Go Gaston NC + Fox Mountain Guides
Spring is here and it’s time to GO outside! To kick things off, we wanted to create something to inspire you to take your adventures in Gaston County to the next level, a beginners guide to rock climbing at Crowders Mountain State Park.
With the best views in the region, Crowders Mountain has become one of the most popular hiking destinations around. But did you know Crowders Mountain is also home to some of the best rock climbing in the Piedmont Plateau? If you’ve done any hiking around Linwood Access on the weekend, you’ve probably seen climbers heading up the trail with all their gear. If you’ve made it to the summit, maybe you’ve seen them scaling the quartzite cliffs below.
So why not give it a go and start Spring of 2020 with a new kind of adventure? We gathered a group of friends to head out for a Sunday morning climb and here’s a recap of our experience along with a few resources and tips to help you follow in our footsteps.
Our group was relatively inexperienced at climbing. Between us we only had one day of rock wall experience and a handful of days in the climbing gym. Given our inexperience the first thing we did was find a guide who could take us out and show us the ropes. After doing some initial research and talking with park staff, we hired Fox Mountain Guides to lead the trip for us. They’re based in Brevard, NC but lead trips all over the region. They also have a great reputation.
You’ll have to be sure to plan the trip 2-3 weeks in advance because climbing permits are limited and things can get pretty busy at Crowders, especially on Summer weekends. After we reached out to the team at Fox Mountain and told them our ideal dates, they got permits we needed. They also would provide all the gear (climbing shoes, harnesses, ropes, etc.) we needed and use their knowledge of the area to plan our climbing routes for the day. All great reasons to use a guide company.
(*** It’s not required that you have a guide to climb at Crowders, but we highly suggest it if you’re inexperienced or have never climbed at The Park. If you’re looking to climb without a guide, you’ll find some resources at the bottom of the page that can help with planning. )
With permits in hand and dates confirmed, we were ready to go. The climbing routes at Crowders are first come first serve so be sure you plan on getting out early. We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn in Gastonia the night before. It’s about 10 minutes from Crowders Mountain so we could guarantee to get there before the crowds.
We met Joel and Anthony from Fox Mountain Guides at the Linwood Access around 9:00 am on Sunday morning and began gearing up. Before we started the hike up, we talked about our goals for the day and planned a few possible climbs that would match up with our experience and ambition. After a safety briefing we started the hike to the summit, which is just under a mile and takes around 20-30 minutes.
We were at the top by 10am and were among the first few climbing groups up and secured the first route we wanted - Ooga Chocka 5.8 on David’s Castle. You can check out more info on the routes here if you want to get some ideas, but we let our guides decide what would be the best for us.
After we put our gear down, Joel and Anthony set up the route, gave us another in-depth safety overview, a run down on our equipment and a few tips on climbing technique before we started. The climb looked a little bit daunting at first, but our first runs were a success. With our guides coaching us throughout the climb we were able to ascend David’s Castle with no problems, despite our lack of experience.
By late morning the area started to fill up with other climbers, which was fun. We got to experience the local climbing culture and meet others who were out exploring as well. Exhausted after a few runs we took a quick lunch break before trying different spots. We finished the day by climbing The Balcony 5.5 on Middle Finger Wall, which was probably our favorite and was also one of the easier routes on the mountain.
All and all, I’ve got to say it was one of the most fun days I can remember and definitely a great way to kick off Spring in Gaston County. We spent the entire day outside on the mountain, climbing and chatting with the community. This is definitely my number one experience in Gaston County so we hope you’ll get out there and give it a try.
A big thank you to Anthony and Joel from Fox Mountain Guides for being our teachers and guides for the day. These guys were so knowledgeable of the area and climbing in general, not to mention they really created a fun environment and energy that kept us stoked throughout the day. Thanks guys!
Be sure to go check out the video and photos from our adventure to get a better idea of the type of climbing we were doing.
Below you’ll find all the links and info you’ll need to plan the trip!
The Go Gaston Team
Fox Mountain Guides
Crowders Mountain State Park
Rules & FAQ’s
Additional Resources and Details
Mountain Project: Routes and Additional Details
Carolina Climbers Coalition: