 (5.?) - 27'. Begin 6' left of Amphibious Attack Tigers Step up onto a mossy ledge, and climb up to and along the obvious vertical crack system to the top. TR or trad lead only. Natural anchors only.
Unknown Ledges 9 (5.?) - 27'. Begin 5' left of Unknown Ledges 8 at a short left-arching corner. Climb to the overhang above, pull through, then up the steep and thin stretch of rock to a left-facing flake and then the top. TR or thin trad lead only. Natural anchors only.
Hemorrhoid (5.8+) - 24'. Another awkward route. Around the corner to the left of Unknown Ledges 9 is a short 3-bolt line next to a vertical crack. Climb the face and crack to the top. The crux is just getting off the ground. But the rest of the route isn't trivial, either.
For those of you in the know, and those of you not so much, there are Other Areas to climb in western Maryland. Not huge or extensive like The Narrows or Locust Grove, and most are small places like Right Fork Rock or Nathaniel's. But arrr! There be climbing nevertheless! As mentioned earlier, I'm not trying to chart ALL of these places (though it'd be cool to have a real good idea of exactly how much there is available in Maryland!). But I mention in passing here a few.
There are a couple of decent routes to play on at Dan's Rock, and the nearby Wolf Rock.
There's a new-ish area called cat Rock near Oakland that has a lot of bouldering, possibly some short rope routes. Don't know exactly where it is, but word in the woods is that there be lots of stuff being developed.
Swallow Falls has some bouldering and short toprope routes. There is apparently one area called Porcupine Rock. But I have no info on it.
And at Rocky Gap State Park, there are several other areas to get wild on, if you so choose to explore.
Buildering is not something I indulge in a much, but since it has been going on in the region since the 70s at the very least, I figured I'd address this as an "alternative option" for climbing. While I don't really plan on expanding this section much, if something very worthy comes along, I'll put it in.
In the Robert E Lee Park, just off of Falls Road in Baltimore, near the Light Rail stop, is a dam. On either side of the downstream side of this dam are concrete brick walls. The left wall (as you face the dam) is south-facing, and is relatively easy to access. It runs upwards of maybe 25' high, but the author advises against you climbing all the way up (if you slip, it's concrete below, and we don't want any broken bones there, please). Instead try a low traverse. At no time should you really go much more than 4 or 5 feet above the base. Start at the far left side, traverse over the chainlink fence, and over to the dam, and up the side of the ramp. Finish by getting on top of the ramp, but never touching the ground. Nice, sustained, forearm-pumpy workout. Another variant would be to reverse the left-to-right traverse, and go down the ramp instead.
Note: there is a sign on the chainlink fence off to one side, apparently to discourage people from wandering around that area, but you can easily access the same place by walking up and around from the top; no barriers. Your call. No one's yelled at anyone...yet.
12-yr-old Zili takes advantage of every vertical opportunity
Right across from the Trolley Stop at the edge of downtown Ellicott City are a few old remaining stone walls from an era gone by. It is possible to boulder/builder up or traverse on these walls. The main wall (14' tall) between the sidewalk and river offers some of the best options to play on. But the river side of that same wall offers more challenges and privacy from passersby. An excellent training option if you desire to try your hand at the Shepherdstown pillars.
A few miles south on the AT from the parking lot for Annapolis Rocks is a ~30' tall tower/monument made out of stone, dedicated to George Washington. It looks like it has some nice moves and lines on it. However...do NOT climb on this! This is a National Landmark, and if you are caught - you WILL be busted! That means you WILL be fined, and possibly jailed. So, for your own sake, and for that of the climbing community in general, steer clear of this for buildering. Okay??
Out in the middle of the Potomac River stand several old railroad trustle pillars, made from blocks of rock.
First ascent of Courage Stands Alone
Before Sept 2009 the tower in the middle of the river had only seen one free-climbed ascent and a dozen aided ascents. After that, it has seen several additional free-climbed ascents, establishing several new lines. The reason for all the ascents up this tower came from geocaching. There is a geocache atop of this pillar, placed by helicopter, which generated interest in people climbing this tower.
The tower can either be led or top-roped. In order to top-rope the tower, you will have to go through some convoluted procedures to set up anchors. It is not illegal to climb it. So go and have fun.
