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The Climbing Club • View topic - New River Gorge, WV - Whippoorwill Wall (10-27-12)

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 04, 2012 11:48 pm 
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I had a conference in Pittsburgh to attend at the end of October, so I figured I'd do something cool in the area while I was out there. "In the area" meant the New River Gorge in West Virginia - a mere 220 mile drive from the Pittsburgh airport - so I got in Friday (10/26), rented a car, and hit the road. I rolled into Ray's Campground around 8:30pm and met my friend Tyler and his friends who'd driven up from Richmond, VA to be my climbing partners for the weekend. Long story short, we climbed 4 pretty awesome routes at Whippoorwill Wall on Saturday before the drizzle set in (curse you, Hurricane Sandy!) and we were forced to find shelter (and beer and pizza) at in Fayettville, WV. Great place that you should definitely visit if you're ever in the area. The rain didn't stop overnight, so sleeping in on Sunday after a late night of drinking and playing cards was about all there was to do. We rolled out of bed, squared up with the lovely campground owners, and headed to Biscuit World for some surprisingly tasty fast food baked goods before heading our separate ways.

The drive down was beautiful. Apparently the entire week had been beautiful - 70+ and sunny every day. But hey, it's not every climbing trip that you get to experience the (totally benign) impact of a Frankenstorm, eh?
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On the Whippoorwill approach, which itself is super easy and well-maintained. Oooooh West Virginia.... :)
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Whippoorwill Wall is expansive but only accessible in the winter, when the water level drops in the Summersville Reservoir after controlled releases from the Summersville Dam into the Gauley River (causing excellent whitewater, I hear). The reservoir hadn't lowered enough to allow access to lots of Whippoorwill wall by the time we got there, not that we would've been able to stay much longer anyway.

(Left) View of the reservoir from the approach - lots of stuff off to the left is still inaccessible. (Right) Jutting limestone with 5.10+ options that we would forego in favor of lower-grade fun stuff (and ultimately staying dry).
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I didn't catch the names of the routes we did, but they were a 5.7, two 5.8's, and a 5.9 on some pretty excellent limestone (so cool!).
(Left) Tyler setting up the 7. (Right) Left to right: 5.7, 5.8, 5.9. Andrew is on the 5.8.
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The second 5.8 was around the corner from the other 3 route and about half the height. It was pretty interesting/spicy for an 8 and introduce me to the experience of lead falling (I yanked my large-man belayer up a couple feet). I'm glad I got the first time out of the way, but I don't feel the need to seek out more. Tyler and Andrew took spins (but no spills) on it, as well.
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Obligatory shots from the overlook onto the New River and the New River Gorge Bridge (3rd longest single span steel bridge in the world).
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West Virginia has a special place in my heart from camping there with my family and friends when I was younger. It was awesome to go back and experience it in the context of my "grown-up" activities. I can't wait to go back again, hopefully to introduce my younger siblings to outdoor climbing (if they don't come out to the PNW first)!


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 06, 2012 11:32 am 
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That looks awesome! I've never climbed on limestone. Way to squeeze a climbing trip out of your conference haha. I'll have to add the new river gorge to my check list!


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