For all of those who do not think we have excellent crags in the local area, I am about to prove you wrong. We have phenomenal climbing areas from here in Fredericksburg to Seneca Rocks and the New River Gorge in West Virginia, and literally everywhere in between. The most recent edition of Climbing magazine included a panoramic shot of Oh My God Dihedral (a good 5.10c climb) on Old Rag. So yes, our local areas are getting noticed in national publications. And the good news is that they are right at our door step. It is simply taking the first step and picking up a new hobby (addiction).
Customers constantly ask “where is the best place to go around here.” Our first response is always: Rappahannock Rocks. Our local rock face has 34 routes ranging from 5.3 to 5.12 and is great for entry-level to intermediate rock junkies. This is where we climb on a weekly basis and hold our Climbing 101 and 102 courses. It is a perfect area to begin developing your skills in the vertical world. Just north of us, we have Elizabeth Furnace and Great Falls. Each location has challenging climbs and is great for both top-roping and sport climbing. Within one hour from the ‘burg, both Old Rag and Little Stony Man have great traditional climbing routes.
People typically think of hiking in Shenandoah, but great rock climbing routes can be found near many of the trails, with the most popular being Skyline Wall and Reflector Oven.
When I want to sneak away and go climbing for a day, I typically drive to Seneca Rocks, West Virginia. It only takes a little over 3 hours, so you can easily make a day trip. If you do decide to stay longer, Seneca Shadows campground is a great little spot with power and running water. It is very well maintained and the camp hosts take pride in their charge. We always climb with the Seneca Rocks Climbing School which based out of the Gendarme (local climbing shop within walking distance of the rocks). Their guides know the rocks like no other and can take you on your first multi-pitch adventure to the summit.
Last but not least is the New River Gorge in Fayetteville, West Virginia. There are literally a thousand high quality routes along “the New” and many consider this to be the climbing Mecca of the east coast. It is approximately 5 hours from the ‘burg, but vacationing opportunities are endless. You can stay at a primitive campground (I recommend the American Alpine Club’s campground near Junkyard wall) or splurge by renting a 6,000 sqft luxury log cabin. Regardless, there is something for every type of climber at the New River Gorge.
Bottom-line, rock climbing is a great sport and you can get plenty of outdoor climbs here in Virginia. You do not need to travel to the West Coast to experience high-quality, high exposure rock faces; they exist within a short distance from home. If you need any help or are just looking for someone to talk gear, stop by River Rock. We like to think of ourselves as an aged scotch: best on the rocks!