If you climb this, take care for the poison ivy on the side wall, and the poison ivy tree on the downstream end (no, really, it is a tree). Also, be very aware up top as it is full of broken rock and exposed rebar.
Bring anchors for rappeling. Currently the tree up top is strong enough to hold a rappel, but it probably won't be there forever. You might consider fixing an anchor at the bottom of one side of the pillar and rappel off the other side.
Courage Stands Alone (5.10b** PG/R) - 70'. This is a very steep, sustained climb. Begin on the Virginia side of the pillar. Climb up the steep, slightly overhanging wall towards the tree, using holds in the rock, cracks in the mortar, and bracing bars where available. The climbing starts out at 5.8/5.9, then quickly becomes sustained 5.10a. The crux is halfway up the pillar. There are great photo opportunities from the overlook in Shepherdstown. Gear from #00 Master Cam to #0.75 Camalot. FA: Mark 'Indy' Kochte, June 2007
TBD(5.6* PG/G) - 70'. Begin on the Maryland side of the wall, at the blunt arete about 10' downstream from the upstream-most point of the tower. Climb up the right side of the wall, passing a couple of bushes that you could sling for added protection. At the platform midway up (optional belay) step right and climb the upstream wall straight up to the top, using the rusted steel bands for both holds and slinging for protection. Beware the nasty thorn bush hanging off the platform at mid-height. Gear from pink tricam to a #1 Camalot. FA: Aaron Box, Ron Kablunde, , Sept 2009.
Tower Spiders (5.7+ PG) - 70'. Start at the base of the tower on the Maryland side, between two trees. Climb a gently rising traverse up and right to gain the ledge at mid-height. Finish on TBD. Gear from #00 Master Cam to #1 Camalot. FA: Mark 'Indy' Kochte, Michelle Pappadia, Todd Hill, Rachael Smith(?), Oct 2009
The downstream side of the pillar is coated in poison ivy, and is thus unclimbed. The upstream side has some poison ivy, but not as much as the downstream end. Just be careful of it all when in the area.
Level: Beginner Novice Competent Expert Who: Your SO who thinks Has actually climbed Knows who Derek Friends *are* Derek you are crazy, but on rock, knows what Hersey and Christian Hersey and Christian is willing to try it. 'friends' are. Griffith are. Griffith. Does: Climbs 5.4, eyes Climbs 5.9, still Climbs 5.11, no Solos 5.11. closed, screaming. screams sometimes. more screams. Shoe fit: Comfortable. Snug. Tight. Cuts off circulation Size: Same as sneakers. A size smaller. Would fit Would fit a Cinderella. four-year-old. How: Arms give out long Feels good to Loosens shoes at Must soak feet before feet hurt. take them off at each belay stance. in hot tub at end of day. end of 1 pitch. Quote: "Are you *sure* "I bet I'd climb "I bet I'd climb "Could you look I'm not going to 5.10 if my shoes 5.12 if my shoes and tell me if kill myself?" were tighter." were tighter." my feet are still there?" ______________________________________________________________________________ - compliments of Ilana Stern, Cliff Swallow of Colorado
The few aid routes in this guide will either be noted with 'A#' or 'C#' notations. 'A' means pins or other [semi-]fixed gear were used for the ascent, 'C' means that it was done using completely clean aid techniques. Sometimes a situation calls for one and not the other. It's very route-dependent.
Adding to some confusion, I used the accepted 'V#' rating for some routes which are more or less strictly boulder problems. The confusion comes in that I also use a 'V#' to denote variations to a climb. It should be fairly obvious by the text when a 'V#' is a rating grade and when it is indicating a variation to a route.
Like the innumerable climbing guidebooks I have in my library, I opted to follow a '*' system to indicate climbs of higher quality. Instead of a 5-* system, I conservatively kept this a 3-* system (originally I kept it to a 2-* system, but have since expanded to 3).
Again, the *'s are a subjective call on a climb. One person may consider a given route as 'classic' and deserving of three *'s, whereas another might abhor the route as nasty and yucky (eg, a crack climber may love The Sherpa Connection, but a pure face climber may desire to avoid it at all costs). I tried to follow the consensus of the local climbers to each area for this, admittedly tainted by my own prejudices. In any event, use the * ratings as a guide, but use also your own judgement about the routes you may climb.
