Rumbling Bald Mountain features cliffs of metamorphic gneiss rock with beautiful marbled faces and exceptional botanical diversity. Located 30 miles east of Asheville in Chimney Rock State Park, it draws hikers, sightseers and climbers. Its overhanging boulders, "splitter" cracks and technical face climbs make it a favored destination for local climbers. The bald is also well known for its world-class bouldering -- a style of rock climbing undertaken without a rope, typically only on short climbs.
North Carolina bought Rumbling Bald and much of the surrounding land in Hickory Nut Gorge in 2005. Two years later, the state added Chimney Rock (a privately owned recreational facility), bringing the new state park's total area to about 4,000 acres. On April 12 (a few weeks after these photos were taken), state officials temporarily closed the Rumbling Bald area to upgrade the access road and install a parking lot. A master plan for the new park is currently being developed.
To check on the status of the bald, go to www.ncparks.gov/Visit/parks/chro/climbing_access.php. For information about Chimney Rock, which is still privately managed, visit www.chimneyrockpark.com.
Get your flakes at the Bald: Rubber Revival owner Barak Shemai leads the way up Frosted Flake (rated 5.9 for difficulty) at the Cereal Buttress (when it comes to naming routes and features, climbers have a sense of humor). Photos by Julie Tracy
The view from above: Chris Coney crimps his way up Breakfast of Champions (rated 5.10).
Making the stretch: Shannon Coney reaches for her next gear placement on Fruit Loops (5.7).
First, you walk: Climbers hike to the bald from the soon-to-be parking lot.
Construction time-out: In mid-April, the state blocked access to the bald so crews can install a parking lot and upgrade the road.
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