Photo: Carol Clayton

A Climber’s Guide to the Wintergreen Crag

Your cheat sheet to some of the best local climbing in Charlottesville, Va.

At just under an hour’s drive from Charlottesville, Wintergreen is central Virginia’s premier after-work crag. This collection of rock outcroppings is known for its stunning views across the Appalachian foothills and its high-quality, grippy granite. Most of the routes here require some trad climbing proficiency, though you’ll find several boulders and a handful of sport routes scattered throughout. Plus, there are both shady and sunny aspects, so you can climb year-round. With a wide range of grades and styles and nearly 50 climbs to choose from, Wintergreen has something for everyone.

 

Recommended Routes

Wintergreen is home to routes ranging from 5.5 to 5.12c, and boulders from V0 to V7. Here are a few local favorites.

Simplicity (5.6): The first pitch of this three-pitch slab line is bolted, which makes this a great practice route for new sport leaders. You can either stop at the anchor, or keep going for a 310-foot trad variation known as Beyond Simplicity—a great opportunity for burgeoning multi-pitch leaders to practice their skills.

Happy Cracks (5.8): Great gear placements and fun movement make this twin-crack system one of the most popular routes at Wintergreen. Rappel rings at the top make for an easy exit and allow for a top-rope setup. This one’s not to be missed.

Fear and Loathing (5.10): Technical, delicate movement makes this 40-foot mixed line one of the best climbs in the area. There are three bolts, though most climbers bring a piece or two of trad gear for extra security.

Heroes and Handlebars (5.11a): Small gear and interesting tension moves make this seam, corner, and crack climb a good challenge for the experienced leader. Not quite ready to lead it? No problem: You can climb to the top of the Happy Cracks anchor (see above) to work it on top-rope.

Photo: Carol Clayton

Getting There

As the name suggests, the Wintergreen climbing area is part of Wintergreen Resort (though it’s open to the climbing public for free). You can get there by taking Interstate 64 west from Charlottesville and then taking either state Route 151 or the Blue Ridge Parkway south. The parking area is at Blackrock Park, on the southwest edge of the Blackrock Circle.

From the parking area, follow yellow blazes downhill along the Blackrock Trail, then hang a right on the red-blazed Brimstone Trail to reach the crag.

 

Climbing Etiquette

Wintergreen is on private land and surrounded by private homes, so be sure to be respectful. Stay in designated parking areas and avoid lingering too late or making too much noise in the parking lot. Pack out everything you pack in.

The crag’s easy access and proximity to the resort also make it popular among guided groups. Be polite and always share the wall. For an nearby alternative on public land, head to Love Gap, one of the area's best traditional crags (park off of state Route 814, which branches off the Blue Ridge Parkway at Milepost 16.)

 

Local Flavor

Take VA-151 north through Avon on the way home to snag beer and burgers at Brewing Tree. Bonus for weekend warriors: The brewery hosts live music every Saturday and Sunday afternoon.

 

Guidebook Resource

potomacmountainclub.org

All articles are for general informational purposes.  Each individual’s needs, preferences, goals and abilities may vary.  Be sure to obtain all appropriate training, expert supervision and/or medical advice before engaging in strenuous or potentially hazardous activity.