Virginia crags

Wintergreen

Compiled by Simon Carr, primarily from mountainproject.com and rockclimbing.com, with help from Craig Spaulding.

Wintergreen is a set of outcrops on private land, inside the Wintergreen Resort.

The Wintergreen Resort is an hour’s drive southwest of Charlottesville. It is reached by driving west on 64, then south on 151 to reach 664. Head west on 664, eventually turning onto Wintergreen Drive.

In 2.3 miles, take a right on Blackrock Drive, after the gas station. Take the next right onto Black Rock Circle. There is a small gravel parking area on the right 0.2 miles from this intersection, between two houses. There is an established hiking trail that leads to The Plunge.

The Plunge – also called Overlook Buttress – is a hiker’s/tourist’s overlook about 3-5 minutes down the trail that leaves the main trail (see below) on the right and overlooks The Cracks and Southern Slabs area. The base of The Plunge is where a few of the longer multi-pitch climbs top out, and where the Overlook Buttress climbs start.

Finding the Climbs

Follow the yellow blazed Blackrock trail downhill – past the turnoff to the Overlook Buttress – to the intersection with the red blazed Brimstone trail. Turn right and go down the Brimstone trail, which will take you to most of the crags. The first area you come to is the Beginner Slab area, which is off the trail about 150 feet to your right. It takes about 10 minutes to get from the parking lot to the bottom of the Beginner Slab.

From the Beginner Slab, continue round the cliff line to reach The Cracks area, which is not visible from the trail. Continuing past The Cracks down the gully takes you to the South Slabs.

The East Walls are opposite the Beginner Slab on the other side of the Brimstone Trail. You can see this area from the Beginner Slab.

If you continue down the Brimstone trail, you will reach a flat area just off the trail to the right with an overhanging boulder. Walk under that boulder and follow the rock down about 50 feet to get to the Self Potential Wall area. This area is about 15 minutes from the parking lot.

Most of the bolts are probably 20 years old, although the rappel anchors look more recent. There are likely other existing routes on other outcrops not listed here.

Comments in italics reflect personal experience in April 2021.

East Walls

On the left side of the Brimstone trail.

Hell 5.9+

PG13. Starts on the left side of the large pillar. The off-width roof on the south facing end of the East Walls. There is a bolt on the upper slab. You can rap from a bolted anchor on top.

Public Enemy 5.11c

PG13. Starts 20ft right of Hell at the base of the pillar

Road To Heaven 5.11a

Start on right side of pillar in the offwidth. Move left up the finger crack at 50ft.

Darkside 5.10a

This route starts on the arete to the right of Road to Heaven. At the top of the arete belay below the finger crack on the left for pitch two. Finish on the top of the pillar.

Darkside Direct 5.9+

PG13. Roughly 15 feet downhill (south) of 5.12 Comes to Wintergreen is a fist to hand sized crack. It snakes to the left and up, reaching a good stance after about 10 feet. Follow the thinning crack to crimps and sidepulls which will bring you under a V shaped notch in the roof. Pull the roof and layback/chimney to reach the slab up above, and a medium sized tree which can be used as an anchor. This tree can be reached by scrambling up and around on the right for setting a TR or for descent if you don’t want to rap.

5.12 Comes to Wintergreen 5.12a

The only bolted line at this area. Starts 50ft right of the large pillar, on an isolated short, smooth face with a small overhang at half-height.

Gumby’s Route 5.8

Uphill of 5.12 Comes to Wintergreen is a 30m tall, smooth low-angle slab. This route climbs up on the left side, then goes right into a R-facing flake system followed to the top.

Guides Route 5.7

Start in the middle of the slab, trending up right for 35ft. Then tend left before you reach the bolts. Pro can be found in the crack but it’s often filled with leaves and dirt – bring a nut tool to dig out. Finish at the right tree anchor.

Guides Route Direct 5.7

On the Guide’s Route continue straight up to the bolts rather than staying to the left.

Beginner Slab

The climbs range from 50ft to 70ft, and face east. On the right side of the Brimstone Trail a little below the East Walls. A bit of steep dirt scrambling leads up to the ledge at its base.

Simply Frayed 5.3

The thin crack in the center of the face. Bolted belay station with rap rings. More like 5.6.

Slabtastic 5.8

R rated. Usually done as a TR. Same start as Slightly Frayed but move left over a small overhang at 15ft and continue in a straight line to the top. Don’t traverse right onto Simply Frayed.

