Rock Climbing

Climbing in the New River Gorge

It does not matter if you’re Sport Climbing, Traditional Climbing, Top Roping, or Bouldering. The New River Gorge is a supreme spot for climbers. The New River Gorge is the Grand Canyon of the east, a true mecca for climbers. It would take a lifetime to cover all charted climbs, between the Gorge, Summersville Lake and the Meadows there is over 65 miles of cliff faces to scale including over 1700 recognized routes to climb that range from challengingly easy to impressively difficult.

Oh you’ve never been to The New River Gorge? Getting Started rock climbing in the New River Gorge is much easier then it may seem.  Go to the A gear store and pick up “The New River Gorge Rock Climbing” guidebook. This handbook has every climb that you could ever want to climb in the Gorge, Summersville, and the Meadow. Each Climb is numbered and ranked using The Yosemite Decimal System, then given a one to four star rating system to indicate the quality of the route and backed up with small descriptions lined with helpful hints about the climb itself.

Are you new to the area and you’re unfamiliar to it and with the people? Don’t worry; climbers are a friendly and charismatic group of individuals. Grab your guide book, find a good bouldering spot and bring all your gear, if you’re out going enough you can meet some interesting and inspiring people who might just let you jump on their rope or give you some good tips about the area. You can also hit up the local climber hangouts, like the New River Campground off Ames Heights Road, Cathedral Café in Fayetteville, or Waster Stone Outdoors in Fayetteville, an outdoor store geared primarily towards climbers. These are the places you can visit to help give you a “leg up” in the climbing world of the New River Gorge.

New River Gorge ClimbingPerhaps you desire a little instruction on climbing? Come to ACE Adventure Resort where we offer 1 to 4 day climbing clinics where you will learn, from our professionally trained climbing guides, how to use and care for your equipment, fitting yourself with climbing shoes and a harness, how to tie basic knots and anchors, techniques to climb more efficiently, picking the right routes, and how routes are graded. You’re addicted to climbing now? Well then you can try one of the full day or half day climbing trips that ACE Adventure Resort offers. We will take you to the premier climbing spots of the gorge, with breath taking views of the mountains, valleys, and the New River. Good Luck my friends and Climb On!

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white water rafting in WV

Abbe chillin’ out

Here are some of my best tips for how to stay warm white water rafting in WV and at the campsite: (brought to you from years of experience getting soaking wet and sleeping on the ground for fun.)


  • Wear shoes that give you ample room to move your toes. If there’s any significant pressure on any part of your feet, it’ll restrict blood flow and freeze your feet up much faster than if you have wiggle room. Even booties a size too big will keep you warm as your feet will quickly heat up the water sloshing around in there – whereas one size too small is sure to keep your toes numb in cold water.
  • At lunch, keep your PFD and helmet on. This keeps you a bit warmer with the added benefit of providing some protection from the elements. Keep in mind, this method keeps you from accessing the full capacity of your stomach – which seems like a disappointing tradeoff when you’re the only one in the raft who isn’t completely stuffed from one of ACE Adventure Resort’s scrumptious, grilled lunches.
  • Moving your big muscles will keep you warmer and return feeling to your extremities much faster than wiggling your toes or shaking your hands. Try this: With your arms hanging down, lock your elbows and flex the backs of your hands up towards your forearms and shrug your shoulders a lot to get circulation into your fingers. Do some squats to engage your largest muscles and get blood flowing around your entire body. If you do both at the same time, be sure to thread some leaves into your helmet and tell people you’re a bird of paradise. If you get weird looks from others in your crew, just remember that they are probably still cold and not nearly as hip as you.


