Seneca Rocks Climbing School has been offering climbing instruction since 1971 and is the oldest continuously operated climbing school in the Mid-Atlantic. Over the past 46 years, we have helped pioneer many of the techniques that are recognized as the standard of climbing instruction today.
The nature of Seneca provides high quality rock climbing in a spectacular setting just hours from major cities like Pittsburgh and Washington DC. Seneca has many classic routes in the easy to moderate range, with plenty of harder routes to keep you coming back. This provides an environment where climbers of all abilities and experience levels can find appropriate challenges climbing Seneca Rocks.
Seneca also offers a true technical summit, meaning that it can only be accessed via 5th class terrain. At an elevation of 2,600 feet, the South Peak is the tallest technical summit on the east coast and what many refer to as a little big mountain. This means that Seneca shares many of the characteristics of larger objectives in larger mountain ranges and demands many of the same techniques while still being small enough to be reasonable for those without big mountain experience. Allow Seneca Rocks Climbing School to give you a tour of the crown jewel of West Virginia Rock Climbing.
We only hire high caliber professionals to work as our instructors and guides. Our society expects professionals such as doctors and pilots to seek training in order to be trusted with our safety. Your rock climbing guide should be held to the same standard. That is why all of our rock climbing instructors have taken courses and/or exams with the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA), and all are required to maintain a Wilderness First Responder medical certification or higher. The AMGA is the only internationally recognized professional association of trained and certified guides and instructors in the United States. The Wilderness First Responder (WFR) is a nationally recognized emergency medicine certification that trains participants to respond to emergencies in remote wilderness settings. Take a look around and you'll see that Seneca Rocks Climbing School is the only school in the area with such a high level of instructor certification.
These trainings and certifications are only the foundation of a good instructor. Seneca Rocks Climbing School goes further by hiring individuals who have a background in education, either experiential or academic. This combination of skills ensures you get as much as possible from your rock climbing guide.
While the training and certifications are nice, what we really take pride in at Seneca Rocks Climbing School is the high quality of instruction we provide. In our 40+ years we have become experts at tailoring curriculum to the students’ ability level, interest and learning style.
Many organizations will guide clients up cliffs, but our instructors put an emphasis on teaching you the skills needed to enjoy this sport safely on your own without constant professional guiding. To ensure our staff is able to do this we only hire instructors who have a love of teaching as well as a love for climbing. This combination of instructor attributes provides the student with a customized course environment where safety, learning, and fun are all maximized.
Here at Seneca Rocks Climbing School we have built our own indoor training facility to aid in the education of climbers. From placement of gear between real rocks, to a climbing wall with bolts and anchors to practice on, we have you covered no matter the weather. These facilities are also available at the end of the day to allow students to solidify and expand on skills they learned throughout their course.
Let's be honest- trad climbing requires a lot of gear. With the Gendarme next door, we cater to the climber's needs. The Gendarme climbing shop is just that, a store dedicated solely to outfitting climbers. The Gendarme has the most extensive selection found anywhere in our region and is the ultimate climber’s toy store. So, whether you forgot something, want to buy something for use during your course, or want to pick up some new gear to practice your new skills, we have you covered.
Seneca Rocks Climbing School has been based in the North Fork Valley of Pendleton Co. WV since 1971. The founder John Markwell originally ran Seneca Rocks Climbing School and The Gendarme climbing shop from his Volkswagen bus. Many things have changed since the seventies but Seneca Rocks Climbing Schools continues to deliver top rate climbing instruction.
At Seneca Rocks Climbing School we believe that Yvon Chouinard and Tom Frost said it best in the 1972 Chouinard “Clean Climbing” Catalog: “We believe that the only way to ensure the climbing experience for ourselves and future generations is to preserve 1 – the vertical wilderness and 2 – the adventure inherent in the experience." In practice this means that Seneca Rocks Climbing School teaches students how to enjoy the vertical resource in a responsible manner. Leave No Trace practices are always apparent on any program. We also stress the value of clean climbing and traditional climbing techniques.