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Table of contents

1. Franklin Gorge 98 routes in Crag

Sport, Unknown and Trad

Long/Lat: -79.322003, 38.666496


Located entirely on PRIVATE LAND, single pitch, mostly sport, some mixed & trad.

Access Issues:

All known routes at Franklin are located on PRIVATE LAND, and therefor, access should not be taken for granted. Keeping a low profile is of utmost importance. The landowner & his family hunt on the plateau above the routes, so please apprise yourself of the State & Local hunting seasons, and act accordingly.


Your typical Potomac Highlands approach: Short & Steep. Staying on the trail is imperative, as even a slight mis-step causes a good bit of negative impact. Always remember that a hillside trail is much stronger on the uphill edge, and much weaker on the downhill edge. Approach times are from 10 seconds to about 15 minutes.

Where To Stay:

Brandywine Recreational Area, Thorn Springs Campground, Star Hotel, Thompson's Motel


Dogs are not welcome (PRIVATE LAND), Leave No Trace, stay on trails, you-damage-trail-you-fix-it-NOW, no trundling onto road, no Quick-Links, no tick marks, clean up your chalk, clean up your tape, no chipping, no theft, no defacement, use camouflaged hardware, inspect & replace worn carabiners, respect red tags, respect hunters & hunting seasons, no top-roping through fixed gear, etc., etc.


Sport climbing is known to have come to Franklin in the early 1990's, by then Harrisonburg local John Burcham. Other key developers are believed to be: Eddie & Tracy Begoon, Howard Clark, George Powell, Darrel Hensley, & Mike Artz, along with various others. Later & continued development was brought by Michael Fisher & Michael Gray. Later development at the River's Bend area is believed to be by Matthew Fanning, Matthew Behrins, Sam Powell, et.al.

1.1. Parking Area Wall 8 routes in Sector

Mostly Sport

This is the cliff that is visible right above the main parking area, offering some very sustained climbing, and is home to the first sport routes at Franklin.


Simply walk up the stone steps..."Two Blind Mice" is at the top of the steps, with the classic "Squeal Like A Pig" on your right, and more routes to the left.

RouteGradeStyleSelected ascents
1 Fat Boy's Pork Palace

Trad, corner, a set of cold shut anchors has recently been added.

FA: Unknown

5.7 Trad
2 Limestoned

First sport route to be established at Franklin. 6 bolts, ring anchors.

FA: John Burcham

5.11b Sport 62ft
3 * Wild Wild West

This route links the first 3 bolts on "Route of All Evil", to the last bolt on "Limestoned". 6 bolts, plus ring anchors. A grade of 5.10- is more accurate.

FA: Michael Fisher

5.10b Sport 62ft
4 Route of All Evil

7 bolts, shuts. 5.9 if you use flex flake, and bypass the upper arete & 7th bolt.

FA: Michael Fisher

5.10d Sport 7
5 * Lunar Debris

4 bolts, shuts.

FA: George Powell

5.9 Sport 50ft, 4
6 Odysseus

To the right of Lunar Debris. 5 bolts, ring anchors.

FA: Mike Gray, 2007

5.10a Sport 52ft, 5
7 Two Blind Mice

6 bolts, ring anchors. High quality, and very sustained.

FA: Michael Fisher, 2007

5.10c Sport 62ft, 6
8 Squeal Like A Pig

7 bolts, finishing at a set of chains. This is the rightmost route at the Parking Area Wall. Look for the graffiti. 1st bolt & hanger were recently replaced.

FFA: John Burcham

5.10a Sport 56ft, 7

1.2. Contact Zone 20 routes in Sector

Sport, Unknown and Trad

Located on private land, mostly sport routes, 2-8 bolts, ring anchors, cold shuts, or chain top anchors.


From the parking area, go up the stone steps, go right (upriver), follow the trail, less than 5 minutes.

RouteGradeStyleSelected ascents
1 Raised by Sasquatch

A testy, two bolt route, with FIXE Super Shuts at top.

