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world's best trad climbing areas

Original Post
Brad Larson · · portland · Joined Apr 2019 · Points: 0

Enjoyed the sport climbing thread. It was news to me that North America doesn't have the world's best sport climbing. I assume that NA's trad climbing is among the best in the world. Yosemite, J Tree, Squamish.  Where else is world class?

Nick Thomas · · Duluth, MN · Joined Nov 2016 · Points: 35

Indian Creek

Red Rock maybe? Although a lot of the "trad" lines are fairly sporty in style, even on huge multipitches.

The Bugs

Salamanizer Ski · · Off the Grid… · Joined Sep 2005 · Points: 19,003

The Sierra has the best, most abundant trad climbing in the world. Some other areas rival it, but not in terms of size and scale. 

Eric Engberg · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2009 · Points: 0

Cham, Dolomites, Bugs, Squish, the Valley. And probably dozens of areas in eastern Europe.

JCM · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2008 · Points: 115

Trad climbing is a broader category than sport climbing, which makes direct comparisons harder. Indian Creek and the Bugaboos are both world class, but are so different that you can't really compare them. Whereas in the sport climbing thread you can very easily make a comparison between Smith and Siurana. There is also the question of how strict to make the "world class" definition. Is is a top-5 areas list, or a top-50 areas list?

In any case, Yosemite and Indian Creek are clearly world class, by any definition. Squamish, Bugs, and Red Rocks are also strong contenders for that title.  

The Sierra Nevada in general offer a world-class selection of multipitch granite,  but which areas to call world-class within the region depends how you split it up. The Hulk and the Needles are obvious examples of amazing formations with world-class climbing, but not big enough on their own (in terms of # of routes) to rival somewhere like Yosemite or Squamish. So maybe we should just say that California is to multipitch granite what Spain is to limestone sport climbing, and leave it at that.

Areas that are NOT world class: Eldo and Index. Both are worthwhile locally/regionally notable areas, with some rabid adherents that believe them to be world class. Not the case.

JCM · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2008 · Points: 115

To break things up into a few categories:

Single pitch trad cragging: Indian Creek, Arapiles, Peak District, Pembroke, Squamish, JTree, Elbsandstein

Multipitch Trad Climbing (non-alpine): Yosemite, Red Rocks, Squamish, Wadi Rum, Verdon (ok, largely bolted, but couldn't not list it)

Alpine Rock Climbing* :  Dolomites, High Sierra, Bugaboos
* As differentiated in various vague ways from true alpine climbing, like you have in El Chalten

Creed Archibald · · Salt Lake City, UT · Joined Apr 2012 · Points: 1,021
JCM wrote:
Areas that are NOT world class: Eldo and Index. Both are worthwhile locally/regionally notable areas, with some rabid adherents that believe them to be world class. Not the case.

Last time I questioned the "world classiness" of Index on MP, I was branded a libtard snowflake wiener who doesn't climb hard enough to appreciate the power of Index. Good luck, brother.


I also feel that the desert towers surrounding Moab are "world class," sometimes for the climbing, but always for the outrageous position and summits. 
Marc801 C · · Sandy, Utah · Joined Feb 2014 · Points: 65
JCM wrote: Areas that are NOT world class: Eldo and Index. Both are worthwhile locally/regionally notable areas, with some rabid adherents that believe them to be world class. Not the case.

Yet in the 70's when climbers traveled to the states, there were 3 epicenters of climbing that were  on every visiting climber's hit list: Yosemite, Eldo, and the Gunks.

Mike Womack · · Orcutt, CA · Joined Mar 2014 · Points: 2,015

I think City of Rocks (Idaho), Needles, and Lovers Leap should be throw into the mix.  Havn't been but same with Liming, China. 

Not MP Admin · · The OASIS · Joined Nov 2018 · Points: 17

Yostemite and Indian Creek are the only ones in the USA that come to mind as "world's" best.....mentioning RR (or AF  ) on here is less hilarious than the sport thread, but still not an international destination in my opinion.

