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Two Aussies planning a NA Road Trip
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By jasoncm
Nov 16, 2012

Well I have been dreaming for a while now about going on a climbing around North America and it getting closer to not becoming a dream. I have done a road trip before from LA up to Vancouver and then across to NY but that before I was into climbing, so I have a bit of an idea where I want to go.

These are the places I am looking at visiting. I have picked these because they either looking interesting, I might have been to the area before and I can make a pretty good loop out of visiting them and end up back towards LA.

Red Rocks - Nevada
Yosemite/Tuolumne - CA
Tahquitz/Suicide Rocks - CA
Tahoe - CA
Smith Rock - Oregon
Squamish - BC
Bow Valley/Canmore - Alberta
Tensleep- Wyoming
City of Rocks - Idaho
Maple Canyon - Utah

El Potrero Chico - Mexico

Im around a 5.11 Sport climber and 5.9 Trad. Looking to spend around 3 months. What time of the year would you recommend starting and in what order. I would be flying into LA. I would be very appreciative of any comments and suggestions?

Regards

Jason


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By FrankPS
From Atascadero, CA
Nov 16, 2012

Jason,

Red Rock, Yosemite and Tahquitz are all best climbed in the spring or fall (especially the fall). Although people climb Yosemite and Red Rock year-round, spring and fall are best. Can't speak about your other destinations.

You might want to consider a couple of days at The Needles in California, also in the spring or fall.


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By Dom
Administrator
From New Brunswick Canada
Nov 16, 2012
Moby dick 5.11-

Hit Squamish and the Bow Valley in the Summer. Squamish is rainy in the Spring/Fall and the Rockies are cold in the Spring/Fall.


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By Owen Darrow
From Garmisch,
Nov 16, 2012
Nice view

If your already going to be in Ten Sleep (kick ass place!) you might as well check out Devils Tower


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By Ryan Curry
Nov 16, 2012

Lake Tahoe has a lot of great climbing and you can climb year round.


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By Eric D
From Gnarnia
Nov 16, 2012
Born again on the last move of the Red Dihedral, high Sierras.

Most of those are spring and fall destinations (preferably fall, which will be drier). Though, you could start in squamish in late summer, and then drive south as the temps cool down and the fall destinations come in.

I am sure there is good climbing in Tahoe, but it is not a classic destination here in the U.S.


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By Zirkel
From Bishop, CA
Nov 16, 2012
Owens Gorge.  Mt Tom in background.

Wow, sounds like a great trip!

Late Summer to early Autumn would seem like the best time of the year to hit a variety of locations. Maybe plan your trip August through October? As Eric mentioned, start north in Squamish and work your way south to Red Rock?

As previously mentioned, consider adding Devils Tower and The Needles to your list. And Indian Creek in Moab! And since you're planning a visit to Ten Sleep, make sure you hit up Lander and Wild Iris.

Never been to EPC but understand it's best during the mid-Winter. Might want to save that for another time -- or extend your trip by another couple of months!

Glad to see Maple Canyon on your list.


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By fossana
From Bishop, CA
Nov 16, 2012
downclimb off the First Flatiron <br />photo by TooTallTim

If you can swing it I would highly recommend doing at least a few routes in the High Sierra, which would be within 0.5-3 hours drive of Tuolumne depending on your route choice. There are plenty of options depending on your trad level and approach distance preference. Warmer weather alpine season runs roughly late May to Oct.


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By MTKirk
From Billings, MT
Nov 16, 2012
Me on Supercrack

A climbing trip to North America without Indian Creek? INSANITY!


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By Steve M
From MN
Nov 16, 2012

Owen Darrow wrote:
If your already going to be in Ten Sleep (kick ass place!) you might as well check out Devils Tower

And if you're going to check out Devils Tower you may as well drive an hour and a half to Spearfish/Rushmore/Custer state park...unless it's early August.


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By BrianWS
Nov 16, 2012

The Tahoe area is an excellent destination in the late spring-late fall. The high concentration of routes, complete lack of crowds during weekdays, unique stone, and good selection of both sport and trad routes put it on par with, if not better than, City of Rocks. Phantom Spires and Lover's Leap are the area's standout crags in my opinion.
Also, campgrounds are cheaper and less of a hassle than the Valley or Meadow. Groceries are mega cheap (Grocery Outlet!) if you drive 20 minutes into town.


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By Ed Wright
Nov 16, 2012
Magic Ed

El Potrero Chico is good any time of year but your chances of hooking up with other climbers are best from Nov-April. And if you're driving down here you should stop for a day or two at Hueco Tanks and Cochise Stronghold.


