/ California - where to go and in what order?

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Captain Gear - on 07 Jan 2013
Hello,

Me and two mates are going to head to California for ten weeks later this year.

We plan to leave the UK around August 20 and leave the US around Nov 1.

We'd like to spend a fair amount of time in Yosemite and Tuolumne, but there are plenty of other areas we'd like to visit, like Red Rocks and the High Sierra.

We are mainly interested in high quality trad routes up to E3/4, but also plan to do a fair bit of big walling whilst in the Valley.

We can afford to hire a car for a bit of trip, but not all of it. I get the impression that buying a car and selling it on at the end of the trip is more trouble than it is worth these days.

We'll all be 23, will that make car hire prohibitively expensive?

At the end of the trip two of us are going to continue on to Patagonia. Does anyone know of a cheap/free place we can leave a big bag full of alpine climbing gear securely for 10 weeks?

Can anyone who has spent a fair amount of time in the area suggest a good itinerary for us?

My current thoughts are along the lines of:
Fly to LA and hire a car.
Weeks 1-3: Spend in the Needles and visit the Incredible Hulk. It won't be quite as hot there then right?
Weeks 4-8: Get rid of the car and spend our time in Yosemite/Tuolumne
Weeks 9 & 10: Hire a car once more and visit Red Rocks, before ditching the car in Vegas and getting a Greyhound Bus back to LA to fly home/on. Red rocks won't be too hot then?

We'll be planning on camping for the whole trip this shouldn't be a problem should it?

Any dos, do nots and top tips to save money would be greatly appreciated.

Also how much would you expect living in the states to cost? We don't want to live a life of luxury, but equally we want enough money to afford decent food and to be able to do the occasional touristy thing when the weather is bad/we're knackered.

Cheers,

Tom



Hirosim - on 07 Jan 2013
In reply to Captain Gear:

Deja Vu Showgirls - sunset strip
1poundSOCKS - on 07 Jan 2013
In reply to Captain Gear: I climbed at Red Rocks at the end of September and it was hot, but I was happy enough on easy single pitch trad routes, for harder sport climbing we were hiding from the sun. Camping is basic and is $15 a night, pit toilets and no showers. I just hid behind a toilet block, and stripped down with a big bottle of water and some shower gel. The other option is to use the climbing gym in town, they have showers.

I then spent the first 2 weeks of October in Yosemite, which was pretty cold at night & first thing in the morning (take a decent sleeping bag!), but climbing in the sun can be a bit punishing, especially on longer routes (although I think October is as good as it gets for conditions). Camping at Camp 4 is $5 a night, but again it's basic with no showers. To get a shower it's $5 and a free bus ride away, in Curry Village, but some unscrupulous types take there own towel and sneak in.
1poundSOCKS - on 07 Jan 2013
In reply to Captain Gear: Just to add, the cost of camping at Red Rocks is per pitch, which I think takes up to 2 tents/4 people, Camp 4 was per person.
Offwidth - on 07 Jan 2013
In reply to Captain Gear: Maybe keep the car long term rentals give good rates and with all the fannying around you probably won't save much money and you will waste much more time (sightsee when you are trashed). The boot is mega useful for gear storage (leave no food overnight though!). Add Tarquiz/Suicide and Sequoia to the start of the trip and Lake Tahoe somewhere. Red Rocks is warm then but the shady cooler routes should be Ok (esp Ice Box Canyon). Buy an annual pass for all parks. Haggle if you stay at a motel and avoid tourist spots (except Vegas which has dirt cheap rooms midweek). Stock up on food beer etc way before you get near the parks. Camping is free in the national forests for Needles and Sequoia. Be at Yosemite for the facelift: good karma for cleaning a bit, free climbing films and talks (think mini-Kendal without the kagoule crowd) and cheap beer and food.
Stig - on 07 Jan 2013
In reply to Captain Gear: By coincidence, just downloaded my soundtrack to my California trip, western dream by bob Sinclar - recommended driving tunes!

From Yosemite/Tuolumne I would recommend driving down to bishop and then on to Vegas. then you can visit the high sierra as you say, plus death valley and the bouldering in bishop is obviously world class. Red rocks is awesome and you should go to the g canyon. I didn't and regret it. Then presumably back via josh tree when the temps will be more reasonable. Tahqitz (sp?) is supposed to be worth a visit, it's near LA but is high up.

Even just driving from tuolumne to bishop you are in one of the most stunning landscapes I've ever seen. Especially if you're into geology/geography. I've been all over the world but would still say Cali is the most diverse and consistently breathtaking country I've been to. People are cool too.
Stig - on 07 Jan 2013
In reply to Offwidth: yeah keep the car, you're inviting faff otherwise and you'll miss loads. Yose is quite cheap really. Pay for a weeks camping in camp 4 then you can doss, or go to tuolumne ad come back. Pm me if you want details.

My wife went to cali when under 25 and I don't think they had a problem with hire cars. That was a decade ago though sadly :-(
Captain Gear - on 07 Jan 2013
Cheers for the tips... Any idea how much it would cost to hire a car for 10 weeks? Who are good companies to go with? Rent a wreck?