But in the end, as long as you're having fun and enjoying yourself, does it matter all that much?
Sugarloaf: Bloodguard, Rhythm Roof, Seven Wishes
White Rocks: Force Ten, Sherpa Connection, Hubble
Annapolis Rocks: Black Crack, Faint's Roof, A Call To Arms
Black Rocks: Learning Curve, No Surrender No Retreat, Falling Towards Apotheosis
Rocks State Park: Vertical, Breakaway (any var), Strawberry Jam
Ilchester: Blue Rose, High Anxiety, Rennaisance
Hunt Valley Rocks: Avoid The Temptation, Rest Your Sphincter, Tunnel Vision
Balcony Rocks: Cliff Monster, Cliff Monster Direct, Crown Of Thorns, Popeye's
Skink Rock: Carpet Crack, Rags To Riches
Rocky Gap State Park: The Great Roof, Quietly Confident
The Narrows: Cumber Honey, Jim Pick, Little Jimmie Arete, RAMA II, Rendezvous With Rama, School House Rock, The Howling, Unexpected Party, House of Sticks
Locust Grove: Bee Sting
Shepherdstown Pillar: Courage Stands Alone
(return to Table of Contents)
This index list includes those routes which do not appear in the guidebook.
Route Name Rating -------------------------------------------------------- SUGARLOAF MOUNTAIN: O Last Of The Wilds ...............................5.4* O Bypass ..........................................5.5* O Deviled Eggs ....................................5.6? O Highway .........................................5.4? O Hogwarts ........................................5.2* O V1: Last Of The Wilds Left ......................5.10a WHITE ROCKS O I Can't Seem to Find Molly ......................5.10d O Motorcycle Rush .................................5.9 O Penguin Trainer .................................5.4 O Reach Around ....................................5.10c O Under Klingon ...................................5.10b O TBD .................................5.? O TBD ........................................5.? O TBD ...........................5.? ANNAPOLIS ROCKS O Foliage Sex .....................................5.7 O George Of The Jungle ............................5.12b O Rambling Man ....................................5.3 O Sevenfold .......................................5.7+ O The Stair Steps .................................5.0 O Training Wheels .................................5.0 O Ulterior ........................................5.11b O A Call To Arms Direct ...........................5.9* BLACK ROCKS, WOODS CRAGS O Brian's Wedgie ..................................~5.7* O Dr ASCII School Of Heelhook .....................5.6 - 5.8* BLACK ROCKS, MAIN CLIFFS RAVEN ROCK HOLLOW O Cliff of Insanity ...............................V? O Corners .........................................V? O Da Cheat ........................................V? O Devil's Dyno ....................................V? O Finger Swing ....................................V? O Hooker Love .....................................V? O Jammer ..........................................V? O Monkey Move .....................................V? O Pokey Man .......................................V? O Slip and Slide ..................................V? O The Pinch .......................................V? O The Contraption .................................V? O V Back-Crackah ..................................V? LEFT FORK ROCK O Arguing With Idiots .............................5.1 O Don't Poke The Baby .............................5.1* O Free-range Tofu .................................5.3 O Games People Play ...............................5.6 O Karmic Koala ....................................5.7 O Never Pet A Platypus ............................5.7+ O Never Smile At A Monkey .........................5.5 O Rock Zombie .....................................5.5 O V Notch .........................................5.1 O tbd (furious angels) ............................5.10a/b WAVE WALL & J WALL O Jammin'..........................................5.8+* O Jeez, Can't Find My Knees .......................5.7 O Just Jaws .......................................5.6 O Juxtaposition ...................................5.8+ O Unknown .........................................project O Unnamed .........................................5.? O Unnamed .........................................5.? O Unnamed Chimney .................................5.? O Wing And A Prayer ...............................5.7 BUSHWHACK ROCKS O Anduril .........................................5.7* O Angel's Punishment ..............................5.10d O Bad Wolf ........................................5.6 O Beginner's Crack ................................5.6-* O Bifurcation .....................................5.10c* O Bill's Route ....................................5.8+ O Brian's Way .....................................5.4 O Cartoon Physics .................................5.9 O Dale Did It .....................................5.6 O Dumbass! ........................................5.2 O Earth Dancer ....................................5.5+* O Earthquake Prediction Theory ....................5.6* O Funemployment ...................................5.7 O Golden Tour .....................................5.7 O Hat's Off .......................................5.5+ O Here, There Be Dragons ..........................5.3 O Here To Kill The Pain ...........................5.1 O Houses Of The Holy ..............................5.5-5.8 O Indy's Harem ....................................5.4** O Jose Jalapeno (On A Steeek) .....................5.5 O Layback Crack ...................................5.4 