Mountain Project Map - Harpers Ferry

Monday, November 29, 2010

Loudon Heights (VA/WV) Trip Report

John Kelbel of recently visited Loudon Heights, Virginia/West Virginia. He rope soloed and rapped the cliffs to check them out. Afterwards he wrote a trip report to some friends about his adventure and has given permission to use it here. Read on for his account of Loudon Heights and to see some photos of some good looking climbs.

Before going to Loudon you should know that it is North facing and very cold in the winter. This is more of a late spring, summer, early fall destination. Also of great importance is
the rock fall potential. This cliff hasn't seen much action so there are still loose blocks sitting on ledges and you might even find a loose flake or block in place. Feel free to put a white chalk X on a block for your fellow climbers or secure blocks in crevices etc. Most importantly do not trundle loose blocks. They will most likely rocket out onto the highway below and cause serious damage. This cliff won't fall apart in your hands, the rock is pretty bomber, it just has some rocks sitting around that haven't been cleaned up or some climbs that haven't been done by more than one climber so just be aware while you're climbing.
(Trip report from John Kelbel)
I just explored some of Loudon Heights and it is an really good place for 5.6 to 5.8 trad climbs with a Seneca feel to the climbing and only an hour away, located on the Virginia side of Harpers Ferry .

It has some loose rock but nowhere as bad as some of the sections of Maryland Heights and the rock texture is excellent. The big concern here is knocking off a rock and having it roll down the hill and onto the very busy route 340.

In my opinion, top roping here is not easy or advised as it requires gear to set up and also gear to redirect the rope as well and gear to get out to the top of the rock for safely.

There has been some new development recently such as a bolted rappel station at the top. There is also evidence of climbing here long ago and also some info in Conrad’s web pages below.

Also Carl Orr and friend have been climbing here as seen in the blog below that has more pictures and route info . Look for the Saturday, October 31,2009 update.

I have not lead any of the climbs here yet, just top-roped on a single fixed line, all lines mentioned seem leadable except for the center of the overhanging face in the picture below.

The upper East facing wall about 5.6 where the rope lies is a very nice line. Climb up the V grove to the roof. Easily step out left from the big overhang and climb the right facing corner up to an old fixed cam with a blue runner. Moves up and left to a left facing corner and slab to the top as seen in the picture below. About 80 feet long.

The slab and left facing corner at the top of the previous climb take somewhere around #1 to #3 Camalot sizes.

Where the rope lies in the photo below there is a harder start to the 5.6 climb, perhaps it’s 5.7
Note: There is a stack of sizeable blocks on this line that may not be attached. They seemed to be firmly in place but it was of concern as you are forced to climb on them.

I climbed through the center of the overhanging east face but fell on it; only a matter of being strong enough. It’s totally climbable, maybe 10B/C, but way pumpy on good small crimps (Seneca Rating). Note: The rock in the overhanging section has many bad flakes that were breaking off.

Right side of the East face is a wide crack with some sketchy large blocks in the beginning. It seems to be leadable, maybe 5.7. Where the rope disappears the line moves onto the beautiful top of the north face shown in the picture below (2 photos down).

 Top of the North Face is an easy slab and left facing corner with plenty of gear in the corner.

The next 3 climbs can top out here. Looks steeper in the picture then it actually is.

The North Face (below), maybe 5.7+, climbs up disconnected cracks to the slab in the above picture. About 130 feet. (ED: below is the face left of the dihedral featured below this photo.)

(Below) There is an awesome crack on the outer right of the Left facing corner, about 5.8 with a sketchy start meaning limited gear options. It also has an old Z ton pin near the start. (Editor Note: Carl Orr reports that this is leadable with Black Diamond C3 cams)
The second rap station is at the top of this climb however it’s still not good for top-roping without directional gear placed in the crack. (ED: Carl reports that flipping the rope to the other side of the arete allows top roping with some hang dogging though he never does that himself ;)
The dihedral is maybe 5.7. Past the tree it gets wider bring a #4 and a #5 Camelot.
The previous climb and this climb can join together for a 2nd pitch or 130 foot single pitch by continueing up an awkward roof with good jugs including an off-width afterwards that is all easy to the top but a bit dirty. It may be possible to move out left or right at this point to avoid the roof but I didn’t look for the possibilities.

(Below) Around the corner is this long face which I did not climb, from the web site mentioned above it probably has an “R” rating. Also the website lists another climb to the right.

John Kelbel
Thank You John.

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