  • Get completely out of your wet clothes. Some people keep their damp swim trunks and sports bras on after white water rafting in WV, assuming that the articles will dry out since all their outer clothes are dry. This is flawed logic, as your wet undergarments serve as an icepack right above your femoral arteries and chill your core.
  • Put on a hat. A winter hat is best but even a baseball cap will help. Hats are the thermos of the clothing world and will retain more heat than you’d ever expect. Scarves are good backup. Both of these are indispensable when you’re ready to turn in for the night.
  • Boil up a pot of water and pour it into one of your water bottles. Insulate it with a sock to keep it from burning your skin, and snuggle up to it like a teddy bear. Extra bonus: You don’t have to go far if you need a drink of water in the middle of the night!
  • If you only brought one pair of an essential clothing item and it’s currently soaked, wring it out and hang it over a heat source for as long as possible. If all you’ve got is a fire, you’ll run the risk of making the garment hickory-smoked and covered in little bitty burn holes while drying it. Remember, you’ll get more street cred as an outdoors-person if you smell like fire and your clothing has some battle scars!) When you go to bed, take the (hopefully) semi-dry item and put it inside your sleeping bag with you, preferably at the base of the bag so you can avoid rolling over on something icky and wet in the middle of the night. Your body heat will slowly dry the gear out over the course of the night, with the added bonus of it being warm when you have to put it on in the morning.
  • In a sleeping bag, sometimes you stay warmer if you have fewer layers on. Have you ever noticed that mittens keep your hands warmer than gloves? That’s the same basic concept – your fingers are helping to warm one another instead of sitting in their individual isolated compartments. Experiment with this before you put on every item of clothing you brought.
  • Make sure there’s adequate insulation between you and the floor. In lieu of a mattress, even a thin yoga mat or a layer of your clothing is better than nothing. If you’re a mobile sleeper like me, take some actions to keep yourself from rolling off your sleeping mat in the middle of the night, because you’re sure to wake up cold. If this means wedging yourself between the cooler and the tent wall to keep from rolling off during the night, go for it.

So there it is: How to stay warm while white water rafting. Let us know if you have an additional pointers.

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WV black bearWhile you’re staying at ACE Adventure Resort, you are no doubt making such great memories taking part in exciting outdoor activities that you more than likely haven’t considered the diverse wildlife you will encounter. You are busy soaring through the trees on the zip line or breaking huge waves on the river, that when you see the majestic wildlife that has made its home in the gorge, you are taken by surprise. We aren’t talking deer and sweet little chipmunks. However, we definitely have quite the plethora of those as well.

The wildlife in the New River Gorge that you can experience while spending time with us at ACE, is no doubt- amongst the creatures you probably have never seen back home, or even outside of a zoo. Our hefty, at home friend the black bear has been spotted meandering through the woods multiple times. These guys are native to the hills of West Virginia. No need to worry about them however, they tend to only be spotted while floating down the river and you are at a safe, pleasant view by which to spectate.

Bald Eagles in WVAnother kind of wildlife in the New River Gorge that is frequently seen while rafting is the bald eagle. These have been seen many times, as there is a family that has made the gorge their home. This member of wildlife is our national bird for a reason. To experience a bald eagle soaring above you is to experience sheer awe. It will only add to your already great rafting story that you were able to see an eagle in its natural habitat. The next creature you will probably encounter isn’t at home near the river but rather the cracks of the large rocks that actually make up the gorge. The copperhead snake is a regular to see sunbathing while on the zip line tour. Again, no need to worry, he stays at a distance that is roped off, but still where you are able to gaze at a slithery creature you may otherwise never see. The anatomy of snake is amazing, but these guys are just cool in their own right. Not to mention to get pictures of such wildlife while on an already amazingly adventurous vacation is like having your cake and eating it too for the outdoor enthusiast.

To see these creatures in their natural habitats, while both you and the wildlife remain safe, is to truly appreciate nature. You already know you’re going to have a wild experience while on vacation at ACE, why not make some wild friends while you’re at it?

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Animal Race

Post-Race Celebrations

Here in Fayette County WV outdoor adventure abounds, and just when the weather starts to cool off is when things start to heat up around these parts. September means Gauley Season, and that means big whitewater, big fun, and big personalities. Some of the industries best and biggest characters gathered at the dam on Monday morning for The Animal Race on the Upper Gauley River, and it proved to be just as fun and adventure filled as ever! There were titles challenged and defended, egos boosted and bruised, and victories lost and gained, and it was so much fun to watch!

