Jamie Smith piecing together Frank (31/8a+), The Mine. Photo Micky Wiswedel
The Cape Peninsula is renowned for its world-famous landmark, one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature – Table Mountain and the Table Mountain chain. This rugged mountain chain creates an undulating ridge, which forms the backbone of the Peninsula, starting from the striking front of Table Mountain that overlooks the city, running through the beautiful and exposed Silvermine Reserve, over the cave-riddled Kalk Bay mountains and ending in the Cape of Good Hope Reserve at Cape Point – the very tip of the Peninsula.
Fortunately for climbers in Cape Town, the Cape Peninsula is blessed with a string of great crags giving very diverse climbing from short powerful routes on the bulging quartzite crags of Trappieskop and Peer’s Cave, the ever-popular faces of the Silvermine crags, to the very steep and mega-pumpy crags of The Mine and The Hole. As far as grades are concerned, there is something for everyone. Crags like Lakeside Pinnacle, Lower Silvermine and Higgovale Quarry are popular among beginners and for those who want a relaxing day at the crag, while Silvermine Main Crag and Fawlty Towers takes one up a notch or two. Whatever your desires, there are many routes on quality sandstone, just waiting to be caressed by your fingertips. Just go out and get ’em!
For a guide to all the trad climbing on the Cape Peninsula get Cape Peninsula Select – A guide to trad climbing in the Cape Peninsula.
Oliver Kruger doing the Trance Dance (23/6c+), Silvermine Main Crag. Photo Garrreth Bird
The entire Table Mountain chain falls under the jurisdiction of the Table Mountain National Park and a Wild Card will get you free entrance into Silvermine, as well as any other reserve on the Peninsula as well as throughout the Western Cape and the country, depending which cluster you purchase. For Cape Town residents who do not have a Wild Card, there is also the option of purchasing a My Green Card. This is an annual card, which allows the holder 12 free entries into any Cape Peninsula reserve, including Silvermine. Okay, so all this just gains you entry. To actually climb (sport climbing only), you will also need to purchase an Activity Permit. This permit is valid for one year and allows you to climb anywhere on the Cape Peninsula. But if you are a member of the MCSA, then you will not need an Activity Permit. Remember to carry your MCSA card. For further information or clarity on all this card stuff, contact Table Mountain National Park on +27 (0)21 712 7471 or email@example.com. For all access updates and information, you can also call the Mountain Club of South Africa (MCSA) on +27 (0)21 465 3412.
Naureen Goheer cranking through the first crux on A Gift of Wings (28/7c), The Mine. Photo Micky Wiswedel
Weather and when to visit
The Cape Peninsula generally gets all the weather systems before the rest of the Western Cape, and often more severely than the inland areas. In saying that, the Peninsula is still a year-round climbing destination, but can be rather wet and miserable if you are unlucky enough to pick a rainy period for your holiday. To be safe, plan to visit during the long summer months. It may get hot, but there are always shady crags to climb on, and you will be able to enjoy the beaches, the awesome summer evenings, and take advantage of long daylight hours.
Prof. Steven Bradshaw pulling off some chemistry on his as yet unrepeated test piece, Hey Jupiter (34/8c), Underside, Cape Peninsula. Photo Guy Holwill
Although there are one or two campsites on the Peninsula, camping is not recommended. These campsites are far from the city, and it’s generally not safe to leave tents and camping stuff unattended while out climbing for the day. Depending on your financial position, there is a wide range of backpacker lodges, guest houses, B&Bs and hotels scattered throughout the Peninsula. Generally, the closer you are to the city and the Waterfront, the more you will pay for accommodation. A popular backpacker lodge among visiting climbers is Green Elephant in Observatory. Contact them on +27 21 448 6359 or firstname.lastname@example.org. They are close to the City Rock indoor climbing gym and also to the trendy Lower Observatory Main Road, which has some good cafes, pubs and restaurants. Observatory is a short drive from the city centre and V&A Waterfront. For more information on accommodation elsewhere on the Peninsula, contact the Western Cape Tourism office on +27 21 426 5647 or email@example.com.
