Seneca Rocks, South Peak; Washington, D.C.

Elevation: 2,240 feet Route: Soler (5.7, 2 pitches) Drive: 3 hours



Photo by Chuck and Pat Blackley



A climber heads for the South Peak of Seneca Rocks via the classic Gunsight (5.4). Soler ascends the shadowed east face on the left. Photo by Nathan Smith/Pull Photography

Washington, D.C.

Seneca Rocks, South Peak

  • Elevation: 2,240 feet
  • Route: Soler (5.7, 2 pitches)
  • Drive: 3 hours

The South Peak of Seneca Rocks is said to be the highest U.S. summit east of Devils Tower that can only be reached by fifth-class rock climbing. This summit route, with a second pitch reputed to be one of the best leads at Seneca, bears the name of Tony Soler, who put it up in 1951. Coincidentally, Soler put up another bold route the same year on Devils Tower. Spring through fall are the best times to climb at Seneca.

CLIMB IT: Bring big gear or run it out as you stem and chicken-wing up the wide first 30 feet of the first pitch, and then enjoy the overhanging, in-your-face second pitch, with holds and pro just when you need them. Rappel with two ropes from the summit, or with a single rope to the first-pitch anchors on Frosty Flake.

BACKPACKER RECOMMENDS: Just 20 miles down the road from Seneca Rocks, take the 11-mile overnight to Spruce Knob, West Virginia’s highest peak.

GET THERE: From Washington, D.C., take I-66 West for 75 miles and merge onto I-81 South for 4 miles. Exit onto VA- 55, and stay on it for 80 miles to Seneca Rocks, West Virginia. Park at the Seneca Rocks Discovery Center, cross the bridge on a trail, and turn right on the trail to Roy Gap Road. This leads to the East Face Trail. Hike north to access Upper Broadway Ledge, where Soler and the majority of the South Peak east face climbs begin.

BETA: Seneca: The Climber’s Guide, by Tony Barnes;



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