New River Gorge National Wild & Scenic River Rock Climbing Overview

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The Endless Wall at New River Gorge National River
The Endless Wall at New River Gorge National River (courtesy, National Park Service)

New River Gorge National River, West Virginia

  • The New River Gorge certainly has some of the best crack-climbing in the East, especially in the 5.10 and 5.11 range, but one can also find cracks down to 5.6 and up through 5.12. Sample some at Beauty Mountain or at Junkyard Wall, where top-ropes are easier to rig than at most other places in the region.
  • Places such as Endless Wall feature routes of all types happily co-existing side-by-side—cracks, bolted face climbs, and mixed routes (protected by a combination of removable gear and bolts). You will enjoy exploring the cornucopia of climbs along this cliffband.
  • In the heat of summer, hit the shade at the north-facing Kaymoor Area, where you'll find 100+ vertical to overhanging sport routes, mostly 5.11 to 5.13, but also some at more attainable levels of difficulty. Bring a rack of quickdraws, plenty of chalk, and lots of ice-cold drinking water.
  • If you visit, you're sure to agree: those who stake the claim that "The New" is the best crag in the United States certainly have a pretty strong case.
  • Between the New River and the Gauley River, in central West Virginia, your quintessential whitewater rafting experience awaits. Cliffs may line the top edges of these canyons, but boulders, drops, and chutes define the river channels through which all that whitewater churns. These two rivers feature different sections of moderate, hard, and even harder whitewater, all of it guided by numerous experienced commercial outfitters.

Within the 63,000 acres of New River Gorge National River are over 1,400 established rock climbs. "The New" has become one of the most popular climbing areas in the country. The cliffs at New River Gorge are made up of very hard sandstone, and range from 30 to 120 feet in height. The rock is very featured, and an abundance of crack and face routes are available.

Most of the routes in the gorge favor the advanced and expert climber. The majority of routes are 5.9 and harder, and most sport routes fall in the 5.10-5.12 range. A guidebook is an essential tool for locating climbs, and local climbing shops can offer information and specific recommendations.

Climbing Season
The climbing season at New River extends from April through November. The best months are usually late April to mid-June, and mid-September to late October.

Food and Water
Water is available at the spring on Route 82, one mile past Bridge Buttress, and at Canyon Rim Visitor Center. There are numerous markets and eating establishments in nearby towns.

Showers
Showers can be purchased at many of the private campgrounds in the area. Please do not bathe in the restrooms at park visitor centers.

Camping
There are many private campgrounds located within easy driving distance from the climbing areas. Primitive camping is allowed on park property. Camping is prohibited within 100 feet of parking areas, water sources, historic sites, or the top rim of the cliffs.

Private Property
There are many areas of private property within the New River Gorge, including some within the park boundary.

Routes
This is only a partial listing of recommended routes indexed by grade. A climbing guidebook is an essential tool for finding routes and providing additional route recommendations. The route names are listed, followed by the area where the climb is located.

5.5 to 5.6
Afternoon Delight, 5.5 / Bridge Area
Beginners Only, 5.5 / Bridge Area
Dairy Area, 5.4 / Bridge Area
Easily Flakey, 5.6 / Bridge Area
Monkey See - Monkey Do, 5.5 / Bridge Area

5.7 to 5.8
Fantasy, 5.8 / Endless Wall
Hysteria, 5.8+ / Fern Buttress
New River Gunks, 5.7 / Junkyard Wall
Tasty Flake, 5.8 / Bubba City
Where Real Men Dare, 5.7 / Bridge Area
Zag, 5.8+ / Bridge Area

5.9
Chockstone, 5.9- / Bridge Area
Flight of the Gumbies, 5.9 / Kaymoor
Fool Effect, 5.9 / Endless Wall
Four Sheets to the Wind, 5.9 / Junkyard Wall
Grafenberg Crack, 5.9- / Endless Wall
New Yosemite, 5.9 / Junkyard Wall
Prowess, 5.9 / Endless Wall
Riding the Crest of a Wave, 5.9 / Endless Wall
Supercrack, 5.9+ / Beauty Mountain

5.10
Angels Arete, 5.10b / Bridge Area
Black and Tan, 5.10a / Endless Wall
Burning Calves, 5.10b / Beauty Mountain
Celibate Mallard, 5.10c / Endless Wall
Entertainer, 5.10a / Junkyard Wall
Party in my Mind, 5.10b / Endless Wall
Remission, 5.10b / Endless Wall
Rico Suave, 5.10a / Kaymoor
Springboard, 5.10a / Fern Buttress
Strike a Scowl, 5.10b / Endless Wall
Triple Treat, 5.10a / Fern Buttress
Undeserved, 5.10b / Endless Wall
Zealous, 5.10d / Junkyard Wall

5.11
Aesthetica, 5.11c / Endless Wall
Leave It To Jesus, 5.11d / Endless Wall
Mellifluus, 5.11a / Endless Wall
New Age Equippers, 5.11c / Endless Wall
Raging Waters, 5.11a / Endless Wall
Scenic Adult, 5.11c / Kaymoor
S'more Energy, 5.11c / Endless Wall
Welcome to Beauty, 5.11b / Beauty Mountain

5.12
Chunky Monkey, 5.12b / Beauty Mountain
Gift of Grace, 5.12b / Endless Wall
Lactic Acid Bath, 5.12d / Kaymoor
Pudd's Pretty Dress, 5.12c / Endless Wall
Thunder Stuck, 5.12a / Kaymoor


Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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