Gauley River Race

The infamous pink sea horse

I arrived at the dam around 10:00am in time for the slow caravan of colorfully covered vehicles boasting kayaks, shredders, and rafts of various sizes, filled with boaters wearing nervous smiles and brightly contrasting river gear that could make the most serious of competitors crack a smile. While I was walking around taking pre-race photos I find some ACE races stretching and discussing the competition and just a mere 50ft away I find another group of ACE racers laughing and mainly focusing on the blowing up not of their raft, but of the pink seahorse that was to be their mascot. A little farther down the parking lot I find a very serious defending R-1 champ Brad Atkins prepping his boat away from the crowds, and pauses long enough to tell me that he is more interested in staying upright during the race this rather than solely focused on the goal of winning. I think this is a smart line of thought as this year the water level was a competitor in it’s own right. Recently there has been a large amount of rainfall to our west and that has resulted in the traditional level of 2800 cfs for the Animal Race on the Upper Gauley to be altered. This year the competitors began the race with a flow of 2,000 cfs coming out of the dam but once they hit the confluence the level jumped up to around 4,000 cfs. This added an element of unpredictability to the race that I had not witnessed before. The energy was buzzing with nervousness before the race meeting.

Upper Gauley Animal Race

The Guide of Team “Kick Ass”

The race was anything but ordinary this year, well other than Brad Atkins taking top prize 3rd year in a row in the R-1 category with a time of 1:20:52. We here at ACE are proud to boast this year’s ANIMAL RACE 2013 #1 team over all, team KICK ASS! They came in with a time of 1:04:24. This is thrilling for us at ACE because we love and support them, but it is especially epic because the team had 5 men and 1 woman and we are especially proud of Shanna Crompton for being a part of the winning team that left boats filled with men in their wake. A huge congratulation is also in order to Guide Matt Dotson, and paddlers Jimbo Tourje, Daniel Reiger, Tim Slatton and Johnny Newman. Another exciting moment this year was watching our former video boater Moose drop Sweets Falls with the entire female race team of Paddle Me Happy dropping right in their with him. It was an epic end to a long race for those guys, but certainly a photo finish!

Animal Race on the Upper Gauley River

Phil Groseclose dropping Sweet’s Falls

Farther down the river just below Sweets Falls it was quite the scene on video boater’s rock when the team made up almost entirely of ACE girls, WET DREAM made a great time of 1:13:04.They killed it out there, even through the loss of their pink seahorse mascot! They ran great lines, and made great time. You could feel the energy and relief when they paddled past Postage Due to a chorus of cheers and a waterfall of Yuenglings from the play boaters and friends gathered above. Postage Due quickly became the spot to be. Within several minutes the rock was covered in the brightly colored boats and the even more colorful characters that paddle them. Seeing so many people so happy doing something they love so much feels intoxicating. Seeing one of ACE’s favorite guides named Smiley earn his nickname after killing it out there (2nd place 1:27:42) was joy in the making. Watching Phillip Groseclose (1:31:11) style Sweets Falls and then promptly stand up and show Sweets (or more likely the rock called dildo) what he thought of it was hilarious and understandable from this bloggers perspective. She is a tricky 14 ft. waterfall after all.

The Animal Race 2013 was a day that I will remember for a long time. Taking photographs and speaking with people about what they love to do while they are doing it is an honor and an experience that is not wasted on me. Thank you racers ACE and otherwise for making Monday one of the best days of Gauley Season for this girl. Watching you all prep, paddle, play and celebrate was too much fun! Thank you Burrito Bar for a great after party for all the competitors and volunteers, and thank you Donnie Hudspeth for all of your hard work and dedication, this race wouldn’t happen without you. Can’t wait to see what happens next year!!!


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Gauley River Rafting

Celebrating after a great “Pillow” ride

Summer is gone now, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t continue having adventure just because you’re stuck inside a classroom. While this is directed at the college students out there, this stands true for everyone. Plain and simple, the end of summer does not mean the end of fun. In fact, it means quite the contrary. Now that classes are in full swing, you have deadlines to meet and new concepts to master; you need something that is that much more exciting to allow you to let off some steam.

