SOUTHWESTERN PA

CLIMBERS COALITION

CLIMBING AREA DIRECTORY

 

Table of Contents

Introduction

General Advisories

Beam Rocks

Overview

Location

Guidebooks

Breakneck Rocks

Overview

Location

Guidebooks

Casparis

Overview

Location

Guidebooks

Coll’s Cove

Overview

Location

Guidebooks

Lost Crag

Overview

Location

Guidebooks

McConnell’s Mill

Overview

Location

Guidebooks

Ohiopyle

Overview

Location

Guidebooks

White Rocks

Overview

Location

Access

Guidebooks

Introduction

General Advisories

Beam Rocks

Overview

Beam Rocks consists of 25′ – 60′ tall sandstone cliffs and a small amount of bouldering, including one or two classics. As one of the higher cliffs in SWPA, the location is beautiful. The climbing is very shaded, can be somewhat damp, and although there are a few very nice (tall) climbs, even the good lines tend to collect a bit of sand quite quickly, so a bit of cleaning is often desirable on the first run up a pitch. Generally composed of common SWPA gritstone and sandstone. There is no permanent hardware, so top-roping is most common, generally from trees well-set back from the cliff edge which requires more extended top rope rigging, or by hooking webbing around large rock features. Quick access and location of the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail running along the base means that the Area is frequented by hikers and casual recreationists throughout the day, so it’s best to remain aware of traffic on the top of the cliff and the integrity of your top-rope rig. A popular party spot as well, depending upon time of year the area can be marred by graffiti and trash, though SWPACC in conjunction with Forbes State Forest administration and the Laurel Mountain volunteer group, conducts occasional clean-ups. Be aware of poisonous plants, venomous snakes, and timber rattlesnakes.

Location

Forbes State Forest, PA [40.133, -79.157]. For more information, please reference the guidebook links below.

Guidebooks

Breakneck Rocks

Overview

Breakneck is a small bolted cliff with good bouldering south east of Pittsburgh in the small area known as Breakneck, just north of Connellsville. It can get slightly crowded on weekends, so consider one of the other several crags in the area as a backup plan. 

 

The cliff faces the north east and will receive morning sun. However due to the shade that exists for the majority of the day, snow can remain on this hillside for days after it melts elsewhere. It can be a good crag following a day of rain, thanks to the morning sun and great quality rock. The rock is sandstone and in great condition, as are the bolts and anchors. 

 

A few trad lines exist, but if you want to climb some cracks this definitely is not the area. The route to the far left is listed as a trad route on Tim’s page, but is now bolted. This was to increase traffic on the route in hopes of keeping the dirt/moss from returning, and it can still be led with gear.

Location

Connellsville, PA [40.035, -79.543]. For more details, please reference Tim Anderson’s blog found below.

Guidebooks

Casparis

Overview

Located on a mix of State Gamelands and private land, Casparis is an extensive boulderfield with high quality boulders littered across both sides of a ridge just outside of downtown Connelsville, PA. The bouldering boom took place during the 2000s, with Tim and Laura Anderson, together with folks like Carl Samples and Bob Rentka doing much of the development. The boulders are somewhat spread out. It’s typical to find an isolated boulder or two with 5-10 problems, and then hike another couple minutes to the next. Upper Casparis is accessed from the top of the hill, and is comprised of the Light and Dark Side. Upper Casparis is at the top of a long hill. Much of Casparis is located on State Gamelands. In 2015, the SWPACC coordinated with other Pennsylvania local climbing organizations, the Access Fund, and numerous other user groups (hikers, runners, etc.) to express our support for keeping State Gamelands open to non-hunters year round, in response to a proposal for significant closures. As a result, the proposal was rescinded, we established a positive working relationship with the State Game Commission, and we continue to support keeping State Gamelands open to climbers. We also attempt to communicate guidelines to the climbing community for maintaining a positive relationship, including information regarding hunting seasons and State Gamelands regulations.