Cowboys, Buffalo Bill, Museum of the Rockies, tourism and Yellowstone – Cody, Wyoming is home to Western tradition and beautiful yet rugged scenery. Minutes West of town is the Shoshone Canyon hosting nearly all of the rock climbing. The diversity of geologic formations in many of the canyons found in Wyoming features Sandstone, limestone/dolomite and granite and the Shoshone Canyon is no different. Bouldering, sport climbing and traditional gear routes offer climbers a variety of challenges and mild weather with over 300 sunny days per year assure you can climb almost any day year round. With a population under 10,000, Cody has a small but dedicated local climbing scene and with so few visitors, you’ll never wait in line or have to share a route. Oh and did I mention the ice… Yes, cody is a little slice of climbing heaven.
Bryant Hall starting up Any Color You Like 5.13b in The Lower Canyon
The Island is Cody’s most accessible crag and attracts the most visitors. This alcove of multibillion year old granite has more than 50 modern well protected sport routes and a few gear climbs all of which are very high quality. A five minute completely flat approach makes this a favorite for locals and visitors alike. This area is stacked with memorable moderates such as Feeling All Right (5.8), Search (5.8), Bitch With A Broomstick (5.8) and many others. There are also classic 5.10’s such as Community Service (5.10b), Pea Green Limousine (5.10c), Illegal Dihedral (5.10d) and Big Ben (5.10d). Try Light Tension (5.11a), Balls (5.11b) or Black Wall (5.11c) and for something a little harder, The Horn of Plenty (5.12a), Certain Damage (5.12b) or Redhead (5.12d) will test your crimp strength. The nearly 200 foot high walls currently offer only single pitch climbs however, Spider Pig (5.12b) is a 3 pitch bolt protected multi-pitch that tackles the tallest part of the Tunnel Wall.
John Morrison working his way out the steep roof on Butch 5.12c at The Hideout Wall at the Upper Bridge Bands.
The limestone/dolomite bands run nearly the entire length of the canyon. While the quality varies based on the geologic sedimentary layer, there are certain bands that offer the pocketed greatness that makes Wyoming dolomite world famous. All of the ‘Bands’ are South facing and ideal in the Spring and Fall months and on Sunny Winter days. The East Bridge Bands offers a concentrated collection of climbs featuring crimps and pockets. Most are well protected sport climbs although there are also several easier gear protected trad climbs. Don’t miss Tidy Bowl Lid (5.8), Pocket Full of Pigeons (5.9), Tall Boy (5.10c), Chocolate Malt (5.11b) or Orange Whip (5.12a).
Jason Litton hucking the big throw on Stranahan’s 5.12c at The Single Malt Wall.
The Bridge Bands are one of the areas older crags and has a variety of routes done in different styles from traditional, to bolder lower angle slabs to more modern and steeper pockety sport routes. The crag has two tiers and offers single and two pitch climbs, although the second tier has a generous sized ledge extending over half the length of the cliff. Long moderates like Feels Like Summer (5.9) and Stilts (5.10a) contradict the puzzling, mind bending low angle climbs of the Mud Wall like Seam Dream (5.11a) and Chess (5.11d). Meanwhile the second tier Cowboy Wall offers pockety steeper gems such as Space Wrangler (5.10b), Blood Drive (5.10d) and Chief of Scouts (5.12a).
Kevin Wilkinson copping a rest on The Judge .13a in the Lower Canyon
Directly above the Bridge Bands is band of bullet hard dolomite with some of the best and hardest pocket routes in Cody. The soaring 1500 foot tall cliff has many layers of unclimbable rock though the Upper Bridge Bands is an anomaly of streaked brilliance in the middle of the cliff, featuring two dozen short and powerful routes spread between The Hideout and Bandit Walls. The hike is significant in comparison with Cody’s other short approaches but the views are breathtaking with the North Fork of the Shoshone and the Buffalo Bill Reservoir visible to the West and the town of Cody visible to the East, the price of admission is worth the effort. Perfect pockets abound on routes like In The Middle (5.11a), On The Run (5.12a/b), Butch (5.12c) and The Kid (5.12d) at the Hideout Wall. Just around the corner try Showdown (5.11a), Lone Bandit (5.11c) or Skoal Bandit (5.11b/c) to satisfy your pocket tugging jones.
Climber making his way into the Lower Canyon
The Bands extend to the West as well and other lesser developed gems exist for those willing to go for an adventure walk. Just For Kix, Popeye and Woodrow Walls have older routes and some spirited trad outings, although motivated locals have realized the potential for new routing and are installing fun new clip ups. Look for updates in these areas in the future. Meanwhile try Kickin It (5.10b), Psycho Holiday (5.11c) and Strong to the Finish (5.12c) to sample current crop.
