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Gregory Medak · · Schoharie, NY · Joined Aug 2016 · Points: 5

Hey all, I am an engineering student from upstate New York who is looking to road trip out west alone for the summer, live out of my car / a tent and climb everyday. I want to be prepared as possible beforehand. HELP ME FIGURE OUT WHERE, POSSIBLE PLACES I COULD SLEEP, PLACES I COULD GET FOOD, WHERE I SHOULD CLIMB BASED ON TIME OF YEAR, ETC. I have been climbing for 3 years and trad climbing for 1. I am mainly looking to trad climb, coming from the gunks and the Adirondacks, trad is what I enjoy most. I would be open to some sport suggestions as well though. So this semester ends in mid may, then I will drive out west. The only destination I know for certain is Hailley Idaho, I have a family friend there who would give me a bed to sleep on so I could recharge and go grocery shopping and shower. So I am definitely going to spend a few weeks in City of Rocks (can I tent anywhere?), and I would also like to spend some time in the Sawtooths  (sleeping situation?). 

So, I will be coming from New York and heading towards Hailley Idaho. What phenomenal climbing destinations are reasonable to drive to / on the way? I would love to hit some longer multipitches towards the end of my trip (I was thinking Zion). Lastly, as I concrete the dates and the places I will be I am going to start posting a lot in partner finders, but if you read this and would be willing to mentor / show me around an area, or even refer me to a friend, please reach out to me at 5189357359 or

Old lady H · · Boise, ID · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 863

For starters, it's "Hailey", not "Hailley".

What sort of climbing would thrill you? What do you dream of doing? What are your absolute must see/do/experience items? I could give you three months worth, just based from Hailey. 

It's your adventure! Run wild with it, post up your lust list, and then let the MPers help you tether it back to reality. 

But only a little.

Best, OLH

Gregory Medak · · Schoharie, NY · Joined Aug 2016 · Points: 5

I would love to get on some splitter cracks in Indian Creek but I hear it's a little toasty in the summer. So my rough hit list is:

Devils Tower, Telluride, Tetons, San Juans, Zion, Red Rocks. 

Please give me 3 months worth, that's the goal :). I am open to any suggestions which make dirtbagging easy, then I'll do some research on the area. 

slim · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Dec 2004 · Points: 1,107

devils tower, red rocks, and zion will be hot as balls in the summer.  i would recommend trying to hit alpine areas.  they will have better temps and they will be a nice change of pace from ny.  here are some random suggestions.  ellngwood arete (crestone needle, sangre de christos, co), wham ridge (vestal peak, san juans, co), various routes in rocky mountain national park (co), tetons (wy), wind rivers (wy), sawtooths (id), washington pass routes (wa).

Old lady H · · Boise, ID · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 863

If you're spending time at City, pop for the newest guidebook by Dave Bingham. It's worth every penny, the man's paid his dues in spades here, for years, and worthy of support.

There is "camping" on BLM land outside City, and a great hot spring in "town", that being Almo. Drop some bucks there, nice people.

Sawtooths, Elephants Perch is classic, but look at other stuff too, like Warbonnet. Big, big, exposure.

The Fins is over toward the Teton side of the state, that's where the really ridiculously hard stuff is, but apparently some moderates have gone in now too.

Massacre rocks has a bazillion sport routes. Again, BLM. Find a flat spot without too many cow pies, call it home. That pretty much defines BLM camping, by the way, far as I can tell.

There are lots of other areas, some of it pretty remote and some quite unique. Do some digging, that's part of the adventure!

Best, Helen

David Kerkeslager · · New Paltz, NY · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 137

I've idly planned a similar road trip, mostly looking at the map. I'll say that if you drive straight across the US from here, there's a big gap between the Gunks and Devil's Lake, and another big gap between Devil's Lake and The Needles. If you're looking to meander around climbing, that feels like wasted time.

A crescent-shaped path going down through Seneca, New River Gorge, Red River Gorge, Obed, Chattanooga, Horseshoe Canyon Ranch, Wichita Wildlife Refuge, and Albequerque gets you to the Rockies without more than a day's drive between climbing spots. Once you're in Albequerque, it's fairly easy to come up with a route that goes through lots of amazing climbing on your way up to Idaho. This route also gives you a lot of options for smaller destinations between the big ones, i.e. you could stop for a day in Ralph Stover State Park between the Gunks and Seneca.

