Climbing in Great Falls National Park
It’s not often that we head to a top rope only climbing area. But near the urban metropolis that is Washington DC, there are few other choices within easy reach and we wanted to take a long-time friend and first-time climber out so we figured we’d give it a shot. If you too are interested in some amazing top rope action, read on!
Great Fall National Park is just a half an hour out of DC. The park has a few short trails that are full of interpretive signs and strollers and lots of viewpoints of the tumbling falls on the Potomac that give the park its name.
The climbing is on the walls of the gorge formed by the river and is all done using natural pro like trees and rocks. We set up at the top of the gorge and belayed from the top with some routes lowering right over the river in areas otherwise inaccessible. As you can imagine with the fluctuating water level the rock at the bottom was really polished.
The routes range from 5.5 to 5.14 so there is something here for everyone. Aside from the smooth rock at the bottom the schist is high friction and the location above the rushing Potomac makes for great feelings of exposure.
Great Falls is covered in Eric Horst’s Falcon Guide to Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland but we were able to glean enough info for our day out on Mountain Project.