Mountain Project Map - Harpers Ferry

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Bouldering Projects for 2012

If you've been following along then you know that 2011 brought the ascent of two spectacular boulder problems that were previously unclimbed. The first is Learning to Fly V8/9 in the Upper Highlands on Elk Ridge. This problem has been known about for close to 15 years but noone with sufficient strength to complete it had made the hike and put in the time to successfully climb it. 
Learning To Fly climbs the overhanging face along the thick shadow.

The second problem, The New Dawn Project, was completed less than a month ago from a stand start and awaits a

Friday, December 16, 2011

New Dawn Project Sees Send (stand start)

Update: 12/30/11 Brian has provided a guide for those interested in trying this problem - HERE
I'm happy to report on a recent send (bouldering) in Harpers Ferry. Brian Spiering is reporting that on November 26, 2011 he was able to make a stand start ascent of the New Dawn Project. You can view a video of Brian sending the problem at .

"New Dawn" Project of Harpers Ferry from Thrice on Vimeo.

Judging from the video, it looks like Brian had some good sending temps. What isn't apparent is whether Brian had the proper permits for those guns (cheese factor)! At Brian's suggested grade of V8, this problem sits in the #2 seat for difficult problems (sent) at Harpers Ferry (See Here for info on #1). You can see a topo photo and read Brian's initial account below,

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Local Crags & Climbers Time Lapse

A time lapse of some local climbers on some local rock. Balcony Jr. is included in this series of images. Credits to Indy.

Climb Maryland: A Time Lapse View from Mark Kochte on Vimeo.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Winter Wonderland in Fall

Photos of Snow and Fall Foliage in the Harpers Ferry Gorge.
Snow on Fall foliage in the Balcony Rock area

Just one of the old standby boulders in the snow.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

BLAM! Project Sent

Revised on 8/18/11, "Learning To Fly" beta update
(The Bouldering Guide has been updated 8/16/11)

I'm happy to report on some recent bouldering activity in Harpers Ferry.
Alex took a quick phone pic of the problem. It's overhanging, bad holds, bad feet, longish moves, and pretty rock. You can catch site of this problem in the Harpers Ferry Climbing Tour Part II video when a hand comes into view on the starting hold. Admittedly the pic doesn't do it justice, but it's a glimpse none the less.
Alex Brown and his buddy Ethan have been working on sending projects and repeating established problems. Alex reports that he and his buddy Ethan have been focused on the Harpers Ferry Super Project problem #61 in the Highlands and successfully climbed the problem on Monday (8/15/11) morning. Alex suggests it is about V8/9 in difficulty and is calling it "Learning to Fly".  They have also repeated "The Underground Railroad" and both think V7 is a good rating for the problem. You can read Alex's account below. Learning to Fly is the now the most difficult bouldering problem to be climbed at Harpers Ferry, to my knowledge.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Local Gear Shops

If you are visiting Harpers Ferry to climb and find that you have forgotten gear or need a new piece then check out these local shops. The Trail House and Mountain Trails both carry climbing gear. The Outfitter in Harpers Ferry does not carry climbing gear. Below, you'll find a Website, Address, Phone Number, Hours, and a Google Map for the stores.

August Web Updates

I've completed some updates to the guide information for the coming Fall season. Though the summer heat makes it seem as though we will forever roast, better temps are on the way. Make sure to check out the updates (see below) so you can maximize your Fall climbing experience in and around Harpers Ferry.
Sure beats the view from the office. Rappel station on Loudon Heights.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Sticker Update


New sticker designs, and sizes have arrived. When you purchase these stickers the profits go to support the maintenance and placement of fixed anchors (eg. belay stations, rappel stations, etc.) in the gorge. Thanks,

Available in a 3x4.5 inch size.

Available in a 3x4.5 inch, and a 4x6 inch size.

See the previous post HERE for a photograph of the 4x6 inch sticker on a vehicle.

Creature Feature

Some climbing areas are just about the rock and you're companions. Those are the places that are not aesthetically pleasing for whatever reason, trash/graffiti/other urban elements, or maybe the rock is chossy or unnatural and ugly due to scarring/excavation/quarrying/human induced aesthetics. We frequent these places to get in a work out and settle because of the proximity to home or work, and often because they are easy to get to. One of the greatest elements, in my opinion, to a great climbing area is the natural aesthetics,

Friday, July 8, 2011

Supporting Anchor Maintenance & Placement

Contribute to anchor maintenance and placement in Harpers Ferry by purchasing an oval international style sticker.
All profits from the sale of these stickers will go to anchor maintenance in the gorge.
Shipping priced for United States only.