Say hello to your new best friend, rafting the Gauley River. I’m sure you’re wondering how you can manage this with a crazy schedule and tight funds being a student. I myself am a college student, and let me happily inform you, it is quite possible (thanks to ACE, of course). Rafting the Gauley River on either the upper or lower stretches is mainly a weekend activity. This instantly remedies your busy student schedule because you don’t have class. Also, this activity really only demands one day, leaving you with other days to finish projects or work on deadlines.

Imagine yourself finally breaking free of the stress that accompanies college life and finding adventure amongst the great outdoors. Yes, dreams do come true. This is such a rush that we are confident you will return to class the following Monday with not only an awesome story to tell your friends, but a more relaxed demeanor. Don’t miss the boat (or raft in this case). Plus most of us have an extra day off on Monday, October 14th for Columbus Day. Three day weekend = plenty of time to study AND play!

Statistics, business, psychology, multiple classes, teaches students the importance of opportunity. Time to take that theory outdoors and seize adventure. The break in monotony that rafting the Gauley River offers could even be beneficial to your GPA! I know, it just keeps getting better and better. To sum it up, we know that you students work hard and quite frankly we want you to play even harder.

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Lower Gauley

Enjoying the Lower Gauley

We get a lot of reviews each year. We love them, because it helps us understand where we can improve and what we are excelling at. We read each and every one of them and the appropriate managers are always kept informed about what guests are saying about their departments and what folks are saying about ACE Adventure Resort as a whole. Without a doubt, our guides get the most praise. After all, they are the people our guests spend the most one on one time with and (in my opinion) are composed of some of the best in the industry.

This review stuck out to me, and trust me, I read a lot of reviews around here… It really highlights how much a good guide can affect the perception of a river trip. Below are Teri’s words about her recent Lower Gauley River trip.  And big thanks to Cosmo and Bryant for another job well done.

“Early in the year, a group of ladies at work had a conversation about white water rafting.  A couple of the ladies, in the 50’s, said rafting was on their “bucket list” and had always wanted to try it.  My husband and I have played around on the Ocoee River and the Nantahala River over the last couple years and had rafted on Bridge day weekend (both Sat and Sun) last year at ACE.  I told the ladies that if we could get a group together, I would definitely be in and would get it all set up for us.  And so it began…
We got the trip booked.  And then I spent a lot of time trying to ease the nerves of those intimidated and nervous about rafting; talking about what to wear; explaining how our guide would give instructions on what to do if they fell out of the raft; how to pull someone in the raft by the shoulder straps….on and on.  I think I covered everything our guide covered on his checklist!  And then…the all-important factor…my husband and I discussed our guides from last year and if we would want to raft with them again and if our group would do well them.  So, we made our choice and called in our request and hoped for the best!!
Like I said, we have experienced 8-9 raft trips—certainly not enough to be anywhere near experts but enough to know what to do and what to expect.  Of course, each trip is different even if it is the same river.  I have to say, that this past weekend (Sept 7 & 8) we experienced a very unique trip!
Our trip this weekend was perfect.  I keep thinking back on it and can’t believe how nice it was.  Aside from the amazing weather and water, we had more than amazing guides.  We requested Cosmo and Bryant.  One of the ladies in our group knew of Bryant…and we rafted with Cosmo last year.  We were thrilled to be able to get them to do our trip.  We (my husband, son and I) were in the raft with Cosmo.  He is so knowledgeable about the river; he knew facts, history, and had great stories throughout the trip.  He patiently answered our crazy questions.  He was wonderful with my 14-year-old son who was interested in how Cosmo was steering the raft.   During a nice flat section of the lower gauley river, Cosmo spent time with him telling him about different paddle strokes and how they steered the boat.  I was impressed with Cosmo’s patience and willingness to connect with my son.  My son is ready to sign up to be a river guide during his summers! (He has a plan—college during the year, rafting during the summers; after college, teach math during the school year, raft in the summer!).  One of the most important things that really struck me was that I could tell that Cosmo was particularly conscious of making sure that we hit the right rapids to have fun but also that it was done safely.  He was able to maintain that line of a great, exciting trip but also not getting us into a situation that could be dangerous or that we all could not handle.
As Bryant was not our guide….he was in our other group’s raft…..they spoke just as highly of him.”
-Teri Schmidt

Thank you Teri for letting me share this and more importantly for taking the time to write such a nice review. Corresponding with you has been a delight and we hope to see you back again sometime soon. How about an Upper Gauley trip? Or guide training with your son? :)

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High adventure flow

Feeling the flow

Ever heard of a concept called flow? Well at ACE Adventure Resort, the concept of flow abounds everywhere. You must be wondering to yourself, what exactly is flow? Despite what you may be thinking, it has nothing to do with the river or which way the current takes your raft.