Location

Connellsville, PA [39.978, -79.572]

 

As you drive up Casparis road, you’ll pass a large log house on your left, and then shortly afterward you may see some boulders to your right. This zone is sometimes referred to as Lower Casparis and is CLOSED to climbing. You may see a pullout a bit further up the road on the right with a PA Greenways sign. This sign does NOT mean that Lower Casparis is open to climbing. Additionally, further up Casparis you may see some more boulders on the hillside to your right. This is part of the Dark Side, but you should NOT park along this road, as the land immediately adjacent to the road is under private ownership, and you may be asked to leave.

Guidebooks

Coll’s Cove

Overview

 

Coll’s Cove may hold the highest volume, concentration, and quality of bouldering in Southwestern Pennsylvania. It also boasts a number of excellent short topropes on 40ft cliffs which jut out above trees and provide stunning vistas –a rarity for SWPA climbing areas, most which are heavily wooded. Many of the top ropes were climbed as early as the 1970s, but the bouldering boom had to wait until the early 2000s, and the arrival of Mike Steighner and Pete Baertsch and company. Roving climber Nathaniel Walker also established a large number of early classics. The Sharp Shooter boulder, one of the first areas on the approach, has one of the prettiest pieces of stone you’ll find in Southwestern PA. Coll’s Cove is located on State Gamelands. In 2015, the SWPACC coordinated with other Pennsylvania local climbing organizations, the Access Fund, and numerous other user groups (hikers, runners, etc.) to express our support for keeping State Gamelands open to non-hunters year round, in response to a proposal for significant closures. As a result, the proposal was rescinded, we established a positive working relationship with the State Game Commission, and we continue to support keeping State Gamelands open to climbers. We also attempt to communicate guidelines to the climbing community for maintaining a positive relationship, including information regarding hunting seasons and State Gamelands regulations.

Location

Dunbar, PA [39.932, -79.545]

 

Follow GPS Coordinates to the entrance road on your left marked with a green gate and no parking sign, then continue another 50 yards and pull into the driveway on your left. Park in the yard to your left, then walk back to the green gated road. Walk about a 1/4 mile down this gas line access road. When the road splits to the right, look left for the obvious logging trail. This will lead you into the main area.

 

In exchange for parking in this yard, we pay 5$ to the owners (not the folks renting the house located on the property). You pay back in town (preferably on your way in) at the house at the corner of Cow Rock Rd and Furnace Hill Rd (106 Cow Rock Rd). You’ll see the red box on the wall. If you are approached by someone at the lot asking for the money in hand, you should tell them that the Smalley family has directed everyone to pay in town. (The Smalley’s may occasionally swing through to ask if folks have paid–they will not try to collect the money directly though: they’ll direct you to pay at the box in town.) If you run into issues, please contact Jimmie Ann Smalley at (724) 277-4889 or (724) 963-8497: she lives close by. Please also contact SWPACC to let us know what happened. Thank you for helping us to maintain a good relationship with the land owners.

Guidebooks

https://www.mountainproject.com/area/107680491/colls-cove-bouldering

Lost Crag

Overview

Located in Dunbar, PA, Lost Crag boasts a large number (100+) of short (~35ft) routes that pack a punch. It’s ideal for moderate and beginner climbers Developed originally in the 1990s by Tim Anderson, Bob Coblenz, Greg Zamule and others, Lost Crag was developed as sport/trad/mixed crag. Its initial popularity waned a bit in subsequent years as the hardware deteriorated, and in 2017, SWPACC secured permission from the State Game Commission to re-quip the routes. Since that time, dozens of climbers have spent countless hours re-equipping dozens of routes and installing thousands of dollars of hardware, purchased through a combination of donations, the Cal Swoager Memorial Fund and the American Safe Climbing Association, grants from the Access Fund and the American Mountain Club. Lost Crag is now back in great shape and it’s a fantastic spot to knock out a high volume of quality short routes.

 

Lost Crag is located on State Gamelands. n 2015, the SWPACC coordinated with other Pennsylvania local climbing organizations, the Access Fund, and numerous other user groups (hikers, runners, etc.) to express our support for keeping State Gamelands open to non-hunters year round, in response to a proposal for significant closures. As a result, the proposal was rescinded, we established a positive working relationship with the State Game Commission, and we continue to support keeping State Gamelands open to climbers. We also attempt to communicate guidelines to the climbing community for maintaining a positive relationship, including information regarding hunting seasons and State Gamelands regulations.