5.9 Sport 30ft, 2
2 Sticks & Stones

To the right of Raised by Sasquatch. 6 bolts, finishing at a set of chains. Don't miss the 4th bolt, although it is somewhat hidden, it is directly above the 3rd. A decent moderate route.

FFA: M. Fisher & M. Gray, 2008

5.6 Sport 59ft, 6
3 Days Gone By

A trad route, in the corner to the immediate left of Barney Rubble.

FA: George Powell

5.7 Trad
4 Barney Rubble

5 bolts, then traverse right to the anchors of Potential Energy.

5.11b Sport 46ft, 5
5 ** Potential Energy

On the steep arete, passing 5 bolts, and finishing at a set of ring anchors. An excellent route. Some parties prefer to clip the 1st bolt on "Barney Rubble", to provide added safety reaching the 1st bolt.

5.10b Sport 50ft, 5
6 Shizzel

This route is located in between Potential Energy and Dynosaurus.


5.12b Sport 55ft, 8
7 ** Dynosaurus

FFA: Eddie Begoon

5.12a Sport 58ft, 7
8 Roofasaurus

Another excellent contribution by D. Hensley, bolted on lead.

FFA: Darrel Hensley

FA: Darrel Hensley

5.11d Sport 62ft, 6
9 Hoss Corner

Traditional route, rappel from tree on ledge.

FA: unknown

5.7 Trad
10 The Grey Matter

This was an open project, to the right of Roofasaurus, with a proposed grade of 5.11a. The bolts have been installed, and the first ascent was done by Brian D. aka "The Tall Man". No further information is available at this time.

FA: Brian D., 2008

5.11a Unknown
11 Hello

5 bolts, finish at anchors of Lost Planet Airmen. Original topo suggested use of medium cams. A #1 Camalot should be sufficient.

FA: Eddie Begoon

5.10d Unknown
12 Lost Planet Airmen

6 bolts, ring anchors.

FA: Eddie Begoon

5.11c Unknown
13 * Burcham's Beach

6 bolts, finishing at a set of ring anchors. A bit of a sandbag. Originally rated 5.10a, but current consensus suggests that heavy traffic has polished and/or broken some holds, leaving this route a letter grade or so harder.

FA: Howard Clark

5.10a Unknown
14 * Aloha

Summer 2009: bolt hangers & top anchors replaced.

FA: Michael Gray

5.9 Sport 49ft, 6
15 Break the Chain

8 bolts, finishing at a set of ring anchors. This route is described by many as an atypical Franklin route, offering a little something different in terms of holds. A very fine route, with cryptic & committing movements.

FFA: Mike Artz ?

5.10c Sport 59ft, 8
16 route deleted

All fixed anchors have been removed from this route, due to the unsafe condition of the original hardware (non-welded 3/8" cold shuts as bolt hangers, lap-links, etc.), and a few close calls. Name of this route is "Deeper Shade of Soul".

FA: Mike Artz

5.10a Unknown
17 ** Moment Of Clarity

6 bolts, finishing at a set of anchor chains w/ carabiners. Begin by scrambling onto the ledge above the trail, the 1st bolt can be reached from there.

FFA: Michael Fisher, 2006

5.10c Sport 66ft, 6
18 Eddie's 10c Roof

From the trail, scramble up to a book. Climb the book, passing two bolts, and clipping a third at the lip of the roof above. Pull the roof on good holds, and continue up the head wall passing two more bolts, finishing at a set of welded cold shuts. Another great route, and one of the driest at the crag.

FFA: Eddie Begoon

5.10c Sport 5
19 unknown #1

Quite a ways up to the first bolt, with groundfall potential of 50 feet or more. Possibly a mixed route...some bolts, leading to a set of Metolius rap hangers at the top. Little else is known about this route.

FA: unknown

5.9 R Unknown 82ft, 5
20 Franklinstein

7 bolts, cold shut anchors. Climb the face past two bolts, to reach a very large ledge system. Walk left across the ledge, passing a good bit of loose rock, to reach a bolt at the lip of an overhang. Excellent 5.9ish climbing passes 4 more bolts and ends at a set of cold shuts.