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By sqwirll
From Las Vegas
Nov 16, 2012
Cool snow formation at the base.

I'd do the following loop, starting in the Sierra/Tuolumne in mid July.

High Sierra/Tuolumne - CA
Tahoe - CA
Index, WA (If you're climbing 5.10 or higher by then)
Squamish - BC
Bow Valley/Canmore - Alberta
Tensleep- Wyoming
City of Rocks - Idaho
Maple Canyon - Utah
Red Rocks - Nevada
Tahquitz/Suicide Rocks - CA


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By Brent Apgar
From Out of the Loop
Nov 16, 2012
Me and Spearhead

I'd plan to be here in the fall and since you've not been out this way climbing. I'd cut your list in half and spend more time in the classic areas like Yosemite, Red Rocks and Smith Rocks, or whichever areas suit your tastes w/ respect to type of climbing.

Not that the suggestions by the peanut gallery aren't good ones it's just that Places like Yosemite and Red Rocks are so big and with so much variety you can easily spend several weeks there just to get a feel for the place and pick out some specific objectives that you're psyched to do.
Just my two cents. Good luck w/ the trip.


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By plantmandan
From Brighton, Co
Nov 16, 2012
J Tree after blizzard

Joshua Tree!!!


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By Fat Dad
From Los Angeles, CA
Nov 16, 2012

I agree with Brent. I think you're going to too many places. This may seem biased, but I think hitting both Index and Squamish are kind of redundant. Actually I think hitting both the Valley and Squamish are somewhat redundant, but that's me. I think Tahoe is optional as well. Given the choice between more time in the Valley or Tuolumne, I'd spend more time there and skip Tahoe.

Joshua Tree will be too hot until you climb in the early Spring or late Fall, plus in terms of the climbing the City of Rocks is like Josh but with better rock quality.

If you can, I'd hit the Needles. Apart from the Valley and Tuolumne, it will be the most spectacular place you'll climb.


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By Ryan Williams
Administrator
From London (sort of)
Nov 16, 2012
El Chorro

Get up into the Sierras. You can't do that in Aus, and even though the NZ mountains are beautiful, they aren't the Sierras.

There are a lot of options and you'll never visit all of those places in three months (not sure if you plan to). You could fly over in early August and stay 'til early November. Go to Tuolomne, then up to Lake Tahoe, then Oregon or Squamish. Then drive back down to the Valley and then Red Rocks. Then back to LA and visit Taqitz.

Endless options, but it's hard not to send you to the Utah desert. The scenery and rest day activities are awesome, you can practice pure crack climbing at IC and then go on a tower sending spree.

Also, The Needles is probably the best climbing destination I've ever visited and there are a lot of 5.9 and 10- routes that are world class. I was there is August and it was quite cool, which makes me thing that the season there could be pretty long.

One suggestion that I can make is to focus on things the US is known for - excellent crack climbing and big granite walls in perfect and consistent weather. You can sport climb anywhere, and I doubt that you're going to find sport climbing in the western US that is better than the stuff in the Grampians.


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By jasoncm
Nov 16, 2012

Hi Guys,

Thanks so much for all the input. A few more comments from me, I'm still a pretty green Trad climber especially since I have never climbed on granite. I usually prefer sport climbing but also love getting out on big and easier multi pitch trad adventures. I have not planned to spend much time in Yosemite mainly to due to the more complicated camping/logistics and more serious climbing. When I think Indian Ck all that comes to mind is hard crack climbing, with not a heap of experience in jamming I left it out of the list. Should I put it back in the list even? Is there more than crack climbing.

I agree I should probably cull this list a bit otherwise I will be just rushing from area to area. How would you chop the list with the info I have given.

I'm thinking:

Squamish
Canmore
Ten sleep and maybe devils tower
Maybe Indian ck
Tahquitz and/or Tahoe
Yosemite for a quick look
Red rocks

I also plan some time for the normal tourist activities, it's not a dedicated climbing trip.

Thanks

Jason


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By TWK
Nov 16, 2012

No such thing as a quick trip to Yosemite. The Valley and Tuolumne shouldn't be missed. Neither should Lovers Leap. I agree--get up into the sierras. Mt. Whitney's east face? Bear creek spire? Charlotte dome?


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By Ryan Williams
Administrator
From London (sort of)
Nov 16, 2012
El Chorro

I hate to be the one to say it but a trip to the North American west without crack climbing and trad climbing is a wasted trip. Everyone was "green" at one point. I can't think of a better time to become a good trad climber than while on a three month road trip in trad climbing heaven. If you are competent on 5.8 then there is a lot of fun to be had. And after a few weeks you'll be looking at big 5.9's and 10's in the guidebooks.