Mike Snyder stretches out on Single Track 5.10d at The Single Malt Wall.
No climbing trip to the Shoshone Canyon of Cody would be complete without a visit to the Lower Canyon. With another ridiculously simple approach, the (closed to public vehicle traffic) paved road leading down into the canyon deposits you at the base of a nearly 1000 foot deep gorge with granite walls soaring up on either side. The river cutting the through this canyon provides moisture and a juxtaposition to the grandiose rock monoliths, offering great fishing, kayaking and even the rare river otter spotting if your lucky. Although the number of amazing sport climbs has grown exponentially in the past 5 years, traditional gear protected routes with an adventurous feel were the norm for many years. The rock climbs are spread out on both sides of the canyon with both splitter cracks and shiny bolts grabbing your attention as you explore. The Single Malt Wall holds the highest concentration of routes and perhaps the easiest access with many pitches beginning on or near the road. Crowd pleasers include Glen Morangie (5.10a), Single Track (5.10d), Bowmore (5.11a) and Oban (5.12b). Elsewhere in the canyon seek out the 3 pitch trad route Dee’s Freeze (5.8), a seven pitch sport route called Lemme Tell Ya Whats Cool (5.8), In Stitches (5.11a), Phoenix (5.12a/b), Goliath (5.13a) and Any Color You Like (5.13b).
Dennis Delay crushing Anxious (5.11c)
Cows, maple syrup, and the world’s best beer- yes, we have those things here in Vermont. We also have great rock climbing. Vermont has amazing geological diversity that includes quartz-banded green schist along the Green Mountain spine, granite in the Northeast Kingdom, and quartzite at Lake Dunmore. Being further from major population centers and less obvious than cliffs of North Conway and New Paltz, Vermont’s climbing areas were long overlooked. None the less, Vermont has slowly and quietly evolved into one of the most beautiful, challenging, and varied climbing areas in the Northeast.
Eric Seaton at the 82 Crag
The epicenter of Vermont rock climbing is Bolton. A short, 30-minute drive from Burlington, Bolton’s collection of schist crags offers many options for trad, sport, and top-roping. Chockstone (5.8), The Rose (5.10a) and The Thorn (5.11a) are some of the best crack climbs in the area and should not be missed. Those seeking 5.11 and 5.12 sport climbs will find inspiration on the big overhangs at the Carcass Crag and the giant breaking wave of The 82. Don’t miss the chance to clip bolts on Truffle Hog (5.10a), The Cat’s Ass (5.11d), Doggfather (5.12b), Who’s Your Daddy (5.12c), and Encryption (5.12d). Lower West is Bolton’s best top-rope area with a popular collection of moderates up to 5.10. While the cliff can be a bit crowded when college is in session, it’s usually not a problem to get on something fun even on the busiest days.
Peter Kamitses exploring new lines in Smuggs
In north-central Vermont, the great cleft of Smuggler’s Notch breaks Mount Mansfield from its northern sibling, Spruce Peak. Here, towering alpine cliffs rise hundreds of feet to overlook long, wet gullies filled with loose scree and talus. Long known as an ice climbing and bouldering destination, Smuggs is also home to some of the northeast’s most unique multi-pitch climbs. Roped climbs here have challenging approaches, steep rock, amazing views, and crap-your-pants exposure. Few climbs in the east can be compared to routes like Airavata (5.12b), a wild 4-pitch sport climb up the 300-foot overhanging left arête of Elephant’s Head.
Travis Peckham on the FA of The Beachhead (5.9+ PG)
Standing on the “diving boards” atop of the 400-foot buttress of The Deep End (5.11b), looking down a thousand feet into the notch below is memorable to say the least. While multi-pitch alpine sport climbs are one of the things that make this area stand out, old-school trad classics like Elephant’s Head Crack (5.9+) and Quartz Crack (5.9+) never disappoint those looking for an alpine adventure.
Heading east from the Green Mountains schist yields to granite, and the big cliffs of the Northeast Kingdom present some of the highest quality rock in New England. The fine-grained white granite slabs of Wheeler Mountain rise hundreds of feet to challenge both footwork and resolve. Bold face and friction climbing in their purest forms are found on classics like VJ’s (5.6), The Right Stuff (5.9), and Whine and Cheese (5.11b). It’s impossible to miss Wheeler’s crown jewel: The Great Corner (5.11a), a huge open book rising from the top of a beautiful 300-foot slab. An hour south of Wheeler is a second big granite dome, Marshfield Ledge.
