Favorite Climbs

See where climbers love to travel and the climbs they love to do at Climbing magazine.
  • HPEpicenterBoulder

    Epicenter: Boulder, Colorado

    Welcome to Climber-ville. This town of about 100,000 has more than 4,000 routes so close that you can send in time for yoga class and a jaunt to Whole Foods for coconut water and kale salad. With traditional, sport, bouldering, and even seasonal mixed and ice climbing, there is a reason why many of the world’s best climbers live and train here. Whether you want to spend the day in Boulder Canyon crushing granite classics, bumping dubstep during a bouldering sesh at Flagstaff, running out a blood-curdling “5.8” in Eldorado Canyon, or cruising 1,000 feet up a Flatiron beneath a full moon, Boulder is an essential stop for every itinerant climber (and you might never leave).

  • HPStonersHighway

    Read This: Team Breakup Climbs Stoner’s Highway

    Stoner’s Highway demanded dangerous, delicate, in the moment climbing, pitch after pitch. Scott seemed to get the most difficult sections, with 30- and even 40-foot runouts on 5.10 climbing. He told me he didn’t think he could have done the moves if he hadn’t just broken up with his girlfriend, and was in the state of mind he was in.

  • Perfect Substitutes: Ditch the crowds with one of these under-the-radar climbs

    What do you do when you hike to a classic route and find a line six climbers deep? No one is better prepared to answer this question than professional climbing guides, whose job is to salvage the day when a client’s dream route is occupied or out of condition. We asked guides around the country for their favorite “second-best” routes—alternatives to classic climbs that are close by, similar in grade and style, and every bit as good.

  • Cedar Wright digs deep for pitch 1—the final 5.12 slab crux—on Matah (5.12c), a first free ascent on Yosemite's Liberty Cap. Nevada Fall rages in the background.

    Give Me Liberty: One of Yosemite's Last Gems Goes Free

    In October 2012, Josh Mucci had put up Bad Moon Rising (5.8 A2) on Yosemite's Liberty Cap with Steve Bosque and Ezra Allee. The report said: “A 5.12 climber would absolutely eat up the huge corner: 800 feet of 0.5” to 1” cracks, mostly clean on cams. Somebody needs to free this route; unfortunately, I am not that good. It’s all there, though, for the right suitor.” It was undeniably enticing: Could we be those suitors?

  • Erik-Kelly-Dorsal-Fin-660

    Get Sandbagged! 7 Notoriously Tougher-than-Advertised Routes

    “This is a 5.9?!” Visit enough crags and you’ll learn climbing’s universal truth: Ratings are subjective. Grades depend on when an area was developed, what gear was available at the time, which climbers were establishing routes, and so forth. And when certain routes seem optimistically graded, they usually don’t get changed—instead, they get billed as sandbagged. But these aren’t routes to avoid. On the contrary, they deliver some of the country’s most fun and spicy climbing. Here are seven of our favorites.

  • Lynn-Hill-Outer-Space-Bastille

    Numbers Game: Master the classic sandbags at four historic crags

    Not all sandbagging comes in the form of a cruel joke from your friends. Some of it was born from an era where the Yosemite Decimal System (YDS) topped out at 5.9—once believed to be the limit of climbing abilities. In the 1960s, many hard routes were given a 5.9+ rating even when moves soared well beyond that pay bracket. (An extreme example is Boulder Canyon’s The Umph Slot, which was originally rated 5.8+ in 1965. Consensus today says 5.10+!) Some routes are notorious and bear a reputation that precedes them, while others lay quietly in wait to shut down an unsuspecting punter.

  • Yosemite-Half-Dome-Mecca-660

    Mecca: A Rookie Pilgrimage to Yosemite Valley

    If you can lead 5.8 trad, or even 5.7, you can climb here. Now. No need to wait until you can lead 5.12 or poop on a portaledge. I was a scaredy-cat for years, and then I finally started to pay attention to that annoying self-help wisdom about life beginning at the end of your comfort zone. What I discovered is that Yosemite climbing is perfectly attainable for any and all mere mortals, like me, who have a desire to scale some rock.

  • Lake-Travis-Pace-Bend-Park-DWS

    Psicobloc Americano: 6 deep water soloing areas on this side of the pond

    When summertime highs hit the triple digits, even the most hard-core climbers lose enthusiasm for chasing shade at their local crags. So this summer, ditch the draws and cams, unearth your bikini and board shorts, and find a climb over deep, cool water. You don’t have to fly to Mallorca to experience deep water soloing. Below, some of North America’s favorite “psicobloc” destinations.