An interesting interpretation that I haven't seen mentioned yet (might have missed it though) is whether to consider alpine areas such as the Bugaboos, The Diamond, Eastern Sierras, Alaskan areas etc (not saying I would include them, but maybe worth mentioning)

Deven Lewis · · Idaho falls · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 260

+1 for red rocks, easy access great weather and loads of options and no unnecessary run outs on most routes

WA pass for great views loads of options and if you stay away from the liberty bell group no crowds. And not many place you can ski and climb all in the same day.

Gunks just really fun pulling a 5.6 roof. And really well maintained trails and you get to see how much of a weakling you are compared to John gill.

Lone Pine · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2014 · Points: 0
Mike Womack wrote: I think City of Rocks (Idaho), Needles, and Lovers Leap should be throw into the mix.  Havn't been but same with Liming, China. 

The Needles totally suck. Do you even climb?

Not MP Admin · · The OASIS · Joined Nov 2018 · Points: 17
Jake Jones wrote: Single pitch stuff- my favorite is the NRG.  From 5.8 to 5.12, the NRG has some of the most aesthetic and varied face and crack climbing in the east.  Also, the rock is VERY conducive to trad climbing.  Idk how many times I've whipped on Peenuts or .1 and .2 cams there, but it's a lot, and I've never had one rip (knock on wood).   Most people think of sport climbing at the New, but if 5.10 and 5.11 cracks are your thing, it's really hard to beat.  The only detractors in my opinion are if you're looking for more than single pitch, and the bouts of bad weather that can last a while sometimes.  Other than that, it's fantastic.

I wholeheartedly agree that the has some of the best (and most underrated) single pitch trad routes in the country, but it is 100% not an international destination for gear routes exclusively. The weather alone eliminates the majority of international visitors, factor in the distance from an international airport and lack of camping (relatively speaking) and I don’t think people from outside the US would visit. 

saign charlestein · · Tacoma WA · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 1,705

Don’t leave Australia out. Arapalies, blue mtns, and the Grampians (although currently dealing with closures) are all amazing with thousands of single and multi pitch routes on amazing stone. Not to mention the access and amazing sport routes at the same spots

Not MP Admin · · The OASIS · Joined Nov 2018 · Points: 17
saign charlestein wrote: Don’t leave Australia out. Arapalies, blue mtns, and the Grampians (although currently dealing with closures) are all amazing with thousands of single and multi pitch routes on amazing stone. Not to mention the access and amazing sport routes at the same spots

I'm surprised nobody mentioned this in the sport thread

Kristian Solem · · Monrovia, CA · Joined Apr 2004 · Points: 1,050

Just sayin'

Gumby boy king · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2019 · Points: 547
Kristian Solem wrote: Just sayin'

Looks like choss. Do you see those massive flakes ready to blow at any moment?

Sean Post · · Golden, CO · Joined Apr 2017 · Points: 31

To the extent that "world's best" includes beautiful/striking locales and views, probably an honorable mention for Zion (even if the climbing itself isn't that good/varied).

Jim T · · Colorado · Joined Jun 2012 · Points: 469

From reading the two threads, it seems like there can only be “10” world class crags.  Number “11” doesn’t make the cut.  Pretty strict definition it seems.

JCM · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2008 · Points: 115

My preferred definition of "world class": For an area to be world class, you need to be able to make a reasonable argument that the area is as good as any other area within the same genre of climbing.

Example: Is Squamish a world class area for multipitch trad? Lets compare it to an obviously world class area: Yosemite. Does Squamish measure up? While Squamish does not have the big walls of Yosemite, I believe that for what most climbers are looking for (1-day free routes in the 5.9 to 5.12 range), Squamish is arguably as good as Yosemite. Y'know- U Wall vs Astroman. It doesn't have to be better, but just needs to stand reasonably eye-to-eye. So, I think it is fair to call Squamish world class, within that style. Now lets compare another granite area: Lumpy Ridge. Is Lumpy and good as Yosemite? Does it hold up to the scrutiny? Probably not; not world class (but still an awesome crag).

The finer you slice the genres, the better chance of hitting world-class status. Is Vedauwoo a world-class area for trad climbing, in a general sense. Methinks no. But if you narrow the genre to single-pitch OW climbing, then it is world class.

The Weavers · · High Falls NY · Joined Apr 2009 · Points: 10

The Gunks for roadside multi-pitch of every grade and spectacular rock quality.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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