Rock climbing in the Southeastern USA


North Carolina - Looking Glass Rock


image - State of North Carolina in green. Yellow star marks location of Looking Glass RockLooking Glass Rock is located in the Pisgah National Forest, north of the town of Brevard, North Carolina. It's not far into the state which makes it a popular place for visitors coming up from the south. It's only a few hours from Atlanta, and less than an hour south of Asheville.

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Photo by Wayne Busch - View of the North And and The Nose areasLooking Glass Rock offers routes on premier North Carolina granite domes, slabs, and walls on its miles of climbable faces. There are routes here to challenge everyone from beginner to expert with several faces over 500 feet high. While some cracks found here are reminiscent of Yosemite, the characteristic feature of Looking Glass rock is the "eyebrow (link - FAQ) ". These inverted crescents in the rock are generally rounded on top, undercut by a crevice that may provide hand/foot holdsor a solid gear placement. They are just as likely to be pretty much useless. Many climbs have a moderate to high degree of slab climbing in them. The 3 mile long rock is more or less teardrop shaped, with climbing on the North, South, and Western exposures.

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Black and white drawing - Map of areas aound Looking Glass Rock, Brevard

Take US 64 east through Brevard. At the far end of Brevard, there is a traffic light at Rt. 276. The Backcountry Outdoors store will be on the left. Turn left onto Route 276 north and follow it 3.8 miles to USFS Road #475 on the left. USFS #475 goes 1.3 miles to the fish hatchery (if you get to Looking Glass Falls or Sliding Rock, you've missed the turn). Proceed past the fish hatchery, leaving the paved road onto a graded forest road. Watch for the quick right uphill turn just after you leave the pavement that will put you on USFS Road #475B. Follow this winding road 1.2 miles to the Slick Rock Falls parking area. It is not well marked, but you will identify it as the first place on a sharp turn you can pull a bunch of cars off the road. There is a staircase leading up to a new large sign on the right side of the road. The Sun Wall trialhead is another 5 minutes up FR 475B on the right. The trailhead for the new trail to the North Face is just a minute or two further up the road.

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Shows FR 475B


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Cliff Access

All of the popular cliffs are accessed via a series of trails leading to the rock from Forest Road 475B. The two main trails used are the Slick Rock Falls Trail which leads to the South Face, and The Sun Wall Trail which leads to the Nose and the Sun Wall. The old North End trail referenced in Thomas Kelley's guidebook, which leads up from Sliding Rock has been closed due to severe erosion and impact on nesting falcons. The new trail to access the North Face is just up 475B from the Sun Wall trailhead. Look for a clearing near the Peregrine Overlook, then follow an old logging grade for a short distance until you see the footpath on the right. Recent trail work has improved this trail though the last few hundered feet have yet to be groomed.

View larger image of The Nose

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South Face - top rope, multi-pitch

Photo by Jeff Braund - Jackie and Wayne Busch on the South Face of Looking Glass Rock, North Carolina.The most popular area with the easiest climbing at Looking Glass is the South Face. It is approached via the Slick Rock Falls Trail, a 45 minute hike on a good path from the roadside parking on Forest Road 475B. SlickRock Falls is located just above the parking area, and can provide a cold shower in hot weather (dangerous - slippery rocks). You'll emerge from your hike in the neighborhood of Bloody Crack and Short Man's Sorrow. There are many good one and two pitch climbs in this area. Popular routes fill fast. If you continue going to the left, you will come to the Sun Wall area, home of some of the most vertical routes on this side of the mountain.

3/6/07 - New rappel anchors have been installed in the Gemini Cracks area. Details posted at

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Photo provided by Alpine - Psychedelic Delusions of the Digital Man 5.9 C2The Sun Wall - Multi-pitch, aid

The Sun Wall sees little climbing activity as routes here are some of the most vertical and difficult on this side of Looking Glass Rock. You can get to the Sun Wall by continuing along the cliff bases from the South Face, or by an indistinct trail branching off the Sun Wall Trail to the right before it starts the steeper incline leading to the base of The Nose area. The Sun Wall has a large apron at it's base.

One of the finest free routes here is Tits and Beer 5.9. Two aid routes are detailed in the North Carolina Routes section , Psychedelic Delusions of the Digital Man 5.9 C2, and Super Conduction III-IV 5.7 C2. Retreat from the top of the Sun wall is done via the gully between the Sun Wall and the South Face.