  • Peewee-Home-on-the-Range-Vedauwoo

    Road Trip! Insider Tips, Crag Beta, and Photographic Inspiration for the Best Trip Ever

    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!

  • Northeast-Face-Pingora

    The Good Book: Revisiting The Fifty Classic Climbs

    The Fifty Classic Climbs of North America started as an idea hatched over a bottle of wine. It was the mid-1970s, and Steve Roper was eating lunch with Allen Steck; the two were reminiscing over epics in Yosemite from the early 1960s. Both were pioneers of the Valley, but each had considerable careers on peaks elsewhere, including Steck’s first ascent of Mt. Logan’s complete Hummingbird Ridge in Alaska and Roper’s first free ascent of the Kor-Ingalls Route in Castle Valley, Utah.

  • Hidden-Couloir-Thor-Peak

    Cool Couloirs: 6 fun snow climbs

    Expanding your repertoire to include snow climbing opens up a tremendous trove of new objectives, including those alluring lines called couloirs that drop like ribbons down mountainsides. While the masses choose the path of the choss field to gain the summit, you’ll ascend couloirs in record time by the addictive rhythm of kicking steps in the snow. It’s truly hypnotic. Best of all? Snow climbing doesn’t necessarily mean winter conditions.

  • Jenny-Christiansen-Generic-Crack

    Nutty Climbing

    Before spring-loaded camming devices came along, climbers’ racks consisted of stoppers, hexes, and slings. The following nine routes were originally climbed only on passive pro; many are still doable in this style (some only if you’re bold). Enjoy a taste of what leading was like in the Golden Age of clean climbing.

  • Simeon-Caskey-Butch-Pocket-Sundance-Pump

    True Grit

    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.

  • Dave-Montgomery-Unshackled-Staunton

    Uncharted Territory

    You know that cliff you’ve driven by countless times, scanning it for features, eyeballing the approach, and wondering if it’s climbable? Other climbers have probably seen it, too. And at some point, someone will bushwhack up and tug on some lichen-covered holds. That’s how development starts. Climbers pull out brushes and drills, scrub handholds, and put up a handful of routes. Then a handful more get developed, and soon approach trails begin to form. Before you know it, a new crag or boulderfield is born.

  • Sue-Nott-Rigid-Designator

    Killer Pillars

    Here are seven must-do pillar ice climbs, from New York to British Columbia, including the uber-classics The Rigid Designator in Vail, Colorado, and Dropline in Frankenstein, New Hampshire.

  • Emilie-Drinkwater-ice climbing Chouinards-Gully-660

    Yvon Was Here

  • Kai-Hirvonen-RD-Kananaskis

    First Strike

    Ice climbers, like alpinists, have short memories. Come fall, the wet ropes, overburdened packs, and screaming barfies of the previous winter are long forgotten. As the Internet lights up with rumors of fresh ice, climbers start yearning for those first swings—or perhaps delicate taps—into glassy smears and dripping pillars. Early season ice climbing has its issues, though.

  • Jon Fowler nears the end on the long, wandering Welcome to Beauty (5.11b), Beauty Mountain, NRG. Photo by Michael Turner


    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.

  • Josh Morris hangs comfortably on Incredible Hand Crack. Photo by Dan Morris/Tandemstock.com

    Constriction Concentration

    Take a look at some of the best hand-sized crack climbs across the country, from Nevada to West Virginia.

  • Lucas Goren stays dry on an unnamed traverse at the Stumbling Blocks area, Malibu Creek. Photo by Devlin Gandy

    Bouldering to Go

    Climbers love to travel, but it can be annoying to visit a distant city solely for work or other reasons, thus interrupting your dedicated training schedule or weekend cragging plans. But don’t let non-climbing travel stop your fun. We tracked down 21 bouldering destinations within two hours of eight major cities—there’s no need to train inside an unfamiliar gym.

  • Mt-Evans-Road-Warriors-660

    Road Warriors

    In recent years, bouldering has generated the most news on Mt. Evans. The striking granite blocs along the six-mile Chicago Creek basin and the jumbled apron of boulders above Lincoln Lake have seen an explosion of new routes. Roped climbers also have begun exploring Evans again after nearly two decades of relative stagnation. Two entirely new areas have been developed—the Tan Buttresses and Possibility Wall—at both ends of the difficulty spectrum.