Central dotted line shown in photo is too far to right.

Slightly Frayed 5.2

Great easy slab. Starts at the base right in front of the wooden erosion barrier. Goes up 15 ft then traverses left and then back right at the top of a short dihedral.

The Crack 5.3

The large crack on the left side of the wall. Start just around the corner from Slabtastic and

Simply Frayed, or add another 15 feet by starting at the base of The Cracks area. More like 5.6.

The Cracks

This south facing area is just around the corner below and left of the Beginner Slab. Climbs are listed from right to left when facing the wall, as they are encountered when approaching the area from the Brimstone Trail/Beginner Slab.

These are some of the best climbs at Wintergreen, but they often stay damp, wet and green after rain and during the humid part of the year.

The first two crack systems encountered can be used to start The Crack and FrayedUnhappy Cracks 5.10a

Trad to 6″. The large crack in the dihedral on the right side of the wall. Finish on the shuts at the

top of the Beginner Slab.

Raven 5.7

PG13. Start 10 ft left of Unhappy Cracks. Climb up and left behind a large flake then straight up past an overhanging boulder to the rap station on the tree – fixed static line with rap rings.

Happy Cracks 5.8

This is a classic 5.8 and possibly the best moderate route at Wintergreen. Two parallel cracks eat up pro. Two distinct cruxes…start off with a tricky move out from under a roof to access the cracks. The second crux is two thirds of the way up where the left crack can be laybacked or jammed.

Heros and Handlebars 5.11a

PG13. This route starts on the face 20ft left of the Happy Cracks. If you miss any of the micro- stoppers in the crux you will hit the deck. Can be TRed from the tree anchor above Happy Cracks.

Todd Skinner Route 5.12b

PG13 Mixed. This route starts left of the chest high overhang just right of the bolt line. Continue up and right around the arete to a bolt. Stay just on the right side of the arete through one more bolt. Todd Skinner sent this route on TR in 2000.

Green With Envy 5.10a

This is the appealing left-facing dihedral on the left side of the face. Camalot #4 at the top [crux]. Lower part of the climb often is green and damp, but can still be climbed using small footholds on the left wall. OW crux at the top stays dry. Can be toproped off Happy Cracks anchor.

Project 5.13a

The bolt line 20ft left of Happy Cracks. Stay to the right of the bolt line. This route is 5.8 if you go left.

South Slabs

The largest single sweep of rock at Wintergreen, with routes up to 100m in length, though the middle 50m is very easy. Overlook Buttress – The Plunge – caps this slab. Climbs are listed as approached from The Cracks area, i.e. from right to left when facing the wall. Routes here could do with some wirebrushing/pruning.

Note that the ‘Static Anchor’ mentioned in mountainproject.com in the cave is unusable and as of April 2021 there is a rap sling on a tree just below the ‘Static Anchor’.

Kiefer Kletter 5.6

Gear to 3 inches, nice to have 1 big (5″) cam. At the right (East) edge of the South Slab are 2

left-facing corners. Stem up the right corner and the slab to the right. Continue up the slab, past a thin horizontal crack, and back to the edge to your left. Fifty feet up, the edge steepens and juts out left. Step out left and pull up into the cracks, which lead up and right to a stout pine tree. Climb the slab above, and then protect in a right-facing corner capped with small bushes. Step up and right to another crack (more lichen), and up to easy ground. Make your way up and left across the brushy area to the left-leaning finger crack that puts you on top.

Descent: scramble down and a bit right for 100ft. Do a 15ft rappel from a pine tree down a chimney to the ledge with rap links on static lines. A 2nd, diagonal, 100ft rappel puts you back at the base of the climb. See note above about ‘static anchor’

Rockfish Route 5.5

PG13. Goes up a low angle face along a ramp that rises up to the right, then goes left along the base of a small headwall. Several variations are possible – going straighter up the face is harder; all are a bit run out. Eventually reach the cave and the ‘static anchor’.

Beech Sweep 5.8

One bolt and gear to 3″. This route is located midway down the South Slabs, directly under the static anchor. Climb past a bolt to gain lower angle slab and head up to the cave. This route originally had four bolts, which were not needed. Perfectly safe with one bolt + gear.

Southern Discomfort 5.9

PG13. Located downhill from Beech Sweep but above the rock step. Start in the left facing corner heading for the bolt above. Work up and left to gain a ramp and follow the path of least protection to the static anchors. This is a bit runout and more like 5.10+

Osterland 5.6

Gear to 3 inches. Can be started at same spot as Rockfish Route, but for more length go down the rock step in the base below. Climb a short hand/fist crack, then step up right onto the ramp running up and right. This then joins Beech Sweep.

