Think you’ve tried every kind of workout? Think again! No matter how athletic you are, you can’t hang with mountain climbers. Climbing is ridiculously challenging…and endlessly rewarding.
Before you think you need to go out west to scale a rock face, top out on scenic overlooks, or tackle some puzzling problems, look to your backyard. The Pittsburgh has a killer climbing scene if you know where to look.
So chalk up those hands and don’t look down; it’s time to get your climb around Pittsburgh.
Ohiopyle State Park
Okay, so you’re fresh out of the gym at The Climbing Wall and you’ve tackled every problem at ASCEND. It’s time to get out in the wild. BUT! Climbing actual rocks makes you so nervous. Relax! Wilderness Voyageurs in Ohiopyle State Park have your lines secure and instruction ready for any ability level. True, Ohiopyle is naturally blessed with tons of lines, accents, crags, and slabs to explore if you’re a pro, but if you’re new, leave it to the experts to show you the ropes (and give you a sandwich for lunch).
McConnells Mill State Park
We might as well just move to McConnells Mill State Park. They really have it all! And if we’re looking for a few slabs to shimmy up, we’ve got options. They’ve got two designated climbing areas with top rope and bouldering problems. The Rim Road Climbing Area is more popular, largely because it’s easier. But ‘easier’ doesn’t mean 50ft isn’t high up. Meanwhile, if you’re a hardcore climber, Breakneck Bridge (climb safe, please) might be more your speed, with a tricky, technical ascent to the top.
It’s probably not a good thing that so many places are called “Breakneck”, but this climbing is just as beautiful. Breakneck Rocks, formerly known as ‘White Rocks’, is a huge crag near Connellsville with over 20 problems, ranging from 5.5 to 5.13+ difficulty. You’ll need some practice in the gym to tackle these skillful runs, but once you get a grip, the Rocks always deliver with epic sport climbing and a number of monstrous boulders to crawl all over.
What do you know about Rob’s Knob? Before your mind “goes there”, let us tell you we’re talking about The Knobs (apparently belonging to Rob), a hunk of rock worth climbing in Dunbar, PA. Great climb (with preplaced bolts for trad and mixed climbing), but even better experience. If you’re going to climb Rob’s Knob, you also get a wonderfully woodsy hike and, if climbing gets you too sweaty, cool off at one of our favorite swimming holes, Blue Hole (also in Dunbar).
A true testament to the growing rock climbing community in Pittsburgh, Coll’s Cove between Connellsville and Ohiopyle practically has its own club. People flock to the Cove for a bouldering wonderland, from conquering your first crag to defeating everyone’s favorite run, Slopey Seconds (a 5.12b-er). The community here even has themed climbs, like a halloween hangout with costumed climbing and post-climb brews to soothe sore fingers (and egos).
Note: Climbing can be really, really dangerous. Please take all proper precautions and climb at your own risk.