I promise, if you are a safe climber and have the gear, you'll have fun trad climbing at these areas. If you want to go on a sport climbing trip that's awesome too, but you should go to the New River Gorge and the Red River Gorge in Oct and Nov.


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By TWK
Nov 16, 2012

Well said, Ryan, sound advice.


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By JCM
From Henderson, NV
Nov 16, 2012

Ryan Williams wrote:
I hate to be the one to say it but a trip to the North American west without crack climbing and trad climbing is a wasted trip. Everyone was "green" at one point. I can't think of a better time to become a good trad climber than while on a three month road trip in trad climbing heaven. If you are competent on 5.8 then there is a lot of fun to be had. And after a few weeks you'll be looking at big 5.9's and 10's in the guidebooks.


Absolutely true, but some places are a better "first introduction" than others. If you've never jammed and show up at Indian Creek, the smackdown will be brutal. If, however, you first spend a few months at other destinations where the crack climbing is somewhat less demanding, you'll be able to go to the Creek and have a good time. Thus, the order of destinations is important.

As some others have said, the best way to do a trip to North America is to devote it to learning how to climb trad, cracks, and long routes. You may be a crack-gumby when you show up, but you'll be an expert when you leave.

The best time to do such a trip is from mid/late summer into fall. This gives you the most stable weather and the most options.

I would start in Squamish in July or August. I recommend Squamish because it has the best weather in late summer, and I think that it is the best place to learn trad skills. It is a kinder and gentler training ground for Yosemite. For some reason, there are always tons of Australians there. A month to two months in Squamish would not be excessive. The scene and camping are great. Good bouldering and decent sport climbing too.

Sometime around the beginning of September, head sputh. Stop in Smith Rock briefly. It will be hot still, but it is right along your way. Then go to Tahoe and/or Toulomne for September. Temperatures will be nice. Stay a few weeks there, until the weather starts getting good in the Valley in October. Spend October int he Valley.

In November, head to Utah. Indian Creek, Towers, etc. You will be ready for the Creek by this point.

By late November, Indian Creek is getting cold. At this point, either head home, or go to Hueco or Bishop or Joshua Tree to eek out a bit more of the season. Alternatively, early December would be a great time to head to Mexico (don't get kidnapped/shot/boiled in acid).

This is a pretty standard itinerary. There a a few other places you could squeeze in, though. Index (Washington) would be good to stop at ont he way down from Squamish. The Needles (California) would be a good extra stop in September. Some time in the High Sierra in late summer would be good, if you feel ready for the alpine experience. Maybe squeeze in Red Rocks some time in October or Novemeber.

You also mention Tahquitz/Suicide. While these are really nice crags, they really don't have anything to offer that Yosemite doesn't. The style and season are similar. You would be better off just spending more time in Yosemite.


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By JCM
From Henderson, NV
Nov 16, 2012

As an addendum to the schedule I described above, you could also add in some of the sport areas toward the beginning of the trip. Start in June at Maple, then to Tensleep, then to Canmore/Bow Valley in July, and then to Squamish in early August, and then continue with itinerary above.

This would work well because it would be geographically efficient (no backtracking, just a big loop from Utah back to Utah), and would put you at each area in the right season.


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By Linnaeus
From New England/ Baltimore
Nov 17, 2012

My East Coast heritage is evident here, but if you are more of a sport climber I'd get to Rumney, NH. The climbing there is world class, and Sept or Oct in Vermont or New Hampshire is simply an awe inspiring place to spend some time. You can go to the Shawagunks on the way (the Gunks), and there is plenty of granite trad around NH/VT too if you develop a flavor for it. You can fly from NYC back to SF or LA for really short $ before returning home.


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By Brian Prince
From morro bay, ca
Nov 17, 2012
The Seward Highway is really beautiful.

Jon Moen summed it up great!


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By jasoncm
Mar 3, 2013

Well this trip is still definitely on the plans. But.. I'm having lots of trouble working out what to do for transport. There is really only two company's that do cheap camper van rentals ($8000-$10000 for 3 months). I have even had trouble finding cheap long term car rental, not that I really want a small car.

The best option I have found is renting a Uhaul cargo van. The online quote I got was around $2500-3000 for 3 months which is pretty decent. Just have to check if they will rent it to me.

I really want to fly into vancouver and do Squamish first, moving east and south from there.

Anyone got any transport input?

Thanks

Jason


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