  • Climb Free or Die

    Today, with countless steep sport climbing crags across the country, the art of delicate slab climbing on sweeping faces, with its emphasis on balance, smearing, and precise footwork, has somewhat lost its allure with the mainstream. So why risk a severe road rash by climbing slabs? Simple: it will make you a better climber.

  • Long-and-Free-Classic-Climbs

    Long and Free Classic Climbs

    Some climbers wait to attempt America’s greatest free routes until they’re good enough to do them in perfect style. But what if you are never that good? Purists would say you should stay off the climb—leave it for those who have the necessary strength and talent. I say go for it: Do your best to free climb, but don’t hang your head in shame if you pull on a piece or stand on a bolt.

  • Huecos Over Easy

    Huecos Over Easy

    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.

  • Master Climber Fred Beckey

    The Master's Favorite Rock Climbs

    Fred Beckey's hundreds (thousands?) of first ascents span western North America, from Alaska to Mexico. Although he is best known for his mountain routes, Beckey has always loved rock climbing, and at 89 he's still cragging. We cherry-picked eight spectacular rock climbs from his new coffee-table book and share his words on each here.

  • Gunk-Show

    Gunk Show

    When my wife was offered work as a dancer and choreographer in New York City, I balked. I grew up in Boise, Idaho, and most of my life has been spent rock climbing in the West, enjoying wide-open spaces and amazing geological landscapes from Canada to Mexico, and everywhere in between–what could the City That Never Sleeps offer to me?

  • Carnival Season

    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.

  • Derek-Bloomstadt-Clean-and-Jerk.jpg

    Clean and Jerk (5.10c), Joshua Tree, California

    Picture yourself in Southern California in the late 1880s: An infamous group of bandits known as the McHaney Gang, led by the ruthless cattle rustler Jim McHaney, is being chased out of the San Bernadino Mountains by a posse of ranchers tired of losing stock to the gang.

  • Captain-Beyond-Boulder.jpg

    Captain Beyond (5.10c), Boulder, Colorado

    Mickey Mouse Wall and the twin summits forming its namesake "ears" loom above the eastern ramparts of the Colorado Rockies. Outside the borders of Eldorado Canyon State Park, Mickey Mouse offers an array of stellar routes.

  • City-Mt-Alice-250.jpg

    Mt. Alice - Denver, CO

    Those willing to put in the effort of a long approach will be rewarded with one of the biggest 5.8 routes in Rocky Mountain National Park—and a fraction of the climber traffic of many other Colorado alpine classics. Eight full pitches of alpine rock along a tilted ramp on the left side of the 1,000-foot east face will bring you to a short hike up the Hourglass Ridge to Alice’s summit, with one of the best views in the Park.

  • Mt. Stuart; Seattle, WA

    Mt. Stuart; Seattle, WA

    Mt. Stuart is one of the largest exposed chunks of granite in the Lower 48, rising more than 5,000 feet above the surrounding Alpine Lakes Wilderness. The North Ridge, one of the “Fifty Classic Climbs of North America,” is no secret to anyone, and for good reason—it has 15 pitches of often exposed climbing on solid rock along a knife-edge ridge, reaching the highest summit in the Enchantments.

  • Mt. Conness; San Francisco, CA

    Mt. Conness; San Francisco, CA

    Guidebooks will tell you that Peter Croft once called the West Ridge of Conness the best route he’s done in the Sierra backcountry. If you rope up for all of it, it’s 12 pitches of climbing on clean Sierra granite, with enjoyable finger cracks and great exposure. The summit view extends over Tuolumne Meadows all the way to Half Dome. Combine this route with Conness’ North Ridge for a mega-day of ridge running.

  • Sleep Easy: America's Best Climber Campgrounds

    Sleep Easy: America's Best Climber Campgrounds

    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.

  • Russian-Arete-Layton-Kor

    Soft Kor: 7 can-do classics courtesy of Layton Kor

    Climbing is one of the few disciplines in which you can literally walk (well, climb) in the footsteps of the masters.

  • Get Shorty - The 5 best miniature sport routes in America

    Get Shorty - The 5 best miniature sport routes in America

    "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.

  • I Boulderer - New School Yosemite Bouldering

    I Boulderer - New School Yosemite Bouldering

    Granite. Black-and-white-speckled, fine-grained, compact, solid stone. Confident, angular boulders sculpted by time and held firmly in place by gravity. Tall, blunt aretes, mockingly blank. An obtuse, crackless corner. Overhanging faces carved with blocky edges.

  • Morning Fix

    It was becoming a habit. Hoping to tick some routes before facing my abusive boss, I set out for a little before-work scramble in God's own playground, the Flatirons. The rising sun slanted through the pines as I approached the East Bench of the Third Flatiron.

