5 best climbing spots for winter

Hibernation is for bears— stay active and climb those cave walls and cliffsides instead! Don’t let the New River Gorge’s world-famous boulders or climbs go to waste just because it’s winter. Spend your snow days on the warmest, driest sandstone in West Virginia.

Take a look at these popular snow-season climbing destinations:

1. Ali Bubba

Carved into Beauty Mountain, this sandstone cave shelters you from the wet stuff. Ali Bubba’s bouldering “problems” will give you a real workout.

Warm up on Ruth’s Roof, a V5 with easy jugs. Then see if you can finish more challenging gymnastic roof problems. Since Ali Bubba’s mouth is just 8 feet from the ground, you can get aggressive without feeling insecure, too— a rare bonus.

Rock Climbing in the New River Gorge

2. The Cirque

Many climbers claim this is one of the warmest formations in the Gorge. They’re probably right; as a natural amphitheater, The Cirque keeps frigid wind out and solar heat in, thanks to curving walls. Plus, its southern orientation soaks up maximum sunlight. All in all, you couldn’t ask for a better winter climb.

Still, The Cirque isn’t all smiles and sunshine. It’s humbled many climbers with its 5.12 challenges. Cozy your way on The Warmup route to see if you’re up to snuff.

3. Junkyard Area

This sunny spot attracts climbers all season long. Soak up those rays this winter and work your way through easy to advanced routes.

Popular spots include:

  • Caves: when snow covers everything else, work on these 5.7 formations.
  • Four Sheets to the Wind: a 5.9+ classic with a wide crack, jugs and roof moves.
  • Yew Nosemite: this 5.12b beast has an eye-catching crack and several jams.

4. Whipporwill

The pale sandstone cliffs at Summersville Lake form some of the most picturesque climbs in West Virginia. In winter, they’re also fairly warm. Bring a wind-resistant jacket, though, because breezes skim right off the water.

Favorites include:

  • Bongo: a 5.7 climb that dries quickly and even has a cave near the top.
  • Gimmie a Clown: a 5.9 route with a ledge, crux and jugs aplenty.
  • Johnny Bravo: a 5.10a climb with an especially wrinkled surface.

5. Fool Effect

Bring your 70-meter rope and see if you can wrangle this 5.9 bronco. Chilly weather won’t be much of an issue— Endless Wall climbs bake all day— but you’ll be warm by the time you solve Fool Effect’s roof sequence. Then sit back and soak in marvellous views of the Gorge!

Which winter climb are you going to try this year?