Ah, 5.11. While the New has some of the best climbing on the planet at any grade, 5.11 is where it really starts to get good. Whether you are looking to bag your first one, rack up a list of classics, or avoid crowds, look no further, because this post can help.
GOOD “FIRST OF THE GRADE” CANDIDATES
WILD SEED 11a (Fern) – The business section of this one is about as gym climb-y as you’re gonna get at the New. The opening slab moves will keep you honest if you are a true gym rat, but are probably only 5.9 or so.
DELIRIUM TREMORS 11a (Bubba City) – One move wonder that is short but sweet – if all else fails and you can’t do the move, use the tree behind you to avoid having to leave a biner.
MR. CUTE 11a (3rd Buttress, Meadow) – The opening traverse will leave you scratching your head thinking, “Is this really right?!?” but by the time you get to the top, all you’ll be thinking about is pump management. No 11 moves, just pumpy.
EURONATION 11c (Endless) – Stem off the tree to reach the 1st bolt (stick clip recommended) for a fantastic, rarely traveled 5.10 warm-up. Eliminate the tree and all you’ve got standing in your way of claiming 11c is a crimpy V3 boulder problem.
SLAB-O-MEAT 11d (Endless) – One move wonder down low makes this one a great option for those looking for a first 11d. Note: The crux is well-protected, but after the business you’ll launch into a long slab with not a lot of bolts on it – it might feel a little heady, but there are no moves harder than 10-.
LEGACY 11a (Endless) – Might be the best of the grade in the whole gorge.
SATISFACTION GUARANTEED 11a (Summersville) – The other contender for best of the grade in the whole gorge.
MASUKO 11a (Whipoorwhil) – Spectacular climbing with a spectacular view!
CROSS-EYED AND BLIND 11a (1st Buttress Meadow) This one wants to Pump. You up. (You have to say it in a Schwarzenager voice.)
DISCOMBOBULATED 11b (Endless) – Right beside Legacy. Knock them both out and you’ll have had a great day! (If you’re a shortie climbing with tall folks, be ready to be annoyed with their beta around the 2nd or 3rd bolt.)
FLAMING PELLETS 11b (The Other Place) – Both tech and pump for your climbing pleasure
QTIP 11b (Cottontop) – Technical face climbing, with the right amount of weird to be fun.
COFFINDAFFERS DREAM 11b (3rd Buttress, Meadow) – Textbook NRG lockoffs all the way up this super fun face.
STIM-O-STAM 11c (Endless) – Burly boulder problem to techy pocket crux, with a grand slab-with-a-view finale!
S’MORE ENERGY 11c (Endless) – You’ll deserve a campfire treat after ticking this one!
AESTHETICA 11c (Endless) – Worth the hike, even if this is the only route you get on in the area. Multiple options for climbers of different heights, but you’re everybody’s gonna have to reach and try hard on this one.
SANCHO BELIGE 11c (Kaymoor) – In good conditions you will love these slopers…in the summer, not so much.
SCENIC ADULT 11c (Kaymoor) – Don’t let the crazy beta pic in the guidebook talk you out of this one, you don’t have to do it that way. But you do have to bring your lead head with you.
DISTURBANCE 11d (Beauty) – Can you get your foot at your face and launch? If so, you’ll love this one.
FLASH POINT 11d (Endless) – My fave of this grade in the entire NRG. 3 cruxes – each gets progressively easier if you’re tall, progressively harder if you’re short. Leisurely start, aggro in the middle, zen at the finish. Brilliant piece of stone!
MENSA 11d (Beauty) – As the name implies, this one is a thinker that requires a little creativity.
OUT OF THE BAG 11d (Kaymoor) – Best route on a wall filled with fabulous rock climbs.
UNDER THE MILKY WAY 11d (Summersville) – You can’t beat the position on this one, with a finish high up over the lake.
TOXIC HUECO 11d (Lower Meadow) – Full disclosure, I’ve never actually touched this one, but everyone I know who’s touched it gives it about a million stars.. At one point I was saving it for a flash attempt, and realized recently I’d forgotten about it! Should probably add to the fall bucket list!
5.11s LESS TRAVELED
The one drawback to all of these fabulous 5.11s the NRG has to offer is that there are a heckuva lot of other people who want to climb them too. So if you are looking to get away from the crowds, check the following ones out. They aren’t quite as good as the ones listed above, but they are still darn good rock climbs, but won’t draw the crowds the way the others do.
MUCKRAKER 11a (Endless) – It’s right by the Honeymooner Ladders, so you’d think it’d get more action than it does.
OH IT’S YOU BOB 11b (Kaymoor) – Beware a couple of mega reaches on this sucker if you aren’t tall!
MOON CHILD POSSE 11c (Kaymoor) – Usually the only folks getting on this one are taking a quick warm-up lap before hopping on the White Wall 12’s. This one is shady, tall, and a lot of fun!
COTTON THE ACT 11d (Cottontop) Most folks never venture this far down the cliff, but this line is a great option for when Cottontop elevates to circus status on a Sunday afternoon.
HOT AND BOTHERED 11d (Summersville) – Right there living in the shadows of MILKY WAY lurks this beauty. The climbing is just as good, although the position is not. (Note: Another great neighboring 11 is MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE 11c, and I’ve heard FLIRTIN WITH E 11d is great too, though I’ve never been on it.
BOURBON SAUCE 11d (Kaymoor) – While everyone else is queued up for Sancho Belige 11c and Lost Souls 12a, this unassuming line is usually empty. I don’t know why though, because it’s so good!
MUTINY 11d (Summersville) – Unlike the previous route, I DO know why this one never has a line – it’s completley off by itself away from all the other walls. To reach it, turn right towards the water shortly after entering the woods post stream crossing. You’ll scramble down to a peaceful little cove, where this proud line will be waiting. Make sure to catch it in low water – late fall through early spring, or else your belayer will need some floaties!
GOOD FOR KID-CRUSHERS
As mentioned in my NRG Crag Profile, the New is notoriously reachy. There is a reason why all the strong climbing team kids flock to the Red (and it’s not because the rock is better there!!!) However, there are a few diamonds in the rough. While at 5’5″ I am by no means a giant, I’ve still got about a foot over your average 10 year old, so just because a route is doable for me doesn’t mean it’s a great fit for a kid, even a super strong one that likes to dyno. Thankfully, the McDermott family has several small crushers at their house, and they were gracious enough to recommend some routes that cater to those under 5 feet tall. So if you are a pint-sized beast looking for 5.11s, check out SATISFACTION GUARANTEED 11a, Q-TIP 11b, and UNDER THE MILKY WAY 11d, all listed as classics above, ironically all out at Summersville. Also check out NO WAY JOSE 11b – I didn’t list it above because I’ve never been on it, but I’ve heard good things about it, and it also is apparently short-person friendly. You can look forward to more input from the McDermotts on hard kid-friendly routes as this series progresses!
So there ya have it for 5.11s…now it’s your turn – if 5.11 is your jam, what are the absolute must-do’s?!?