HC’s GUIDE TO CLIMBING IN THE NEW RIVER GORGE
Maps of the New
HomoClimbtastic has produced maps of the New River Gorge climbing area, giving you an overview of Highway 19, Fayetteville, and Cantrell’s campground. Download the PDF version by clicking here.
About the climbing
The New River Gorge is a premier climbing destination on the east coast located near Fayetteville, West Virginia. Along with Summersville Lake and The Meadows, this area comprises a huge concentration of awesome routes. NRG is well know for both sport and trad climbing on good sandstone. Few sport routes are below 5.10a, so beginners are advised to hit the gym in the weeks before a trip to the New. The New is a popular destination for HC group trips and our favorite place for making homo mischief, both because the weather is good for climbing for almost the entire year (it gets snowy in the winter) and because Fayetteville is awesome.
JOINTS THAT ARE FRIENDLY TO YO’ FLAMINGLY FLAMING/BUTCH SELF
Want to spend your money at LGBT friendly businesses? So do we! So we keep track. We’re like elephants. Big, gay elephants. Tell them HC sent you. All the places on our map are friendly, so check ’em out.
Roger’s campground, aka Roger’s Rocky Top Retreat, is our favorite campground. Roger’s has no address or phone number. It is at the very end of Kaymoor #1. Camping is $6 a night per person, showers are $2. And there’s free coffee! Unfortunately, Roger decided to retire, so the campground is closed. People still use it as a landmark (e.g. “where Roger’s used to be”) so we’re leaving the location info up, but you’ll need a different camp site.
Presently the main climbing campgrounds include Cantrell’s on County Road 9 and the ACE Gear Shop and Campground on Fayette Station. The American Alpine Club is also building a climbers’ campground at the New.
Water Stone Outdoors sponsored the HC2010 convention. Water Stone Outdoors is located at 101 Wiseman Avenue, Fayetteville, and their phone is (304) 574-2425. They are open 8am-8pm all week during the in-season.
For excellent breakfast and dinner, try the Vandalian. When I first heard that Porter Jarrard was opening a restaurant, I was suspicious–can you be smart enough to know how to bolt fabulous routes AND know how to make fabulous food? As it turns out, yes. The Vandalian is fucking good. Breakfast is $5-10, dinner is $10-20.
We also often find ourselves eating the sandwiches at Secret Sandwich Society, which is a great place for lunch or the end of a climbing day.
For slightly more posh sleeping quarters, try River Rock Retreat and Hostel. River Rock was the official hostel for our 2009 and 2010 conventions.
If you have a group and need a hot tub, Cantrell’s has cabins with hot tubs. Hot tubs may or may not be equipped with time machines.
Our list just chose a few highlights–but the entire town of Fayetteville is utterly charming and you should explore all the places in town.
The new full color NRG guide is here and it’s beautiful. Pros: Every route (all 2,500 of them!) has full color pictures and there is extensive information about every climb, precise locations and maps, and recommendations for rainy day weather crags. Cons: The book weighs like 8 lbs and costs $40. An alternative guide book (thinner and only slightly less comprehensive) is Steve Cater’s guidebook ($15 and light). We highly recommend that you consider procuring a guidebook if you don’t know the area well.
Both guidebooks are available at Water Stone.
Directions to some key climbing areas:
1. Summersville Lake
The directions in the guidebook don’t include all the turns for some reason. So here are mine:
- Drive north on 19 until you pass over Summersville Lake. (there’s a sign on the bridge saying it’s Summersville Lake.)
- First right after the lake is the parking area. You should see a red metal gate with a trail behind it, and a sign next to the gate that says “no motorized vehicles.”
- At the top of the first hill, you’ll see what kind of looks like a right turn to nowhere, pass that and continue on.
- Go down a gradual hill, pass another right turn that you don’t take.
- You’ll come to a much more obvious Y turn, where the right turn curves to the right and stays about flat, while the left turn goes downhill like a highway exit. Take the left. Almost immediately, you’ll come to a (sometimes dry) creek crossing, with planks and logs for crossing when the water level is higher.
- (Up to now, I could have shortened the directions to “stay left until you get to the creek crossing.”)
- Immediately after the creek crossing, take a right turn…
- …and then another right turn (at this split, there will be a thin brown sign with a hiker logo on it).
- About a minute later, take another right turn.
- Another minute later, you’ll see a right turn that juts out perpendicular from the trail. Don’t take that turn, skip it.