O Lichen It Or Not ................................5.5 O Machete With A Twist ............................5.9 O Nothing Worth Dying For .........................5.2 O Peanut-Fu .......................................5.3 O Premature Detonation ............................5.4 O project .........................................5.ballsy O Short But Sassy .................................5.10a/b* O Sickle Edge Anemia ..............................5.8 O Silence! I Keel You! ............................5.5* O Siren's Call ....................................5.9- O Spellbound ......................................5.7* O Stairway To Heaven ..............................5.1+ O Suicide Bomber Training Camp ....................5.0-5.2 O TBD .............................................5.2 O The Golden Hour .................................5.8** O The M&M Route ...................................5.4 O The Way Life Should Be ..........................5.7** O The White Rider .................................5.2 O unknown .........................................5.9? O unknown chimney .................................5.? O unknown .........................................5.? O unnamed .........................................5.5 O unnamed .........................................5.10c O unnamed .........................................5.5 O Veronica's Open Book Test .......................5.4 O Vision Quest ....................................5.9+ O White Lightning .................................5.10* O White Line Fever ................................5.7+ NATHANIEL'S PLACE O Pastel Roof .....................................5.6+ 0 Donum Dei .......................................5.2-5.4 o Got Milk? .......................................5.6 o Eet More Chikun .................................5.7 GAMBRILL STATE PARK CATOCTIN MTN/CUNNINGHAM FALLS ROCKS STATE PARK O Blister .........................................5.10c O Horizontal ......................................5.8 ROUTE ONE ROCK RAPID ROCK HOLLOW O Chunky Monkey ...................................5.7/5.8 THE FIN BUNKER HILL RAVEN ROCKS LOWER RAVEN ROCKS UNCHARTED TERRITORIES SPARKS CRAG O A Simple Kind Of Life ...........................5.10a* O Bob's Route .....................................5.? O broadway face 1 .................................5.? O broadway face 2 .................................5.11? O broadway face 2 V1 ..............................5.? O broadway face 3 .................................5.12? O broadway-seam ...................................5.13?? O Che Schifo ......................................5.7** O Dirty Dancing ...................................5.3 O Dirty Laundry ...................................5.3 O Dirty Mind ......................................5.3 O Fixed Line ......................................5.? O Jeanne d'Arc ....................................5.12/5.13?? O Joan Left .......................................5.11d/5.12a O Sentinel ........................................5.10a* O Sentinel Direct Finish ..........................5.10* O sentinel-face-1 .................................5.10 O sparks slab 1 ...................................5.? O sparks slab 2 ...................................5.? O Stellar Atmospheres .............................5.10/5.11? O Stellar Conquest ................................5.10/5.11? O The Queen Spider ................................5.6 O Three's Company .................................5.11d/5.12a* WARREN ROAD ROCK O Oh Shit .........................................5.6/5.7 O Sneakers ........................................5.3 O Watch Out For The--- ............................5.1 O Unknown .........................................5.7 O Unknown .........................................5.5 PAPERMILL CRAGS O Black Canary ....................................5.4 O Digrunashafuposh ................................5.3 O Elektra .........................................5.10a O Fly From The Inside .............................5.7+ O Noisy Cricket ...................................V1 O Sylar ...........................................5.10a O The Quiet Sun ...................................V0- O Time Of The Profits .............................5.8 O Time Of The Profits, V1 .........................5.10c O The Historian ...................................5.7 O The Remains Of Mankind ..........................5.9 O unnamed .........................................5.3 O V1: Dawn Of Mankind .............................5.7 O Vision ..........................................5.6 O Why Don't Goldfish Bounce? ......................V2 O Wolverine .......................................5.8* O unknown .........................................5.5 O project .........................................5.? HUNT VALLEY ROCKS O Avoid The Temptation ............................5.9+** O Adopted By Default ..............................5.6* O Cell Phone Drivers ..............................5.10c O Copperhead Venom (aka Book of Serpents) .........5.6 O Daylight Dancer .................................5.9* O FUSE ............................................5.7 O Hubble ..........................................5.6 O MESSENGER .......................................5.9* O Mucalinda .......................................5.6+ O Nerd Powers Unite ...............................5.7 O Oh Sunny Day! ...................................5.4 O Panic Attack ....................................5.5** O