10 American climbing utopias
10 of the best spots to climb in the USA
The United States is home to some of the worlds most majestic climbing spots. From Acadia national park in the very North East of the country's vast expanse to the Sierra Nevada Mountain range in the distant South West, the USA offer climbers simply transcendent opportunities to enjoy their hobby. Here is the realbuzz.com verdict on 10 of the best climbing spots to be found stateside.
Dead Horse Point, Utah
Amongst the staggeringly beautiful, burnt orange and red stripes of Utah’s canyon riddled South East sits the breathtaking Dead Horse National Park. The 2,000ft (609m) high Mesa, Dead Horse Point, from which the park’s name is derived, offers climbers a glut of superb climbs and seemingly endless views of canyon country and the meandering turquoise of the Colorado River.
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, California
This un-spoilt and wild section of the Sierra Nevada, dwarfed in mountaineering fame by its larger cousin Yosemite, offers a multitude of fantastic climbs. With forests dominated by the colossal Sequoia tree and peaks which epitomize the spirit of the American west, Sequoia and Kings Canyon offer a more rugged and less populated alternative for climbers. Some of the highlights include Grand Sentinel, Chimney Rock and the Obelisk.
Arches National Park, Utah
Arches National Park is other-worldly. This scorched, barren dessert is home to the largest concentration of naturally formed stone arches on the planet. The alien environment thus makes for a marvelous place to climb. Although the arches themselves are off limits due to their fragility, the multitude of spires and rock faces which litter the park are not. Owl rock, 100ft (30.5m) of rock spire, and the gargantuan form of the Tower of Babel are two prime examples of the ascents on offer.
Black Canyon, Gunnison National Park, Colorado
The imposing and sombre the Black Canyon offers experienced climbers an untamed, desolate and adventurous location to assail. Black Canyon is for seasoned climbers only. Inconsistent rock quality, as well as a range of other hazards (geological, botanical and zoological) combined with the difficulty of the routes and the unlikelihood of rescue, mean novices should steer clear. Despite this, Black Canyon is fantastic place to climb offering dramatic scenery and pure adventure climbing at its finest.
Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
The snow-brushed peaks of Grand Teton National Park peaks jut directly out of the Wyoming grasslands and pierce the tumultuous mid-western skyline. As a climbing destination Grand Teton provides enthusiasts with and a wonderful escape into the serenity of a mountain range which looks like it has been stolen from the pages of a Tolkien novel. The park also offers a good deal of variation and climbs for every level of skill. South Buttress right is probably the most renown.
Longs Peak, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
The iconic Rocky Mountains, blanketed by expansive montane and sub-alpine forest as well as fathomless lakes, are a Mecca for the alpine climbing fraternity; the snow-capped peaks provide the adventurous with wilderness in which to lose themselves. Climbers are drawn to the national park by a variety of possible climbs but Longs Peak and its vast east face, "The Diamond", is the foremost among these routes.
Joshua Tree National Park, California
Joshua Tree National Park straddles two of America’s great desserts: The Mojave and Colorado. Historically considered an off-season training ground for more ambitious climbs in Yosemite, J-Tree has in modern times become recognized as a climbing destination in its own right. The arid climate makes J-Tree accessible throughout the year and its harsh but spectacular scenery make the thousands of short climbs available throughout the area extremely fulfilling. With thousands of possible short climbs J-Tree is a destination which offers something to suit every climber.
Acadia National Park, Maine
The only location on our list situated on the East coast of the United States and the only national park in America’s North East. Offering a somewhat unique (at least on the East Coast) opportunity for cliff cragging and coastal climbing, Acadia’s diverse coastal environment sets it apart from other locations on our list. Thunderous waves provide a wonderful backing to many of its climbs. Attractions include "Great Head" a jagged, rocky cliff which presents the perfect facade for cragging.
Zion National Park, Utah
Named by Utah’s Mormon settlers as little Zion, it is easy to see why they mistook this area of South West Utah for some sort of utopia or promise land. The area is bewitching and is crowned by the cloven walls of Zion Canyon carved in distant history by the amble of the Virgin River. It is on the faces of the Canyons walls, which tower over 2000ft (609m), which you will find Zion’s special offering to the world of climbing. Beware the ascents are for experienced climbers.
El Capitan, Yosemite Valley, California
As a fitting end to our list, Yosemite National Park is one of the fostering grounds of modern rock climbing. Its epicenter, the exquisite Yosemite Valley, is a veritable climbing Valhalla. The most sought-after climbs in Yosemite are those offered by the granite Behemoth El Capitan, a 3000ft (914m) tall, sheer-faced escarpment which imperiously dominates the valley. Once considered impossible to climb, El Cap’s nose the massive prow separating its two faces) will take a fit climber four to five days to conquer and is among the gold standard of climbing.