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Climbing Trip to the South-West


Original Post
Manuel Mueller · · Unknown Hometown · Joined 7 days ago · Points: 0

Hi guys!

I am Manuel and I live in Austria. I will visit the States together with my girlfriend for 26 days in April 2018 and would like to do some climbing. The flight will go to San Francisco. In my research, I found that there is more or less mainly trad climbing in the popular spots like Yosemite, Joshua Tree, Zion, Indian Creek. Since most of the climbing I have done so far is sport climbing (including some multi pitches), I am not sure if this trip is a good starting point for trad climbing. However, i own some gear which includes:

- Set of nuts

- Camalot C4 1x0.4, 2x 0.5, 2x 0.75, 2x1.0, 1x3.0, 1x4.0

- Camalot X4 0.1 0.2 0.3 one each

Before I am going to get a detailed plan for the trip, I would like to get some recommendations for crags. I have seen that there are good sport climbing crags in the Owens Valley, around St. George, at Red Rocks, and in the Apple Valley. I have also read about marple canyon, however, I think it's a bit off our way.

Do you guys have any tips (gear, guidebooks, crags, ...) for us? :-) In Austria we can climb up to 5.11c, however, I am pretty sure that we are looking for easier climbing for our trip! ;-) We will also bring 1 Crashpad for some bouldering.

Thank you guys!

Best regards from Austria

Manuel Mueller · · Unknown Hometown · Joined 7 days ago · Points: 0

No one? :-)

David N · · Los angeles · Joined May 2017 · Points: 0

Where are you going? All we have is that you are flying into San Francisco. Are there major destinations you plan on seeing? Which states  ir areas I,e. A few days in LA, a week in southern Utah, grand canyon, etc....  where are you flying out Of? 

ViperScale · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2013 · Points: 235

Malibu has alot of single pitch sport climbing if you want that. Yosemite, j-tree, red rock also has some sport climbing. Your best bet would probably be to grab a guide book for the areas you are looking at so you can see sport vs trad routes. I don't know what are the best guide books for the areas for yosemite the one I got was pretty limited but red rocks I got climbers guide II and it has like 500 pages of stuff and seems pretty good. I think st george has some sport climbing walls but only did bouldering when I was there.

Marc801 C · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 65
ViperScale wrote:

Yosemite, j-tree, red rock also has some sport climbing. 

Remember that there's very little sport climbing in Yosemite and J-Tree. What little there is in Yosemite starts at around 11c and since the OP says that's about their max leading limit and looking for somewhat easier climbs....

And to the OP - you have 26 days, so make sure you factor in driving times and realize that Tuolumne Meadows will still be closed in April, meaning no exiting Yosemite on the east side. For destinations to the east, this will add 5+ hrs of driving. And on a 26 day trip, don't bother with Malibu.

mkclimb · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2011 · Points: 408

For what you describe, St. George and Red Rocks sound pretty ideal. 

grog m aka Greg McKee · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 70

Your plan sounds pretty solid. Not much to comment on. Do you have any specific questions?

FrankPS · · Atascadero, CA · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 275
Manuel Mueller wrote:

Hi guys!

I am Manuel and I live in Austria. I will visit the States together with my girlfriend for 26 days in April 2018 and would like to do some climbing. The flight will go to San Francisco. In my research, I found that there is more or less mainly trad climbing in the popular spots like Yosemite, Joshua Tree, Zion, Indian Creek. Since most of the climbing I have done so far is sport climbing (including some multi pitches), I am not sure if this trip is a good starting point for trad climbing. However, i own some gear which includes:

- Set of nuts

- Camalot C4 1x0.4, 2x 0.5, 2x 0.75, 2x1.0, 1x3.0, 1x4.0

- Camalot X4 0.1 0.2 0.3 one each

Before I am going to get a detailed plan for the trip, I would like to get some recommendations for crags. I have seen that there are good sport climbing crags in the Owens Valley, around St. George, at Red Rocks, and in the Apple Valley. I have also read about marple canyon, however, I think it's a bit off our way.

Do you guys have any tips (gear, guidebooks, crags, ...) for us? :-) In Austria we can climb up to 5.11c, however, I am pretty sure that we are looking for easier climbing for our trip! ;-) We will also bring 1 Crashpad for some bouldering.

Thank you guys!

Best regards from Austria

Looks like you need a couple of BD #2's and a couple more small cams and you're golden. 

christopher burton · · Bend, OR · Joined Nov 2010 · Points: 5

Plenty of good sport in Red Rocks as stated above. St George is a must-stop for sport. Several different rock types with every aspect and a variation in elevation zones means you will almost always be able to get out. If you like multi-, fully bolted moderates on sandstone await at Prophecy Wall. Be sure to visit Zen Wall (Sandstone) and all of the nice sharp limestone in the Utah Hills and Woodbury Road. Some trad to be found as well and gem of a bouldering area called Moe's Valley. Snow Canyon has a lot of mixed routes. There's a great guide book available from the climbing shop in town (Rock Climbs of Southwest Utah). You can get by in St George if you wanted on nothing more than a couple fistfuls of quickdraws and a 60 meter rope. Camping can be had easily near to wherever you wish to climb. 

