Cragmama "Not all who wander are lost…" JRR Tolkien

NRG Sport Climbing Superlatives – 5.10 and Under

Big C taking a breather after the hard opening moves on Flight of the Gumby 5,9

Welcome to Part 2 of my new Travel Beta series focusing on the NRG!  If you missed last week’s Crag Profile of the New, catch up here. Some crags might be able to get through a superlative list in one post…but not this place!  There’s just way too much goodness here, so I’ll have to split it up.  For our family’s fave 5.11’s and 5.12’s, you’ll have to wait.  For 5.10’s and below, read on!  Routes were chosen based on a few factors, most of which were entirely subjective, so I won’t be offended if you disagree with my choices!  Where there are special circumstances that might pertain to family craggin’, I’ve noted those as well.  I hope you enjoy this list – it was REALLY hard to narrow it down this much! and please feel free to add your own in the comments!


While the New is not known for its beginner sport climbing, there are a few good options for a climber that is ready to tackle the sharp end.

MICROBREW 5.5 (Beer Wall)
BOBBY D’s BUNNY 5.6 (Sandstonia)
BONGO 5.7 (Whipoorwhill) – Only climbable in the fall/winter when the lake is low.  For families, the base is a little rocky but the approach is short.  Note: The neighboring climbs, AIMEE’S JUGS and WENDY’S JUGS, are also great candidates for a first lead.
WUNDERKIND 5.6 (Bubba Buttress)
HIPPIE DREAMS 5.7 (Summersville) – Beautiful arete with a great view at the top!  (Even if you’re not a beginner, this should be on your must-do list!)


SHE GOT THE BOSCH, I GOT DRILLED 10a (Summersville) – I think this one is easier than the other 10’s at Orange Oswald, and I’d also give it a tie with BABY’s GOT A BOLT GUN 10c for most fun on the wall.
ZEITGEIST 10a (Sandstonia) – This one is an extension of a 5.9.  (And actually I think the crux of the 5.9 is harder than any of the moves on the extension!)

Taking in the view atop Free Range Show Poodle 5.8


FREE RANGE SHOW POODLE 5.8 (Area 51) – Tall and with a great view, a good mix of both pump and slab.
TOTALLY-CLIPSE 5.8 (Endless) – Will feel a little more committing if you are not tall.  Will definitely feel very committing if you are allergic to slab.
GEISHA GIRL 5.8 (Sandstonia) – This and its side by side neighbor, MRS FIELD’S FOLLIES, also 5.8, get a lot of traffic, but for good reason.  Super tall, and super fun!
THE UPHEAVAL 5.9 (Endless) – After Totally Clipse, definitely come and do this one.  Or do this one first…I actually think this one is a little easier!
FOOL EFFECT 5.9 (Endless) – This neighbor to the previous route offers better variety of movement, but in my opinion loses a star because of cleaning shenanigans.  It doesn’t have an anchor, so bring some long runners to sling the tree at the top.  Rappelling from the tree with a 70m will get you to the same ledge where the Upheaval begins from.
FLIGHT OF THE GUMBY 5.9 (Butcher’s Branch) – You’d better get down there early for this one, or else you’ll be in line for hours.  Don’t let the often manky start deter you – the goodness above is worth it!

Bongo 5.7 and Gimme a Clown 5.9 at Whipoorwhil

RICO SUAVE 5.10a (Kaymoor) – Another one where you might get stuck in a queue.  But worth the wait!  Watch out for poison ivy on the approach!
ST PAULI GIRL 10b (Beer Wall)
STRIKE A SCOWL 5.10b (Endless) – This technical face starts on a ledge that is a) difficult to get small children up to, and b) not safe for them once they are up there, unless you have an extra “kid-watcher.”  But the views and movement make this a fabulous climb!
BADASS TATTOO 10b (Sandstonia) – If you crush it, it’s pronounced “Badass Tattoo.”  If you get crushed, it’s a “Bad Ass Tattoo.”  At least that’s how FA Eric Horst explained it to me once a long time ago!  If you can find it dry, it’s awesome!  It’s awesome when a little wet too, just a little harder…
BRAIN TWEEZERS 5.10c (Beauty) – Not steep, but the movement is a little cryptic, so if you hang out too long in certain places you will still get pumped.   A good one for those wanting to improve their footwork!  This route also has several easier routes nearby, both trad and sport, so it can be a good place to spend a day.
BABY’S GOT A BOLT GUN 10c (Summersville) – Shorties might hate the start, but the rest is an awesome pump fest with a gorgeous lake backdrop!
LIEBACK AND ENJOY IT 10d (Sandstonia) – A good candidate for a headpoint (rehearsing the moves on TR first before leading), since you can easily rig a TR from the easier neighbor, Shady Lady 5.7.
COTTONHEAD 5.10d (Cottontop) – Definitely not entry level for the grade – this one is great, but a little sandbagged.  Bring some power and some lock off strength for this one, and get your buddy to hang draws for you!
RADIAL RIMMED 10d (Ames Wall, Bubba City) – Great fun, you’ll have to get jumpy if you’re short.
GOING BALLISTIC 10d (Summersville) – Known as “Jesus is My License Plate” in the older guides.  Full value line that will make you work for it til the very end.

This pic of Lieback and Enjoy IT 10d, taken circa 2011 was when I first discovered I make an underbite when I try hard!

CragDaddy topping out Brain Tweezers 10c


While the New is home to some of the best routes on the planet, they can’t all be 5 star classics.  At the risk of getting a little flack, I would be remiss if I didn’t share my opinion of the following black holes – ie, routes that are so bad they suck stars away from neighboring routes.

BIOSLAB 5.7 (Cottontop) – This route is usually wet, but if you stumble upon it dry, don’t assume that it would be a good warm-up based on grade.  The movement is awkward, and there is potential for swinging falls low to the ground.
TOTALLY TAMMY 10a (Kaymoor) – If there’s a line on RICO, you will probably be tempted to give this one a try.  Go for it only if you like insecure climbing over poorly-placed bolts.
EXODUSTER 10b (Endless) – It’s gotta be the grade and proximity to the Fern Point ladders that draws everyone here.  But in my opinion, it’s probably one of the worst routes at the New.  Polished, caked in chalk, and weird, reachy movement.  Maybe I’d like it if it had a good pressure washing.

Now it’s your turn – if you climb at the New, what do you think are the best (and perhaps worst) of the moderate grades?

Looking for more info?  Check out the rest of this series here…
NRG Crag Profile
Best 5.11’s 
5.12 and Up 




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“Not all who wander are lost.” —JRR TOLKIEN