Matt Bressler on The Fissure Stony (5.8+)
Here you’ll find Marshfield Corners (5.10b), a route whose climactic 3rd pitch is as good as it gets. Perfect fingers and hands splitting a hundred-foot left-facing corner with expansive views of lakes, marshes, and the vast uninterrupted wilderness of Groton State Park. While many of the cliff’s climbs are multi-pitch faces and cracks in the 5.8 to 5.10d range, Marshfield Ledge is also home to the High Grade wall, a stunning 110-degree sport crag where you’ll find pumpy enduro-fests up to 5.14. When climbing in the Northeast Kingdom, drop by Parker Pie or Hill Farmstead Brewery to sample some of the world’s most sought-after quaffables.
Travis Peckham at Bald Hill
Further to the southeast, Lake Dunmore provides one of the better beginner areas in the state on cliffs of diamond-hard Cheshire quartzite. The cliffs have a short approach through a wonderful old hemlock grove and the views from the crags are spectacular, encompassing a significant portion of the central Adirondacks. The cliffs have a good selection of top-rope climbs in the 5.5 to 5.7 range. Bring extra-long rigging or a static line to set up anchors as the trees are set back significantly from the edge of the cliff. Lake Dunmore itself, and the nearby Falls of Lana, offer excellent swimming in the summer and should not be missed.
Phoebe Peckham at Lake Dunmore
Schist, granite, quartzite, trad, sport, beer, cows- Vermont has a lot to offer. Tough Schist reveals decades of rock climbing exploration and route development on roadside crags, backcountry cliffs, and alpine rock.
Erica Braun on The Laundry Chute (5.7).
Carderock has been Washington, DC’s favorite escape for rock climbers for almost a hundred years, for good reason. Conveniently nestled at the edge of residential Washington, DC and overlooking the Potomac River, it’s a perfect stop for climbers looking for a quick fix before heading home for dinner. Because the crags are less than a hundred yards from the parking lot, and the Billy Goat C trail runs through the crag, access to the top and the bottom is quick and easy. It’s no surprise that Carderock is busy every night during the summer with campers, climbing classes, and regulars.
There is a pervasive myth that Carderock is a beginner’s crag. This myth probably took hold because of the presence of families with young children scrambling on the rocks. The locals know that the climbs are heavily sandbagged, rated by hardcore climbers decades ago before quartz holds broke off and the schist wore down to a smooth polish, turning Carderock into “the grease of the East.” In reality, Carderock has a breadth of difficulties. It has easy laybacks and fun chimneys for beginners. But, it also has many of the most difficult friction slab routes on the East Coast. Chris Sharma, arguably the best climber in the world, fell repeatedly on Evan’s Bolt Ladder (5.12d) during a televised National Public Radio interview. We have tried to address the pervasive sandbagging in our guidebook by re-rating some climbs as objectively as we could; this results in some surprising differences between our ratings and those historically known. Let us know what you think!
Carter Braun at the top of Trudie’s Terror (5.8)
The rock is a mica schist with quartz knobs arising from the Wissahickon bedrock formation. The schist is slick during the humid summers. Shoes stick best during the spring and fall when the air is brisk and dry. Because the schist is slick and friable, protection can slip out or break out easily. Therefore, lead climbing is not recommended at Carderock, and all its routes are top-roped and usually tied into trees or boulders.
To get started climbing at Carderock, you only need minimal equipment. If you’ve never climbed outdoors before, we strongly recommend taking a climbing class offered by Earth Treks, REI, or a local guide, because almost all accidents at Carderock have happened with inexperienced climbers. We recommend a 40 meter dynamic climbing rope, 30-40 meters of burly static line, and at least two additional locking carabiners. If you can manage to rock a pair of Carhartt’s double-duck pants and tie your anchors using bowline hitches, you’ll blend in with the old-school locals.
In our guidebook, we touch on Carderock’s storied history. It was the site of some of the earliest technical climbing in North America, dating to the 1920s. Herbie’s Horror, one of the first 5.9 routes in North America, is at Carderock. Herbie’s wife, Jan Conn, went on to participate in the first all-female ascent of Devil’s Tower, Wyoming. The Conns named climbs at Seneca Rocks, in New Hampshire, and out west. Many accomplished climbers and mountaineers climbed here who went on to first ascents at prominent peaks in the Tetons, Denali, and elsewhere. Noel Odell, who was the last person to see George Leigh Mallory alive on Everest in 1924, is said to have climbed at Carderock.