Chet Butterworth · · Chattanooga · Joined Jan 2013 · Points: 465

^ that's a lot of driving and the fuel/food costs + road weariness adds up. I travel west each summer to climb and work (i.e., take kids up mountains) and prefer to push through, get there, and enjoy the "big mountains."  

Invest in a high end cooler (like a Yeti or Orca) and listen to this You'll eat like a king on the cheap. 

In a thread like this, a lot of folks will tell to pick a destination and stay there for weeks. They're right. But if you're like me, you'll get antsy after more than one week. Resist it. Stay and get to know the place. Like really know it. And if you're in the Black Hills/ NE Wyoming/ SW Montana area mid-to-late July, let me know. I'll be passing through on my way to Canada and looking for partners. 

Gregory Medak · · Schoharie, NY · Joined Aug 2016 · Points: 5

Thanks guys, this is all really helpful. What about California? I am not sure I am ready for the immensity of Yosemite walls, and the crowdedness and traffic is discouraging; but what about Joshua tree and the needles? Too warm during June and July? Also what is the likelihood of bad weather in the Sawtooth mountains during early summer months?

Mark P. · · Luzern, Schweiz · Joined May 2013 · Points: 760

I've done the Needles in CA in July - perfect time to do it. J Tree might be a bit hot then. In the summer, I would stick to Tahoe, down 395 (Mammoth, Bishop, Lone Pine, etc.), and other hotspots in teh Sierras (Needles). Tons of camping options, epic climbing, and a mix of alpine, trad, and sport.

A couple years ago I did Denver --> Moab (Castleton, Fisher towers) --> Indian Creek --> North Rim of Grand Canyon (amazing free camping on the rim in National Forest land), --> Red Rocks (yes it was hot in May but it's not that bad, especially if you can stay in the shade. It's a dry heat.....) --> ORG/Bishop --> Mammoth --> Tuolomne Meadows --> Tahoe.

All in May. Hot in spots but that keeps the crowds away and it was epic. 

stolo · · Shelby, NC · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 220


Garth Sundem · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jan 2011 · Points: 15

Many years ago, I did that same drive just after graduating from college in Upstate New York. Like you, I had learned to climb in the 'Gunks and 'Daks and had big eyes for big climbs out west. Of course, I got absolutely spanked at pretty much every place I stopped the car, and you might too, but that's just part of heading out into the world as a climber for the first time. 

One thing I'd say is stay north in the Summer. You would LOVE moderate multipitching in Red Rock, but it's just too damn hot that time of year. And the Valley is gonna be a beat-down, both in terms of routes and logistics. Unfortunately, I'd say the same beat-down might be likely in RMNP, Tetons and the Eastern Sierra: Maybe leave these big alpine areas for your NEXT trip? 

What about getting all the lame driving out of the way in a few brutal chunks and spending half your time in City of Rocks and half your time in Squamish? Both are PERFECT summer areas, both with easy logistics, both with the opportunity to grab partners, and both with a range of lines that will let you find your grade. As an odd little side-note, consider finding a partner and stopping by Humbug Spires in Montana -- it'd be right on your way and you'd love The Mutt and Jeff on the Wedge.

And if you end up passing through the Boulder area, ping me and I'd be very happy to show you around Eldo!

DRusso · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2014 · Points: 740

If you have the whole summer i would highly recommend heading all the way out west and going to Squamish. Its perfect in the summer, the rock is amazing and there is a bunch of trad climbing. Plus plenty of places to sleep in your car, cheap food, and lots of cool people to meet and hang out with.

builttospill · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2006 · Points: 0

Gregory, a lot of the recommendations you're getting depend a lot on your preferences.  How interested are you in climbing long, easy alpine routes?  Do you have any experience in "proper" mountains?  How interested are you in hiking/backpacking, or other outdoors stuff aside from climbing?  How hard do you climb?

My ideal summer trip in the West would involve a couple of weeks in the Tetons, a week in the Bugaboos, etc. but -- based on what you've posted -- I think you are probably looking for something a little different.  

