Climbing Seneca Rocks!
I have been meaning to climb Seneca for awhile and do my first multi-pitch climb. Since I have been in Ohio, I am further away from climbing, so it would be an extra 2 hour drive for me than for Andy. He is an expert at Seneca compared to me because I have only been there one other time, which was six years ago. That trip was my first climbing trip, and I was unable to get more than 20 feet off the ground. Needless to say I was not able to finish my route. I have come a little way since then with help from Andy.
I drove to Pittsburgh Friday night, and we decided to head down to Seneca Rocks, WV Saturday morning to dodge all the construction around Pittsburgh. We got down to Seneca and parked the Jeep at the Visitor’s Center. We then put our gear on (harnesses and racks). We then did the stair master through the trees to get to Old Man’s Route rated a 5.3. There was a group of 5 people in front of us when we got to the start of the climb. They were from D.C., and Andy became chatty about climbing near the D.C. area.
We had to wait to start the route but followed the first group up. This caused our plans to change a little from where Andy would lead, stop, and belay me up as I climbed. It was a nice day, but the wind gusts were strong. The route took us longer than expected due to the other groups in front of us, but we were able to finish and then our lunch of PB&J sandwiches at the top of the route. My helmet almost blew off the top of Seneca because the wind was extremely strong.
It was not a challenging climb, but I did learn a lot in regards to multi-pitch climbing. Hopefully, it is my first of MANY. Since the route was not hard, it felt at times like we were just cruising up it. We were close to the summit, so Andy and I roped together as we submitted to the top of Seneca. We ran into the Pitt Outdoors club on the way up to the summit, and we stopped and chatted a little because Andy knew one of the members. We did not stay there long due to the wind. Andy did get a few pictures of me at the top though while I enjoyed the fall landscape below.
We then headed back to the top of Old Man’s to do a single rappel. However, the line was long and the group of 5 climbing before us hadn’t even started their way down because they were waiting on another group. Andy decided to avoid the line, so we headed to West Pole. It was a two part rappel. Andy set up the first section, got me anchored to the wall, and then headed down. He went first to make sure the ropes were untangled for me. I then followed after him. After the first phase, I clipped into the next anchor. Andy then set up the rappel. He then said the orange rope would be our pull rope and headed down the shorter of the two rappels. He got to the bottom and let me know when I could go. Walkie talkies were a savior due to the wind for communication, especially when climbing the route because there were times I did not see where Andy was. We then finished and cleaned the ropes and started hiking back down the stair master. It was a fun day and experience.
We then headed to Yokum’s to find Regina and John (two of Andy’s friends he met through the ECP). We paid for camping for the night and ran into Regina and John at the Front Porch restaurant, where we planned to eat dinner.
After dinner, we decided to drive to our camp spot and sleep in the Jeep. Since it was a long wait at the restaurant, we didn’t get back to the campground until late anyways.
We woke up in the morning and repacked the Jeep. It was a nice, warm substitute from our usual tent camping. We then had breakfast at the Valley View, which was a nice little restaurant with a gathering of old men talking over their Sunday morning coffee. It was the largest and cheapest breakfast I have had in awhile from a restaurant.
After breakfast, we headed up to Spruce Knob, the highest point in West Virginia. Andy drove the windy roads up to the top, where we got a taste of more wind. We got nice views of the valleys with fall leaves. However, the pictures did not turn out as well as I was hoping for. I drove back down to avoid getting car sick.
We then took the scenic drive back to Pittsburgh instead of taking the highway. We were able to stop at Blackwater Falls, which had many tourists there. The falls were decent and had areas of dark spots as the water fell over the rocks and crashed down below. I was not able to get any pictures due to the mist of the waterfall.
The last stop of our trip was near Deep Creek Lake at the Mountain State Brewing Company for lunch before heading back to Andy’s in Pittsburgh.