This Saturday, weather permitting, the Atlanta Climbing Club is planning on heading to Crowder’s Mountain located in Western North Carolina. In fact, it’s not too far from South Carolina. The rock is of a quartzite similar to the rock found around the state.
The rock quality is pretty good and offers something for everyone. There are numerous top-roping opportunities as well as sport and trad with ratings ranging from 5.5 to 5.13. Cliffs generally face east or west, so finding sun or shade is pretty easy (depending on the time of day), though the thick foliage can make finding sun more difficult. Best time to climb is Fall to Spring
Keep in mind, this is a state park. Permits are required for climbing and rangers regularly visit the crags and check up on climbers. Permits are free and easy to fill out, so please do this to avoid hassles. Also, there is a gate that opens and closes daily. Please be aware of the time and make sure you leave before closing time.
The plan is to meet at the Indian Trail Park & Ride at 5:00am Saturday. It’s about a 3 hour drive to get there.
If you have any time constraints as far as getting back, please plan on driving or making arrangements to car pool with like-minded individuals. It is proper etiquette to offer gas money to whoever drives. If you have never driven, please offer to drive. If you do not lead and are only top-roping, please offer to carry a leader’s rope.
Crowders Mountain is about 30 miles west of Charlotte.
From I-85, once you enter North Carolina take Exit 13 and go Right off the ramp. Continue through the light and the road will become Archie Whitesides Rd. (SR 1122). Follow this for roughly 2 miles until it dead-ends into Linwood Rd. Go Left on Linwood Rd. for about 0.1 mile and make a Right into the parking lot. Here you’ll find an information kiosk and restrooms.
From the parking lot, follow the Backside Trail about a mile up a steep gravel trail. Please stay on the trail as land managers have put up a fence and signs to encourage people to do just that. The trail follows a wooden staircase that ends at an overlook and the top of the Practice Wall. This is also (usually) the end for most hikers, so people will congregate here and remark on the view of distant Charlotte (and engage climbers in a discussion of the dangers of climbing and the mental stability of those that climb).
The hike is about 20 minutes and solid uphill. There is a summit ridge that travels northeast from the Practice Wall which leads to the rest of the other areas (sans Hidden Wall).
If anyone wants to head up early or stay overnight, there are a few hotels nearby in Kings Mountain, NC, and of course Charlotte is only 30 minutes away if you want something more. Camping is also available just across the border in Kings Mountain State Park in South Carolina.