Our Story


In 1993, Climbmax Inc. was founded with a singular goal: to foster and provide for the climbing community in Western North Carolina. Climbmax Inc's founder, Stuart Cowles, arrived in Asheville just a year prior bent on finding a home that was unique, peaceful, and surrounded in every direction by mountains. At the time, climbing gyms were a novel concept (the first gym in North America was only 6 years old!), but he placed a bet on a small building under a parking garage and established “Climbmax Indoor Climbing Center”, lovingly known today as Climbmax Downtown. In 1994, Climbmax Mountain Guides was founded, and in 2015 a second Climbmax location was opened at the Smoky Mountain Adventure Center. We are proud to continue Stuart and Climbmax's legacy as Pisgah Climbing, Western North Carolina's longest running, and most experienced, provider of outdoor climbing experiences and climbing instruction.  With over 25 years of experience, coupled with upholding a standard that all our climbing instructors and guides maintain certifications through the American Mountain Guides' Association, you can rest assured that you are in good hands.  Interested in climbing in one of Climbmax Climbing's rock gyms?  Check out their website at www.climbmaxnc.com

Our Mission


Our mission is to support and inspire the sharing of outdoor adventures through professional education, stewardship, and inclusivity.

Our Work


We provide guided climbing experiences and expert, up to date, instruction for new and experienced, young and well aged, and individuals and groups.  We also provide training for those aspiring to become instructors, camp programs seeking to help their climbing staff provide high quality experiences for their campers, and run our own summer camps for teens.  In addition to all this, we maintain a solid relationship with Climbmax.  Pisgah Climbing manages the outdoor aspects of their summers camps and many of our guides are instructors for them.

Where do YOU want to go?

Where We Guide


We are fully permitted to guide nearly anywhere in Pisgah National Forest, which is where we do most our climbing and our namesake, North Carolina State Parks, and most Carolina Climbers' Coalition owned properties.  We also do work in Sand Rock in Alabama, some areas of the Red River Gorge in Kentucky, and a few various other climbing areas around the Southeast.  Our most commonly visited area are places such as Looking Glass Rock in Southern Pisgah, Linville Gorge in the Boone area, and Rumbling Bald in Chimney Rock State Park.  Scroll down to check out where we climb most commonly!

North Carolina

Looking Glass Rock Climbing Asheville Brevard

Looking Glass is perhaps the most iconic example of North Carolina Climbing.  Located about 50 minutes south of Asheville, in southern Pisgah, Looking Glass has a tremendous amount of terrain that is perfect for anyone, be it your first time climbing or you are a seasoned mountain person looking to hone your craft or learn advanced systems.  Looking Glass is where we do most of our work.

Looking Glass is the prize of Pisgah National Forest.

Click the image to check out more about Looking Glass on Mountain Project.

The famous Linville Gorge, also in Pisgah National Forest, is home to some of the best adventure climbing one can find.  With features such as Shortoff, the Amphitheater, Table Rock, and Hawksbill, you can be certain to have a good ole' time.  Linville is particularly excellent for its multi pitch opportunities.  The Amphitheater Trifecta of The Mummy, The Daddy, and The Prow in a day is a sought after prize.  We can help you get it!

*Climbing in Linville Gorge may incur a $40 fuel compensation fee.


North Carolina's state park system is home to some fantastic climbing as well.  Some notables are Rumbling Bald and Eagle Rock in Chimney Rock Park, Stone Mountain, Pilot Mountain, and Moore's Wall.

*Climbing in North Carolina State Parks is subject to a $35 permit fee.

*Climbing at Stone, Pilot, or Moore's may incur a $80 fuel compensation fee.




Hidden Valley in Southwest Virginia boasts some of the closest sport climbing in the area.  At about 2 hours north of Asheville, a day at hidden valley offers some great opportunities for those looking to learn to sport climb, or just get in an intense day of climbing.

*Climbing at Hidden Valley may incur a $50 fuel compensation fee.


The Red River Gorge in eastern Kentucky is host some excellent single pitch climbing of all kinds but is known world wide as one of the best sport climbing destinations on the planet.  The sandstone of The Red is riddled with pockets and edges that accept your hands as if it was meant to be.  Let us know if you want to check it out!

*Climbing at The Red may incur a $100 fuel compensation fee.

whitney in the red.jpg



If you are in Atlanta then Sand Rock is the place for you.  Being only a couple hours west of Atlanta and boasting excellent terrain for both beginners and advanced climbers, a weekend at Sand Rock with your own personal guide can be a delightful way a couple of days.  For bookings at Sand Rock we suggest multiple days.

*Climbing at Sand Rock may incur a $120 travel compensation fee.

and Beyond...

Have a specific destination in mind that you would like to explore with one of our guides?  Contact us about the possibility of hiring one of our guides for your adventure, we may be able to help!

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