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The Prow

The Prow

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The Prow

Page Type: Route

Location: North Carolina, United States, North America

Object Title: The Prow

Route Type: Trad Climbing

Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Time Required: Less than two hours

Rock Difficulty: 5.4 (YDS)

Number of Pitches: 4

Grade: II

Route Quality: 
 - 1 Votes


Page By: ZachStone

Created/Edited: Jul 7, 2009 / Jun 30, 2015

Object ID: 527453

Hits: 2700 

Page Score: 78.85%  - 10 Votes 

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This is a classic climb in the Amphitheater. It is the prominent ridge forming the north edge (to your right as you descend the approach gully) of the Amphitheater. On this route is fun, easy, well-protected, and, on the third pitch, massively exposed climbing. Good beta is found in Lambert and Shull's NC guidebooks, but this page should take care of you.

The Prow is also a nice way to end a day and avoid the nasty walkoff from the Mummy/Daddy. Climb those first, rap back into the Amphitheater, and exit via the Prow.

Getting There

Off NC 181, east of the Blue Ridge Parkway and a little under 5 miles from it, turn onto a road signed for Table Rock Picnic Area. Follow signs to the trailhead, about 9 miles away. Over 5 miles of the drive are on a dusty, winding gravel road, and the last mile and a half, though paved, is very steep, narrow, and curvy, but passenger cars can easily make it.


Park in the Table Rock parking lot. Take the trail on the south end of the lot, by the restrooms and past a picnic and camping area, and follow it a while. After a little over half a mile, you will pass through a wonderfully exposed section on a ridge called the Chimneys. Groups are often toproping here. 
After passing the Chimneys and dropping back into the woods, watch for a very prominent side trail to your right after about 0.4 mi. It may or may not have a cairn or large rock marking it. If you start descending steeply into a more open area, you passed the trail, so double back.

Look for this trail.

This trail will descend sharply down to the top of a steep gully. Now follow the climbers trail descending the right edge of the gully. It is often slippery and wet, and this might be the crux of the day if you are only climbing the Prow.
Locate the Open Book (5.11). It is a massive obvious overhanging dihedral to your right.

The Prow is the first main corner past the open book. Look for a slabby section leading to a small roof with a tree on the left-hand corner of the roof. This is P1.

Talus-hop and scramble across the boulders in the gully until you reach a flat spot at the base of the Prow. It gets tons of traffic and is quite obvious.

First pitch

Route Description

P1-- Climb up to a small roof, dodge to the left, and wander up to a big ledge. About 40m. Very easy climbing. The only pro you place might be to protect the move past the roof. Build an anchor for the belay.

P2-- Climb the huge, easy slab to a ledge under a huge roof with large left-facing dihedral. About 50m. Again, you might place little or no pro. This pitch is arguably not even Class 5. Build an anchor or sling boulders.

Second pitch

P3-- The Money Pitch. You want to lead this one. Head out, staying low and to the left to use the massive jugs, move left onto the face, and romp up the massively juggy and wildly exposed finish. Completely amazing. About 30m, and great holds and gear the whole way. Despite the exposure (a fall probably sends you to the bottom of Linville Gorge), many lead climbers would probably feel okay free soloing this pitch even though it's not recommended. Build an anchor.

The Prow
Starting the third pitch

P4-- Traverse across the vegetated rock set and climb up the vegetated rock to an obvious ledge. Set up a belay and escape to the summit via an easy chimney.

Alternative: from the belay ledge of P3, traverse a slightly higher ledge into a corner and then go up that short chimney. It is harder than anything else on the route, maybe 5.6. On the ledge above that, which is the same one described above, look to the right for a walk-up gully.


Follow the cliff edge around the rim of the Amphitheater to the top of the approach gully.

Essential Gear

Standard light rack. Consider going in approach shoes to lighten the load. A set of stoppers and cams/hexes the equivalent of BD C4 0.5-3 will take care of you.


ChimneyThe ProwThe ProwApproach