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Mount Charleston

Nevada > Southern Nevada
Access Issue: Mount Charleston Wilderness Area Details

Description

This is one of the premier/most controversial climbing destinations in the US, if hard limestone routes are what you're seeking. The beautiful surroundings, overhanging caves, and cooler temperatures make Mt. Charleston a welcomed escape from the desert heat of Las Vegas during the summer months. Mt. Charleston is most well-known for having chipped routes and its hard pocketed testpieces such as Jason Campbell's Soul Train: 5.14a, Chris Sharma's Hasta La Vista: 5.14b/c, and Dan McQuade's Infectious Groove: 5.13b. Other climbers of note who contributed to the excellent climbing up on the mountaintop include Tony Yaniro, Randy Marsh, Leo Henson, Terry Parish, Rob Mulligan, Joe Brooks, Francois LeGrand, Doug Englekirk, etc. etc. etc. Mt. Charleston also sports numerous other quality lines ranging from 5.10 and up, so if you are in Vegas and looking to avoid the scorching sun and overcrowding of Red Rocks, head 45 minutes north to this pine tree oasis.

Note: The majority of the information I've posted on Mt. Charleston came directly from the guidebook Islands In The Sky, and proper credit should be given to its authors; Dan McQuade, Randy Leavitt, and Mick Ryan.

Much of this area is in the Mount Charleston Wilderness Area. See the BLM Fact Sheet for a good overview of what it protects and what that limits, and the Forest Service page for other information. One important distinction for route developers is that it's illegal to use power drills in a wilderness area, and bad ethics to operate one within earshot of one. As always, check with and respect the local climbing community on what goes where before doing such things.

Getting There

The Mount Charleston area is located forty minutes west of Las Vegas in the Toiyabe National Forest. Take Hwy 95 north out of Vegas. Shortly after the houses stop, you will see a sign directing you to turn left for Kyle Canyon Road (Nevada State Route 157). Head up this road for several miles until you reach the area you're looking for. Most of the climbing is past the turnoff for Lee Canyon via Deer Creek Road (State Route 158).

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

Just another pretty chunk of limestone viewed from the summit of Cathedral Rock.<br>
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Taken 4/21/09
[Hide Photo] Just another pretty chunk of limestone viewed from the summit of Cathedral Rock. Taken 4/21/09
Curtis LaBouff exiting the Roost Cave on America's Most Wanted.
[Hide Photo] Curtis LaBouff exiting the Roost Cave on America's Most Wanted.
Mt. Charleston via South Fork in mid November.
[Hide Photo] Mt. Charleston via South Fork in mid November.
Distant Mt.Charleston framed by a joshua tree in bloom.<br>
Photo by Blitzo.
[Hide Photo] Distant Mt.Charleston framed by a joshua tree in bloom. Photo by Blitzo.
Good times clipping bolts @ Charleston
[Hide Photo] Good times clipping bolts @ Charleston
One of my favorite views of Mummy Mountain is from the Cathedral Rock summit.<br>
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Taken 4/21/09
[Hide Photo] One of my favorite views of Mummy Mountain is from the Cathedral Rock summit. Taken 4/21/09
James sending Gun Tower.
[Hide Photo] James sending Gun Tower.
Mike Bond entering the crux high on The Belltower.
[Hide Photo] Mike Bond entering the crux high on The Belltower.
Dave Sorrick and David Farmer on the approach in to the Hose Monster.
[Hide Photo] Dave Sorrick and David Farmer on the approach in to the Hose Monster.
January 17, 2015
[Hide Photo] January 17, 2015
Low Pull
[Hide Photo] Low Pull

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

[Hide Comment] Campgrounds of Mt. Charleston: (dead link removed)

The 'Hilltop' is the most popular campground, and has warm showers (coin operated). Make your reservations way ahead of time, if planning on being there in the summer/warmer months. Oct 3, 2006
Mike Dudley
Vegas
[Hide Comment] There are not that many routes listed here on MP but there are a lot of routes up there. Grab a guide book and enjoy the super hard and sharp limestone! Jun 22, 2009
[Hide Comment] Keep an eye on the fixed link draws in the area, especially at crux's. After taking a couple of good sized falls on the crux of The Great Train Robbery, (the bolt below the ledge), I managed to core shot my rope on a carabiner that had been worn down enough to create an edge. I have replaced this biner, but that is not to say that it won't happen again or that there aren't more biners such as this one.

I would like to stress the importance of keeping your rope on a rope bag during belays as to keep dirt and debris from wearing down the surface of draws. It was kind enough of our fellow craggers to put these permanent fixtures up, but it is our job to keep them safe. Oct 5, 2010
Rod J.
Bend, OR
[Hide Comment] I kept hearing that Mt. Charleston was North of Las Vegas, so I thought it was up highway 93. Turns out that it is due (magnetic (+11 deg.)) West of Las Vegas.

Another way to look at it is that if the North portion of highway 215 were to continue West, it would pass North of Mt. Charleston!

Hope this saves somebody a trip up highway 93. Mar 30, 2016
[Hide Comment] I'm guessing this was you as well then?

reviewjournal.com/news/las-… Apr 6, 2016
Sam Thompson
Missoula, Montana
[Hide Comment] soul train is 5.13d fyi Jun 10, 2016
Bat Soup
Denver, CO
[Hide Comment] A lot of people have told me this area is extremely sand bagged. I just got back from my first trip here and would have to disagree with that idea. I generally climb well featured high friction overhanging sandstone so making the transition was definitely difficult for me. But once I figured out how to climb the limestone here the grades felt in line with most areas I have climbed at. It was also interesting to find that the harder the grades got the better the holds were! This is a great summer climbing destination that I highly recommend to anyone climbing at least llc and above. While Vegas is 120 degrees out Mt Charleston is in the 60-70s and shade can be found! If you do climb here be prepared to become a better rock climber as most of the routes 12 and under demand flawless technique. My only complaint is that while the bolt spacing is great the bolt placement can sometimes be annoying. A few routes would have a bolt in the middle of a crux instead of near the jug's before and after the crux. Jul 10, 2016
[Hide Comment] Left a pair of mythos shoes at base of Nueva Esperanza wall on 6/6/18. If found and kind please contact me. Thx mikesatzy@aol.com. Update and special thanks to Christopher and mountain project for getting my shoes back to me. Btw Mt Charleston is relly nice place to climb and escape the heat down at red rocks Jun 10, 2018