Sticker Type

Monday, July 4, 2011

Shepherdstown Limestone - A Look Back

During this past winter (2010/11) I posted about the Limestone cliffs across the Potomac river from Shepherdstown, WV. ( CLICK HERE to see that post.) While recently digging through old photographs, I found a few from around 1996 that are of my cousin and I climbing on those cliffs. We had just begun rock climbing so we were pretty nervous. You'll see in the first photograph that we had a double rope toprope with two 11mm ropes. To most experienced climbers that is more than overkill and perfectly illustrates our anxiety. Nonetheless, we tackled the climbs and had a great time. See the Harpers Ferry Climbing Google map for the location of these cliffs. Enjoy

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Assorted Images

Enjoy some images of Harpers Ferry from a variety of angles within the gorge.  The first photo captures a climber with all of the traditional climbing gear. These photographs were taken by Carl Orr.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Loudon Hts 6.30.11

I met Dennis after work yesterday for some climbing at Loudon Hts. We parked at the trailhead in the large lot just down from the gas station & hiked to the top. Double ropes got us down from the bolts, which we then pulled & I began racking up for a new (for us, at least) route. The climb followed the discontinuous cracks left of the East-facing dihedral up to a tree with an established rap station. Along the way, I encountered many spiders, a couple of brick-sized loose blocks, lots of lichen... but also sweet layback flakes, finger/ hand jams & near the top of the pitch some stemming & an off-width. A quality line bottom to top, with varied, fun climbing throughout its length. Adventurous 5.6 G, standard rack + a #5 cam for the top.

There is a short pitch above, which I've climbed previously as a variation finish to another climb; yesterday, we simply rapped back down (single rope) to the bottom. One of the loose blocks I was able to safely remove on lead, the other on rappel.

We finished the day on the arete & crack to the right of the dihedral (I led the arete, but placed gear so Dennis could finish on the crack). Ball nuts or micro cams will keep you from tumbling down to 340 if you blow the opening moves.

Except for the top of the cliff where we started, we were in the shade the entire time. With sunset upon us, we opted to rap down at the wide-spot cliff & follow the road back.


Thursday, June 30, 2011

Advertising Experiment

As an experiment, I have decided to allow advertisements to be placed on the blog. I don't know what kind of money will result from allowing the advertisements on this site but intend to channel whatever funds (if any) are generated into anchor maintenance/replacement/installation at Harpers Ferry. I'm doubtful that much will come of this but thought it would be worth trying. If it provided enough for even one belay station per year then it seems like it could be worth it; That is as long as the positives aren't outweighed. I'm told they will soon appear. We'll see how it goes.Thanks

Monday, June 27, 2011

Freshen Up

When we go somewhere frequently, travel the same roads or trails, and view the scenery from the same angles over and over we tend to stop seeing and appreciating the wonder of a place, or person for that matter.  So, freshen your image of Harpers Ferry with a view from Short Mountain, VA.  The photo was taken by Carl Orr. In the photo you are looking

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Summer Session

Today was a fine summer day for hanging out in Harpers Ferry.
 It began with a trip to Shepherdstown, as usual, for some coffee, breakfast, and a sandwich for lunch. I then drove down to Harpers Ferry and parked at the Widespot below Loudon Heights. Due to some litter issues this area has been reduced in size. The first half now has No Parking signs and the second half appears to be open for parking. There were probably 15 cars parked there today. I stopped there to visit the New Dawn boulders and check out the projects we discovered this past winter.  The rock was wet from rain last night but the projects still looked fantastic.  Though that side of the gorge stays wet for a long time I knew that in a couple hours the Maryland side of the gorge would be dry. 
Next, parking at the pull off at Sandy Hook I hiked up to

Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring Session at Balcony Jr.

Balcony Jr. was the focus of some Spring climbing action over this past weekend. Carl Orr grabbed some great photos of the weekends activities. I don't know the names of the climbers in these shots. If you know their names, feel free to post comments. Enjoy the images and click on any image to see a larger version. Thanks Carl.

A group of climbers hanging out below Balcony Jr.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Bouldering Guide Update

Uploaded a new version of the "rough" bouldering guide. Added the names for most problems, and some new info. The New Dawn Boulders, and The Blair Witch Area are not included.


