Photo:Cleveland Metroparks

Climbing Whipp’s Ledges

Climb and slackline in a Cleveland Metropark.

Northeast Ohio is not exactly known as a climbing destination, but Whipp’s Ledges in the Cleveland Metroparks’ Hinckley Reservation is a nice surprise—a little crag within two hours of Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Columbus. You can top-rope, trad climb and even slackline here, no permits needed. 

The rock at Whipp’s Ledges is Sharon Conglomerate—grippy sandstone with tiny white pebbles embedded in it. Face climbing is quite good here, even if height is lacking, as most routes come in at about 30 feet. The narrow passageways and the deciduous forest makes this an undoubtedly scenic spot, albeit one that has been discovered. Do not expect to find solitude here—as long as you’re not wearing a Steelers jersey, though, you might befriend some new climbing partners. 

Recommended Routes

Download the Whipp’s Ledges map and refer to Mountain Project to get oriented. A great place to start is The Crack (5.8+, trad or top-rope), a prominent splitter. It’s easy to find and you’ll enjoy a variety of crack moves. Just to the left of The Crack (you could use the same top-rope anchor) is Buzzard (5.11b). Even if this grade is pushing it for you, you have the security of a top-rope, as it’s not possible to lead-climb. For bouldering, start on Journey to the Sun (V4) if conditions are dry enough. If you’re a newbie, sign up for a climbing or anchor-building class with Metroparks (call or check the calendar); there are plenty of easy routes here, including Keyhole Crack (5.6).

The ledges are close together, which makes slacklining over the hallways between rock outcroppings very doable. Just be sure to attach slacklines safely and securely in a way to protect the trees used as anchors, and to protect hikers and climbers below. Metroparks programming occasionally includes slacklining opportunities. 

Whipp’s Ledges has a long tradition; people have been climbing here since the ’70s. Access has changed over the years, but in 2018 Cleveland Metroparks opened the area to climbing without a permit. The park system also helped develop it, with glue-in anchors for many routes that minimize the impact of top-rope anchors created by slinging trees. To be courteous to the rock and the locals—and as a way to make sure that access continues unimpeded—practice Leave No Trace, including minimal use of chalk and wiping away any chalk that you do use. 

Getting There

From the junction of Interstate 71 and I-271 south of Cleveland, take Hawkins Road west to Hinckley Reservation. More Info: clevelandmetroparks.com

Eat Up

As for pizza, there’s New York style, Chicago style … and Ohio style. Check out Ohio Pie Company in nearby Brunswick. Fuel up for your weekend session with brunch pizza.

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.