Anyone ready for some backwoods climbing. That's right, there ain't no high alpine to be found here. There's just down and dirty backwoods climbing on high-quality sandstone. Though overlooked for a long time by the big names, the locals haven't complained. Over the years they have put up excellent quality natural lines from the classic dihedral Poison Ivy(5.7+) to harder lines such as Titanic (5.11X) and Bear Bait(5.12- S), all at Sam's Throne. In addition to trad routes, the Horseshoe Canyon Ranch hosts a number of excellent quality bolted lines of all difficulties, even up to The Prophet(5.14a).
Guidebooks: Arkansas Rock: Volume I by Clay Frisbie. Put out by Boston Mountain Press, the same publisher that put out the Horseshoe Canyon Ranch guide in 2006.
Rock Climbing Arkansas by Cole Fennel
Ahh, the midwest.
735 Total Routes
['4 Stars',110],['3 Stars',304],['2 Stars',198],['1 Star',89],['Bomb',5]
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Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Arkansas:
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Latest Regional Forum Messages
Boxley valley elk
|By Jason Haas|
From: Broomfield, CO
Nov 2, 2009
The new comprehensive, color guidebook for the entire state by Cole Fennel and Fixed Pin Publishing is now available in stores. It details nearly 1500 routes and 350 boulder problems.
Areas described include:
Horseshoe Canyon Ranch
Valley of the Blind
| || |Rock Climbing Arkansas by Cole Fennel
Submitted By: Jason Haas on Nov 2, 2009
|By Luke Stollings|
Jun 29, 2010
Hey Y'all! There's a great new guidebook out from Fixed Pin Publishing for the whole state of Arkansas! Called, Rock Climbing Arkansas by Cole Fennel, the subtitle is "comprehensive roped climbing and select bouldering." Here's the review I wrote on Google Books.
Finally a guidebook for Arkansas! Finally a chance to self-guide at places like Mt. Magazine and Sam's Throne! I just picked this book up at a recent trip to Horseshoe Canyon Ranch. It is without a doubt the best climbing guidebook I have ever used. Cole Fennel has climbed all over the U.S. and was paying attention to what makes a guidebook durable and user-friendly; he and the people at Fixed Pin Publishing spared no effort and expense to get this thing just right. The first thing you notice is the color format and heavy, glossy paper. The second thing is that the topos are color photographs of the faces with route lines photoshopped in -- a huge improvement over line drawings. Route descriptions in Rock Climbing Arkansas supply lots of useful info: finding the climb, main characteristics, and the height and protection. For example, a sport line will end with "5 bolts, 45 feet," while a mixed route might say, "1 bolt, SR (that's standard rack) up to #4 camalot, no anchors."
These features alone would make this a great book, but the thoughtful touches just keep coming. Overview maps show access and relative positions of the different walls or areas, and other maps drill down so that each wall or group of walls has its own top-view map. My only criticism of this well-coordinated system is when it breaks down: the huge "West Side" section of HCR (including what used to be Crackhouse Alley, Confederate Cracks, Walls of Moria, Black Slabs, etc.) contains no overview map, so you have to page through and look at the individual sub-area top-views, and follow text instructions to access them. This is particularly disappointing since it is the very first section of the Horseshoe Canyon chapter, and most likely the first pages many who pick up the book will study. Still, in the end itís not that hard to figure out.
On both top-view maps and on the topo photos, route numbers and photoshopped lines are color-coded: red for sport, blue for trad, yellow for bouldering -- even the elusive green for mixed lines. And it keeps getting better. Each area has its own unique colored header, so once you're at, say, Cowell, it's easy to flip right to it in the book because you know it's got a royal blue header on every page. Next to the title of each subsection are a series of graphics that summarize the approach time, AM/PM sun and shade beta, and a bar chart summarizing the relative abundance of climbing at each grade (also color coded for sport, trad, mixed, and boulder)! Identical state maps grace both front and back inside covers showing principal highways and towns with each of the climbing areas numbered and referenced in a key. A simple table of contents gets you to the area of interest, and for larger areas like Sam's Throne, HCR, or Mt. Magazine, that area has its own sub-index. Approaches, camping, restaurants and groceries all get succinct explanations.