If you haven't been climbing in Harpers Ferry, or done anything in Harpers Ferry, then you won't know that parking is one of the sticking points for access. Whether you are viewing the town, partying in the river, kayaking the rivers, hiking the Appalachian Trail, or climbing, the parking situation is an issue. Carpooling is essential. There is a gravel lot next to the Cindy Dee Restaurant (currently closed) that has been a great place to meet and consolidate into fewer vehicles. With more people wanting to access the gorge this issue isn't going to disappear.

There are currently two issues to be aware of.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Bouldering - Elk Ridge - The Cove and Balcony Rock

With the improving weather it's time to get out and climb on some real stone. Steve E has provided some images of bouldering at The Cove in the Outlying Area on Elk Ridge, MD and also a couple shots from Balcony Rock. As a matter of perspective the climber in these shots is over 6 feet tall. Keep that in mind when you are gauging the size of the rocks.

Steve on The Portal at the Outlying Area. The Cove Arete and Covert Op are visible
in the background.

Monday, February 28, 2011

More Late 1970's Adventures

As winter slowly looses its grip on the region I thought it would be nice to look back, way back, at winters past and other historical climbing images related to Rob and the Maryland crew. Most of these photos are from the late 1970's into the early 1980's. You can click on the photos to see larger versions, which I recommend you do.

The first set are of Alex Badant on a Shenandoah ice climbing trip.
Alex Badant climbing in the Shenandoahs.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Prelude To Spring

The weather turned nice for a short window before turning cold and snowing some more. Steve E. and friend managed to take advantage of the 70 degree temps and do a little bouldering on Elk Ridge. They bouldered at the Balcony Rock Boulders and worked their way up the ridge to the Starlight Boulder and then up to the Upper Highlands. A perfect way to hit it on Elk Ridge. Enjoy,

Starlight Boulder, The Highlands of Elk Ridge, Big Dipper, V1/2

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Climbing History Links by Rob Savoye

Rob Savoye has assembled four pages that detail his climbing days at Harpers Ferry. Please enjoy the stories and photos. [links updated on 20190115]

Climbing Gear

Original Climbing Guidebook  (Scan)

Maryland Heights Climbing Photographs

Climbing Related Stories

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Three Balcony Rock Boulder Problems - Video

Here is a short video of three boulder problems at the Balcony Rock Boulders, Elk Ridge, Maryland. The problems in order are Y Equals X, X Squared, and X Cubed. The footage was taken over the Christmas/New Years Holiday 2010/2011.
When it's 40 degrees, sunny, with very little wind, the climbing on

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


What lights my fire?
Ask yourself this questions and think on it deeply.

If you've been following along you know we are digging into the past and unearthing the roots. Have a look at the following photograph:

The photograph was taken outside Baltimore, Maryland. Ed Bollack at Ilchester.
You can read the story of this photo down below.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Vintage Begins

The Harpers Ferry - Climbing History project is underway. 
Below are a couple images to wet your whistle. We'll work on a full compilation of photos and stories but for now, enjoy these shots. We also have the added bonus of climbing related photos from other locations in Maryland as well as in adjacent states.

Paul Clancy, Rob Savoye (foot), Maryland Heights

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Climbing History - Follow Up

After the previous post on Harpers Ferry climbing history I was in contact with Rob Savoye (publisher of the first online Harpers Ferry climbing guide) who was one of the early documented rock climbers at Harpers Ferry. Rob's response to the SMC carabiner was as follows:

It was probably Alex Badant's (now deceased). He climbed over there a bunch of times in the early 80s, and none of the rest of us went there more than once or twice. SMCs have an interesting history in Catonsville actually... Back in the early 80s,

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Harpers Ferry - Climbing History

Recent exploits in Harpers Ferry have brought me in contact with a lot of Knifeblades, Lost Arrow Pitons, RURP's, and the finding of long lost climbing gear that was dropped. I thought it would be fun to track down the age of 2 pieces of gear to put an age range on what could be the first known ascent of a route or to just get a sense of when the climber who placed or dropped the gear was on that cliff.

According to Rob Savoye "climbing" in Harpers Ferry began about

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Winter 2010 - Installment 4

Welcome to the New Year. 
We ended 2010 Harpers Ferry Climbing with a bang. New Years Eve found us starting the day in Shepherdstown, WV at a great little local restaurant called Betty's Restaurant. The windows were steamed when we approached and the service was warm once we were in side. It's a tiny place on Main Street between the Lost Dog coffee shop and the Shepherdstown Sweet Shop. Betty's serves a great breakfast with some really delicious biscuits and fantastic local sausage from a butcher in Sharpsburg, MD (just 5 miles away). I'd heard about Betty's for years but never stopped in to try it out. I should have stopped in long ago.

With full bellies we hit the road and