Snake Skin ......................................5.4 O Suckered In .....................................5.6+* O Tree In My Way ..................................5.6 O Tunnel Vision ...................................5.6+** O unknown .........................................5.? O unknown .........................................5.? O unnamed .........................................5.4 O Wall Street .....................................5.4 O Yet Another Roadside Distraction ................5.9 LEAKIN PARK CASCADE FALLS WALL O Classic Route ...................................5.10a/b** O Climb The Tango .................................5.10c O Pillar Climb ....................................5.4+ O Popular Route ...................................5.8 O Power Play ......................................5.10c* O unnamed .........................................5.10d O unnamed .........................................5.6+ O unnamed .........................................5.10a/b O unnamed .........................................5.? O unnamed .........................................5.? BLOEDE DAM CRAG O Beginner's Crack ................................5.3 O Beginner's Route ................................5.3 O Blood Sacrifice .................................5.10a O C Cup ...........................................5.9 O Crystal Madness .................................5.9 O Friends And Lovers ..............................5.7 O unknown 1 .......................................5.? O unknown 2 .......................................5.? O unknown 3 .......................................5.? BLOEDE DAM ROCK O Center ..........................................5.8 O Left ............................................5.7 O Right ...........................................5.9 BLOEDE DAM WALL O A Way Of Life ...................................5.8+ O Anorexic Thin ...................................5.10b O Dirty Feet ......................................5.6 O Glitch In My Brain ..............................5.10a O Have You Seen John Lately? ......................5.10c O Sand In Yer Eye .................................5.4 ILCHESTER FRICTION SLAB O Interzone (was Unknown-FW-2) ....................5.12d/5.13a O Blood On Tracks .................................A2 TROLLEY LINE ALBERTON ROAD ROCK O Kelbel's Klimb ..................................5.11d O Two Tips ........................................5.11? O unknown .........................................5.8 O unknown .........................................5.8 O unknown .........................................5.9 UPPER ALBERTON O Bill Me Later ...................................5.2-5.4 O Climbus Interruptus .............................5.7 O Diagnol .........................................5.9* O Elbow Grease ....................................5.4+ O Handle With Care ................................5.9 O No Knees Pleeze .................................5.3 O Pocket Change ...................................5.3 O main face route .................................5.8* O main face route .................................5.8 O main face route .................................5.6 O unknown .........................................5.8 WOODSTOCK ROCK MARRIOTTSVILLE GOLD O Synchronize Your Dogmas .........................5.5 O Journey .........................................5.7 O Sharp Enough to Shave ...........................5.10 O Ride the Barn Door ..............................5.9 O Impassable Tower ................................5.9 O Plausible Pillar ................................5.8 O Return to Sanity ................................5.3+ O Keep Fear Alive .................................5.1 O No Need for Cheating ............................5.0 O Level of Cheating ...............................5.8+ - 5.10 KELBEL KRAG O Candy Corner ....................................5.1 O Dirty Vegas .....................................5.9+ O Left Face .......................................5.9+ O Right Face ......................................5.5 O Trade Folk ......................................5.7+ O Unnamed .........................................5.? MORGAN RUN O Angry Potato ....................................5.7 O Club Ninja ......................................5.9 O Conspiracy Theorist .............................5.10a O Gamma Flake .....................................5.7 O Morgan Run It ...................................5.5 O Smooth Ride .....................................5.7 O Tactical Grace ..................................5.9+ O The Nose ........................................V3 O The Wedge .......................................V3 O Unknown .........................................V0 O Unknown .........................................V4 O Unknown .........................................V7?? GATHLAND ROCKS O Double Exposure .................................5.9 O Lichen Or Not ...................................5.7 LAMB'S KNOLL O Addietude Arete .................................5.8 O Addietude Direct ................................5.9 O Angela's Face ...................................5.10b O Anti-Gravity Climb ..............................5.8 O Aqua Crack ......................................5.8 O Bear Hug ........................................5.7 O Deception .......................................5.9* O Exoplanet .......................................5.10a/b* O Face Hugger .....................................5.10a O Gert's Climb ....................................5.4 O High Voltage Soulchild ..........................5.10d O Kindergarden Blocks .............................5.2/5.3 O Pressure Under Grace ............................5.8+* O Neubauer-Reinhart Route .........................5.7* O Neubauer-Reinhart Left Crack ....................5.6 O Neubauer-Reinhart Right Crack ...................5.8 O Panther .........................................5.6* O Phil's Chimney ..................................5.5 O Pokey ...........................................5.2 O Restricted Access ...............................5.5 O Stretch .........................................5.9 O The Confessor ...................................5.8 O The Kneepad .....................................5.6 O Tiger ...........................................5.3 O Unknown roof ....................................5.? WEVERTON OVERLOOK MARYLAND HEIGHTS O Black Tie Affair ...............................5.12a O Daniel's Variation .............................5.10 O Ishmael ........................................5.10c O Ishmael's Escape ...............................5.9 O Metropolis .....................................5.10 O Outrage ........................................5.12b O project ........................................5.? O Spectacular Spetacle ...........................5.8 A3+ IV O The Great Escape ...............................5.12a/b O The Hard Way Up ................................5.10c/d O Whirlwind ......................................5.10- O unknown ........................................5.? BALCONY ROCK O Cliff Monster ...................................5.8* O Cliff Monster Direct ............................5.8+* O Crown Of Thorns .................................5.6* O Doc Ock .........................................V3/4 O Gold Medallist ..................................5.9 O Gravity Kills ...................................V3/4 O Hound Of Hell ...................................5.9+/5.10a O Popeye's Left ...................................5.10d O Popeye's ........................................5.10b O Problem #12 .....................................V1 O Sceptre Of Might ................................5.8 O The Education Of Ben ............................5.6+ O The Goblin ......................................V4 O The Notch .......................................V1 O Thumb Press .....................................5.8 O Thumb Press Right ...............................5.8 O Unknown .........................................5.9? O Unknown .........................................5.10 BALCONY JR O Cold Steel Corner ...............................5.8* O V1: Cold Steel Face .............................5.9* O Forearm Furnace .................................5.11d/5.12a O Potomac Power Plant Pump ........................5.? O Salty Dog Saloon ................................5.10c** O Serious Callers Only ............................5.10b/c* O The B&O Burn ....................................5.? O The Founder's Forge .............................5.9+/5.10a* O The Paymaster ...................................5.? O Project .........................................5.? O Mojo Filter .....................................5.7 O Groovin' Up Slowly ..............................5.5+ O Gravitas Free Zone ..............................5.6 O john's project route ............................5.11a* SKINK ROCK O Air Show ........................................5.11 O Bluepill ........................................5.10a O Carpet Crack ....................................5.8* O Conquest ........................................5.10d O Conrad Vs The Skink Monster .....................5.11- O Dancing With Tree ...............................5.6 O Driving With The Top Down .......................5.8 O Eyes Of A Stranger ..............................5.9+ O Kuutamo .........................................5.8- O Oh My Eyes! .....................................5.7 O project .........................................5.12? O Rags To Riches ..................................5.9** O Skink Magic .....................................5.9+ O Skink Rock Chiminey .............................5.? O The White Man Headbob ..........................5.10a O Unyielding Finale ...............................5.10a/b O V1: Oh My Eyes Right Finish .....................5.7- ROCKY GAP STATE PARK O Gray Area .......................................5.3-5.5 O Ode To Lichen ...................................5.9 O Quietly Confident ...............................5.9+/5.10a* O The Great Roof ..................................5.6/5.7* O You Look Like A Nail ............................5.8 THE NARROWS O A Man Needs A Maid ..............................5.7+*** O A Winter's Tale .................................5.9-R** O A Winter's Tale (the uncut story) ...............5.10R** O After Hours .....................................5.6R* O Aragorn .........................................5.8* O Archetype .......................................5.8* O Ariete Arete ....................................5.8** O Arrow of Apollo .................................5.7 O Blueberry Pie ...................................5.7* O Blueberry Bush ..................................5.5* O Buddy ...........................................5.8** O Buffalo Soldier .................................5.9** O Carousel ........................................5.4** O Cha-Cha .........................................5.8** O Charged