  • A tale of eight towers

    A tale of eight towers

    Desert towers require a unique climbing style. Some call it choss-wrangling, but I prefer to think of it as choss-ballet.

  • Crag of the Future

    No matter if it's for a hot date, for a meeting, for your girlfriend's period, or, in my case, in the season– "late"; is never good. Laboring halfway up a barren Colorado hillside in convulsive 100-degree July heat, I beg for mercy– and for shade.

  • The Dihedral Wall

    The Dihedral Wall

    I came to Yosemite early this spring — alone, since Beth Rodden, my wife and usual El Cap partner, was still recovering from a broken foot. When I arrived in the Valley, the weather was crisp and clear — perfect for anything my heart desired.

  • Resurrection of the Dammed

    Resurrection of the Dammed

    The forgotten and flooded Hetch Hetchy Reservoir is poised in the spotlight of a century-old environmental battle, while a small group of climbers continue to push lines above the water. Sean Jones was working another project in the Fjord, which as usual for Sean meant juggling. His little family in El Portal, the center of his life.

  • Rumor Has It (5.11b), Rifle Mountain Park, Colorado

    The first sport climb ever redpointed at Rifle, Colorado, was not a bulging wall of seeping pockets or a blocky overhang overcome with kneebars–it was a vertical gray streak of funky laybacks and edges called Rumor Has It, which climbers today seem to either love or hate.

  • Mt. Baker's classic North Ridge route

    Kings of the Cascades

    Beginning in northern California with Mt. Shasta and Lassen Peak, and extending north to Mt. Garibaldi in British Columbia, this chain of (mostly) extinct volcanoes makes up some of the most distinctive mountain topography anywhere.

  • Scarface (5.11b), Indian Creek, Utah

    Certain climbs just beg for the hero shot: the crazy stem box of El Matador at Devils Tower, for example, or the overhanging headwall of High Exposure at the Gunks, or the wildly exposed sport climbs of Yosemite's Killer Pillar. Nearly every climber who does one of these routes eventually posts the proof at Facebook or Flickr.

  • Davis-Holland to Lovin' Arms (5.10c), Index, Washington

    With a crux of well-protected 5.10 moves and a stunning position above the Central Cascades Skykomish Valley, this six-pitch line on Index's Upper Town Wall provides even the weekend warrior with an unforgettable dose of exposure.

  • Pyscho-Path (5.9+), Big Gypsum Valley, Colorado

    Most of the famous sandstone towers of the Colorado Plateau are in Utah, and most of them are 5.10 or harder. But deep in Big Gypsum Valley, in southwestern Colorado, thereâ's a seldom-climbed tower that goes at a modest 5.9+, yet holds one of the most exciting pitches in the desert. From some angles, Psycho Tower looks a bit like the Geico gecko standing up on its hind legs.

  • Snake Dike (III 5.7 R)

    What makes a route classic? Is it the runouts, the exposure, the quality of movement, the folklore, or the stone itself? In the case of Eric Beck, Jim Bridwell, and Chris Fredericks 1965 route Snake Dike, on the southwest face of Yosemite's Half Dome, the answer to all these questions is a resounding "Yes!" making it a strong contender for the best 5.7 in the Valley, if not the world.

  • Bishop's-Terrace-Yosemite

    Bishop's Terrace (I 5.8), Church Bowl, Yosemite National Park, California

    There's no shortage of splitter climbs in the granite crucible. Exhaustingly long, deadly committing, or outrageously difficult — you’ll find them all. But not all the lines are epic; some appeal more for their friendly flavor and grand aesthetics. One such route lies on the Valley’s northeast end, in the accessible Church Bowl: Bishop’s Terrace.

  • Thirty Pitches of 5.10 in a Day at the Gunks

    After climbing ten 10’s in about 4.5 hours in June, 2008, Rufus Lusk and I thought we should up the ante a bit. Twenty 10’s, perhaps, eleven 11’s, eek, thirty 10’s. YES! As training to climb the Nose in a day, we thought that climbing thirty 5.10’s in a day would be a relatively close approximation of the amount of effort we’d have to put forth.

  • Comic Relief (III 5.10b), Black Canyon of the Gunnison

    In 1983, Ed Webster and Chester Dreiman, two peerless Black pioneers, ducked into morning shade in the SOB gully. Their goal? A clean, grey thousand-foot buttress walking the thin line between spectacular multi-pitch trad and begging for a tasty epic.