There's more: Indices by route name and by grade, of course, and the grade index is subdivided into trad, sport, mixed, and bouldering, following the now-familiar color-coded format. The book is peppered with sidebars and spreads highlighting local luminaries, "Hit Lists" featuring tops climbs for each area, and even thematic Hit Lists such as the best trad lines under 5.9 for the whole state. Finally, the book is built for durability, with a stitched, cloth-reinforced spine and a heavy, oversized cover to protect the page edges. A final touch are cover flaps front and back that you can use as bookmarks. All in all, it's the best-conceived and best-executed guide you may ever use. For what you get it's a total steal at $37.95. Iím dying to wear mine out.
You can visit Fixed Pin Publishing's website at www.fixedpin.com/ and order there -- or they have a list of retail establishments that are carrying it.
|By Erik Pohlman|
From: Westminster, CO
Dec 10, 2010
From Tony Mayse, originally on the Flying Elvis page:
With permission from my friend Chad I post this message.
If you are not aware, there's a bit of a controversy brewing in the Arkansas climbing community. The central issue is that some climbers are putting fixed chains on routes that were previously established without such niceties. By fixed chains, I'm referring to 10 inches of heavy chain link attached permanently to the bolt hangar on one end and to a carabiner on the terminal end. This amounts to a permanently fixed draw.
There are generally two reasons for this. First, on particularly steep routes, as in Kentucky's horizontal terrain, it can make it easier to clip. Second, you can conveniently climb grades beyond your onsight limits since you don't need to worry about leaving bail gear behind; you can just lower off of the fixed chain-draw.
Normally, the accepted community standard is that the first ascentionist gets to determine the style of a route. This rule is widely accepted. I personally think it's perhaps a bit too simple. For instance, it leaves room for people to free solo first ascents on grades well below their own climbing level. In this case, the rule fails because it allows folks who are climbing well to enforce their style on climbers of lower levels. I cite this example only to acknowledge that the community standard of the first ascent precedent is a nebulous and not always "good" way to determine what should and should not occur.
Acknowledging this, I will go beyond a mere restatement of the accepted "style of the first ascentionist" rights when saying that I absolutely, positively don't want to see chains hanging off of the many beautiful routes that I established in Arkansas. I put those routes up and I will remove any unsightly, and unnecessary, hardware I find on them. ( And don't try to tell me that I am stealing; I'm fairly certain that there's no such thing as property rights on things left in the woods. )
But, as I said, I will explain myself. Let's try to carry on like more like a community than members of oppositional political parties. My position starts from several key principles, that I would hope are shared by the majority of climbers. Please speak up if you disagree with these. 1) Climbing is better than other "sports" because it provides a spiritual and aesthetic satisfaction far beyond competition and personal glory. 2) Climbing takes place in the natural environment, and that environment is taking a frontal assault as the world rapidly overpopulates.
My logic is simple. The spiritual and aesthetic aspects of climbing are something special. They are not about convenience. They are not about numbers. They are the motivational soul that will keep you psyched and continue to nourish your soul throughout your life. If you run out of psych, you we're chasing numbers and ego. This is the energy that led me to hand paint my bolt hangers and anchors so that the beauty of the rock wouldn't be marred. When I see a couple pounds of raw chain hanging from each bolt, it is VERY hard to believe that the folks who installed that stuff are feeling the spiritual / aesthetic connection.
And this lead nicely back to point number 2. Climbing takes place in the natural environment. As the world overpopulates, the natural environment will become more and more damaged. Not just from industry and global warming, but from user impact. As we speak, climber areas ARE being closed due to heavy impact. This will only increase. Even if you are unconcerned with the spiritual and aesthetic, simple access to climbing demands that we focus on minimizing impact as much as possible. If we don't address this, access will be restricted at some point during our lifetimes. I'm only 40 years old, I fully intend to be sending for another 3 or 4 decades. Protecting access by minimizing impact should be the priority of every climber. Again, a couple pounds of chain hanging from every bolt is not the way to minimize impact.
I can see no other excuse for these fixed chains except convenience. If convenience outweighs your sense of spiritual and aesthetic reward, you'll run out of psyche long before you run out of life -- and that won't be fun. While it's easy to detect the ire in my words here, I hope it's also easy to detect my love for climbing. And if I have climbed with you, or even spoke with you about climbing, I think we both know that we share this love. I believe that we all know that climbing is better than other "pass times", and we should hold ourselves to the highest standards.
|By Ryan A. Ray|
From: Keller, TX
Sep 8, 2011
This past weekend my wife and I took a trip to Arkansas for the first time in a number of years. I have always loved the Beauty and Serenity of climbing in Arkansas. Its a beautiful state. The lush forests and beautiful terrain and rock have always attracted me there. Not to mention the remote feeling of climbing there. This weekend my opinion has changed somewhat.
