Many outdoor enthusiasts enjoy rock climbing and similar activities, probably because such sports offer a way to commune with nature, get fresh air, exercise and enjoy spectacular scenery all at the same time. Fortunately, many challenging mountain routes can be found in the United States, and the following are some of the top rock climbing locations in America, including popular sites in the renowned Yellow Stone National Park.
Of all the sites in the park, Big Horn is probably the best loved mountain amongclimbers. Both peak baggers and sport climbers will love the safe, yet challenging terrains Big Horn offers. The mountain is the second highest point on Gilbert Peak’s west ridge and not far from the highest point in Lewis County, referred to by locals as Goat Citadel. The famous 10-foot vertical crack near the summit is something that belongs on every Yellowstone climber’s must-do list. With a route to please essentially anyone, climbers are rarely disappointed after visiting Big Horn.
Regarded as one of California’s best mountain climbing destinations, Mount Shasta is also considered one of the most adventurous mountain climbing spots in the country. Most of the popular routes to the 14,156-foot summit rise over 7,000 feet from the trail head and cut across glacial features, snowfields and diversified rock moraine. A broad range of routes are available with options for beginners to advanced climbers. Participants searching for a classic mountain climbing adventure should consider Mount Shasta.
Forming over two thirds of Hawaii’s island of Maui, Mount Haleakala provides a top-notch climbing experience for anyone who loves nature and enjoys a challenge. Not only can climbers view Hawaii’s unique volcanic landscape from the different routes available, but access is also provided to various astrological observatories along the way. The dramatic, austere terrain gives climbers a chance to view an active volcano, as well. Considered one of the Earth’s best places from which to see the cosmos, Mount Haleakala is regarded as a sacred mountain by Hawaiian natives.
Additionally, it is one of the rare mountain climbing options that most participants can climb in reverse: from the top down. The summit is conveniently located in proximity to Highway 37 —Haleakala Highway. From Highway 37, climbers can drive to the very top of the summit — approximately 10,000 feet — and from there, take their choice of numerous trails leading down to Summit Valley and eventually to near sea level elevation. These and other characteristics make Mount Haleakala a unique choice for virtually any climber.
Pike’s Peak is one of the most adventurous of all America’s rock climbing locations. With lightning displays that dazzle the eye and a vertical gain of almost 7,000 feet, climbers can challenge themselves as they ascend and enjoy some of the most majestic scenery on Earth. A favorite area of Pike’s Peak is the Timberline, which features an elevation of 11,000 before it drops off to something referred to by local residents as the “Bottomless Pit,” so named for its appearance that is similar to a giant bowl surrounded by a large wall of rock and trees. Other classic routes in Pike’s Peak include the Arching Jams, the Pericle, and the Flames. Climbers can choose from ledges, cracks, gullies or traditional lines.
Unlike some climbing parks, however, year round climbing should not be attempted at Pike’s Peak as weather conditions can present a hazard. Those looking for a “big mountain” experience should certainly consider Pike’s Peak. However, this is no mountain for beginners, as its degree of difficulty is very high. It’s important that those climbing without a harness consider different types of life insurance prior to free soloing. Pike’s peak remains one of the most popular mountains of all time among climbers with advanced skills and knowledge.
Those searching for an extremely challenging climb may wish to consider Mount McKinley, which is North America’s highest peak and located in Denali National Park in Alaska. The mountain’s rise is larger than that of Mount Everest: it boasts 20,300 feet with an 18,000-foot rise. The rugged chain of glacier clad peaks slices through the interior of the Alaska mainland. The most frequently climbed route is South Buttress which takes hikers anywhere from two to four weeks to ascend, depending skill level. This is not a climb for beginners, however. Only half of all expeditions are successful and the route can be somewhat dangerous, particularly if one does not have enough experience.
Climbing routes, similar to those that can be found at Mount McKinley, can also be found in Hokkaido Japan. Several Japan tours take climbers through the mountians of Hokkaido which feature great climbing spots.
Climbing fans are sure to have an unforgettable experience at any of the above locations. Whether one chooses to climb close to home or any other location within the United States, most nature lovers would agree that climbing is one of the most enjoyable outdoor sports.
By: Vincent Stokes