Mountain Project Map - Harpers Ferry

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Falcon Nesting Efforts & Rock Climbing Activity

[UPDATED 8:00 AM 9/23/16]

A post by "Bridget T" appeared on Mountain Project ( . The comment states
"Due to climbing activity last year at Maryland Heights Peregrine Falcons' nesting was unsuccessful. These falcons start preparing nesting sites in January, not March. Harpers Ferry National Park will temporary close specific routes in the upcoming nesting season in consideration of the peregrine falcons. Thank you for being considerate and sharing the Maryland Heights wall with these feathered friends!"
I contacted "Bridget T" and asked for clarification and verification of her authority on the matter. Usually, Harpers Ferry National Historic Park announcements come through the Current Conditions page ( but I was not seeing an announcement. Bridget T responded with the following information
Thank you for writing and requesting more clarification. I work with the Audubon Society and we work in conjunction with Harpers Ferry National Park. Currently, we are collaborating with the park to develop a management plan for the Peregrine Falcon nesting sites at Maryland Heights. Last year the park agreed to have temporary closures on some of the Maryland Heights climbing routes, but the decision and implementation was too late. The Audubon Society members and staff have been observing and recording the falcons nesting on this rock face. The past two years have been the first time these falcons have returned to Maryland Heights in over 12 years. We know the closure was too late because we recorded observations of them in the area, constructing their nest starting in January. We are hoping for successful breeding this year and closing some climbing routes starting in January would facilitate that. I will share any information as we work with the park and they make updates. 
That being said, as a former climber I can appreciate how fun Maryland Heights would be to ascend. It's awesome that there is climbing there, and I'm confident that hikers and climbers once better informed are happy to give the falcons some space. Let me know if you have any questions. 
Please check the Harpers Ferry National Historic Park current conditions page for alerts on upcoming closures to cliffs. At this time, nothing official from the park service has been announced on the current conditions page.

I'm not certain from her reply that Bridget T is an employee of the Audubon Society because she says "works with" the Audubon Society. I think it's likely she is a volunteer with good intentions. I had asked her to explain how the conclusion that climbing led to the unsuccessful nesting was reached so that we climbers better understand the adjustments being made? She did not address the question directly in her response but I'm guessing the current closures are evidence that a connection has already been established between the falcons nesting success and climbers traveling near the nesting terrain.

It is unfortunate the falcons were not successful in nesting, regardless of why. The park service has been working for a number of years toward establishing a falcon population on the cliff. I know there are a ton of pigeons on the train tunnel wall and their excrement coats the walls and the ground. It seems like a healthy peregrine falcon population could help with population control, but I'm not a biologist. Anyway, please educate your fellow climbers about the issue and respect the closures when they are announced by the National Park Service.

Friday, July 22, 2016

LIFTED: Closures for Peregrine Falcon Protection 2016

The cliff closure alert disappeared from the park service website. I called the park and confirmed that the closure has been lifted. The main cliffs are open again.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Economic Impact of You

Don't Crush and Rush

The Access Fund recently wrote about a study examining the economic impact of climbers on the Red River Gorge region of southeastern Kentucky. In short, rock climbers have a significant economic impact on that region.

There is a lot I would like to say about my own personal motivations to build outdoor community at/in Harpers Ferry but these things don't amount to much more than hopeful ideas. What's impactful is how climbers (you) interact with the people and resources of Harpers Ferry and surrounding area. If you rush in, crush your climbs, and rush home (The Crush and Rush) you miss out on a lot of "things" (people, community, and experiences) and those "things" miss an opportunity to build a relationship with you.

While Harpers Ferry is not a Red River Gorge and our region is not southeastern Kentucky, economic impact is significant to any rural region. The areas surrounding Harpers Ferry have some great local establishments worth a visit. Explore your opportunity to build unexpected relationships and to have unexpected experiences and know that in doing so you are making an impact on local people (ie economy).

