Rumbling Bald, about 25 miles from downtown Asheville, is really the must see climbing area of western North Carolina. It’s one of the biggest and best bouldering destinations in the southeast, if not the country, offering literally hundreds of documented bouldering problems and plenty more unofficial routes just begging for first ascents. Rumbling Bald is suitable for all ability levels with a huge variety of difficulty. You could spend days and days here. There’s also a great deal of route climbing–mostly traditional on the cliff above the bouldering line. There used to be access issues, but it was bought by the Carolina Climbers Coalition, so now parking and access for climbers is guaranteed.
What Makes It Great
Boasting at least 882 documented boulder lines, you are sure to run out of chalk and skin before running out of problems at the Rumbling Bald. The boulder field is divided into the West Side, Central, and East Side. The approach to the first area from the lot is about 10 minutes. The West Side is a great warm up as well as project area with a wide range of grades and height variety. Plenty of V0’s and V1’s are available for the beginner as well, mostly described as “Unknown” in the guide book due to being un-named problems in the Obscure and Trailside areas within the Westside area. The Trailside area also offers great three-star problems like the classic arête, Moby Dick (V4) and the crimpy Rotator Cuff sds. (V6) that can also be climbed as a V5 stand start. Moving on to the Cluster boulders, The French Maid (V7) is a must-do for the experienced climber and should not go untried. Though there’s much more to be climbed on the West Side, you must move on to the Central boulder field for the best V2 at the Rumbling Bald. The Brevard Fault (V2) and other classics like Bruce’s Problem (V5) and Slash and Burn (V8) are high star problems here (amongst many more) located on a mere 8 boulders and generally less crowded Central area. If the West Side and Central was not enough of a challenge for you, the East Side certainly will be. Although you may want to save it for another day when your arms are less pumped out. The reason being that the east boulder field is spread out in steep terrain with big elevation changes and can be difficult to navigate. However, the climbing is still excellent here and there are many projects and untouched boulders looking for a first ascent for those who feel so inclined. We can’t reiterate enough how much bouldering can be had at Rumbling Bald. You really just have to check it out yourself. We recommend purchasing the Rumbling Bald Bouldering Guidebook, written by Chris Dorrity. You can find it in any outdoor retailer, and it’s really worth a look.
Who is Going to Love It
Cyclists…. Just kidding. Climbers, obviously. Of all ability levels — beginners, intermediates, and experts alike.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Rumbling Bald is located above the town of Bat Cave/Chimney Rock. From Bat Cave, follow the signs for Chimney Rock Park and pass the park entrance as you go through the town of Chimney Rock. Not quite a half mile past the park, turn left on Boys Camp Road (SR 1305). Follow this for about a mile and a half to a dirt access road on the left; take the dirt road to one of two parking areas for Rumbling Bald.Plan on a 9 or 10am arrival, as the parking lot at the Bald fills up fast with both hikers and climbers, and you may even have to wait for a spot if you get there too late. The parking is also locked at dusk so make sure you leave in time or the Ranger will be waiting.Unfortunately, there is no camping allowed at Rumbling Bald, so be sure to make a plan for lodging. Located just a few miles from the boulders, in Lake Lure, is the Hitching Post Campground. They offer tent and RV camping as well as bunk houses and apartments. The camping is open year round, but you’ll only need it for three seasons because summer here is downright miserable, with overgrown vegetation and hot temperatures. Rumbling Bald is best in the fall, winter and spring, with winter being the prime season.
Featured image provided by bobistraveling