Transylvania County has some of the largest granite domes in the Eastern United States. Looking Glass Rock in the Pisgah District of Pisgah National Forest is one of the most prominent igneous rocks, or monoliths, with five different rock faces.
In 1966, Steve Longenecker, Bob Watts and Bob Gillespie, via a route called “The Nose,” were the first to climb Looking Glass. Today, the route is not considered difficult to a seasoned rock climber, but does offer great views of the forest to the Blue Ridge Parkway and beyond.
Those who venture up this rock can find themselves hanging out in a sea of eyebrows. Without these eyebrows, the granodiorite (a type of rock that is similar to granite) would have little feature and would probably not be climbable. Some of the faces have other features, such as cracks and face holds, which makes the climbing fairly diverse.
The forest is also home to Cedar Rock, Pilot Rock and John Rock. Cedar Rock and John Rock feature similar styles of climbing found at Looking Glass, but accessing them requires a little more hiking and adventure. Some of the climbing on Cedar Rock’s South Face is considered great for beginners, as well as expert climbers.
There is also great climbing for beginners in most of these areas, but very few climbs can be set up from the top, so leading the route is necessary. Lead climbing requires more skill and safety measures, and it is highly recommended to get proper instruction before taking this on.
The vertical to overhanging North Side of Looking Glass offers some of the most challenging lines on the East Coast, demanding great strength, finesse and a solid mental game. These climbs often do not lend themselves to be well protected and big falls for the leader are possible. Some of these climbs are more than 500 feet tall and retreat can be nearly impossible.
For information on how to get to Looking Glass Rock, John Rock and Pilot Rock, stop by the ranger station/visitor center, located on U.S. 276 roughly 1 mile from the entrance to Pisgah National Forest.
For more information about local rock climbing, contact one of the following:
•Brevard Rock Gym has indoor rock climbing facilities suited for young and old. It is located at 240-B S. Broad St., Brevard. Call (828) 884-7625 or go to www.brevardrockgym.com.
•The Carolina Climbers Coalition at www.carolinaclimbers.org.
•Fox Mountain Guides provides climbing instruction and guiding. It is also an American Mountain Guides Accredited Program. Its head office is located at 234-A S. Broad St., Brevard. For more information, go to www.foxmountainguides.com or call (888) 284-8433.
•Pura Vida Adventures offers guided rock climbing. It is located at 152 New Hendersonville Highway, Pisgah Forest. Call (772) 579-0005 or go to www.pvadventures.com.