Today, Carderock is a section of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park. Its continued conservation is because of the efforts of the Mountaineering Section of the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC-MS) and dedicated local climbers like John Forrest Gregory, the ‘mayor of Carderock.’
In creating our guidebook, we tried to make it comprehensive and easy to use. We include the main walls at Carderock but also less climbed areas, including Outlook Rocks, Easter Egg Rocks, Jam Box, and Vaso Island. We’ve also included photos showing you where to place your top-rope anchors, since climbs look much different looking down than they do when you’re looking up from the bottom. We hope that our guidebook helps you find the challenge you seek and that it adds enjoyment to your day. We’re going to keep working on our guidebook until we feel that all our photographs are perfectly clear and our beta is rock solid, even if this takes us years. And, if you see us around at Carderock and recognize us, don’t be a stranger – say hello!
Climbing Magazine’s must have climbing apps.
We have come a long way since the Editor’s Choice award, and we appreciate the recognition.
In 2014, we awarded Rakkup our Editors’ Choice Award and with good reason. From our original review: “This intensely detailed app utilizes GPS tracking, turn-by-turn directions, and photos to get you directly to the base of the route—even if that includes fourth- or fifth-class scrambling. A compass with a direction-of-travel arrow and a map that moves with you keep your group heading in the right direction so you can avoid wasted time and energy. Wall and route descriptions include nearly all the beta you’d ever need, with zoomable topos, rack info, descent info, and individual pitch descriptions. It’s similar to our other favorite app, Mountain Project, but instead of relying on user-generated content, Rakkup uses professionals and guidebook authors to write descriptions and gather info. Game changer: ‘Belay View’ photos that show you exactly what the route looks like from the bottom belay stance, as opposed to that far-away and unhelpful view of the whole wall.”
When New York is mentioned, you might think of the most populated city in the U.S., not wilderness climbing. It may come as a surprise that just a few hours north of Manhattan is the largest protected land area in the U.S. (outside of Alaska.) The NY State owned Adirondack Park (aka the “Dacks”) has 3200+ rock climbing routes scattered on more than 320 cliffs.
Leslie Ackerman on P1 (5.4) of Good Intentions (5.7).
The centerpiece of multi-pitch climbing in the Dacks is Poke-O Moonshine Mountain. It’s located adjacent to the Northway, the north-south interstate with easy access and some of the best routes in the park. The Main Face is east-facing and is immense—400′ tall and more than half a mile wide. The granitic gneiss is grippy with irregular cracks that split sheer faces. One of these is the mega-classic Fastest Gun, on the short list as the best 5.10 in the U.S. for its four pitches of 5.10 with every crack size imaginable. Other crack test pieces are The Great Dihedral, a 5.9+ finger- and hand-crack with a fearsome 120′-tall corner, and Bloody Mary, 140′-tall with stout 5.9+ laybacks.
Liam Schneider on The Sting (5.8).
Poke-O is also known for face climbing. These sheer faces are actually textured with crisp edges and use bolts to link naturally protected features. Poke-O is known for perfect tiny slots that appear exactly where you need them. Five-star routes in this style include Maestro, a 5.10c masterpiece of bolt- and RP-protected face climbing; C-Tips, another 5.10c sport pitch up a black waterworn face; and Pentecostal, a 5.12c fingertip journey up micro-crimps protected by bolts.
Easy routes at Poke-O are rare: The Snake, 5.4, wanders up an impressive amphitheater of overhanging rock, Puppies on Edge, a 5.6 juggy arête, and the popular Catharsis (5.5), four pitches of south-facing slab. Jump up a few grades to the sought-after moderates: Gamesmanship, a five-pitch 5.8+ crack line, and The Sting, a single-pitch 5.8 hand crack that provides a great warmup. The cliff truly shines with its 100 or so routes in the 5.10-5.11 range. These are the highest quality routes on the cliff. Freedom Flight, Southern Hospitality, The Snatch, Son of Slime, Cooney-Norton Face, Psalm 32, Casual Observer, and The Gathering—to name a few— should be on everybody’s tick list.
Jim Lawyer on P3 (5.10b) of Morning Star (5.10d).