Location

Dunbar, PA [39.92, -79.581]

 

You can approach The Lost Crag from either a top parking lot or a bottom lot.  Both are roughly 1 ½ miles long and will take around 35 minutes.  The bottom approach is more steep and strenuous on the way in, but then, easier and quicker on the way out.  It has the advantage of being mostly shaded the entire way.  The approach from the top is exposed to sun for the first ¾ mile, but it is a more gently rolling approach.  The top lot can only accomodate a dozen cars, whereas the lot on the bottom is enormous.

 

FROM THE TOP: Park at [39.903923, -79.567555] in the obvious parking area before the gate on the dirt road. Please park smart. On nice weekend days, this lot will fill up. If multiple cars are in your party, please park two deep. If the lot is full DO NOT BLOCK THE GATE and do not park on the side of the road where any portion of your tires are on the road. There is an upper overflow lot at the dogleg in the road that is 1/4 mile before arriving at this lot. There is room there to accommodate another 10 cars.  Another option on days when the upper lot is full, is to park at the bottom. 

 

  1. From the gate, walk on the dirt road for about 10 minutes (.5 m) until you get to a fork. [39.908531, -79.573256].
  2. Take the left hand fork and continue for another 4 minutes (.2 m).  You will crest a small hill and start to walk down again when you will notice tall pine trees on the left and right of the road.  Look for the overgrown grass covered road on your right.  [39.909878, -79.576722].  
  3. Turn right onto the grass covered road and walk for approximately 5 minutes (0.3m). Follow this road until it starts gently downhill.  Pay attention here as this is the easiest turn to miss!  Look for a small clearing with a grove of trees on your right.  At the end of this clearing look for a path that leads into the woods.  Presently there is a cairn there, but we can’t know for sure if that will remain there.  GPS for this point is [39.912420, -79.579284].  
  4. Once you enter the woods, you will head to your right for 50 yards and then connect with an old ATV trail that descends gently through the woods. Continue descending for about 10 minutes until you pass a dry stream bed immediately after which we have placed debris on the path and cairns to direct you into the woods onto a worn footpath your right hand side.  
  5. The footpath meanders a bit but is not difficult to follow.  Be on the lookout for cairns. You will wind around some boulders and meander more before crossing another small stream bed.
  6. Shortly after the second stream (very little water -small enough to step across) you will come to several fallen trees along the path at which point you will see another cairn that marks a short uphill section of path that leads to the crag.   [39.918973, -79.581600]

 

FROM THE BOTTOM: Park in the large gravel parking lot. 39.93180, -79.58778

Walk around the gate at the far upper right end of the lot (Southeast corner). 

Walk 1 mile uphill on the fire road (Limestone Run Rd) until you cross a small bridge.   

At 50 yards beyond the wooden bridge, go right at the fork on an old logging road.  

Stay on this road a short distance until you reach a small field 39.92074, -79.57729.

In the upper left corner of this field you will see an opening into the woods that marks the beginning of an old fire trail that leads steeply uphill to your destination. 

Continue uphill for about 10 minutes until you can see The Lost Crag that will be another 100 yards up the hill on your right. There will be cairns marking short trails from the fire trail to the various blocks where we climb.

 

Lost Crag is located on State Gamelands. Although the Gamelands are intended primarily for hunting, other user groups, including climbers, are permitted. Please follow all Gamelands requirements, including, especially, wearing the appropriate orange during hunting seasons (this isn’t only about your personal safety, but also about how hunters and the Game Commission view our presence on Gamelands), and NO drugs or alcohol. Rural King on 119 is a convenient spot closeby to pick up a hat and vest. Please note that Game Commission officers routinely patrol the gamelands, including Lost Crag specifically, and we encourage you to act in the best interest of the entire climbing community to preserve our access to this resource.

Guidebooks

 

McConnell’s Mill

Overview

McConnells Mill State Park is a popular climbing area located in Lawrence County, Pennsylvania, approximately forty miles north of Pittsburgh. It is easily accessed from either Interstate 79 from the north or south or from State Route 422 if traveling from the east or west.  The focal point of the Park is the restored gristmill, covered bridge and the dramatic glaciated gorge that surrounds these structures for several miles up and downstream. It is one of three State Parks where climbing is sanctioned and has seen development activity from the 1940s on. 

