Reaching the Summit: Transylvania County offers climbing and roped adventure opportunities for beginners to advanced participants

From beginner to expert, from bouldering to multi-pitch lead climbing, Transylvania County and the surrounding area are known for their climbing opportunities that provide challenge and adventure for both expert climbers and beginners alike. Although this area of North Carolina is dominated by traditional rock climbing, there are opportunities for mixed and sport routes as well as canyoneering. “What makes this area so great for climbing is the various degrees of difficulty in the climbing,” says Jeff Heveron, guide at Pura Vida Adventures, an outdoor guide service that offers guided rock climbing trips. Novice and beginner climbers have options at Cedar Rock and the south face of Looking Glass. These areas offer opportunities for top rope climbing for beginners. In addition, they offer moderate lead routes with good protection for intermediate climbers. The “super classic” Nose route is a must do for any climber who is competent and comfortable on a traditional four pitch lead of class 5.8 climbing. All climbers, regardless of ability level, will become familiar with the eyebrow holds and slabby granite, which are trademarks of Looking Glass Rock.

For the most advanced climbers there are more difficult lead and aid climbing opportunities at the north face of Looking Glass Rock as well as Whitesides Mountain, and Laurel Knob.  “The Southern Appalachians and Transylvania County are THE place for climbers of all levels,” says Phil Hoffman, owner of Looking Glass Outfitters.  “Traditionally protected routes from 5.5 to 5.13 exist at all the major cliffs from Rumbling Bald in Chimney Rock State Park to Whitesides Mountain in Jackson County.  Bolt protected climbing can be found at these sites, as well as Cedar Rock and Big Green Mountain although calling it sport climbing would be a slight misnomer.  I would say it’s ‘bolt protected face climbing.’”  For more adventurous climbing, Phil recommends Looking Glass Rock, Laurel Knob and Whitesides Mountain, all less than an hour drive from Brevard.  “Looking Glass Rock, in particular offers the most moderate terrain with its South face hosting several multi-pitch routes under 5.9” says Phil.

Looking Glass Outfitters will provide climbers coming to the area with any additional information they need, as well as a place to pick up any climbing gear needed during their time climbing here.  They also sell guide books of the area which are an invaluable tool for any climber who is planning a trip to the area but is unfamiliar with the various routes.

Although climbing in the area has been popular for years among experienced climbers,  rock climbing is now also becoming a popular activity for first-time climbers vacationing in the area.  Contact Pura Vida Adventures for a guided rock climbing trip here in the North Carolina Mountains.

Pura Vida Adventures has expanded its services to offer a rappelling course as well as hiking, climbing, rappelling combination one day programs, and combination rappelling and climbing courses.  “The thing we are most excited about is bringing the sport of canyoneering to the eastern United States,” says Joe Moerschbaecher owner of Pura Vida Adventures.  Canyoneering is a multidiscipline sport that includes climbing, waterfall rappelling, and swimming holes  as you descend down and back up a watershed. Pura Vida Adventures is the first company to run commercial canyoneering trips east of the Mississippi, and their canyoneering trips have been highlighted in such magazines as National Geographic Adventure Magazine, Blue Ridge Outdoors, and Competitor Magazine.  In addition they are accredited by the American Canyoneering Academy and owner and head guide Joe Moerschbaecher is certified through the American Canyon Guide Association.  They have expanded their canyoneering offerings in 2010 to include instructional courses with the American Canyoneering Academy, canyoneering programs in Costa Rica and Argentina, and additional canyoneering trips here in the Transylvania area.

Rock Climbing Asheville

Rock Climbing with Pura Vida

Brevard and Transylvania County have become well known among climbers over the years and this Land of Waterfalls is also becoming well known for its canyoneering offerings in the southeast.

Of Further Note 

Rock cliffs are fragile ecosystems with rare plant life, and climbers are asked to stay on main trails and keep out of closed areas. Inexperienced climbers are encouraged to seek a guide service for instruction. Regardless of your ability level, be safe, use good judgment on the rock, and know your limitations.

For more information about rock climbing in the forest, stop by the Pisgah District Ranger Station and Visitors Center, which is located a mile from the forest entrance on U.S. 276, or call (828) 877-3265 or visit or call Looking Glass Outfitters 1-866-351-2176 located at the Forest Entrance at 90 New Hendersonville Hwy .

Guided rock climbing opportunities are available through Pura Vida Adventures (772-579-0005, or go to  who l hold special use permits for rock climbing through Pisgah National Forest.

• Pura Vida Adventures at 772-579-0005, or go to;