My first visit to Poke-O was in May of 1987 with Tad Welch. I had met him at a slideshow and asked if he wanted to climb. “Sure!” he responded enthusiastically. “Have ya been to Poke-O?” I’d heard of it, but I was intimidated by its reputation for stout climbing. I put my apprehensions aside and made plans with Tad for the weekend. I was young and had recently discovered lay-backing, a technique I’ve since all but removed from my repertoire in favor of less-strenuous jamming, and I told him all I wanted to do was layback. Tad was on fire and, armed with a bunch of nuts, hexes, and a couple cams, he pounded out pitch after pitch: Psychosis, Gamesmanship, The Sting, Bloody Mary, Fastest Gun, Royal Savage, Scallion, Cirrhosis. I lay-backed them all. As if that wasn’t enough, we added the face routes Homecoming, Ukiah, Space Walk and Catharsis. Nearly 30 years have passed and this climbing day remains my most memorable; I’ve never been able to repeat that much climbing in a single day. Poke-O is perfect for big days like this—you can drop your pack in one place and do it Tad-style.
Martine Schaer on P1 of Freedom Flight (5.10c).jpg
Poke-O imparts a unique climbing style. There’s a lot of off-vertical face climbing that requires a “go for it” attitude with the knowledge that protection will just present itself, so developing a knack for this is helpful. Poke-O cracks are rarely uniform, peppered with hidden incuts and square-cut edges on the face. Hone your jam skills, and maybe even tape up.
Colin Loher on P3 of Pandemonium (5.10b).
Poke-O has had several resurgences since my first visit. A crew of dedicated locals got busy in the early 90s with many bolt-protected lines, then again in the early 2000s on the Pilgrim Wall. Today there is something for everyone, well into the 5.12 range. Most routes are trad mixed with bolts, but there are sport pitches too. Bring a double rack of cams and nuts to 3″, a single 4″ for some routes, and a 70m rope. Double ropes or a tag line come in handy for the long rappels.
Monica Wormaid on C-Tips (5.10c).
These fantastic routes don’t come easy. The setting is close enough to the road that highway noise is noticeable at first, and helmets are recommended due to rock-fall, especially if following another party. Some of the excellent routes tend to grow back with lichen if they are not popular, so replace that useless toothbrush in your chalk bag with a proper wire brush to touch up key holds.
Dennis Luther on Son of a Mother (5.10b).
The camping scene in the Dacks is relaxed—camp anywhere on state land 150′ from a road, trail, or water. The campground at the base of Poke-O is regretfully closed, but parking and the approach to the Main Face still begins there. Free car-camping spots can be found in the Chapel Pond region. The state runs a number of excellent pay campgrounds as well, listed here Dept. of Environmental Conservation Campgrounds.
So, are you looking for multi-pitch slabs, one-pitch cragging, long free routes, steep faces and cracks? Poke-O Moonshine has it all.
Salt Lake locals know Ferguson Canyon has a niche following in the area’s well-deserved reputation for quality crags. The climbing is on granite, but is uniquely different than the glacier-polished slabs of nearby Little Cottonwood. Typically steep cracks and seams are often horizontal, and large crystal holds are common. The canyon is a favorite with dog owners who are not allowed to bring their pups into the Cottonwood Canyons.
Trying to escape the heat? Another reason climbers love Ferguson. Nearly all the routes are shaded for most of the day. And the swamp cooling effect of the nearby stream is an ever-present pleasure when temps soar. Climbing here is a pleasurable outing, rather than an adventurous commitment. Some of the best routes in the canyon include: Monogamy (5.7), Crystal Healing (5.8+), Imperial (5.9), Extreme Unction (5.10-), Delirium Tremens (5.11-), and Fuego (5.12a). Vertical finger and hand cracks may show up for a move or two, but they are, strangely, the exception. Chimneys abound.
Routes didn’t start going up here until the 1980s. Many of the originals were free-soloed or led using micro-nuts in flaring seams. The early pioneers included Les Ellison, Brian Smoot, and Drew Bedford. The 1990s saw slightly better protected routes going up with hand-drilled bolt placement by Hank Armantrout. The turn of the century brought a radically different approach from Greg Martinez. His routes provide the majority of sport climbing in the canyon.
Long-time local guide, Tony Calderone, provides excellent, up-to-date information on the most comprehensive compilation of over 150 Ferguson Canyon rock climbing routes.