See larger photo of Psychedlic Delusions

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The Nose- multi-pitch

Photo by Jackie Busch - Wayne Busch starts the second pitch of The Nose 5.8 as Jimmy Franco approaches the first belay ledge at the top of pitch 1. Janette Hrubes and Beth Birmingham wait on the ledge to follow Wayne.Further still, is the popular Nose area, most easily accessed by driving about 5 minutes (1.8 miles)up Forest Road 475B from the Slick Rock Falls trailhead. The Nose area offers some fine multi-pitch trad climbs for the 5.8 leader. It is accessed via the Sun Wall Trail. The Sun Wall Trailhead is found on the right side of the road with a small parking area just beyond it. There is a sign here (the trail doesn't lead directly to the Sun Wall, though you can access that area via an indistinctsmall trail on the right as you approach the Nose). The hike in to the base of the rock takes about 15 minutes. You emerge at the start of Sundial Crack 5.8. The Nose 5.8 is located to the left, Peregrine 5.9 in between them. You'd better get here early or you'll to wait get on climbs in this area. There are only a few, but they are all classics. Though the northern parts of the Nose area are sometimes closed for peregrine falcon nesting season, these popular routes remain open all year. The Peregrine View overlook provides one of the few broad views (picture) of Looking Glass Rock (the Nose and North Face area), located about 0.2 miles drive beyond the Sun Wall trailhead on the right of the road. It's worth a stop.

Route details - The Nose 5.8

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North Face - multi-pitch, aid

Photo provided by Alpine - BCD pondering the loaad rating of three rusty bolts on Glass MenagerieThe enormous North Face holds some serious challenges for expert climbers and is oft described as resembling Yosemite. Most of the climbs here follow cracks, many involve aid climbing, some of them are extreme. You should be comfortable leading 5.9 - 5.10 before you venture here. The most popular climb on this face is Glass Menagerie V 5.11 A3 (link to detailed route description). The old North End trail referenced in Thomas Kelley's guidebook, which leads up from Sliding Rock has been closed due to severe erosion and impact on nesting falcons. The new trail to access the North Face is just up 475B from the Sun Wall trailhead. Look for a clearing near the Peregrine Overlook, then follow an old logging grade for a short distance until you see the footpath on the right. The easy trail crosses a small stream, then winds around to emerge just right of Glass Menagerie V 5.11 A3 . About half of the North Face is closed during peregrine falcon nesting season from January 15th - August 15th. Additional routes detailed on the North Carolina Routes page include Invisible Airways 5.10c A2 and Rowin's Route a.k.a. Remember Appomatox 5.10 A2+.

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Hidden Wall

The Hidden wall is reached by continuing south along the trail that skirts the base of the North Face. Like it's nearby neighbor, the Hidden Wall holds some stout and dangerous multi-pitch routes. It is generally more slabby than the overhanging North Face, though it's faces are nearly vertical. Easier routes follow the few large and shallow cracks. Bolder lines shoot up the eyebrows of the slabby faces. Protection is often sparse when it exists at all.

Peregrine Falcon Closure info

What climbers need to know about peregrine falcons

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The Climbers Guide to North CarolinaSouthern RockGuidebooks

The Climbers Guide to North Carolina by Thomas Kelley.

Southern Rock by Chris Hall

Selected Climbs in North Carolina - Yon Lambert and Harrison Shull.

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Photo by Ben Taylor - Bryan Hall on First Return 5.8 on the South FaceRoutes

South Face: Fat Dog 5.7, Unfinished Concerto 5.9*, Windwalker 5.9, Rat's Ass 5.8*, Second Coming 5.7*, Gemini Crack 5.8-*, Good Intentions 5.6, Left Up 5.7*, Bloody Crack 5.8*, Short Man's Sorrow 5.6, B-52 5.10a, First Return 5.8.

The Nose: The Nose 5.8*, Peregrine 5.9, Sundial Crack 5.8*, Hyperbola 5.10.

Sun Wall: Tits and Beer 5.9, Psychedelic Delusions of the Digital Man 5.9 C2 , Super Conduction III-IV 5.7 C2.

North Face: Safari Jive 5.11c, The Sperm 5.9+, The Seal 5.10 A3, Shrimp Creole 5.11a, Cornflake Crack 5.11a, Glass Menagerie V 5.11 A3 Invisible Airways 5.10c A2 and Rowin's Route a.k.a. Remember Appomatox 5.10 A2+.

(links go to detailed route descriptions on North Carolina Routes page)

See large image of Bryan

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image - logo- National Forest ServiceLand Manager:

Pisgah Ranger District
1001 Pisgah Highway
Pisgah Forest, NC 28768
Web address
Office phone (828) 877-3265
FAX number (828) 884-7527
National Forests in North Carolina

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image - caduceus -  symbol of medicineEmergency Information:

Emergency Telephone Numbers for Looking Glass Rock, NC

Transylvania County OCD 828-844-3188

Pisgah District Ranger Office 828-877-3265 (Wade Carpenter)

Closest phone - pay phone at the fish hatchery.