Cheers,
Simon_Sheff - on 07 Jan 2013
In reply to Captain Gear:
> Cheers for the tips... Any idea how much it would cost to hire a car for 10 weeks? Who are good companies to go with? Rent a wreck?
>
> Cheers,

Check this link

http://bit.ly/SfCPkL
Offwidth - on 07 Jan 2013
In reply to Captain Gear:

Try asking on UKB, Supertopo or Mountain Project as well and ignore smart arses here suggesting Google: you are much more likely to get good info from climbers as you need to factor other issues against your needs (service quality, breakdown response, insurance extras etc). When Moff and I go we always seem to get our best deals for the 2-4 week typical duration from Alamo but we are never on a tight budget (we always order an economy always get asked at the airport if we want to pay for an uopgrade to compact, we always say no, then always get given at least a compact for no extra charge anyhow).
lost1977 - on 07 Jan 2013
In reply to Captain Gear:

with 10 weeks why limit yourself top Cali could easily make a trip in to Oregon for places such as smith rock
pyrfordpaul on 07 Jan 2013
Just in case you don't know, there is a 1 week per-person per-year limit at Camp 4 in Yosemite. Well there was when I was there in Summer 2011, they enforced this rule.

If there's 2 of you then you can easily extend it to 2 weeks by sharing a tent and only registering one of you as being there for each week.
Offwidth - on 07 Jan 2013
In reply to pyrfordpaul:

Are you sure that is true I hear they are much less strict in the true climbing season when most of the tourists have gone. I thought the camp 4 7 day is May to mid Sept (before the best climbing time anyhow).
Jonny2vests - on 07 Jan 2013
In reply to pyrfordpaul: I think it goes up after Sep 15th and its easily circumvented anyway.
Simon_Sheff - on 07 Jan 2013
In reply to Offwidth:
> (In reply to Captain Gear)
>
> Try asking on UKB, Supertopo or Mountain Project as well and ignore smart arses here suggesting Google: you are much more likely to get good info from climbers as you need to factor other issues against your needs (service quality, breakdown response, insurance extras etc). When Moff and I go we always seem to get our best deals for the 2-4 week typical duration from Alamo but we are never on a tight budget (we always order an economy always get asked at the airport if we want to pay for an uopgrade to compact, we always say no, then always get given at least a compact for no extra charge anyhow).

Still touchy! :-)
phja - on 07 Jan 2013
In reply to Captain Gear:

In reply to Simon_Sheff:

Me and my gf are planning a trip to the usa and we are hiring a campervan from: www.escapecampervans.com. No higher rates for additional drivers and you don't have to be over 25 years old.

Bob_the_Builder - on 07 Jan 2013
In reply to Captain Gear:

"Also how much would you expect living in the states to cost? We don't want to live a life of luxury, but equally we want enough money to afford decent food and to be able to do the occasional touristy thing when the weather is bad/we're knackered."

I suspect if you post on mountainproject or one of the other US based climbing forums you'll find some very mellow climbers willing to offer you a place to stay for a few days. I lived in California for ages and all the climbers I know there are super friendly. There's a large concentration of climbers in Berkeley (if you're prepared to put up with loads of hipsters) which is a great place to be to see the SF Bay area. If you're down in LA its pretty cool to check out the bouldering at Stoney Point where LA bouldering started and a few of the Yosemite big walling guys learned to climb with pegs and stuff way back. There's also Joshua Tree national park which has some good trad I believe.

I'll be in California then too but I'm not at your grade at all!
SARS on 07 Jan 2013
In reply to Captain Gear:

Tuolumne
Yosemite
Bishops
J Tree
Red Rocks
Pinnacles National Monument
Jailhouse
Mickey's Beach - nah don't bother

Non climbing:
L.A. beaches
San Fran
San Diego

So much to do there, no about of time will be enough. Enjoy, I'm very jealous
PaulTanton - on 08 Jan 2013
Hi Tom,
In the valley camping at Camp 4 is the cheapest and a great laugh. You won't need a car as the shuttle is very convenient for climbers. Also parking is a pain in the valley.
As for Tuolumne transport is a bit more tricky. If you camp up at the shop area getting lifts with other climbers is possible.
Not sure how easy it would be to walk everywhere. The campsite is a tad expensive now.
A cheap option is to camp at a site before you get to the lake. Can't remember the name of it now but will look in the guide. It's basic, no water and a compost loo, but a nice site. Spent 10 days there with no problem. We got some big water bottle etc and swame in the lake most days.
I met some brits who camped outside of the valley cos it was cheap, but they had their gear knicked from the tent. Big problem.

August will be way too hot for the valley and posibly Tuolumne. September is nice in Tuolumne but it will get cold at night. Take a good sleeping bag and duvet. There will be snow at the end of september in Tuolumne and the Needles. The Needles could be ok in Aug/Sept. Great climbing. End of September and October is great in the Valley. Really nice tempreture.

Good luck
Offwidth - on 08 Jan 2013
In reply to PaulTanton:

That site is White Wolf I've stayed there a few times waiting for a space to open in Tuolumne when busy in Sept. It has an OK cafe and also has bouldering on the campsite. There is another two sites Porcupine and Tamarack Flat that are $10 a night but no water and just a pit toilet. For a group Camp 4 isn't that cheap and Ive seen theft there as well.

http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/nrcamping.htm

Tuolumne is OK in August and I think is higher altitude than the Needles. On hot days you start early, late or look for shade.
Captain Gear - on 08 Jan 2013
In reply to PaulTanton:

Cheers for the responses everyone. Toying with the idea of hiring a camper van for the whole ten weeks.

Could we park up for free in the Valley, Tuolomne, Red Rocks and the Needles with one?

Cheers,
Offwidth - on 08 Jan 2013
In reply to Captain Gear:

Camper vans are a good bit more expensive than a car to hire, are slower and use more fuel. There is no free overnight parking in Yosemite: you pay the same rate per pitch whatever your sleeping format. I've already said the Needles area (and Sequoia) has free camping (van or tent). People have parked up in some areas around Red Rocks but you can get fined in some places (plus they are real hot on stuff like this there at the moment ...eg. first time we had to use a passport to prove our pass ID ever in the US this Dec; several people were fined for being late in the park without late passes (you apply for these) or overnight parking in laybys just outside the park).

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