Corey Harris on Rite of Passage (V2)
The Pot Point bouldering area is one of the best kept secrets of the Chattanooga bouldering scene. Potential for new lines and free camping all within a peaceful setting make this spot perfect for climbers looking for something new.
This area sits on the ridge overlooking the river gorge and Raccoon Mountain and is situated along the Pot Point hiking trail. While only the best select problems are included in this initial guidebook release the area has an abundance of unclimbed rock and well featured boulders. Divided into several mini areas the boulders are strewn about for almost a mile.
Drew Meyer on Love Handles (V4)
Each area has its classics and warmups with the furthest of all the areas being a large maze of rock, otherwise known as the Fortress. While most visitors to the area will hit the Fortress; the other areas hold enough quality problems to keep all but the strongest climbers busy. Keep in mind that since development in 2006 nature has reclaimed some boulders and problems can grow with lichen again and their approach trails become non-existent. This is part of the beauty of the area so embrace it.
From the downtown Chattanooga area head north on Hwy 27 taking the Signal Mtn Rd Exit and head west (toward the mountain) taking a left onto TN-27 W/Suck Creek Rd. Drive 8 miles through the scenic Suck Creek area and turning left on to Choctaw Trail following signage for Prentice Cooper. A left turn onto Game Reserve Rd leads you to the entrance of the Prentice Cooper area. Drive 8 miles to the left turn to the Davis Pond Rd. and park here if the roads are closed.
The roads are closed from December to March or in exceptionally wet times. When the roads are open you can drive the loop just past the pond taking the right fork. You will be able to see the Alpha area from the road.
Graham Hodge on Napolean Dynamite (V2/3)
Trout Creek Main Wall as seen from the Deschutes.
In 2001, my dad and I were fishing a part of the Lower Deschutes we had never visited, the blue ribbon section of water from Warm Springs to Trout Creek. There were reports of record numbers of steelhead in the river and the uncharacteristically cloudy weather made chances better than normal for getting lucky. And I was feeling lucky, it was my birthday.
Jeff Wenger on The Space Between (5.10+)
About halfway through the day I landed my first steelhead on a fly rod. It was an awesome battle and after it ended I remember sitting back against the riverbank watching the low clouds swirl and recede upstream to the southwest. The scene changed dramatically as the skies started to clear. Suddenly everything was bright, the sun glaring of off the water almost blinding. I rifled through my pack and eventually located my sunglasses. When I looked back up the entire sky was blue and mirrored in the crystal waters, up the hillside in front of me, was a cliff line of golden columns glowing in the afternoon sun. A couple days later I hiked up to the cliff and climbed what later became known as The Space Between. That lucky birthday led to one steelhead dinner and, in the years since, countless servings of humble pie.
Climbers on the Main Wall.
A little fishing around Central Oregon revealed some knowledge of the place by Smith Rock’s old guard and limited activity on the obvious west-facing wall. After getting the go-ahead from the early visitors I could track down, I replaced the half a dozen or so aging ¼ inch bolts and faded webbing anchors left behind in the 80’s and started picking away at the obvious plums with my brother and a few friends. A year later there were 20 climbs added to the mix. Today Trout Creek offers visiting climbers over 130 routes with most classics ranging from 5.10 – 5.13. All popular routes are equipped with chain anchors and steel lowering carabineers for safety and convenience. Most of the climbing is straightforward with excellent protection and for many years, almost all of the development was done on-sight. In fact, classics were being sent first try even as late as 2008 when Will Stanhope casually dropped in and added Winter Sustenance and Full Clip one empty April afternoon.
Muddy hitches a ride.
For the decade or so after first spotting the cliff, Trout Creek became my second home. I had my first date with Casey (now my wife) at the crag, we practically raised our dogs at the area. When the youngest, Muddy, was still too little to climb the hill, we carried him up in a pack. To this day Muddy is best behaved and seems most content hanging at one of his perches along the Main Wall.
Muddy taking in the view.