FFA: Michael Gray

5.10a Sport 62ft, 7

1.3. Impact Zone 43 routes in Sector

Sport, Unknown and Trad

Located on private land, this is the upper level at Franklin, with a good selection of sport climbs, mostly in the 5.10 range.


5-10 minutes

RouteGradeStyleSelected ascents
1 route deleted

Route decommissioned in March 2008, due to safety concerns (2nd bolt was falling out, others were "shimmed" with glue).

5.11c Unknown
2 One For One

3 bolts, with a pair of rings at the top.

FA: Darrel Hensley

5.12a Sport 30ft, 3
3 *** Blood, Sweat, & Chalk

9 bolts, finishing at a set of chains.

FFA: George Powell

5.9 Sport 9
4 Almost Heaven

5 bolts, finishing at a set of ring anchors. An obscure route, situated on a ledge system above the trail.

FFA: Michael Fisher

5.10 Sport 5
5 route deleted

Bolts were removed on September 6th 2008, as requested by the first ascent party. This route is named "No Stoppin' The Burn".

FA: Michael Gray

5.9 Unknown 30ft
6 unknown #2

One of Franklin's best, but well "hidden" routes. 4 bolts, cold shut anchors at top.

FA: Eddie Begoon

5.11b Sport 33ft, 4
7 No Weld

A little run-out, til you get to the lip.

FA: Mike Artz

5.9 Unknown
8 Wintermute

6 bolts, fishing at a set of ring anchors. UPDATE: New top anchor bolts were installed, Spring 2009

FFA: Michael Gray, 2006

5.9 Sport 66ft, 6
9 Hand Job

5 bolts, Metolius rap hangers at top. Starting at the trail, climb short vertical face to a BIG ledge, passing one bolt before the mantel. Continue across the ledge, scrambling up low angled rock to the second bolt. Climb steepening rock, passing another bolt or two, gaining a small roof. Clip another bolt, pull the roof, climb a short headwall to reach the anchors.

FA: The Bum Guides

5.9 Unknown
10 Persephone

4 bolts, cold shut anchors. First bolt is very high up, on moderate terrain, but well out of stick-clip range...use your head.

FA: Michael Fisher, 2008

5.11b Sport 62ft, 4
11 * Castaways

4 bolts, finishing at a set of welded cold shuts.

FFA: Tracy Begoon

5.8 Sport 43ft, 4
12 First Aid

4 bolts, plus ring anchors (recently added).

FA: Michael Fisher

5.7 Sport 33ft, 4
13 unknown #3, AKA: Eddie's Arete

3 bolts, now has ring anchors. A testy little route.

FFA: Eddie Begoon

5.10b Sport 33ft, 3
14 Captain Hook

It has been reported that, as of August 2010,the top anchors are missing on this route

FA: M. Fisher

5.10d Sport 39ft, 4
15 * Trident

4 bolts, plus ring anchors. A complete top anchor replacement, including bolts, was done on this route on May 3rd 2008. UPDATE: Bolts #3 & 4 were replaced, Spring 2009.

FFA: Mike Artz

5.10a Sport 56ft, 4
16 The Bends

5.11c, this is a left finish variation of Decompression Sickness, pulling through the big roof at the end. 9 bolts, chains at top. A very solid route, another testament to the strength of Mr. Begoon. A strong and rather tall young climber from NC once called this one of the "meatiest" routes at Franklin.

FA: Eddie Begoon

5.11b Sport 43ft, 9
17 * Decompression Sickness

7 bolts + ring anchors. Begin just left of "Barnacle Bill", the run to bolt #2 is definitely a "No Fall Zone". Climb past bolts, tending left after the shake-out, then up to a small roof. Pull the roof and continue up to anchors.

FFA: George Powell

5.10c Sport 7
18 ** Walk The Plank

Start on Barnacle Bill, clipping the first 3 bolts, then go left to a good rest, and then through overhang. An excellent route.

FFA: John Burcham

5.11b Sport 7
19 *** Barnacle Bill

9 bolts, ring anchors. All remaining cold shuts were replaced with standard hangers in 2008.

FA: Begoon/Clark

5.11b Sport 69ft, 9
20 ** Anchors Aweigh

Starts on ledge, to the right of Barnacle Bill. 4 bolts, ring anchors at top.