Flow is the feeling you obtain after accomplishing a high adventure activity. In a sense, it can be related to nirvana or enlightenment. When a guest comes to ACE, they are often doing what they perceive to be a high-risk activity. While we have great guides that take wonderful care of each and every guest, there is inherent risk in almost all aspects of our lives. High adventure activities are high intensity and high adrenaline experiences.

Imagine yourself, rafting on the Upper Gauley for the first time. You’ve heard just how intense the Upper Gauley can be. Everyone likes to tell the wildest stories and as you embark on your adventure, so that’s what is in your head. This causes you to foresee a great risk. Yet, the excitement makes you push all worry aside. Upon hitting that first big wave, flow immediately sets in. Flow is more than the accomplished, post-trip bliss you will feel, but the feeling you experience during your activity that makes you brave enough to carry on. Once your trip is over and you have conquered multiple rapids and huge waves you will instantly gain a sense of great accomplishment, pride and excitement that leaves you feeling as though nothing is too great a battle for you. This is the essence of flow. It’s the foundation of feeling euphoria.

When all your t’s are crossed, all your i’s are dotted, the world comes together in front of you, leaving you feeling as though you can take on anything that comes your way. Because the foreseen risk is greater than the actual risk itself, this is a common feeling to accomplish while spending time at ACE. If your life could use some excitement and you find that flow is exactly what you’ve been missing out on, come to ACE and let us help you experience the feeling you simply won’t be able to forget.

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Lower Gauley

Big splashes on the Lower Gauley

You hear epic tales and stories, but nothing compares to reality of rafting the white water of the Lower Gauley River and getting an up-close and personal experience of it. I took my own first trip down the Lower Gauley merely days ago.

Having been down the New River quite a few times, but hearing the huge talk up that the Gauley gets, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Immediately, you see the vast differences. The put-in was the first thing that stood out. When you put-in on the New River, you see flat water with a lazy river, complex kind of current. The New River is a classic pool drop river, showing off its wisdom and age as being one of the world’s oldest rivers. However, the put-in for the Gauley was swift moving with rocks jabbing out here and there. The Gauley River has a more cascading feel. This was the first aspect to let you know that this ride is a totally different experience.

Upon boarding your craft and making your way into the current, within 10 minutes you will reach your first class 4 rapid. Class 4! No warm up, or gentle class 2 to get you splashed first, you are on the Gauley so its time to wake-up and get the show rolling quickly. After all, this is was a world-class river with a legendary reputation.
The “hits” (hydraulics) you receive on the Lower Gauley do not disappoint. A class 3 or 4 rapid on the Lower Gauley can feel bigger than on the New River. With every rapid, you are reminded that the Gauley is a totally different game and it’s more than exciting. Big air, huge splashes, holes where your boat completely disappears out of view and visual over load is all a part of what you can expect.

The Lower Gauley definitely offers some of the most beautifully scenery an eastern river can give, of course you will only notice this if you can pry yourself from the intensity of the rafting experience for 5 seconds to look around! Huge cliffs, enormous boulders and the majestic beauty that make-up the gorge surround you while you are surfing, splashing and soaring through each rapid. The dynamics of the Gauley as far as how much work you have to put in as a team increases as well. Staying in rhythm is key to success. Because the Gauley is a much more technical river than the Lower New, the switch-up of commands your guide gives can change quickly. This keeps you on your toes, or paddle in the water rather, as the river is always moving and keeping you intrigued.

