Looking at a 3 week trip to California next month. What would be the best destinations for some easy climbing? Thinking about up to vs and will have car and tent.
Your problem will be winter - Needles might be out, and the passes over the Sierra may be closed making it difficult to get between Yosemite and Red Rocks / Joshua Tree.
> Looking at a 3 week trip to California next month. What would be the best destinations for some easy climbing? Thinking about up to vs and will have car and tent.
Starting to get quite cold in many California climbing areas in November. Joshua Tree and Red Rocks (Nevada) should be nice tho. Maybe Taquitz and Suicide Rocks would be nice then but I don’t know as I’ve not been: https://www.mountainproject.com/area/105788020/tahquitz-suicide-rocks
There’s a lot of good climbing on the Sierra Eastside all along Highway 395 and I’m sure some of that is okay in November. In general I don’t think there’s that much under VS bit Offwidth will be along in a moment to tell you there’s lots; a small percentage of a large number is still pretty large.
Worth bearing in mind that November in the western US can be great climbing weather but also pretty chilly, especially at night. If I had the choice I’d prefer a decent spring trip to November but I appreciate these things can be out of one’s hands. Anyhow my last spring trip to the US included climbing in shorts and a day dodging hail storms.
> Starting to get quite cold in many California climbing areas in November. Joshua Tree and Red Rocks (Nevada) should be nice tho. Maybe Taquitz and Suicide Rocks would be nice then but I don’t know as I’ve not been: https://www.mountainproject.com/area/105788020/tahquitz-suicide-rocks
I've had ice and snow at Taquitz/Suicide in November, though a sunny day could be good. Agree that Red Rocks, though over the border in Nevada, a better (world class in fact) bet especially up to VS. Joshua Tree could be good too. Expect cold nights anywhere.
Owens River Gorge is a great option for the cooler seasons, that hasn't been mentioned yet, and has a good range of grades. I'd also +1 J-Tree and Red Rocks (not California but fairly handy) as mentioned above.
More generally, check out MountainProject which has a wealth of information and includes a really handy "when is the best climbing season" chart for every area. November is prime time for ORG for example. Last time I was in California that late in the year we were climbing in T-shirts in Tuolumne on October 12th but the Tioga Pass (from Yosemite to the East Sierra) closed due to snow a couple of days later - luckily we'd already made it over to Bishop.
Here's a TR for that trip
Have a great trip! Cheers, Dom
> I've had ice and snow at Taquitz/Suicide in November, though a sunny day could be good.
I’ve climbed in the sun on Suicide and done an ice route on the North face of Tahquitz on the same weekend.
Yes, I climbed in the sun on Suicide when Taquitz was looking very wintery.
I have indeed popped in to say there is more than enough at both venues for several 3 week visits up to VS.
In November and December we've always gone to Red Rocks and Joshua Tree as its so amazing for trad (over 10 multi-week visits now) It's worth calling in on Suicide but it's end of season and not many routes at those grades (Idyllwild is a nice place). Owens River Gorge is good sport climbing, if you like that sort of thing (surrounded by world class bouldering) but nothing like as good as Red Rocks sport climbing. Mountain Project has a useful tool at the bottom of every area page that shows climbing seasons (just scroll down) plus you can put in your grade range (Joshua Tree has 13 pages of starred routes upto 5.6, Red Rocks 4 pages, Suicide has 13 routes).
Maybe worth mentioning that even if it is cold and snowy, type 1 fun climbing is still possible? I've been to Joshua Tree in December/Jan and climbed with snow on the ground. The day/night temperature spread is quite high and the air is really dry, so the conditions feel very different to what would be the case if there was snow on the ground in the UK.
> Yes, I climbed in the sun on Suicide when Taquitz was looking very wintery.
Although, in fairness to the OP, I've also ended up on those mountains in a white out in November!
> I have indeed popped in to say there is more than enough at both venues for several 3 week visits up to VS.
Yes, but you also claim classic Yosemite 5.8 is VS (which it very often isn’t) so I get the impression you have a bit more in hand than the OP might. Depends how good her crack climbing skills are I guess.
Also whoever suggested Owen’s River Gorge is over-selling it. If you want three weeks sport climbing in the sun in November then stay in Europe. The climbing will be better than ORG and it’s easier on your wallet and the environment.
>Yes, but you also claim classic Yosemite 5.8 is VS (which it very often isn’t) so I get the impression you have a bit more in hand than the OP might.
No I don't claim that. Some classic Yosemite 5.8 is at the tougher end of VS, but more commonly it's HVS IMHO and goes up to E2 5b on bolder slabs. I was guessing the OP has less in hand but that's why I listed the venue numbers of starred routes upto 5.6. Having said that Joshua Tree has quite a few sandbags that are 5.6 but harder than VS and the odd fairly graded 5.4 X that are VS 4a but they don't tend to be popular routes in the selective guides.
Pinnacles might he an idea; 100miles south of the bay and near the Pacific. Take in Big Sur as well'
> >Yes, but you also claim classic Yosemite 5.8 is VS (which it very often isn’t) so I get the impression you have a bit more in hand than the OP might.