- As you walk, you should be seeing red blazes, and signs on the trees indicating the corps of engineers property line.
- After about five minutes, you’ll see a rusted out gas range on the right, which has been there for years, and probably won’t be removed for a long time, but maybe it will. In any case, about thirty seconds after that range, there’s a right turn that juts out about 25 degrees and goes downhill. Take that right turn.
- Finally, you’ll be on something that looks like a hiking trail rather than an ATV trail.
- Cross the rocky creek bed and go down the ladder next to the waterfall.
- At the bottom of the ladder you’ll be in a rocky passage. Head left and almost immediately you’ll come to the DC Memorial Boulder. continue in that direction to get to Narcissus Cave. If you head right after you descend the ladder (there’s a trail, you don’t have to go through the waterfall) you’ll come to the Coliseum. Those are three very obvious landmarks so you shouldn’t have any trouble working your way around.
2. Endless Wall (a three mile long climbing wall!)
- After you cross the big bridge heading north on 19, you’ll take your second right onto Lansing. (the first right is the bridge visitor’s center.)
- After 1/4 a mile you’ll pass the River Rock hostel.
- You’ll pass two very obvious parking areas (they’re national park service parking lots with signs and everything) and you want the second. (the first parking lot is for the left side of endless wall, Fern Buttress)
- There’s a porta potty and a map of the area at the trailhead. Take that trail.
- The trail will eventually take you to a sign that says “climber’s access” and “Endless Wall trail” or something like that, with arrows pointing in three directions. Memorize that sign and location. This trail is how you’re getting back to the parking lot. The map in the guidebook suggests that there are lots of easy, well marked ways of getting back to your car, but I don’t find them easy or well marked, and they’re a lot longer than you would expect.
- You now have a choice. If you go straight ahead, in the direction marked climber’s access, you’ll come to the miner’s ladder in under a minute.
- If you take a right on the endless wall trail, you’ll pass several short (e.g. less than a minute) trails taking you to the edge of the cliff and panoramas of the gorge. One of them is better than all the others, and is by the tree Rowland and Laurie call the vagina tree (it splits in two at the bottom)
- You’ll eventually come to another sign that indicates “climber’s access”. Go down that route to quickly arrive at the Honeymooner’s Ladder, which is actually two ladders.
There’s a Kroger and a Walmart just a few miles south of Fayetteville on highway 19. The Fayettevillians have not yet managed to kill off Walmart by directing visitors to Kroger, but they’re working on it. I’ll admit that I bought a blow-up mattress there when my camp pad exploded.
GETTING TO FAYETTEVILLE
You have several options for getting to Fayetteville, WV.
First, pull it up on google maps so you can see where you’re trying to go. Then, go through the possibilities below. If you need help, send us detailed information about the entire range of times you are able to arrive and depart. (bad e-mail: “how do i get there from boulder, CO?” good e-mail: “I’m coming from Boulder. Ican arrive July 16-18, depart July 23-24. I can afford to fly into Atlanta, but I cannot afford to fly into Beckley.”)
You should get the campground address from us at least a week before the trip. If you have not gotten it by then, e-mail us like, right now.
FLY INTO BECKLEY
It’s not super cheap, but it’s not unreasonably priced either. Fly into the Beckley, WV airport and someone on the trip can pick you up on almost any evening (it’s only 30 minutes away).
PUT YOURSELF BETWEEN A CARPOOL ORIGIN AND FAYETTEVILLE
There’s carpools coming from all over. Unfortunately, that requires you to have a flexible enough schedule to arrive and depart when they are passing through. On the bright side, you can fly into a zillion different (perhaps cheap) airports. Be proactive and check out the travel path taken by people coming from Atlanta, Athens GA, Ann Arbor MI, New York, Toronto ON, Austin TX, and St. Louis, and see if you can intersect it somehow.
FLY INTO CHARLESTON or PITTSBURGH
Charleston WV, and Pittsburgh, PA at 3+ hours roundtrip, are too far for us to pick you up during the climbing trip (although some carpools may pass through Charleston on the way there). But it’s close enough if you want to rent a car, and may have cheaper flights than Beckley. go with this option if you wouldn’t save any money flying into Beckley.
There are Greyhound stations in Beckley and Charleston. other WV cities with Greyhound stations: Bluefield, Huntington, Parkersburg, and Wheeling. put yourself within thirty minutes of Fayetteville and you should be able to count on a ride from one of us.