At the end of the day you may be a little tired, but you will feel as though you can take on the world. You can’t wait to do it again and again and perhaps even take on the even more riveting Upper Gauley. The sights, the experience, each rapid, will no doubt make you a Gauley River addict resulting in a mandatory trip to ACE Adventure Resort each fall for a Gauley excursion (or two).

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What does a rapid class really mean anyway?

rapid class

Surprise Rapid on the New River

After spending much of my summer at ACE Adventure Resort white water rafting, I have learned to not judge a rapid by its class. If you have ever been rafting, you will remember the guide giving a talking up of each rapid, in which they describe what “class” it is. The class can range from 1-5 and it describes just how intense that particular rapid is. Obviously, the really gnarly rapids are that of the 5, while the tamer and easily overcome rapids are more like a class 2. While this is true, you can’t allow the class of a rapid to rule your judgment of how intense of a hit it can be. Many first time rafters or even those who have only been a handful of times tend to take that of the middle ground of rapids, like a class 3, for granted.

If you have ever rafted the New River and remember a rapid called Surprise, you know just how fun a class 3 can truly be. It’s named surprise for a reason. Being labeled a class 3 gives the impression that it’s nothing to give second thought to. However, surprise can grant some rather respectable air if hit just right and when hit incorrectly at higher water, can even flip a boat. If the ride is that wild, then why is it just labeled a class 3? Because under the frothy surface of water there is no imminent danger. It’s a just a large wave that flushes out. It’s simply a safe, yet exhilarating hit. The class has little to do with the wave size potential. Class simply determines how dangerous the surrounding area of the particular rapid is, given a rafter falls out of the boat. This doesn’t discredit that of the class 4 or 5 rapids at all, it just means that each rapid has epic potential in and of itself.

Next time you go rafting and your guide tells you that there is a lower class rapid ahead, try to look at it differently. You may find yourself having twice the amount of fun when you’re appreciating each and every rapid the river throws at you!

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New River Dries WV

The New River Dries

A light fog slides its way in and out of the river’s gorge, drifting through the trees and then down to the water’s surface.   We push off from the rocky bank and drift as well, our path almost as unknown as that of the fog around us.  There is over 100 years of collective whitewater rafting and river running experience in this raft, but as we move further downstream, the six of us are not relying on our familiarity with the rapids.  Instead we are continually looking downstream, reading the water and paying close attention to what it is telling us.  The river often seems to disappear into a garden of car and house sized boulders.  It is a maze with different chutes and channels of water, some offering a runnable line over a steep drop and passage onto the next set of rapids.  Others simply lead to a dead end, allowing your raft to find itself atop shallow rocks where the water is no more, and now considerations must be made as to how to get back to try a different channel. Welcome to the New River Dries…

Aside from finding ourselves stuck in one of the previously mentioned channels, being out here on the New River Dries is quite the treat.  The riverbed itself is gorgeous.  Though the six of us have each paddled this section of whitewater many times before, no one had ever seen it at this low of a flow.  As we move through boulders standing 10 and 15 feet overhead, we reminisce and trade stories about times we had paddled this section when those same rocks we completely submerged, creating huge waves and hydraulics.  We joke about how we had never noticed the beauty of the cliffs, the waterfalls, and the natural arch like we were today, largely because at high flows we were white-knuckle paddling for our lives through a rapid aptly named Mile Long.

Not only is it a treat to simply experience this rarely paddled section of whitewater, but today we are also getting to be a part of what could be the next step for the whitewater industry in the area.  For many years now, this part of West Virginia has been famous for its commercial whitewater runs on the New and Gauley Rivers.  But now, with the Hawks Nest Dam approaching its re-licensing date, there is an opportunity to establish a new stretch of whitewater for commercial rafting.  Though still in its early stages, this trip down the “Dries” marks the beginning of a feasibility study which will help determine what flows are viable for whitewater rafting.  The ultimate idea is that if we can determine what our necessary flows are for boating, and then during the re-licensing process those flows can be factored into scheduled releases, similar to the scheduled releases we enjoy on the Gauley River.  In the not too distant future, a whole new stretch of world class whitewater could be available to take people rafting down, giving us even more opportunities to share the beauty and the thrill of paddling these special places.

For more information on the New River Dries click here.

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