Deviousationism 5.7

PG13. Protection to 2.5 inches. Down past the rock step along the base is a shallow R-facing dihedral with a crack containing several small mountain laurel bushes. Some feet left of this, climb up onto a small flake (crack behind it faces vertically up), then traverse back right and up and protect at the top of the “laurel crack”. Climb up and a bit left to easier ground, then a move straight right to a shallow bowl. Now go straight up a shallow groove to easier ground and make your way another 100 feet to the cave.

Billy Goat’s Gruff 5.7

P1: Further down the slab base are a pair of short (10 feet) vertical cracks – start up there, then pull up into the lefthand crack which continues up on easier but awkward ground in a low-angle left-facing corner. Past a small bush pull onto the slab on the right, and then up crack systems to easier ground. Wander up another 80 feet to belay at a pine tree a little above and right of the static lines rap station.

P2: Head right to the right side of a detached block. Climb atop this and pull into a crack back onto the face, then up and left to an obvious short but vertical left-facing corner, which leads to easy ground. Construct a belay up.

Descent: Scramble down slab & ledges down and a bit to the right and do a 15-foot rap off a stout pine tree down into the cave/static anchor etc.

Goat Trail 5.6

P1: Starts at large low-angle crack at the base of the slab and goes to the right end of a ledge 80 ft up. Climb up a crack system (crux) to get onto easy slab and go up to static anchor. 5.6+, 50m P2: Continue up and right, exiting out to the left to the top. 5.4-5.6, 35m.

Or exit via a route of the Overlook Buttress.

Descent: Climb down along ledges on the right (when looking down) and do a 15ft rap from a pine tree down a passage between boulders to reach static anchor.

Simplicity 5.6

This is a great route.

P1 G. 6 bolts. Starts 20ft left of Goat Trail to the right of a huge boulder sitting on the face just above the base of the slab. Double-bolt belay station with rap rings. Hard first moves – 5.7.

P2 G. Gear to 2 inches. Climb crack systems for 25m until you reach a nice ledge with a stout pine tree (same as Beyond Simplicity). Option belay here and rap back to the anchors atop pitch 1 and then down to the ground (60 m). Or, from the tree go up a wide crack and follow more crack systems up the slab to the top (15m).

Descent: The top is by the passageway that drops – 15 ft rappel – through the boulder complex to the cave/static anchor.

It is possible to traverse easily – 5.3 – from the pine tree to the cave to set up topropes on the other slab routes. This is pitch 2 of Beyond Simplicity.

Beyond Simplicity 5.6

A great, easy 5 pitch adventure climb when combined with Simplicity. Where else in Virginia can you find a 5 pitch climb! It’s possible to combine pitches but because of the length and varied terrain, communication and rope drag will be a challenge.

P1 (30m) From the anchors of Simplicity, follow same crack system up to the sturdy pine tree in the middle of 2nd pitch of Simplicity.

P2 (18m) Continue out onto the easy exposed slab face. Follow the base of the wall on your left finding good protection here and there until you come to the alcove with the old static anchor for the Southern Slab climbs. Don’t use this – look for a new webbing anchor or build an anchor.

P3 (60m) Cotinue traversing across easier terrain until you come to a low angle left facing dihedral slab and follow it up and over to your right till you come to the base of the Overlook Buttress and build an anchor. Communication will be difficult because of the length and terrain.

P4 (15m): Exit pitch. There are two possible exits up through the buttress to The Plunge trail and overlook. The most direct is an overhung flaring chimney with decent pro (5.9).

Alternatively climb onto the low shelf above the face covered in lichens and do a belly crawl or butt scoot for 5m along the shelf to an easier flared chimney that leads up through the buttress (5.6 – 5.7). There are good blocks to sling and cracks for pro for a belay up above. The trail is about 10m above you to your left as you exit the chimney.

Overlook Buttress

The Plunge…this is the area right below the overlook.

Morose 5.11a

Start on the left side of the overhang and tend right through several overhangs.

The Purist 5.11c

This route begins on the right side of the overhang and progresses up and left.

The Specialist 5.12c

This route starts on the right side of the overhang and stays right through several bolts.

Self Potential Wall

This area sports two of the best routes at Wintergreen. This is a short distance below The Cracks and Beginner Slab.

