From the parking area at the top of the F.E.Walter Dam near White Haven, PA,
park at the North lot at the North side near a gate on the road that heads to
White Haven road. Walk past the gate and walk the road that parallels the reservoir
.5 miles below the road. Follow the road to a picnic spot and overlook. The
cliff is below and .5 miles east of this area just below a bouldering area.
Overview: Aside of being short, this little crag offers one of the best panoramas for Pennsylvania sport climbing. If you live nearby this area is a great spot to visit–unless the dam is collecting water and the area is submerged underwater. Otherwise, you can climb on steep rock while clipping bolts above cool waters. This Riffle-esque crag offers a golden-brown colored rock with conglomerate and silicate mix. Be aware that this area is small. But if you like to boulder, it’s worth driving from anywhere to come here. This area is some of the best bouldering in the Mid-Atlantic and a great spot for Pennsylvania climbers. Golden-colored cubes litter the shoreline at this fantastic spot. The nearby Atlantis Bouldering Area and City of Boulders can be seen from the crag, as well as The Land of Overhangs, an area with problems up to V9. A comprehensive guide to the 8 areas at The Dam can be found in the Pennsylvania Climbing Guidebook.
Brown Sugar Wall
This is one of Pennsylvania’s small, hidden gems. After myself and a few devoted climbers (Nick morell, Randy Ross, Ryan Lukas and a few other climbers) developed the place word started to leak out and I always here climbers asking for directions. For this reason I decided to do this mini-guide so PA climbers can easily locate and enjoy this area. The area is a small sport/toprope crag with a few bolted routes and a few trad/bolt lines; some of the routes with bolts take gear as a supplement to areas void of fixed hardware. The area offers a small 50’ high, 200’ wide vertical to slightly overhanging wall with 11 routes (only 11 are mentioned). The rock is a bit brittle at the bottom but is of great quality above. The routes here range from 5.7 to 5.12b. The routes are short but they are also steep and pumpy. In a nutshell, it’s a fun little spot if you live close by. The approach can be long, tedious, and confusing, but the routes are worth it if you spend the time to find this spot.
History: Rob Holzman, Nick Morell, Randy Ross, Ryan Lukas, and Tom Kneiss were the first climbers to explore this cliff and develop the first bolted climbs here. Much of the nearby bouldering–including problems in the V7 range–were established on the nearby North shoreline. One of the best problems at the dam, a problem called Learning to Fly, is a mega-classic V6. In recent times Joe Forte and Rob Holzman added a new bolted 5.12b that Joe styled on the first ascent lead.
Directions: This area is located at The Francis E. Walter Dam near White Haven, PA. From the upper parking lot on the north side of the dam follow the dirt, gated road across from the lot to the picnic area. Walk towards the reservoir and down a small path that will bring you to the west end of the Land of Overhangs, a long bouldering area with severe overhangs–worth coming just for this. Walk east while following the entire Land of Overhangs outcrop via a narrow path. After reaching the end of the Land of Overhangs cliffband, follow a faint trail farther east and down towards the water. The trail will get steep and narrow into a few pines. Be careful not to wander off any of the steep ledges.
If you stayed on the trail, you will end up at the Learning to Fly boulder problem and the shore. This is a low roof at ground level just of the trail. The rock continues farther east along the river that feeds the reservoir. Do not go this way. Walk back west, backtracking towards the dam while following the shore. You will come to a bolted wall within 10 minutes walk of reaching the shore. You can also access the cliff by walking south at the immediate end of the Land of Overhangs (east end of the cliff). You will be above the cliff. It is difficult to locate the correct section of rock if you access the cliff this way. Look for some Hemlock trees and cautiously descend (you may want to rope up) to a low tier in the rock. Be careful not to fall off the cliff below.
1. 5.10a R
Climb the right side of the wall over a small overhang. A grade easier if done to the right.
2. Unnamed 5.7
FA: R. Holzman
Climb into the crack.
3. Brown Sugar 5.10a PG
FA: R. Holzman, R. Ross
Follow two bolts and gear to the top.
4. Moondance 5.10a PG
FA: R. Holzman, N. Morell, R. Lukas
Be careful around the large, loose flake at the beginning. Follow two bolts and gear right of the previous climb.
5. Moon Crack 5.9+ R
FA: N. Morell, R. Holzman, T. Kneiss
Small Stoppers are very helpful on this route. Climb the crack immediately right of the previous route.
6. Moon Unit 5.12b TR
FA: R. Holzman, N. Morell
Climb the hardest possible area right of the crack and over a bulge.
7. 5.12a PG
FA: J. Forte, R. Holzman
The face right of the previous climb past bolts.
8. Lunar Reflections 5.11a R
FA: N. Morell, R. Holzman
Climb the faint crack on the right side of the wall.
9. Exasperation 5.10a TR
FA: R. Holzman
Climb the face just right of the crack.
10. Grunt 5.10a R/X
FA: R. Holzman, N. Morell
Climb the nice face past a bulge. November’s cool waters. Atlantis Bouldering Area can be seen in
11. Sugar Sugar 5.8 X
FA: R. Holzman, R. Lukas
Climb the end of the outcrop.