Old lady H · · Boise, ID · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 863
Gregory Medak wrote:

Thanks guys, this is all really helpful. What about California? I am not sure I am ready for the immensity of Yosemite walls, and the crowdedness and traffic is discouraging; but what about Joshua tree and the needles? Too warm during June and July? Also what is the likelihood of bad weather in the Sawtooth mountains during early summer months?

You've not been in the west at all, I assume?

Look at the charts for these areas on MP. You'll see that some fools are climbing almost anywhere, anytime, but you'll also get a feel for the climbing season.

For Idaho, first, it doesn't just settle in and rain nonstop here. That's rare. Afternoon thunderstorms are the thing to be aware of. Around 6,000 feet, it could get cold overnight, but the days will be pleasant. That would be all of our mountain towns, as well as COR.

South of the mountains, along the Snake river plain, it is all basalt, and warms up quickly. Rain overnight, or in the morning would not stop some afternoon climbing, especially south of the mountains. There are several small areas you might enjoy that would be day trips from Hailey. Ditto from COR. If it's chilly there, go on a day trip.

You'll need those higher elevations, or go farther north, for July and August. I've not been to Squamish, but that and the Sawtooths sound like a good plan. COR can be toasty, but you can chase shade. Remember, you will also have really long evenings.

We've had a lower snowpack on the southern end, and normal or higher up north. Mountains shouldn't be half the summer melting out, and in fact, maple trees are blooming today, very, very, early. Be flexible for weather. 

There's an old thread on here, someone made a map of major climbing areas as a gift for a friend. That could spark some ideas for routes, and then look at the those areas on the pages.

Be outgoing, eager to learn, and the bright eyed kid you are. You will have a huge amount of fun, especially in those places populated mostly by climbers. You will need to post for partners for the Sawtooths, but COR is over 80% climbers for visitors. 

As others have said, keep driving distances in mind. Idaho is a long ways from everywhere, with lots of nothing in between.

The one thing I can guarantee? It won't be what you expected, or go entirely as planned. That's part of the fun of it!

Best, Helen

Garret Nuzzo-Jones · · Salt Lake City, UT · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 1,446
Old lady H wrote:

Sawtooths, Elephants Perch is classic, but look at other stuff too, like Warbonnet. Big, big, exposure.

Warbonnet is one of the coolest alpine routes I've ever done. I've never been more puckered on a 5.4 pitch in my entire life. Those first few moves off the levitating chockstone get your blood pumping. I try to describe it to people but even the photos don't do it proper justice. That mountain is a full experience (stunning approach and camping situation included).

Albi Eds · · Brooklyn, NY · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 26

I would say keep to one area/state per week/month, stretching yourself out to hit all the areas takes its toll and the first day should be a scout day to get your sense of the area. As suggested stay up north for the summer and at higher altitudes; Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and the PNW will give you plenty of options. Best of luck!

caesar.salad · · earth · Joined Dec 2012 · Points: 75


J W · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,535
caesar.salad wrote:



Seriously. Stop in some places with good weather on the way, check out the Seattle area and the Cascades, but Squamish is the place to be in July and August if you like moderate multi-pitch trad with easy approaches, great people, and amazing weather. 

Hobo Greg · · My Van · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 175

Give me, do it for me, please, do it for me!

Lin Robinson · · Albuquerque, NM · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 30


Robert Hall · · North Conway, NH · Joined Aug 2013 · Points: 16,318

If "in Northern Utah and Idaho" is your goal, don't forget the Cottonwood Canyons by Salt Lake City.  Although SLC can be super hot in summer, the canyons are high enough to be cool; and if not you can "work the shade".  Big Cottonwood is high quality limestone, Little Cottonwood is granite.  I've always stayed with a friend, so I don't know about camping but don't think it would be a big problem. Mostly Nat. Forest. 

City of Rocks "rocks"...don't miss it. 

Sawteeth like Elephant Perch etc.....there's certainly some easier ' mountaineering' stuff there to solo, but if you are alone I don't know about the chances of finding a partner. We saw no other climbers when were were in there about 10 yrs ago...maybe the scene has changed. (Also, "old school" grades) 

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

Northern Utah & Idaho

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