Emotion .................................5.7* O Cheetah .........................................5.7+** O Chuck Middle ....................................5.9+ O Chuck Left ......................................5.? O Cumber Bunny ....................................5.6 O Cumber Honey ....................................5.8*** O Con Cuidado .....................................5.9+R* O Crackers Don't Matter ...........................5.5 O DAK Crack .......................................5.5+ O Dancing for a Vision ............................5.7* O Dancing Spanish Through The Chimney .............5.8** O Dawn of a New Era ...............................5.7** O Decent Exposure .................................5.7* O Deconstruction ..................................5.7*** O Desert Rose .....................................5.4/5.5 O Dirty and Cheap .................................5.3 O Disintegration ..................................5.7* O Easy-X ..........................................5.3 O Easy Corner .....................................5.5 O Easy Pickin's ...................................5.7-*** O Elisa ...........................................5.8* O Enter Sandman ...................................5.4 O Fair To Middlin' ................................5.10*** O Fair To Piddlin' ................................5.7** O Fortune Cookies And A G-String ..................5.5 O Fragments of Faith ..............................5.8* O Free, But Worth It ..............................5.3* O Fun House .......................................5.8* O German Hair Force ...............................5.6 O Gesundheit ......................................5.9** O Ghetto Booty ....................................5.6** O Gigi ............................................5.9** O Gin And Tonic ...................................5.6* O Halfaya Pass ....................................5.7* O He Speaks Foreign ...............................5.4 O He Stole My Dress ...............................5.6 O House Of Sticks .................................5.5* O How Yick Ying ...................................5.5 O I Deserve A Klondike Bar ........................5.10a* O I Speak Regular .................................5.7 O I Wanna Live ....................................5.10+*** O I Wanna Give ....................................5.6* O I'm Too Sexy ....................................5.7+/5.8- O It's All About Me ...............................5.4 O Jim Pick ........................................5.8*** O Jenga Me Crazy ..................................5.6 O Jungle Love .....................................5.3 O Just Before Dawn ................................5.6* O Kasserine Pass ..................................5.8* O Kiddie Land .....................................5.4+* O King Butt .......................................5.2 O King Tut ........................................5.5/5.6 O Left Pick .......................................5.9** O Little Jimmie Arete .............................5.4*** O Low Rider .......................................5.10** O Low Rider Double Direct .........................5.10** O Mini-skirt ......................................5.9** O Misty Splitter ..................................5.9+** O Monk ............................................5.6* O Mystery House ...................................5.4* O Mystery Scat ....................................5.4* O Nature of Time and Space ........................5.8* O New Caprica .....................................5.9 O Not Human Kind ..................................5.9+ O Number Six ......................................5.6 O Our Horses are Turning to Mice ..................5.8* O Our Solemn Hour .................................5.9* O Partial Eclipse .................................5.8** O Penumbral Eclipse ...............................5.8+* O Phat-Assed Potatoes .............................5.2 O Preschool Dropout ...............................5.5* O Project .........................................5.hard O Rain Check ......................................5.9 O Rama II .........................................5.9*** O Red Shirts Rule .................................5.7* O Redneck Martians ................................5.4 O Rendezvous With Rama ............................5.8** O Richard's Roof ..................................5.7/5.8** O Robinson Crusoe .................................5.7* O Sassafras Tree ..................................5.4? O Second Pick .....................................5.7+** O Shardly Worth It ................................5.5 O School House Rock ...............................5.7*** O Size Isn't Everything ...........................5.4* O Smoke 'em If You Got 'em ........................5.10* O Solid Adrenal-Ten ...............................5.10a/b* O Southern Exposure ...............................5.6+ O Southern Exposure Direct ........................5.7+ O String Theory ...................................5.6*** O Striped With Radiation ..........................5.8+? O Sudden Future ...................................5.7* O Thank You Space Expert ..........................5.9* O The Ballad of El Goodoo .........................5.9* O The Boulder Wall ................................V-easy to V-hard O The Christening .................................5.9* O The E Street Shuffle ............................5.2* O The Flake And Crack Coalition ...................5.6* O The Further