FA: George Powell

5.9 Unknown
21 * Super Amazing Sea Monkeys

Situated on the large but exposed ledge, climb the multi-teired overhangs, to a bolt in the last tier. Continue over the lip, and finish at a set of ring anchors. A nice, gymnastic route.

FFA: John Burcham?

5.10d Sport 33ft, 5
22 Keelhauled

To the right of Super Amazing Sea Monkeys, 4 bolts, uses anchors of Belly of The Whale.

FA: Darrel Hensley

5.10d Unknown
23 Belly of The Whale

This route was chopped on March 12th 2009, by the first ascentionist, but has since been re-equipped by same.

FA: Michael Gray

5.8 Unknown
24 Skid Mark

This is a burly trad route, located about 15 yards to the left of Neptune. Climb moderate terrain to reach the big roof. Climb the slitter crack out the roof, and follow the crack up the short headwall. There is no fixed protection, save for a set of Metolius rap hangers at the top.

FFA: Sam Powell

5.12b Trad
25 Wasp Stop

All hangers removed in March 2008, due to safety concerns (aging & corroded bolts).

FA: Eric Anderson

5.9 Unknown
26 ** Neptune 5.10b Unknown
27 * Aqualung

Said to have been the original benchmark for 5.10a at Franklin. Left start is the original line (7 bolts, ring anchors). A right start (3 bolts) was added later.

5.10a Unknown
28 unknown #5, variation start to Aqualung

A right start variation to Aqualung, 3 bolts, then finish on Aqualung.

FA: Ed Begoon

5.10d Trad
29 *** Shipwrecked

5.9, 7 bolts + ring anchors. Very high quality.

FA: George Powell

5.9 Sport 75ft, 7
30 Hidden Treasure

FA: Crazy Charlie

5.11d Unknown 82ft
31 * Bird of Prey

4 bolts, ring anchors.

FA: Michael Fisher

5.11d Sport 36ft, 4
32 The Last Laugh

8 bolts, ring anchors at top. Note: A #1 Camalot was used after the last bolt during the first ascent. An excellent route, which many climbers feel is very stiff for a 5.9, probably a 5.10-.

FA: Michael Gray, 2008

5.9 Sport 75ft, 8
33 * Jump Start

3 bolts, plus ring anchors.

FA: Michael Fisher

5.8 Unknown
34 Davy Jones' Locker

8 bolts, cold shuts. To the right and just uphill from "Jumpstart". Climbing is very steep & sustained, passing five bolts to reach a chain dangling from above the lip of a sizable roof. Climb past the chain, clipping another bolt under the last roof. Powerful & delicate movement gains the final lip, and one more bolt. Pull the lip and continue to a set of welded cold shuts.

FA: Clay Clarke, 2009

5.12a Sport 62ft, 8
35 Early Retirement

3 bolts, ring anchors at top. Very committing to the first bolt, with bit of a run-out to the anchors as well. Good quality movement, and very solid for a 5.10a.

FA: Scott...?

5.10a Sport 43ft, 3
36 ** Rock Your World

4 bolts, rings at top. Steep, top quality.

FA: John Burcham

5.10d Sport 43ft, 4
37 Hard Thang

3 bolts. 2 sets of anchors exist...the FFA was to the right anchors.

FA: Michael Gray

5.10a Unknown
38 *** Edge-U-Cate

3 bolts, & ring anchors.

FA: Darrel Hensley

5.10b Unknown 43ft
39 Mostly Harmless

Traverse right to big roof, then straight out. 4 bolts, plus anchors.

FA: Darrel Hensley

5.11b Unknown
40 * unknown #6

5 bolts, ring anchors. A classic route.

FA: Van Eitel?

5.10a Sport 39ft, 5
41 unknown #7

A variation, diverging to the right, with a separate anchor.

FA: Van Eitel?

42 unknown #8

5 bolts, ring anchors.

FA: Van Eitel?

5.10b Unknown
43 unknown #9

Trad route, with cold shut anchor at top.

FA: Scott?

