Types of Climbing near Asheville NC
If you ask a climber if she wants to go rock climbing, a likely response will be “what kind?” Answers to this follow up inquiry might include: bouldering, sport-climbing, trad, or multi-pitch. For folks that are new to climbing, the lingo may seem confusing. Let’s get this sorted out and point you to some places where you can give each type of climbing a go in near Asheville or Brevard North Carolina or Kentucky at the Red River Gorge.
If you want to try climbing close to the ground with minimal gear, then bouldering is for you! As the name implies this refers to very short routes on boulders often 10 feet or less in height. All you need for this type of climbing is shoes, a chalk bag, and a “crash pad” to soften the landing should you fall. Your partner will “spot” you rather than having you on a rope. Some practice in spotting and using pads is essential to do this safely. Don’t think that short means easy, some bouldering routes can be very challenging with moves harder than you would usually see on longer rock routes.
Places to go near Asheville NC
Rumbling Bald is the most accessible bouldering mecca in this area with a wide variety of levels of difficulty. Try “Poison Arête” at the East Side boulders. It’s a easy “V0” (boulders are rated on the V scale), nice for beginners or a great warm up for harder climbing later!
Sport climbing refers to routes that have preplaced bolts to clip for protection, usually including bolted anchors. Many sport areas have climbs that are only one pitch in length but some are longer. In addition to your rope, harness, helmet, and belay device, all that is needed for most sport climbs are some quickdraw runners and anchor materials. This can be a great way to get used to leading and also allow you to try leading routes that would be too difficult for you if you had to place gear.
A good place to do some sport climbing is Crowder’s Mountain State Park in NC or Red River Gorge Kentucky. Crowder’s has some great lines to climb. The Red River Gorge is one of the premier sport climbing destinations in the country. There are options at the Red for 5.6 to 5.14 climbing, so there are plenty of options for all levels.
Trad is short for “traditional” which refers to climbing rock with no (or the occasional) preplaced bolts. This requires a climbing rack with cams, stoppers, and possibly other types of protection. The lead will place cams, stoppers, hexes or tricams to safe guard against falling. The rope is clipped to each protection point placed. Once the leader reaches the top of at pitch she either rappels and cleans the gear or another climber will follow the pitch and remove the protection. It’s more difficult to place gear properly than clip a bolt and lots of practice with gear placements and proper instruction. Many traditional leads follow cracks or fission in the rock. It pays to learn how to climb these features to lead traditional routes.
When you are ready, try the super classic 5.7 crack called “Fruit Loops” at Rumbling Bald for a one pitch trad lead ending at a bolted anchor in a cool cave. This climb also has an interesting 2nd pitch if you want to keep going. This turns it into a “multi-pitch” route!
Good places for traditional climbing near Asheville and Brevard NC are
- Rumbling Bald, NC
- Looking Glass Rock, NC
- Table Rock, NC
- Kentucky offers some exceptional trad climbing at the Red River Gorge
If you climb a long route with several pitches (rope lengths) of trad or sport climbing in a row, you are multipitch climbing. At the end of each pitch you build an anchor (some climbs have preplaced bolted anchors) to serve as the launching point for the next lead. The second climber will “clean” a pitch or remove all of the protection placed by the leader so it can be used on the next pitch. The next lead climber re-racks the protection and is belayed by the person following. She will climb until she reach a suitable belay location and build a new anchor. The leader will then belay the “second”. This process allows a team to scale large faces to the tops of cliffs and peaks.
To get down you typically rappel the climb although some areas allow you to walk off the top. You want to be on your game with leading, anchor building, and transitions at belays before you tackle a multipitch route.
When you have your bag of tricks up to speed, give “The Nose” a try (5.8 – 3 or 4 pitches). It’s a super classic route at Looking Glass with good gear, moderate climbing, bolted anchors, and great views!
Some classic multipitch routes near Asheville and Brevard NC are
- Jim Dandy 5.4 at Table Rock, NC
- Daddy 5.6 at Linville Gorge, NC
- Mummy 5.5 at Linville Gorge, NC
- Second Coming 5.7 at Looking Glass Rock, NC
- Sundial Crack 5.8 at Looking Glass Rock, NC
Climbing without ropes on small climbs. These are typically hard problems. Boulders use foam pads and spotters to prevent injury in case of a fall.
A climbing style were the climb start from the ground and climbs upward placing and clipping the rope to intermediate protection points until she reaches the anchor. The climber has the potential to fall twice the distance she is above her last piece of intermediate protection.
Lead Climbing with a rope were the leader clips the rope to bolts, or pre-placed protection. These climbs are typically challenging gymnastically and require excellent climbing technique and physical conditioning. Most climbs are less than one half a rope length (60m rope) so the leader can be lowered off.
A climbing style were the climbing rope is anchor above the climber so if the climber slips or falls the rope immediately catches the climber. A good method for practicing ones climbing technique or for learning how to climb.
Lead climbing were the leader places protection and clips the rope to the protection.
Any equipment that serve to safeguard a fall. This could be natural protection such as trees or artificial protection such as cams, stoppers, hexes or tricams.