OVERVIEW AND CLIMBING INFORMATION: The Seclusion face is the upstream-facing wall that marks the upstream end of the Seclusion crag. The face holds the 5.7 Seclusion route plus three variations ranging from 5.4-5.10. I free soloed two routes here and know one was the 5.4 and THINK the other was the 5.7, but I'm not positive, especially since I am not a 5.7 free soloist, and the routes I climbed did not match the 5.7 routes I have done on a rope.
Still, this is a good spot to climb. The crack routes are definitely leading-friendly, and if one sets up a top rope and is good enough, s/he can do all the routes here in just a couple of hours, depending on how much rest you need or like between climbs.
Here is what the face offers. The climbs are all about 50 vertical feet and are single-pitch routes--
• Seclusion (5.7)—From my guidebook: “Ascend the crack in the lower left corner of the upstream face for 15 feet, then traverse right to climb the flaring crack in the middle of the face.”
• 5.4 Variation—Start at the center of the face and climb the crack.
• 5.8 Variation—Climb the face to the right of the center crack.
• 5.10 Variation—The smooth face left of the center crack.
I couldn't find a 5.7-like crack route on the face. I'm inclined to think the crack to the right of the "tree crack" (see photos) is the Seclusion route and the "tree crack" is the 5.4 variation. The reasons: the lower crack left of the "tree crack" seems too wide to really be called a crack, the face left of the "tree crack" is definitely smooth and therefore sounds like the 5.10, and the face left of the other vertical crack has overhangs near the top, and they don't fit the idea of the smooth face.
Bottom Line: If doing the exact route is really important to you, this page probably won't be much help. But if you like just heading out, spying something cool, and climbing it, this page should show you some fun and worthwhile climbs.
NEXT-DOOR NEIGHBOR: Suitable as a descent route or just for some extra fun, the corner formed by the Seclusion face and the river-facing wall adjacent to it is a decent objective. The very upper part has some easy Class 5 moves, and the rest is Class 4. There is a photo here showing the climb.
Getting There: To reach the base of the climb, park at the climbers parking lot, accessed by a right turn immediately after the park entrance station. Walk toward the river for a couple minutes and then turn right on the River Trail. Pass signs for the Sandbox and Dihedrals climbing areas, descend wooden steps, make a bridged crossing of Dike Creek, ascend some steps, and keep hiking to some wooden planks crossing a flat stretch. A few steps past these planks, the upstream face of the Seclusion crag, which is the Seclusion face, comes into view. Start looking for an easy way down-- you can face anything from Class 3 to 5.2 conditions depending on the exact way you go. As mentioned above, you can use the "Next-door Neighbor as a harder, but cleaner (lots of brush elsewhere, and watch for poison ivy) descent.
Essential Gear: If you're free soloing, just have rock shoes and a helmet. If you're toproping, you'll find good natural anchors above. However, this is a popular area, so bring your own setup gear in case. If you're leading, bring various sizes of cams and nuts, but I can't really be more specific since my roped trad climbing has been following and cleaning rather than placing the gear.
Red tape: The park is open from 7 A.M. until dark every day except Christmas. There is an admission fee, good for three days, of $5 per vehicle or $3 per person entering on foot or by bicycle. Annual and interagency passes are also available (the latter costs $80).
Climbers are required to register (free). There is a registration box at the climbers’ parking area, and there is also one at the visitor center.
Drilling to place bolts is prohibited. If you use chalk, try to use colors that blend with the rock here.
The area is popular and can be quite crowded, especially on weekends spring through fall. Also, some of the people there, skilled as they may be, are less the sanctity-of-nature types and more the types who see mountains and crags as a climbing gym with cool views. Don’t be surprised to see a climber smoking a cigarette or yakking on a cell phone about his new BMW or his stock portfolio as he waits his turn. So if you prefer a little peace and quiet with your climbing, try going on a weekday or in winter (but be aware that mornings, when the Virginia side of the Great Falls area gets plenty of sun, are often in the 20’s F or lower in winter, not great for climbing).
The park is home to copperheads. It’s unlikely that they hang out in holds on the cliffs themselves, but be aware. The danger, though slim, is greatest near the clifftops, where there are more places for snakes to be.
Poison ivy is abundant. The humid period from late spring through early fall features gnats, mosquitoes, and other biting insects.
"Bob's Law: The rationality of a person is inversely proportional to the number of political and religious bumper stickers on his car. Around bumper-sticker warriors, smile, speak calmly, and get the hell away as fast as possible."