5.9 Trad 43ft

1.4. River's Bend 25 routes in Sector

Mostly Sport
RouteGradeStyleSelected ascents
1 Sweet Dreams 5.11d Sport
2 Then I Fired the Gun

8 bolts, anchors at top.

5.13a Sport
3 Wish I Were a Fisherman 5.11a Sport
4 Unnamed 5.11d Sport
5 Wish I Were a Golfer

4 bolts, plus anchors.

5.11b Sport
6 Dehydration 5.13b Sport
7 Footloose 5.11d Sport
8 Hell Cat

6 bolts, plus anchors.

5.11a Sport
9 Blowing Mud 5.10a Sport
10 Dig Dog Dig (Left) 5.12a Sport
11 Dig Dog Dig (Right) 5.10b Sport
12 I Saw the Carrot 5.12c Sport
13 Flood Level 5.13a Sport
14 Reflections 5.13a Sport
15 Hell Fire 5.13c Sport
16 Project (14a?) Unknown
17 Southside 5.12c Sport
18 Lizzie Borden's Axe 5.13a Sport
19 Slush 5.9 Sport
20 Sanitary Fish Market 5.12b Sport
21 In Your Face 5.13a Sport
22 Get Well Card 5.12c Sport
23 Sick 5.13b Sport
24 Brand New Dance 5.12a Sport
25 Unnamed2 5.11c Sport

1.5. The Ivory Tower 2 routes in Sector

All Sport
RouteGradeStyleSelected ascents
1 Tusk

It is believed that The Ivory Tower routes were established by George Powell & John Burcham.

5.10a Sport
2 White Slaver

It is believed that The Ivory Tower routes were established by George Powell & John Burcham.

