Rock ClimbingThe Mountain State is one of the country’s premier climbing destinations along the East Coast. West Virginia is home to world-renowned climbing offerings. From basic guided trips to advanced multi-pitch climbs, West Virginia has more than 4,000 climbing routes for a variety of skill levels. Try your hand at bouldering, multi-pitch routes or lake-side routes with iconic views. You’ll find that and more in a place that’s climbing heaven.
Rock Climbing Adventures
New River Gorge National Park and Preserve
Home to Almost Heaven’s first National Park and Preserve, New River Gorge is known for some of the best climbing on the East Coast. Located only minutes away from the town of Fayetteville, the New makes a great place for all visitors. New River Gorge is home to magnificent single-pitch sport and trad climbing.
Seneca Rocks is nestled in the Monongahela National Forest, the heart of the Potomac Highlands. The location is best known for its multi-pitch trad climbing. In the 1940s Seneca was a training ground for the 10th Mountain Division in preparation for WWII. The higher elevation tends to have a milder temperature, which makes it a wonderful destination for spring, summer, and fall.
Coopers Rock State Forest
Located in the heart on Mountaineer Country. Coopers Rock State Forest is most known for its gritstone walls. The state park is home for both top-rope climbing and bouldering. This is a great place from beginners to experts.
One of West Virginia’s most unique climbing experiences is at Summersville Lake. Have the adventure of a lifetime while climbing over a lake. Many of the cliffs are heavily featured with huge, easy hand and footholds perfect for beginners. If you ever wanted to start your climb from a boat, there are guide services available.
Nrocks Outdoor Adventures
You can try every type of climbing experience at NRocks, if you can get your eyes off the huge twin fin rock formations! NRocks offers the perfect guided experience. Enjoy small classes where you will learn all about rock climbing. Try the unique hiking-meets-climbing blend on one of the few via ferratas in the world.
How to start climbing
New to the sport? The first step is finding out where in Almost Heaven you want to climb. One of the easiest ways to get into climbing is to hire a guide to show you the ropes. And luckily, there are guide services available across the state. Visit our four most rewarding rock climbs for beginners for inspiration. If you are ready to go without a guide, stop by the local gear shop to get the inside scoop on hidden routes, must-see climbs and things to see and do in the area after your climb.
What to bring
Your gear list is always going to vary on the weather, time of year, and climbing destination. If you are new to the sport or the area, we recommend hiring a guide. Guides will know what gear to bring. If you are experienced, research the area you want to go to find out what gear you need. When traveling with friends or a local guide, it is always best to consult them on specific gear needs. However, if you’re just looking for the basics, here’s a helpful list that outlines the gear almost every adventurer needs.
- Comfortable clothes to climb in
- Comfortable shoes to go on the unbeaten path or a short hike.
- A water bottle with extra water
- Extra layers of clothes depending on the weather
- A rain jacket in case of rainy days
- A small backpack
- Insect repellent
The best months of the year to climb in West Virginia are late April to mid-June, and mid-September to early November. However, climbing is offered year-round here—so long as you have a warm sunny day in the winter months or find a nice, shady spot to climb in the heat of the summer.
Types of climbing
Indoor climbing is a great way to start the sport or to stay in shape during the off-season. Most indoor gyms will include a variety of bouldering and rope climbs. Indoor climbing is a great way to learn techniques and skills to enhance your outdoor experience.
Via Ferrata is an Italian term that means “iron path”. Via Ferrata climbing includes steel rail cables fixed into the rock. Climbers travel across the mountain by using steel rail steps and are attached to a steel cable the whole time. Via Ferratas can include different elements such as ladders, suspension bridges, and ziplines.
Aid climbing incorporates permanent or removable protection that is placed into the rock. Instead of using just the rock face to get up, a climber uses additional gear to “aid” them up. Gear can be anything from rope ladders, rope pendulums, and other webbing tools.
Bouldering is one of the simplest types of climbing. Bouldering is done without ropes and tends to focus on short precise problems. Most bouldering problems tend to be under 25 feet. Crash pads and human spotters are used to minimize injuries to the climber.
Sport Climbing is one of the types of climbing that uses ropes. Sport climbing uses permanent anchors or bolts in the rock. Climbers will then attach removable proactive gear to the fixed points. Sport climbing allows climbers to focus more on the move sequence and less on the protective gear.
Traditional Climbing is also known as trad climbing. It is another type of climbing using a rope. Trad climbing requires more skill and experience. Trad climbing requires climbers to place protective gear on the rock as they ascend. After the climb is over, all the gear is removed from the rock. Trad climbing requires more knowledge and gear than sport climbing.
Multi-pitch climbing can either be sport or traditional. These climbs are longer routes that require being broken up into sections or “pitches”. Multi-pitch requires a climber to climb one pitch then set up an anchor to belay another climber or climbers up. This process is then repeated until the top. This form of climbing can require a great amount of knowledge and gear.
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