What do we love more than climbing? Road trips to climbing areas! Here, we've covered more than 40 crags and peaks across the United States, with dozens of routes recommended by locals, kick ass rest day activities, the lowdown on the best grub and pubs, and more!
Climbing Red River Gorge
It’s easy to get down on winter. The fourth season brings short, cold, and damp days, which drives rock climbers to the gym. But here’s the good part: All those laps you ticked and workouts you completed should have you in the best shape of the year—just in time for snowmelt. Test yourself at one of these go-before-you-die areas famous for the endurance their routes require.
Somewhere between the Red River Gorge, New River Gorge, and Tennessee Wall is the center of the Sandstone Universe. Unassuming road-trippers that happen upon this epicenter might suddenly stop and idle their rig on the shoulder, overwhelmed by a powerful vortex of Deep South climbing styles. For trad climbers, a full-blown fit ensues as they fumble for their racks, ready to throw jams into the original and most powerful force of them all: the Southern Hand Crack.
Nine Gallon Buckets (5.10c), Smith Rock, Oregon: Choose your finish with three sets of anchors on this long sport pitch at the Morning Glory Wall. The first anchor finishes at 5.9, the second at 5.10c, and the third after more 5.9 climbing you can just lower off from the top with a 60-meter rope. The best part of the route is the upper third, which has a water streak with holds ranging from two- to four-finger pockets to large huecos you can sit in, says Smith local Ian Caldwell.
Planning a climbing trip this year? Here's a thought: Change up your normal climb-every-day schedule to incorporate one of the U.S.'s major rock climbing festivals, where you can meet loads of new climbers, test out a new area, and even involve yourself in some late-night, dance-party, sumo-wrestling action. From California to North Carolina, here are some of the biggest rock events.
When it comes to camping, many climbers prefer a no-frills, quasi-wilderness experience, while others like their creature comforts. Whether you see sleeping under the stars as the best part of a climbing trip or a necessary evil, we've got you covered. We sifted through guidebooks, called park rangers, and solicited climbers to identify 10 (in no particular order) of the U.S. best drive-up climber campsites.
"These days, sport routes are getting longer," says the sport-climbing progenitor Boone Speed. Speed would know: he recently photographed Chris Sharma on his 250-foot mega-pitch Jumbo Love, a 5.15 in California that’s emerged as North America’s longest, most difficult stretch of bolted rock.