5.10c Sport

2. Index by grade

Grade Stars Name Style Area
5.6 Sticks & Stones Sport 59ft, 6 1.2. Contact Zone
5.7 Fat Boy's Pork Palace Trad 1.1. Parking Area Wall
Days Gone By Trad 1.2. Contact Zone
Hoss Corner Trad 1.2. Contact Zone
First Aid Sport 33ft, 4 1.3. Impact Zone
5.8 Belly of The Whale Unknown 1.3. Impact Zone
* Castaways Sport 43ft, 4 1.3. Impact Zone
* Jump Start Unknown 1.3. Impact Zone
5.9 * Lunar Debris Sport 50ft, 4 1.1. Parking Area Wall
* Aloha Sport 49ft, 6 1.2. Contact Zone
Raised by Sasquatch Sport 30ft, 2 1.2. Contact Zone
unknown #1 Unknown 82ft, 5 1.2. Contact Zone
** Anchors Aweigh Unknown 1.3. Impact Zone
*** Blood, Sweat, & Chalk Sport 9 1.3. Impact Zone
Hand Job Unknown 1.3. Impact Zone
No Weld Unknown 1.3. Impact Zone
*** Shipwrecked Sport 75ft, 7 1.3. Impact Zone
The Last Laugh Sport 75ft, 8 1.3. Impact Zone
Wasp Stop Unknown 1.3. Impact Zone
Wintermute Sport 66ft, 6 1.3. Impact Zone
route deleted Unknown 30ft 1.3. Impact Zone
unknown #9 Trad 43ft 1.3. Impact Zone
Slush Sport 1.4. River's Bend
5.10a Odysseus Sport 52ft, 5 1.1. Parking Area Wall
Squeal Like A Pig Sport 56ft, 7 1.1. Parking Area Wall
* Burcham's Beach Unknown 1.2. Contact Zone
Franklinstein Sport 62ft, 7 1.2. Contact Zone
route deleted Unknown 1.2. Contact Zone
* Aqualung Unknown 1.3. Impact Zone
Early Retirement Sport 43ft, 3 1.3. Impact Zone
Hard Thang Unknown 1.3. Impact Zone
* Trident Sport 56ft, 4 1.3. Impact Zone
* unknown #6 Sport 39ft, 5 1.3. Impact Zone
Blowing Mud Sport 1.4. River's Bend
Tusk Sport 1.5. The Ivory Tower
5.10b * Wild Wild West Sport 62ft 1.1. Parking Area Wall
** Potential Energy Sport 50ft, 5 1.2. Contact Zone
*** Edge-U-Cate Unknown 43ft 1.3. Impact Zone
** Neptune Unknown 1.3. Impact Zone
unknown #3, AKA: Eddie's Arete Sport 33ft, 3 1.3. Impact Zone
unknown #8 Unknown 1.3. Impact Zone
Dig Dog Dig (Right) Sport 1.4. River's Bend
5.10c Two Blind Mice Sport 62ft, 6 1.1. Parking Area Wall
Break the Chain Sport 59ft, 8 1.2. Contact Zone
Eddie's 10c Roof Sport 5 1.2. Contact Zone
** Moment Of Clarity Sport 66ft, 6 1.2. Contact Zone
* Decompression Sickness Sport 7 1.3. Impact Zone
White Slaver Sport 1.5. The Ivory Tower
5.10 Almost Heaven Sport 5 1.3. Impact Zone
5.10d Route of All Evil Sport 7 1.1. Parking Area Wall
Hello Unknown 1.2. Contact Zone
Captain Hook Sport 39ft, 4 1.3. Impact Zone
Keelhauled Unknown 1.3. Impact Zone
** Rock Your World Sport 43ft, 4 1.3. Impact Zone
* Super Amazing Sea Monkeys Sport 33ft, 5 1.3. Impact Zone
unknown #5, variation start to Aqualung Trad 1.3. Impact Zone
5.11a The Grey Matter Unknown 1.2. Contact Zone
Hell Cat Sport 1.4. River's Bend
Wish I Were a Fisherman Sport 1.4. River's Bend
5.11b Limestoned Sport 62ft 1.1. Parking Area Wall
Barney Rubble Sport 46ft, 5 1.2. Contact Zone
*** Barnacle Bill Sport 69ft, 9 1.3. Impact Zone
Mostly Harmless Unknown 1.3. Impact Zone
Persephone Sport 62ft, 4 1.3. Impact Zone
The Bends Sport 43ft, 9 1.3. Impact Zone
** Walk The Plank Sport 7 1.3. Impact Zone
unknown #2 Sport 33ft, 4 1.3. Impact Zone
Wish I Were a Golfer Sport 1.4. River's Bend
5.11c Lost Planet Airmen Unknown 1.2. Contact Zone
route deleted Unknown 1.3. Impact Zone
Unnamed2 Sport 1.4. River's Bend
5.11d Roofasaurus Sport 62ft, 6 1.2. Contact Zone
* Bird of Prey Sport 36ft, 4 1.3. Impact Zone
Hidden Treasure Unknown 82ft 1.3. Impact Zone
Footloose Sport 1.4. River's Bend
Sweet Dreams Sport 1.4. River's Bend
Unnamed Sport 1.4. River's Bend
5.12a ** Dynosaurus Sport 58ft, 7 1.2. Contact Zone
Davy Jones' Locker Sport 62ft, 8 1.3. Impact Zone
One For One Sport 30ft, 3 1.3. Impact Zone
Brand New Dance Sport 1.4. River's Bend
Dig Dog Dig (Left) Sport 1.4. River's Bend
5.12b Shizzel Sport 55ft, 8 1.2. Contact Zone
Skid Mark Trad 1.3. Impact Zone
Sanitary Fish Market Sport 1.4. River's Bend
5.12c Get Well Card Sport 1.4. River's Bend
I Saw the Carrot Sport 1.4. River's Bend
Southside Sport 1.4. River's Bend
5.13a Flood Level Sport 1.4. River's Bend
In Your Face Sport 1.4. River's Bend
Lizzie Borden's Axe Sport 1.4. River's Bend
Reflections Sport 1.4. River's Bend
Then I Fired the Gun Sport 1.4. River's Bend
5.13b Dehydration Sport 1.4. River's Bend
Sick Sport 1.4. River's Bend
5.13c Hell Fire Sport 1.4. River's Bend
? unknown #7 Unknown 1.3. Impact Zone
Project (14a?) Unknown 1.4. River's Bend