Rock climbing in the Southeastern USA


Photo by Jeff Braund - View of Rumbling Bald, North Carolina, looking across Lake LureNorth Carolina - Rumbling Bald

Image - state of North Carolina - yellow star indicates location of Rumbling Bald.Location

Rumbling Bald Mountain overlooks Lake Lure near the town of Chimney Rock, NC. Its about 1 hour east of Brevard, NC (Looking Glass). Drive time from Columbia, SC is 2.5 hours; from Greenville, SC: 1 hour

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Photo by Wayne Busch - View of Rumling Bald from Chimney RockRumbling Bald offers excellent but difficult one and two pitch climbs in beautiful (though touristy) Hickory Nut Gorge (map) filled by Lake Lure. The lake, created in the 1920's by the damming of the Rocky Broad River, is one of the most picturesque in North Carolina. Flanked by Rumbling Bald Mountain to the north and Chimney Rock to the south, it has something for everyone, including climbers. Certain climbs offer views of Lake Lure and all are very warm in the summer. Large caves and crevices at ground level offer excellent natural air conditioning. Look for climbs nearby. Rumbling Bald is said to have the best winter climbing in North Carolina due to its perfect southern exposure. Chimney Rock Park is a popular destination (think Rock City or Ruby Falls, Chattanooga) that has lots of hiking and natural views, but no climbing. Several scenes from The Last of the Mohicans were shot in the Park. While on the topic of movies, Dirty Dancing and Firestarter were both filmed at Lake Lure.

Enlarge view of Rumbling Bald photo

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Photo by Jackie Busch - Wayne Busch on Pull the Plug 5.11 a/bFrom Brevard, take US Highway 64 east through Hendersonville. Keep going as you cross I-26 and continue until you reach the town of Bat Cave. Here, US 64 joins US 74 as you turn to the right. Proceed to the towns of Chimney Rock and Lake Lure. This is a popular tourist route in the summer, so be prepared for slow going. As you pass through Chimney Rock and into Lake Lure, look for Boys Camp Road on your left. If you go across a bridge and see a bathing beach on your left, you've gone too far. Take Boys Camp road about 1.5 miles to the top of a ridge. On your left, look for a newly graveled road (thank you Access Fund). Follow this road a short distance to the first parking area. You can continue farther, but the parking gets more difficult.

From Columbia, SC (I-26 via I-95 for Floridians): Continue on I-26 toward Greenville / Spartanburg. Just after reaching the NC border, look for exit 36, SR 108 to Columbus/Chimney Rock/Lake Lure. Turn right on SR 108 and continue for about 4 miles. When you reach an intersection with SR 9, follow the signs to Lake Lure (left). Continue for another 10 miles until you come down a hill and see Lake Lure. Go left on Highway 64/74/9 for 4 miles, passing a bathing beach and marina on your right. Take Boys Camp Road on your right and follow the directions above.

[ Yahoo! Maps ]Yahoo scalable map
Map of Boys Camp Road, Lake Lure, NC

Logo - Topozone.comTopo map ( link)

Hickory Nut Gorge (map)

Show larger view of Pull the Plug

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Cliff Access

Photo by Wayne Busch - View of the major portion of the cliffs at Rumbling BaldFrom the parking lot, continue along the road directly toward the cliff face. There are two access trails. The first begins at the end of the road, roughly following a straight line from the parking lot. This trail leads to the west end of the Cereal Buttress area and to the Hanging Chains area. To reach the second trail, follow the road as it turns right and down to cross a creek. At some point, the trail departs the road to the left and heads straight to the cliff at the Cereal Buttress. You may have to bushwhack a little, but you can't miss it.

Enlarge view of cliffs

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The Climbers Guide to North CarolinaGuidebooks

The Climbers Guide to North Carolina by Thomas Kelley, First or Second Edition ONLY, by Thomas Kelley. Access to Rumbling Bald was questionable for some time, resulting in its exclusion from the 3rd edition.

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

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Photo by Wayne Busch - Comatose 5.8 - climb the arch to a bulge, go over, climb to bolt anchors.Fruit Loops 5.7, Lakeview Slab 5.8, Comatose 5.8, Chickenhead City 5.9, Breakfast of Champions 5.10+, Shredded Wheat 5.11a, Wild Hickory Nuts 5.11b, Bee Tree 5.5, Pull the Plug 5.11 a/b

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Land Manager:

Land is privately owned.

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image - caduceus -  symbol of medicineEmergency Information:

Call 911. You are in Rutherford County.

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image - carabinerGear:

The rock here is a blend of that found at Table Rock and Looking Glass. There are large, slabby sections of smooth granite, but also plenty of vertical cracks that take gear nicely. Its not quite as featured as Table Rock, but not nearly as runout as Looking Glass. There has been some bolting on the more difficult routes, but the area is typical NC trad. Bring a full rack.

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Photo by Jackie Busch - Chris Braund climbs Fruit Loops 5.7There is no camping at Rumbling Bald, but several pay campgrounds are in the area. Reservations are a necessity during summer weekends. The Hickory Nut Falls Campground in Chimney Rock is about 4 miles away (704-625-4014). There is also an RV park on the right as you turn onto Boys Camp Road from Lake Lure.

The best bet for some privacy is the Creekside Campground about 15 miles west on Highway 64/74. Go back through Chimney Rock and Bat Cave and about 5 miles up on the left. The tenting areas are secluded and nicely wooded, but with the usual bathroom/shower facilities and a camp store.

For a more comfortable stay, there are several B&B's in the area.

Large view of Fruit Loops

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The cliffs face south making for a warm location in winter. Summer can be hot, though much of the area is shaded by trees. Best seasons - fall / winter.

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Photo by Wayne Busch - Karen Van Sickler on Bee Tree 5.5Access Notes


3/3/04 - The access and parking areas are involved in an interfamily land dispute which may end up in a sale of the land thereby threatening access to the cliffs. Sizable portions of the cliff are currently for sale. One has recently been sold to a land developer. The Carolina Climbers Coalition is making efforts to address this recent problem.

ACCESS FUND ALERT - Paraphrased from an article published in Vertical Times January 2000, Monthly newsletter of the Access Fund;

Access to the climbing area at Rumbling Bald has been jeopardized by climbers themselves. The private landowner allows climbing, but NOT CAMPING. Remember, this is PRIVATE LAND. Please use an official campground. Additionally, local thieves have noted the crowds, and the problem of car break-ins is now a concern. Don't keep valuables in your car.

Show large view of Bee Tree

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Photo by Wayne Busch -A large boulder in the woods, visible from main trail at Rumbling Bald.Miscellaneous

The reappearance of Rumbling Bald and improvements to the entrance are due largely to the efforts of the Access Fund. Please support this organization that is so critical to the climbing community. If you pass through Asheville, a stop at Black Dome Outfitters might allow you to snag a copy of a fairly detailed map of ton's (71) new boulder problems in the area.

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Rumbling Bald Trip Reports

7/03/01 3 NC Spots Wayne Busch & Chris Braund Photos - Chris Braund and Wayne Busch hit three North Carolina Climbing spots - Shortoff Mountain, Crowders Mountain, and Rumbling Bald.

9/25/98 - Whiteside Mountain and Rumbling Bald Trip Report - Submitted by the Buttinskis, a.k.a. Jeff and Chris Braund. The Brothers climb Whiteside with Matt Floyd, then spend a day at Rumbling Bald.

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