Passage (aka, Sorry Ray) ............5.8+*** O The Gazala Line .................................5.7 O The Howling .....................................5.7*** O The Howling Arete ...............................5.8** O The Howling Direct ..............................5.9-*** O The Klophaus Dameron ............................5.8* O The Lost Era ....................................5.8* O The Tebaga Gap ..................................5.4 O The Test ........................................5.7** O The Verve .......................................5.9+* O Theater of Tragedy ..............................5.7 O Tips ............................................5.6 O To Great Lengths ................................5.8* O Touch The Sky ...................................5.7* O Travel is Dangerous .............................5.7 O Treppensteigen ..................................5.4 O Trundle Junkie ..................................5.8* O Trundle Monkey ..................................5.8* O Trundle Warfare .................................5.7* O Tunnel Of Love ..................................5.6** O Twisted Oreos ...................................5.8+ O Two Steps from Hell .............................5.9* O Unexpected Party ................................5.5** O Unnamed (toprope) ...............................5.10 O Use The Force ...................................5.8* O Varlotta's Daughters Would Totally Flash This ...5.3* O Venus ...........................................5.8* O War and Peace ...................................5.7 O War of the Worlds ...............................5.5 O Welcome to Sunshine .............................5.10** O When The Buffalo Roam ...........................5.6** O Where the Sun Don't Shine (aka WV Virgin) .......5.4G* O White Corner ....................................5.10-* O Who Do You Believe ..............................5.8* O Yellow ..........................................5.7** O Yes! I am a Long Way from Home ..................5.8* O You Klingon Bastard .............................5.9 LOCUST GROVE O Baker Flake .....................................5.4-5.6* O Baker Street ....................................5.9+* O Baker's Way .....................................5.6-* O Bee Sting .......................................5.6+** O Copperhead ......................................5.6** O Green Wall ......................................5.10b* O Killer Bee Sting ................................5.8-*** O Our Little Secret ...............................5.4* O Piton Crack .....................................5.8** O Right Now Arete .................................5.3* O Superman (aka, The Overhang) ....................5.10b* O The Pittsburgh Route ............................5.10b O Timbarb .........................................5.7** O Project .........................................5.13? O Unknown .........................................5.10c O Unknown .........................................5.? O Unknown .........................................5.10b O Unknown .........................................5.9 O Unknown .........................................5.8 O Unknown .........................................5.10c O Upper-Unknown ...................................5.8* O Upper-Unknown ...................................5.10c O Upper-Unknown ...................................5.11a O Upper-Unknown ...................................5.9 O Unknown .........................................5.? O West End Boys ...................................5.10a* FORK RUN RECREATION AREA O 360 Boulder ....................................V? O Amphibious Attack Tigers .......................5.10a* O Cup of Tea .....................................V? O Face-Off Arete .................................V? O Hemorrhoid .....................................5.8+ O Lynn Hill Cave .................................V? O No Balls Allowed ...............................5.7+ O P.F.R. .........................................5.7* O Rabies .........................................5.8 O Santa Clause ...................................5.8+ O Shards .........................................5.8 O Underwater Bears ...............................5.9** O unknown boulder problem ........................V? O Unknown Boulders Bolted 1 ......................5.? O Unknown Boulders Bolted 2 ......................5.? O Unknown Boulders Bolted 3 ......................5.11 O Unknown Boulders Bolted 4 ......................5.11 O Unknown Boulders Bolted 5 ......................5.? O Boulder Buttress Right .........................5.8-* O Boulder Buttress Center ........................5.4* O Boulder Buttress Left ..........................5.6* O Unknown Boulders TR 1 ..........................5.? O Unknown Fissure 1 ..............................5.? O Unknown Fissure 2 ..............................5.? O Unknown Ledges 8 ...............................5.? O Unknown Ledges 9 ...............................5.? O Who Cares ......................................5.5 GREAT FALLS, VA O Amphitheater Wall ...............................5.2 - 5.10 O Wake Up Call (Aid Box area) .....................5.9/5.10 - 5.10/5.11 SHEPHERDSTOWN PILLAR O Courage Stands Alone ............................5.10b** O Tower Spiders ...................................5.7 O Unknown .........................................5.6
Copyright 1994 Mark 'Indy' Kochte. All Rights Reserved.
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