In 1939 three men from Washington, D.C., clambered to the top of Seneca Rocks in search of adventure . The ascent took two days and was carried out with nothing more than a brittle hemp rope, three carabiners and a handful of soft steel pitons. It was a small event with little recognition, but the ascent was the harbinger of a strong culture that would develop around the nooks and crannies of Seneca Rocks.
Seventy years later, gear has dramatically improved and technique has been perfected, but Seneca stands as monument to traditional climbing and a window into the history of a rapidly changing sport. Steep hikes, difficult gear placement, exposed routes, stiff grades, run-outs and a ubiquitous lack of bolts are all part of the Seneca experience.
Located in Pendleton County, West Virginia, three hours from Washington D.C. and Pittsburgh, PA, the Tuscarora quartzite fins remain a refuge for city-stuck climbers looking for a chance to test their mettle on the notoriously intimidating routes.