You are in Transylvania County.

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image - carabinerGear:

Climbing at Looking Glass is traditional. You will find a few bolts that form rappel routes, but they are otherwise sparse, and bolting remains controversial. Do not add bolts. Bring a full rack, particularly small to moderate camming units. Nuts, Hexes, Tricams - you'll find use for them all. If you're paring down, leave the hexes. You'll probably be happier with 60 meter ropes, two of them, for the long pitches and to make rappelling faster. There are several classic aid routes on the North Face, consult the guidebooks for specifics.

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Photo by Josh Hall - Bryan Hall on Fat Dog 5.7 at the South Face of Looking Glass RockThe USFS Davidson River Campground is located on Route 276 once you leave Brevard. Call the National Forest Recreation Reservation System at 1-800-280-2267. It is very popular and is typically full. It has showers, tables, grills, the usual.

The primitive camping at Slick Rock Falls is found in the few level areas big enough to pitch a tent or two in the ravine below the falls and across the road. There is room to scatter about a dozen tents. It's a beautiful site amongst rhododendrons and huge trees, with the small stream cascading nearby. The sound covers the noise of your neighbors.

If you're willing to pack in, there are a few sites along the trail if the Slick Rock campsites are gone. There is a good group site on the trail to the South Face.

It is only about 20 minutes drive into Brevard for groceries, restaurants, gear, showers, motels. You'll find the best selection of climbing gear at Looking Glass Outfitters at the first intersection coming out of the forest - ph.704-884-5854, or 800-881-1458. Backcountry outfitters no longer offers showers or climbing gear. For local guiding and instruction contact Steve Longenecker e-mail Other outfitters / suppliers in the area include Diamond Brand Outdoors in Asheville and Arden at (828) 684-6262 and Black Dome Outfitters in Asheville at (800)-678-2367.

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You can climb at Looking Glass during all seasons. Try to go elsewhere after heavy rains. The dome shaped rock is capped by substantial forest. Water drains off this for days. While some climbing is always possible, rain can limit the good choices. Best season is fall and early winter.

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Access Notes

Portions of the North Face close for peregrine falcon nesting season from January 15 - August 15.

Looking Glass Rock gets a significant impact from the many summer camps in the area in addition to being one of the most popular climbing areas in the southeast. The Pisgah Climbers Coalition was formed to preserve the future of climbing in Pisgah National Forest. You can find a calendar of scheduled activities at their website.

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Photo by Wayne Busch - The Sun Wall, near the start of Tits and Beer 5.9See larger photo of the Sun Wall


Be sure to bring insect repellent during warm weather periods, applying it liberally to your ankles before climbing. This is the favorite target of swarms of biting flies early in the season.

Don't leave valuables in your car. Break-ins are a local pestilence. Rumor has it thieves have been known to hide in the woods near the Nose and watch where you stash your keys. A good plan is to meet and park at the fish hatchery, then take one car in to the trailhead.

There is a summit trail that leaves from the first parking area on 475, before you reach the fish hatchery. It will bring you out atop The Nose area. It's a poor choice for a retreat from a climb as it deposits you miles from your car.

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Looking Glass Rock Trip Reports

7/15/00 Opening Day at Whiteside, NC - Almost - submitted by Wayne Busch - Jason Hale and Wayne Busch try to be the first climbers on Whiteside only to find the closure signs have not been taken down. They go to Looking Glass.

5/5/00 Cinco de Mayo @ Looking Glass - Submitted by Wayne Busch and Trish Stoops - Wayne Busch, Trish Stoops and James Naus climb the classics at the Nose area.

10/21/99 Climbing Scared - Submitted by Wayne Busch - Wayne has a foreboding dream prior to climbing The Original Route at Whitesides with Jason Hale. We also visit Looking Glass Rock and Tallulah Gorge.

8/28/99 Black Dog Expeditions Trip to Looking Glass Rock - submitted by Wayne Busch - Guided trip

3/29/98 Looking Glass Rock, North Carolina Trip Report - Submitted by Wayne Busch - Several small groups meet at Looking Glass Rock

9/1/97 Labor Day Weekend Report - Submitted by Wayne Busch - Group climbing trip

7/20/97 Looking Glass Rock, North Carolina Report, July 18th. - 20th. - Submitted by Wayne Busch - First trip to Looking Glass with a group of friends..

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