Ill tell you a little about our experience this weekend. We spent the 3 day weekend camping alone at cave creek. On the second day, I took my wife up the casual route wandering spirit. I was was trying to shoot photos of her following it while sitting at the anchors on involuntary man slaughter and was so disturbed by all the chains hanging from the roof on brick attack and the other routes.. Looked like a damn climbing gym. It took so much away from the wilderness experience we had this weekend because those chains were just so noticeable and hideous. I personally have never seen anything so ugly done by climbers in the entire 20+ years i have been climbing now. It was the first time ever that I felt ashamed to be a climber. I am 33 years old so I am a member of the somewhat younger climbing generation, and I just donít get it.
We also visited Hudson Mountain. It was my first time there and visited it based on recommendation of a friend, and I felt sick just walking the base of the wall. I saw chain after chain hanging below what could be an amazing wall and routes, and some bolts on routes that would be otherwise protectable with bomber natural gear. It is my opinion that all of these fixed draws should be removed and the bolts on protectable routes be pulled and the holes patched. But that is purely my opinion. I will refrain from acting on it. Its ashamed because I thought the area was beautiful, the wall was amazing and the few routes I had a chance to get on seemed pretty good. This area could be so much more beautiful without all the hunks of chain everywhere.
It makes no since to me why anyone would want to take such beautiful places and degrade their physical appearance to that of an indoor gym. Especially in an area like Cave Creek where the use of fixed draws has not been traditionally acceptable in the past. I do understand the close proximity of Horseshoe Canyon Ranch and the Lack of outdoor ethics present there (which is why i will not visit there again), but will never understand the whole concept of fixed chain draws hanging all over the cliffs of Arkansas. Arkansas is so much more beautiful than that. Why can we not keep it that way. Why can we not preserve what few natural outdoor resources we still have in their natural state.
I trad climb and sport climb both, so I understand and have no issue with the use of bolts as long as they are not overdone. But bolts can be very hard to see. Heck i have been on routes and been right next to a bolt and never saw it because it was so camoíd. But those chains are in your face from the minute you walk around the corner. Those are the kinds of things that give us as climbers a bad reputation with the non climbing community. Hikers, backpackers, campers, nature viewers and whoever else may wonder down below these cliffs and see the ugliness. Bolts they may never seeÖbut there is no missing the chains.
I feel truly saddened for the first time ever to belong to this group we call climbers.
From: Minneapolis, MN
Sep 15, 2011
Any word on when Mr. Fennel's going to publish the bouldering guide? Is this still happening?
|By Jason Haas|
From: Broomfield, CO
Sep 19, 2011
ferrells, yep. Cole is doing a comprehensive bouldering book to the state right now.
From: Minneapolis, MN
Sep 23, 2011
Has he said anything about when it is likely to be done?
Feb 19, 2012
What is the best book for a bouldering guide to Cowell (fountain red) and HCR?
|By Jason Haas|
From: Broomfield, CO
Feb 19, 2012
Eero46, Cole Fennel's book is still the best one out there. It's the only one for Fountain Red and the only one in color for HCR
|By Lee Neale|
From: Brevard, NC
Jun 7, 2012
Does anyone have any beta about the bluffs on the Buffalo? Specifically the bluffs around the Steel Creek Access. Any info would be great. Thanks, Lee.
|By Jon Wood|
Jun 28, 2012
@Lee Neale, we've been eyeing those bluffs. Looks like there's a few routes on that bulgy pillar feature. I've been told it's choss though. Bolting isn't allowed. Damn feds. Chad Watkins put up a route at Kyle's Landing last week. Mentioned some choss. Looks worth it though. Keep me posted. I'm headed back to Alaska in a week or so, but I'd like to put in some work on them this fall. Hit me up on facebook, email@example.com.
From: springfield, Mo
Aug 23, 2012
Can anyone tell me about the hudson mountain area?
|By Chet Butterworth|
Jan 15, 2013
How much, if any, climbing is along the Buffalo National River?
I'm not from the area and planning a paddle trip and wondering if -- hoping I can -- bring a rack and rope along.
Mar 3, 2013
Hey Chet, depending on where you are, there's a ton of awesome climbing right off of the river. For example, HCR is less than a ten minute drive from Steele Creek campgrounds.