Seneca Rocks

As I haven't climbed at Seneca in 10 years, allow me a little reminising of days gone by...

Seneca is one of my favorite places to climb. I couldn't even count how many trips I've made there. Back before the great West Virgina Flood of 1985 (I was a resident, back then) climbers could camp on an Forest Serivce Rd for months. It was an easy walk to the rock, or into what passed for a town at Seneca. The town of "Mouth Of Seneca" had few buildings, a post office, two gas stations where you could get some groceries, and an excellent climbing shop, the Gendarme. With these as a support system, it was possible to stay for extended periods of time and never get in a car.

Some of the parties were legendary. :-) One night a bunch of folks got seriously drunk and hung from the swinging bridge in harnesses just above the water at 3am. On weekends it would get pretty crowded, but usually during the week we'd have the whole place to ourselves.

During any long stay at Seneca, there became the problem of what to do when it was raining. Sometimes we'd go attempt to free climb the aidroutes in the cave, it was usually out of the worst of the weather. Many times we'd go hang out at the visitors center and watch movies endlessly. I think I memorized all the climbing movies they had, Solo was always a great flick. If there weren't any tourists around, sometimes the rangers would play all the climbing slides and movies back to back. :-) In really fun Weather, the camping area would flood, and we'd have to go to higher ground. That usually led to Buck's Pavilon, or maybe Yokum's Campground. (where they have a restaurant).

The social scene at Seneca mostly revolved around the porch of the Gendarme. I met some amazing folks there over the years, some real old timers and newbie's. Other than that, things were usually quiet till the weekend.

After the flood, things changed around Seneca. Roy Gap Rd was basically gone, (along with the swinging bridge) so we had to camp elsewhere. Some of my last few trips we camped up behind the Gendarme in what I hear later became an official fee area. I did make it back to see it after the Gendarme fell down, that was pretty amazing. All the time I stood on the top of that thing, and I always thought it would blow over in the wind, the way it would rock.

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The west face of Senaca Rocks. Notice that in this picture the Gendarme is still standing.

A flood slowly covering Roy Gap Road. I was camping there and we got waken up by somebody yelling "Hey you in the tent!", and when we looked out the door, we were quickly going underwater. A few hours later our ex-campsite was a foot under the creek.

Me in the late 1970's on the ledge below Conn's East. (a truly great 5.4) This was always the classic when I was taking students up. A multi-pitch, but easy climb with a great exposure.
IMSAR (Ilchester Mountain Search & Rescue) members on the trail. From left to right is Mike, Me, Ed, and Dru. This was the "old" sign at seneca, if you look hard, you can see that somebody had written "Absolutly No 5.11's!". Course soon afterwards Seneca's first 5.11 got put up.

Me leading "Traffic Jam Crack" (a great 5.7). A lot of times we'd do this as the final route of the day as it was quick, and right near a good rappell station.

Scott does the 5.4 route on the Gendarme with Paul belaying.

Ed getting ready for a winter ascent and night out on the rock.

Scott getting ready for a winter ascent and night out on the rock.

Me toproping the 5.4 route on the Gendarme.

Life on Roy Gap road in the 1970's. Me, Joanne, Ed and Renee camping for an extended period.

Scott on the Gendarme.

The Official Seneca Rocks Web site

Seneca Rocks Mountain Guides.