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  • Roger W. Downes

Climbing Looking Glass Rock

Facing off with a giant takes courage and skill

After visiting Little Fern Falls earlier this summer in the Pisgah National Forest I came across a park sign with safety tips about climbing Looking Glass Rock. I had heard story about climbing enthusiasts traveling from all around the United States to scale the rock, so I decided I had to see it for myself.


I pulled into the parking area and started up the path full of twisting staircases to the foot of Looking Glass Rock. As I emerged from the forest I was greeted by hollers of "Rope!" Then a long colorful line would cascade down the face of the rock from high above the bold face.

I watched in anticipation as several climber descended downward toward me while I snapped away with my camera. It was wild to watch these athletes who had nerves of steel as they slowly repelled down the rock one careful step after another.


I wondered, "Who are these people? Navy Seals? Special Forces? Fire Fighters? Olympians?"


Once they reached the bottom I introduced myself and asked, "So are you all in special forces?"


The first climber laughed and said, "No, I'm an accountant and Mark up there is a pharmaceutical salesman."


I stood for a while embarrassed by the question I had just asked, as if I was a wide eyed child meeting a cowboy for the first time."


"Oh, now don't I feel stupid," I grinned.


"No, a lot of people think anyone with the onions to climb a rock face must be a hero. But in reality we are just out for a bit of an adrenaline rush and... truth be known, slightly crazy." He laughed while wrapping up his gear.

After I returned home later that night I looked up a variety of clubs and guides that can take you climbing.


Blue Ridge Mountain Guides

Mountain Project

Outward Bound


These guides can take you and your friends out for the climbing experience of a lifetime. Personally, I think the most climbing I will do is the stairs and trails throughout the Southern United States.



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