Sunday, March 6, 2016

NPS: Closures for Peregrine Falcon Protection 2016


[EDIT: Closure has been lifted]

A pair of Peregrine falcons is attempting to nest on the cliff face of Maryland Heights in Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. Park and US Fish and Wildlife staff have observed the falcons building what appears to be a nest on the cliff face.
To protect the nesting birds from inadvertent disturbance or harassment, areas in and around the cliff face of Maryland Heights will be closed effective March 1. The areas will be closed to all visitor use, including climbing activities, along the cliff face area. The climbing areas affected by the closure include all the routes in the Gully, Sign Wall and ABC Ramps sections. 
For the full details on the closure please visit the NPS webpage.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Lots of New Beta on Mountain Project

For updates and for access to a growing digital guide for rock climbing at Harpers Ferry, go to Mountain Project - Harpers Ferry You can also get the Mountain Project app for your phone and download the beta for Harpers Ferry so that when you are on the mountain you will have pictures, descriptions, topo lines, etc. Please also strongly consider logging your ticks so we can see how much visitation the routes/problems receive. Also, if you provide star ratings and grade suggestions we can hone in on accurate ratings. GET THE APP FOR YOUR PHONE

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

10/2015 Video - 3 problems from the Balcony Rock Boulders

Jeff Beavers was kind enough to put together and share a short video of three problems at the far end of the Balcony Rock Boulders (link to Mountain Project page for these boulders). Two of these are

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Cliffs Open: Maryland Heights Peregrine Falcon Cliff Closure Lifted

I spoke with the park visitor information center this morning and they have confirmed that the cliff closure has been lifted. The main cliffs are open once again.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

2015 Harpers Ferry Outdoor Festival: June 5-6

Though the Harpers Ferry Outdoor Festival is currently oriented toward whitewater paddlers it is still an outdoor oriented community and the event has live music and festivities. Paddling is great fun and a great way to gain/maintain strength for rock climbing. Plus, it's in Harpers Ferry so you can't go wrong. Get out there and have a good time.
Webpage Link:

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Peregrine Falcon Nesting - Temporary and Partial Closure Details

Update (August, 2015): The cliffs are now open. The closure has been lifted.
Updated (late June): The ABC ramps are now included in the closure. Balcony Jr. also has a nest, which may result in an expanded closure listing.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Balcony Jr. Mini Guide (preserving the guide)

Since the Md Mini Guides blog is being discontinued I wanted to preserve the Balcony Jr. Mini Guide here. It is missing some information that is available on Mountain Project but is definitely a useful guide.
The PDF stored on my Google Drive

Friday, October 3, 2014

Adopt-A-Crag Day: Harpers Ferry, November 15, 2014

Mid-Atlantic Climbers has announced they will be doing an Access Fund Adopt-A-Crag day on November 15, 2014.
You can find

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

See Mountain Project for new HFC Climber Activity

If you want to see news or signs of activity on climbing at Harpers Ferry I recommend going to the Harpers Ferry page at Mountain Project.. I don't have the material or time to keep the blog going but want to connect you to information so you can get out there and enjoy everything the area has to offer.

I've noticed that some climbers have been visiting the crags of Harpers Ferry and then logging their ascents on They've also been contributing their ratings. Most are positive but there is always one or two who are the negative nelly in the bunch and throw the ratings off by low balling the quality. Some climber "Kirby" has given a "bomb" or 1 star rating to some of the classics. These are routes that many well traveled climbers agree are top notch for Maryland routes. We all know that there is better rock/routes out there but don't take it upon ourselves to dump on the local resources. My advice is to pay attention to the positive reviews and make the trip to sample the routes for yourselves. Dwelling in the negative makes life suck.
Climber on "Oh, My Eyes" at Skink Rock. See for more. Pic by Josh S.

I found a few nice pictures that

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Gym to Crag & The Future of Fixed Anchors

I want to share two very important topics with you. They both affect the resources available to us within the water gap at Harpers Ferry and they both were recently discussed in the "Vertical Times" publication from