Somewhere in northeastern West Virginia, nestled in the Monongahela National Forest, lies a small unincorporated town known as Seneca Rocks. All throughout the year, and especially in the Fall, it’s a beautiful place to visit. Driving through Seneca Rocks is an experience in itself, as the valley offers spectacular vistas of the Appalachian Mountains interspersed with scenic riverside views of Seneca Creek and the north fork of the south branch of the Potomac River.
Additionally, for miles and miles, a strange phenomenon marks the horizon as wide outcrops of exposed rock rise out of the top of the mountain. These crags are composed of a unique type of rock known as Tuscarora Sandstone and the largest of the crags shares a name with the town in which it’s located: Seneca Rocks.
As you can imagine, Seneca Rocks is a popular rock climbing destination. In October, I joined a group of climbers and mountaineering enthusiasts at Seneca to do just that: climb. This was not my first time at Seneca, but it was my first time to climb there. Indeed, it was my first exposure to traditional and multi-pitch climbing. Luckily, our group included several experienced trad climbers who were able to lead the pitches, expertly “protect” the routes, and ultimately keep us safe.
It’s difficult to describe the experience of climbing on highly exposed
rock more than 60 meters above the surface of the earth with only a
rope, natural protection, and trusted friends to keep you from falling.
Other than to say that the view was breathtaking and the experience
surreal, I am at a loss. I’ve climbed outdoors several times before,
but this was something different. A picture is worth 1,000 words, so
maybe the pictures (equivalent to xxx words) will give you a
better idea of what the experience was like. Enjoy!
Matt Caldwell, National Geographic Society
Photo Credits: Edith Han