Cragmama "Not all who wander are lost…" JRR Tolkien

Melrose Mountain Climbing

One of our family’s first forays into post-quarantine climbing was Melrose Mountain, a small cliffline just outside of Tryon, NC. If you’ve never heard of this area, it’s probably because public access was just negotiated with the town of Tryon in 2019, courtesy of the Carolina Climber’s Coalition and Blue Ridge Mountain Guides.

Big C lookin’ and Feelin’ Good 5.10a

Coming straight out of all the closures and having not climbed outside in months, a grade range of mostly 5.10 and under seemed like a good fit. And as a relatively unknown climbing spot, we felt pretty good about avoiding crowds. The weekend we went was hot. There’s not a very big elevation advantage at Melrose, and temps were approaching 90 with jungle-like humidity. However, we were pleasantly surprised at how bearable conditions were! The cliff faces west, so the sun didn’t hit the wall until after lunch, and even then it was just the upper faces, as the bottom remained heavily shaded all day due to heavy tree cover.

I was also pleasantly surprised at how much variety there was at such a small area. Several nice slab lines, a couple of funky aretes and technical faces, and even some really steep routes, including the steepest 10a that I’ve ever seen – Feelin’ Good. (It’s super fun, go do it!)

Things to keep in mind if you go…

Little Z working up See Line Woman 5.8
  • As a newly developed area, especially with a steep approach trail directly above the cliffs, there is a higher than average chance of loose rock. We “helmetted” our entire family for the majority of the day, whether we were actively climbing, belaying, or just sitting at the base of the cliff.
  • Print out the info from the CCC website before you go. That plus the Melrose Mountain section on Mountain Project should get you where you need to be without too much trouble.

  • Unless you’re feeling super adventurous, stick to the Western Cliffs (see map.) Both trail and routes are much cleaner/more trafficked.
  • Don’t leave home without bug spray. We all fought off lots of mosquitoes, and my son dealt with horribly itchy chigger bites for days afterwards.
Gettin’ rid of our Cabin Fever 5.10

Is Melrose Mountain a place our family will go to week after week? Probably not. One day was plenty of time to dispatch most of the better looking lines. But my kids loved everything about it (except the constant hemlet enforcement…) My 6 year old climbed higher than I’ve ever seen her climb outdoors on See Line Woman 5.8, and my 10 year old got put all of his treadwall practice to use on Feelin’ Good 5.10a. So while it probably won’t make it into the regular rotation amidst all the other amazing climbing destinations the Southeast has to offer, Melrose Mountain will definitely be worth a return visit at some point down the road!

Has anyone else been climbing off the beaten path lately? How have your family adventures adjusted to the craziness of this summer?

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“Not all who wander are lost.” —JRR TOLKIEN