 

The Park offers excellent bouldering up to V11, top roping in all grades and limited sport climbing.up to 13a/b.  The Two primary areas for climbing are along Rim Road and at Breakneck Rocks though development has occurred throughout the Park. The cliffs vary from 12 to 50 feet high, with climbs of all angles.  Vertical faces feature pockets, flakes and the area’s trademark, shallow sloping horizontals, which so often turn into a date with disappointment for would-be ascentionist’s onsite attempt. On the other extreme, many of the test pieces climb very steep rock with bouldery cruxes between endurance sprints on jugs. Some of these steeper routes overhang almost as much as they are tall. The rock is typically medium-textured sandstone but very gritty sections as well as smoother-grained spots will be encountered. Much of the climbing is under a pine canopy and in wet years the routes and problems may need recleaning. 

Location

Portersville, PA [40.958, -80.169]

 

From Pittsburgh take I-279 north and merge onto I-79 north. Take the PA-488 exit (exit 96) toward Portersville/Prospect. Turn left over the freeway and follow signs to the park. You can get a handy trail map that has the climbing areas marked at the park Maintenance Office.

 

One of three State Parks where climbing is a sanctioned activity. Currently Rim Road and Breakneck Bridge areas are fair game.

Guidebooks

  • https://www.brayackmedia.com/books/mcconnells-mill-climbing

Ohiopyle

Overview

There are numerous climbing (sport, trad, bouldering, ice) opportunities within Ohiopyle State Park, some of which have online guiding information and others which do not. The most popular climbing spots are the sport crags (e.g., Maple Wall, Schoolhouse crag) along the rails-to-trail (most easily accessed by biking in) and “The Pyle,” aka the Falls City Pub boulders, though there are many others. Much of the sport development took place under Tim and Laura Anderson in the 2000s. 

 

The sport routes are often quite steep, and range from easy/moderate to high-end 5.12. It should be noted that many of the routes, including the easy-to-moderates, are bolted rather adventurously, some with groundfall potential, so if you’re at  your limit at a grade, you would do well to exercise caution, particularly at the first and second bolts. 

 

The highest concentration of bouldering, found at “The Pyle,” is accessible right along the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail, near mile marker 1. Tim and Laura Anderson did a great deal of early development, with another development boom around 2014 by Pete Baertsch, Mike Steighner and company. After a day of bouldering, you might want to consider hiking the remaining 69.5 miles to the conclusion of the trail north of Johnstown….or you could just turn around and go back to Falls City Pub for a pint. Please note that The Pyle is an area highly visible to non-climbers and park administration, given its position along the LHHT–and it is especially important to respect all park policies here, as it is elsewhere in the park. The rock quality here is solid, but large-grained and thus it can be rough on the skin. You’ll also find very high quality bouldering and some kinglines elsewhere in the park if you’re willing to go hunting deeper into the woods–in some of these areas the rock quality is closer to the friendly sandstone you’ll find at Coll’s Cove. 

Location

Ohiopyle, PA – Numerous areas. Please see below for more information.

Guidebooks

White Rocks

Overview

A large grouping of gritstone boulders and walls found east of the town of Fairchance, PA. Many top-rope lines must be established from trees, sometimes 30-50 feet away from the edge of the cliff, requiring lengthy rigging gear and expert knowledge. Be mindful of the fragile ecosystem, long up-hill hike, and rattlesnakes. For your first visit, please consider bringing someone along who is familiar with the area, as the approach and access is not easily identifiable.

 

This area is comprised of a mix of vertical and slab classics, as well as some overhung and pumpy jug halls. White Rocks was developed by climbers in the 70s, so you’ll notice that no grades on paper exceed 5.10, which might not be the modern day truth, meaning you might find yourself on some sandbagged climbs!

Location

Fairchance, PA [39.826343, -79.730369]. Please see PDF below for more information.

Access

Despite what the PDF says (it was written in 1978), this climbing area is now on public land. However, it still stands that a good relationship with the Hi-To is very important.

Guidebooks

View PDFs: