The Quick Fix


Oct 1, 2003
Outside Magazine

Smorgasgorge! Climbing at the New River Gorge

Climbing the New River Gorge
Rumor has it that the 352-mile-long New River is the second-oldest river in the world, dating back approximately 320 million years. Geologists go round and round on that figure, but everyone agrees that one 15-mile section of the 60-mile New River Gorge, which is 1,200 feet deep in places, offers spectacular climbing—it regularly draws the likes of Lynn Hill and other first-tier climbers. More than 2,000 mostly bolted climbs follow the rim. The draw is the very durable Nuttall Sandstone, with beautiful horizontal fissures and climbing that ranges from dime-edge face climbs to fist-size cracks. If you need a break from the one-pitch 5.11's and 5.12's of the New, you can head up to Seneca Rocks, in the northeastern corner of the Mon Forest, a 400-foot fin of sheer quartzite that offers long, classic routes in the moderate range of 5.2 to 5.8, with several others rated 5.10 to 5.12.
HOW TO GO Hard Rock Climbing Services (304-574-0735,, in Fayetteville, offers guide service for $120 per person per day. At Water Stone Outdoors (304-574-2425,, also in Fayetteville, you'll find the latest edition of the area's bible, New River Rock, by Rick Thompson.
LODGING Country Road Cabins (888-712-2246,, located just north of the gorge, rents log cabins, complete with front porches (and the requisite swings), that sleep up to three people for $125-$235 per night.

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