Climbing at the New River Gorge

You can’t spend time in the Red without hearing about the New River Gorge in West Virginia. After all it’s only a four and a half hour drive away and boasts some amazing lines in its own right. We set out from the Red for Summersville Lake, one of the climbing areas in the New and we were met with a familiar occurrence … rain.

We did manage to get out for a couple hours and experience some of what the New has on offer. There are many sport, trad and mixed lines much like the Red. One big difference we noticed was the spacing of the bolts.


There are many routes that are a little run out after the second bolt. It requires a different type of mental stamina than you’ll find at the Red or any sport climbing destination in Europe. You may want a stick clip to give you that extra confidence to send a route.


The main climbing campground and hub of climber activity at the New is Rogers Rocky Top Retreat [Kaymoor #1 off Gatewood Rd. Fayetteville, WV 25840] which runs $7/person/day. We didn’t stay there so we can’t say much about it.

We found some free camping at Summersville Lake Dam. There is a pay campground nearby where we took showers. The camping there however was $20/day.

Deep Water Soloing

While the cliffs around the lake look inviting for climbing it is illegal to do so. The Army Corps of Engineers has banned any cliff jumping activities. While DWS technically isn’t cliff jumping they interpret it as so. We heard lots of stories of climbers getting hassled and fined. It is approximately a $5,000 fine for falling into the lake, so technically it is legal to climb just not to fall. What better incentive do you need to go for the send?

With the spring rain getting us down we only got one day of climbing in and moved on in search of drier rock elsewhere. Like the Red, the New’s best season is the fall. While there are some amazing days in the spring, be prepared to dodge thunderstorms!


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