Chalk Board 5.6

As you approach the Self Potential Wall from the main trail this will be the first route you see and is the furthest right route. This is almost a carbon copy of Slabtasic on the Beginner’s slab but two grades easier and with protection. Climb the slab up to a gear placement under the flake. Mount the flake and climb past two bolts to the bolt anchor.

Salt and Pepper Cracks 5.9 – 5.10

Start from the base of Fear of the Gumby and climb up and right to the base of two short cracks. These can often be damp and hold moisture. The left crack is Salt 5.10 and the right crack is Pepper 5.9. After climbing up your preferred corner, gain the slab and follow a finger crack up the anchor above Chalk Board. These are undergraded in the online sources.

Fear of the Gumby 5.5

This is a fun, easy route. The low-angle dihedral and crack system on the right side of the wall. Finish on the shuts for Fear and Loathing.

Gription 5.11d

Starts right of Fear and Loathing, staying on the left side of the arete. Usually TRed as it is R/X to lead…one bolt at 25 feet.

Fear and Loathing 5.10b

The (middle) bolted line leading directly up to the rap rings. Take a #1 camalot. Normally toproped as it is R rated – high first bolt and run out past the crux. Probably more like 11a.

Self Potential 5.11b

The bolt line leading over the impressive roof. The original 5.11+ line splits left and goes up through the roof (bolt). Can be shortened (5.10a) to finish at Fear and Loathing rap station.

Nut Job 5.7

Nice route. Starts just left of Self Potential, following the zig-zigging cracks, and finishes on the anchors for Fear and Loathing. The FA of this route was completed with half a rack of Stoppers. There is often a raven/hawk nest up and left below the roof in the spring.

Lichen and Loving it 5.5

Starts at a dirty crack about 25′-30’ up and around to the left from the start of Nut Job

An adventure climb…covered in large flakey lichen and intermittent shrubs and other growth. Follow discontinuous crack system up and then diagonal left and up, then slightly right. Climb ends a bit west of the roof of Gription. Follow the path of least resistance.

No anchors. Belay second up then walk off to the east back around down to the trail and down and around back to the base of the Self-Potential Wall area.

Otaku 5.9

Bushwhack downhill left from the main Self Potential Wall in a roundabout way to end up 50 feet away at the base of a slab with a right-facing flake 15 feet above that then turns downward facing off to the right. Climb the slab up to the base of the upper headwall (50 feet) and start up a left-leaning, left-facing flake system. Work up through the crux to a right-facing corner and up a crack. Above there are various options to finish; the most fun is to work right along crack systems over to the Self Potential rap station.

The Outsider 5.8

This short but interesting route begins on the wall 50ft left of Self Potential in a passageway between the crag and a boulder that has separated from the crag. Go around the corner from the Self Potential Wall, across the top of a slab, and a few feet down to find the start of the corridor. The climb begins at the crack at the inside corner of the tight passageway. The back wall is off. Starts off as a finger crack ending up in an OW at the top. Remember a #3 and #4.

Western Pillars

This is the ridgeline west of the Beginner Slab/The Cracks/South Slabs complex. Approach by hiking west down past the South Slab, then back uphill and left to the lowest (southernmost) crag of the Western Pillars ridge. Alternate approach: once down the wooden stairs along The Plunge trail, turn right off the trail and bushwhack downhill along the eastern edge of the ridge. The routes are described from left to right on each crag, beginning with the lowest crag.

These climbs are as reported online as no personal verification has yet been done.

Upside Yo Head – 5.11d

This is the leftmost line on the southernmost crag of the Western Pillars.

Tipping Point 5.7

This route begins in the large crack on the right side of the southern-most pillar. Go left at 30ft over a small overhang, and then further left to follow a hand and finger crack to a bolted belay/rap station. Variation: continue up the initial crack, stepping left to another (short) finger crack; 5.6. Bolted belay/rap station

The Cheese Grater 5.6

Run out. On the east side of the southernmost pillar. Follow the slab tending right to the anchor.

Smokey Treats 5.11a

R On the right side of the southernmost wall, starting up the smooth face right of “Tipping Point”, with 2 bolts easily visible.

Not Likin’ It, Lovin’ It 5.10a

Gear, no anchor. Fifty feet up the hill to the right (east) of the southernmost wall, on the next face. Straight up the center of the face to a crack just left of the arete.

True Grit 5.12c

Sport 3 bolts. This route is on the northern-most very prominent boulder/crag.