Ascent of Waterrock Knob on 2019-10-04

Climber: Chris Gilsdorf

Date:Friday, October 4, 2019
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Waterrock Knob
    Location:USA-North Carolina
    Elevation:6292 ft / 1917 m

Ascent Trip Report

This was a very special peak for me. I've been pursuing a number of peak lists in the Southeast, and this summit was long planned as the culmination of all of them.

I had been up in the Plott Balsams twice--once to hike Yellow Face in the rain, and once to trek all the way out to Plott Balsam on a fantastically beautiful, cold, clear early spring day. I'd walked literally within steps of the summit of Waterrock, but resisted the urge, then. Now, at last, I could return.

My significant other (a bit of a hiker, but not the peakbagger type) and I drove out from Knoxville on a pretty, if warm, early fall day. We met up at Vince Kloster's place, enjoyed a delicious breakfast, then I set out alone to start the first part of my hike by myself. When I arrived at the parking area, it was pretty sparse. I wasted no time in setting off toward Yellow Face and beyond. I made short work of the summit of Yellow Face, arriving in maybe 20 minutes. The trail down the other side was easy for a while, but as I drew nearer to Blackrock, it became surprisingly rugged as it traversed the often-narrow and rocky ridge. The trail skirted massive rock outcroppings, in one spot requiring a slightly tricky traverse, then as I neared the summit, one class 2+ step up a steep buttress. I rather suddenly reached the summit, a big, open boulder that was clearly the highest thing around, a little after an hour after setting out. Views back toward Waterrock Knob were sublime, and the vista was spectacular even on this slightly hazy day. My return journey to the parking area took about the same, and was uneventful.

I met my two hiking companions, and we made a much slower and more relaxed ascent up the steep half mile to Waterrock's summit. Before I knew it, I was taking the final steps to the flat rock marking high ground, and the culmination of over three years and countless miles of the journey to reach this one unassuming spot. Despite the cloud cover that had built up in the past hour, it was a very happy moment. We enjoyed some relaxation on the summit with a few ice-cold beers I'd brought up--a peach farmhouse ale saison from Wicked Weed. It really, really hit the spot.

We continued on to Browning Knob and the plane crash, while Vince made his way back to his car. Unfortunately, we all had places to be that evening, so we returned alone to the car, but not before buying a few small souvenirs to commemorate my finisher from the small gift shop in the parking lot.

This summit, along with Blackrock and Yellow Face, finished the following lists for me:
-The official South Beyond 6000 list
-every ranked 6er in the eastern United States
-every possible contender for the southeast 50 most prominent peaks (excluding the Ozarks)
-every closed contour above 6000' in the Southeast
-every ranked and unranked peak in the Southeast with a total combined elevation and prominence over 6000' (a total of about 250 peaks, bumps, and knobs)*

I'd like to thank my mom, my dad, Tim, Brittany, Vince Kloster, Tom Layton, Ricky Shortt, Chris Kobelin, Zachary Robbins, Jeff Rinehart, Jonathan Blackwell, Doug Munroe, Eric, Chloe, Sarah, J.T., Eric, Richard, Chris, "Southpaw", Matt, Jared, "The Wizard", who were along for some part of the journey and who, along with several unnamed landowners, made it all possible. It's been an honor.

*P.S. if anyone wants a definitive list of these summits, please let me know--I have made maps!
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:500 ft / 152 m
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:500 ft / 152 m
    Distance:7.7 mi / 12.4 km
    Start Trailhead:5792 ft / 1765 m
Descent Statistics
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Chris Gilsdorf
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Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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