The Carolina Climbers Coalition is making a big move to protect some of the oldest developed bouldering in the High Country and needs your help to raise money to help fund the purchase. The CCC has teamed up with Joey Henson, a High Country bouldering legend, to purchase and permanently protect Buckeye Knob. Along with […]

Beehive Trail is a difficult mountain bike trail in Wilson Creek that is notorious for being steep, rugged, rocky and sometimes overgrown. In this video from Phil Kmetz, Phil showcases just how rowdy this trail is when mountain biking at high speed. This video goes to show just how tough some of the trails are […]

An exciting new trail system is currently in the planning and development stage in the steep and rugged mountains just north and west of Boone, North Carolina. The Northern Peaks Trail effort is being funded by the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation, Watauga County Tourism Development Authority, Ashe County, Ashe County Chamber of Commerce, […]

The Wilson Creek Trails near Boone, NC aren’t known as widely for their mountain biking in the same way as some of the other destinations in the Pisgah National Forest trails are across Western North Carolina, but they still serve up some incredibly fun and – at times – really technical trails that are an […]

Going Big: Linville Gorge Bouldering

The Linville Gorge is renown as one of the top backpacking spots in the country. In addition to hiking the gorge also features world-class paddling, climbing and bouldering. According to developer Mike Stam, the area is really unique due to the polished stones, the beautiful setting and the incredible diversity of different types of boulders. Check out this video to see a sample of the quality of climbing offered in the Linville Gorge.

According to the filmmaker, T.C. Webb, Mike is not only an amazing climber, but he is one of the nicest people you will ever meet.

“Mike is a true inspiration not only to me, but the whole climbing community in North Carolina,” Webb says. “Mike and I talked about shooting this project for several months before finally getting around to it. It was worth the wait.”

Back in 2007 when Stam, Joey Henson and others were first developing the bouldering potential in the Linville Gorge, the psyche was evident. On www.rockclimbing.com, Stam wrote about the early development:

Wonderland area of linville river is located between the connely cove trail and the spence ridge trail along the river. Great climbing can be found all along this stretch, but is easiest to get around in and most concentrated at the lower part of this stretch. The spence ridge trail is the easiest, least steep way to access the river having 700 fett less elevation drop than any other trail to the river, and a foot bridge has recently been built to cross the river. Takes about 25-30 minutes with a pack. Wonderland is about 10, 15 minutes downstream of the bridge on the river trail. A large cave right on the trail marks the easiest ways to get to the river, as well as the downstream end of the best concentration of good, set-up boulders. These include the wonder boulder, the glory(mushroom) boulder, and good god’s urge. My friends and I spent over 15 weekends down here bouldering and if you’re just up for a little hike, I bet anyone can enjoy thois place. The trail up to the linville river crag also marks the down-stream end of this bouder field.
-Also, right around the spnce ridge crossing are more great boulders, including a great long overhang, a big V1 fin, etc. At the bend above spence ridge crossing are several more boulders really worth climbing on, accesible either by hopping up the river bed, or by getting on the river trail and getting back on the river at the campsite two minuts upstream.
-The stretch of river between this and the snady flat trail definately has some gems, but if flatter and not so concentrated

Later that year, Stam checked back in with another update on the development progress and detailed Dreamland, the area’s next hotbed of hard climbing.

We’ve dubbed another area of the linville river Dreamland. Easiest way to dreamland is the Devil’ hole trail(sitting bear parking area). Once at the river, proceed upstream on trail side of river for several hundred yards, passing several very cool worthy boulders. The next big bend in the river marks the bottom of the concentration that pretty much continues all the way to Babel’s tower. This place is really , really cool, with hundreds and hundreds of boulder problems to do, as well as several small crags. All you got to do is get there, start wandering around, and try not to get overloaded. At least 60 problems have been done there so far up to V9 range, and it’s barely touched the surface of what’s there. Good camping all along the river with several nice cave campsites on sitting bear side about 50 yards into concentration right up in woods. still working on cleaning out old fisherman’s trail on sitting bear side, but pretty easy to get around. This area can also be accessed via babel’s tower trail or snady flats trail, but these are steep and can be hard to access river from. Classic!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Joey Henson Linville Gorge MapAlso, between Devil’s hole trail and Sandy flats trail are a whole bunch more boulders, some of which are very cool, but a little harder to get around in because of the steepness of the river, rapids, etc. The downstream end of this section sort of ends at a nigh impassible gorge of bed-rock on the river, right downstream from the coolest natural waterslide, very evident from the river trail. My favorite along this section is a group of three boulders right downstream of the devil’s hole trail. The block across the river is dubbed Magnifiscent boulder, and has some realllllly nice lines on it, with the center line being the hardest(V7-8?). I’ve been around quite a few places climbing, and the linville river is the best rock climbing I’ve ever done, and ENDLESSSS!!!!!!!!! You guys need to check it out. I also have fairly extensive maps of the river bed for these areas showing the best boulders, what’s been climbed so far recently, and the best paths to get around through the maze. Needless to say, the development continued and to this day there are more than 500 problems established in the gorge with potential for more throughout the area.

In recent years, development has died down, but that doesn’t mean people haven’t continued to enjoy the Gorge for it’s great bouldering. Recent ascents of Stam’s testpiece climbs continually trickle in from across the web with strong climbers like Jimmy Webb, Josh Shepherd, Nate Draughn and Dalen Gray logging double-digit repeats of some of the classics in the gorge.

In 2012, Joey Henson published his hand-drawn topo of the gorge, which is a must-have piece of artwork for those who’ve visited the gorge to sample the great bouldering found there. The prints can be purchased through his site, http://joeyhensonart.bigcartel.com/product/linville-gorge-boulders-spence-ridge-trail-print

 

For Myself And A Few Friends   Bill Pressly has been many things throughout his life, but through it all, he’s been a surfer. For years, Bill worked as a carpenter, gaining the skills he needed to build his own house in a lush valley in the mountains of North Carolina. After that, he bombed hills on some of the first […]

The Grandaddy of all High Country hikes is this 7-mile round-trip trek to Calloway Peak, 5,646 ft. The views from the summit or nearby Watauga View are astounding and reach from the mountains to the Piedmont. Campsites are available for backpackers. The first mile is easy along the Watauga River, then you’ll climb steeply at […]