Over the years, the beautiful position of the crag seemed to have a similar effect on more and more people. A small community of climbers grew into a large family. We egged each other on at the crag and later during nighttime One Armed Weasel bouldering sessions, we maintained a community bucket filled with information and safety items, we spotted cougars on the way to the cliff and sometimes in the campground, we had icy swimming challenges, trundled giant chunks of columns, and rolled the ”cube” around the fire, we sketched across snow covered columns, organized trail building parties, had run-ins with snakes, poison oak, ticks, black widows in outhouses, even animal traps by the river. Along the way we developed working relationships with landowners, camp hosts, hunters, fishermen, boy scouts, cavers (yes, cavers), Fish and Game officers, local newspaper reporters, trail building specialists, Oregon Field Guide staff, the Madras police department and most critically to the area’s future, with wildlife biologists and policy makers at the BLM.
Trout Creek can be tough on the skin.
What could have resulted in a blanket closure of the area due to several Golden Eagle nests located between the SW corner of the Main Wall and Cool Wall evolved into a cooperative effort. Representing climbers at the table with the BLM, our mission was simple: To ensure the safety of the Golden Eagle while advocating for climbers’ rights as a responsible user group. In a show of good faith, and a test of community follow-through, the first seasonal closure in 2012 was voluntary. It was 100% successful in terms of climber compliance. This made a HUGE and positive difference for moving forward in talks with the BLM. Additionally, support from the Access Fund, The Crag Law Center, The American Alpine Club, and letters from many a climber led to a policy that should be sustainable so long as climbers continue to honor the following closure: January 15th – August 15th (This closure includes hiking on the hillsides) If the Golden Eagles do not have a viable nest in the area by May 14th, the area will open to user groups on May 15th.
Jeff Wenger on Reservation Blues (5.12+)
So far, climbers have adhered to the seasonal closure but if that changes the area could face permanent closure. Bottom line: Follow the rules and protect future access. More importantly, follow the rules and protect Golden Eagles and the territories they staked out long before any of us came along to go rock climbing.
The impact of climbers, even when the area is empty for part of each year, can be significant. There are no facilities at the cliff. If you need to relieve yourself, please do so in minimally impactful ways and search out an area away from gathering points or the cliff. Also, left over tape, chalk, beer caps, cigarette butts, or other items not really considered garbage in many parts of the world are, in fact, garbage. Please do the right thing(s) in terms of impact and encourage others too also. Together we can all protect the experience and the environment out at Trout Creek.
See you up there,
Jason Reynolds on Atrophy (5.11b)
Some of the earliest Foster Falls rock climbing activity dates back to the mid-80s to a handful of now forgotten or retrobolted routes established by a crew of traditional climbers including Chattanooga locals and visiting climbers like Rob Robinson, Steve Goins, and Hidetaka Suzuki. Limited by the amount of ground-up features and paths present within the largely overhung and blocky cliff, these climbers soon moved on to cliffs more palatable to their preferred style.
Jay Perry on Thieves (5.12a)
This fact left Foster Falls wide open for the wide-scale sport climbing development that was soon to follow in the early 90s. Led by the efforts of Eddie Whittemore, a bulk of the hardest and best routes at Fosters quickly fell to a committed group of climbers including Southern notables like Doug Reed, Porter Jarrard, and Chris Chestnutt. Other climbers like Paul Sloan, Steve Deweese, Louie Rumanes, and Chris Watford added to the route inventory throughout the mid-90s, while hardmen like Jerry Roberts established new high-end lines in the steep Bunkers.
Mike Moore on Super Saturated (5.10c)
Meanwhile, the largely unsung hero of Foster Falls moderates, Steve Jones, began bolting some of the most popular routes at Fosters dating back to the early days of development and continued to do so right up until the recent past. His efforts have led to the growing popularity of far-end moderate walls that are still being filled out by Nashville locals like Mike Moore and Darryl Bornhop. With the exception of a few obscure areas, the walls at Foster Falls are largely tapped out and are home to some of the most well-traveled and well-loved routes in the Chattanooga region. Of special note, with the help of the Southeastern Climbers Coalition, the cliff we climb on (once privately owned), has been secured and turned over to be managed by the South Cumberland State Park guaranteeing future access to this valuable climbing resource.
Richard Parks on Bear Mountain Picnic (5.8)
Foster Falls rock climbing is located in the hills of Jasper Tn, After leaving I-24, go north on 28 and get off at the Jasper exit (sign for Foster Falls), and head left off the exit ramp onto Main Street (West 72). After passing through the town of Jasper, take a right at signs reading TN150/US41 north toward Tracy City. Stay on TN150/ US41 North as it splits left and heads up the mountain. The entrance to Foster Falls (marked by a sign) is on your left 6.5 miles up the mountain from this split.