There's some reportedly great sport climbing in the Kolob Canyons portion of Zion as well. Havent visited myself, but its well-regarded.

Indian Creek, and the Moab region in general, is not a huge sport area, but there is some to be found for a couple days-worth if you want to check out that part of Utah. Guidebook would be "Moab Rock Climbs."

Can't help you with the California area, but if you routed your trip from north to south, you could travel due east first towards Salt Lake, which has some pretty great climbing of its own, then south, passing Maple on your way. If you dig sport, its a great location. 

Matt Himmelstein · · Orange, California · Joined Jun 2014 · Points: 125

SF is a good 8 hour drive to LA, and from there 2 hours to Josh.  What do you want to do besides climb?  If this is climbing-centric, and you want to hit tons of spots, then you can start out heading from SF up to Lake Tahoe.  The area is lovely, and there are plenty of options for what to do.  From there, you can head down the Eastern Sierras to the Tioga Pass (if it is open, if we get a decent amount of snow, it is likely to be closed, and may not open until after you leave).  You can take the pass to Toulme Meadows or keep heading to the Owen's Valley Gorge and/or Alabama Hills.  From there, keep heading south to LA and then JTree.  From there, you can get out to Red Rocks in Vegas.  Head back to LA and then drive up the Western Sierras to Yosemite, then back to SF.  It is a lot of driving a bit of backtracking, but not too bad.  An alternative is to go from Owen's/Alabama Hills to Red Rocks, bypassing LA, then hitting Josh and cycling back through LA.  On the way out of Josh, weather dependent, you should hit up Tahquitz and/or Suicide.  From Red Rocks, southern Utah is an easy run, so you can decide if you want to get there or not.  Frankly, you could spend a month is 2 or 3 spots and never get bored, so you have to decide how much you want to see vs. how deep you want to delve into an area.

You should have plenty of gear for anything you want to climb outside of Yosemite.  I've never climbed in Yosemite, so I don't know what you can do with your rack there.

Outside of these spots, there should still be skiing in Tahoe unless it is a really dry winter.  Same for Mammoth Mountain as you head down toward Owen's.  There is sight seeing at Mono Lake and Death Valley as you head down the Eastern Sierras, and there are tons of hiking trails, including the PCT, John Muir Trail, and Mt. Whitney, all of which require permits.  Heading back up the Western Sierras, you can hit King's Canyon for hiking as well.  All of this leaves the coast almost untouched, which is a shame for So Cal, but you can venture out a bit as you pass through LA and hit Malibu before running back toward the mountains.

Keep in mind that weather will play a huge part of your plan, and may or may not force you to change things up.  You can't climb in Red Rocks in the rain or after any decent storm, the sandstone will not support you and you will ruin the climbs.  If there is a big snow year like last year, it may be difficult to get across the Sierras, and it may be cold and wet.

Marc801 C · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 65
Matt Himmelstein wrote:

SF is a good 8 hour drive to LA, and from there 2 hours to Josh.  What do you want to do besides climb?  If this is climbing-centric, and you want to hit tons of spots, then you can start out heading from SF up to Lake Tahoe.  The area is lovely, and there are plenty of options for what to do.  From there, you can head down the Eastern Sierras to the Tioga Pass (if it is open, if we get a decent amount of snow, it is likely to be closed, and may not open until after you leave).  

<snip>

...and there are tons of hiking trails, including the PCT, John Muir Trail, and Mt. Whitney, 

Keep in mind that weather will play a huge part of your plan, and may or may not force you to change things up.

Since 1980, Tioga Pass has opened in April only once, in 1988, and the opening date was April 29. Don't expect Tioga Pass to be open, and expect winter conditions on any of the higher elevation (>8000') hikes.

the schmuck · · Albuquerque, NM · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 110

Hi Manuel. I'll give some advice on areas that I am familiar with within your area of interest. 

Red Rock is a must for both sport and traditional, and is unique to anything you'll find in Europe. Very close by, the Arizona Strip/Saint George area also has fantastic sport climbing on good limestone. 

Maple Canyon has great sport on steep conglomerate, but may be quite cold in April. 

Indian creek has the best cracks anywhere, but can be crowded, and you do need at least a triple rack to do anything worthwhile. A double rack is fine for most easier tower routes. 

Owens River Gorge sport climbing and Bishop bouldering are wonderful, especially in April. 

Joshua Tree is worth a visit for short trad routes on granite as well as for the scenery. Also is pretty crowded. 

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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