> No I don't claim that. Some classic Yosemite 5.8 is at the tougher end of VS, but more commonly it's HVS IMHO and goes up to E2 5b on bolder slabs. I was guessing the OP has less in hand but that's why I listed the venue numbers of starred routes upto 5.6. Having said that Joshua Tree has quite a few sandbags that are 5.6 but harder than VS and the odd fairly graded 5.4 X that are VS 4a but they don't tend to be popular routes in the selective guides.
Yes that is all very sensible, I must have misread your previous posts. I think it depends on what climbing the OP has done before, lots of those easier US routes require a bit of technique that might not be easy to acquire at the wall.
I'm just trusting they can lead VS. I'm really struggling to think of any Red Rocks 5.6 that will give a VS trad leading Brit any problems. The popular Joshua Tree 5.6 climbs in the selective guides are also OK for a VS leader, as I said earlier.
> Please don't fly halfway round the world to climb at Owens River gorge!
Yes, a rather unappealing hole in the ground.
No one implied that would be a primary venue. I'm mainly into trad and called in for a day.
"Red Rocks 4 pages"
And if you believe the MP star ratings then I've got some land in Florida to sell you.
Mp suffers badly from FA teams (and their early repeater friends) relentlessly hyping up their bushy chossfests to the point of absolute absurdity.
That's a good point on climbers boosting their own obscurities. I've likely missed that because your guidebook is so good that I rarely use Mountain Project for Red Rocks. I'd strongly advise any visitors to buy it. Star ratings in your guidebook seem slightly understated compared to UK definitive norms and I've had only very occasional problems with grades (JT is peppered with nasty lower grade sandbags in less well travelled areas but I'm struggling to think of any in your guide beyond the 5.4 Guise and Gals). Most would start with the classics in any case and at Red Rocks most of the classic 5.7 routes are middling VS in UK terms.
I've been to Joshua Tree, just for a few days as part of a road trip, and I'd love to go back. However, a few years further on, I'd prefer not to camp this time. Having made so many visits, have you got any tips on accommodation?
> No one implied that would be a primary venue. I'm mainly into trad and called in for a day.
Sounds about right!
> Aside from the High Sierras, which is really fantastic for 5.7ish climbing and the already mentioned Red Rocks, it might surprise many UK climbers that some of the best climbing in the USA at VS-ish type grades is in the Northeast. The Gunks, New Hampshire the Adirondaks even Connecticut traprock are all great.
Yes, I've had friends climbing at modest grades picking up cheap flights and having great autumn trips The Gunks.
> I've been to Joshua Tree, just for a few days as part of a road trip, and I'd love to go back. However, a few years further on, I'd prefer not to camp this time. Having made so many visits, have you got any tips on accommodation?
When not camping, I usually stayed in the High Desert Motel, which used to be about the best value and well-located.
Pinnacles is truly awful. Was my local crag for a while and I went once, which was more than enough.
High Desert. They negotiate and are reasonable....a functional basic motel plus walking distance to Joshua Tree Village centre.
> I've been to Joshua Tree, just for a few days as part of a road trip, and I'd love to go back. However, a few years further on, I'd prefer not to camp this time.
Camping in the climate and landscapes of the western US has always seemed to me one of the real joys of a trip. Can't imagine swapping it for a motel on a drab built up strip!
Mmmmm. We have made many friends over the years in that strip including the motel owners and quite a few very good food and coffee places, shop owners (including an excellent climbing shop and an impressive general repair place) and of course local residents. We feel part of a interesting and varied community when we go, and support it by spending money.
It's a struggle for us to get the climbing kit for an extended trip in the free baggage allowance let alone camping extras for normally below freezing nights when we are notmally there in December. Plus we don't function so well in the cold, long night after night, any more.
I admit I have gone down into town of an evening for fast food and even a cinema visit!
I stayed in the 29 palms inn and enjoyed it. Traditional adobe-style rooms, some with their own log fires. Kooky. Not super cheap but I’d stay there again, v charming.
The cinema and its bland commercial surroundings isn't Joshua Tree, it's Yucca Valley.
> The cinema and its bland commercial surroundings isn't Joshua Tree, it's Yucca Valley.
I was just admitting compromising on the camping experience.
Many thanks for all the information. Its really appreciated. Lastly we have a flight to San Francisco and need a hire car. Any recommendations for cheap and small?
I'd echo the Joshua Tree and Red Rock locations as your best spots for the grade of climbing you seek.
Kinda too bad you couldn't get a flight into LAX as its a gob closer...
You could break up the drive if the weather was decent by hitting Pinnacles for a few hours or SLO and Bishop's Peak.
Pinnacles is "interesting" and historical and there's fun routes at the lower to mid grades (some or maybe most fairly spicy). Not a destination per se but might be a fun visit. You could also buy your National Public Lands pass (America the Beautiful pass) there which you might want for entry into Joshua Tree and the loop road at Red Rocks. Might be cheaper than paying at each location. $30 for Joshua Tree for seven days. $15 per day at Red Rock (yearly is $30). Annual America the Beautiful pass is $80 and good for a year. There's a spot for two signatures on it (just sayin'...).
The newer Mojave Limestone guide (shout out to the author) is great if you need or want a diversion from sandstone (ie if its rained a bit). Some fairly moderate grades around Mesquite (Lime Kiln) and the St. George area is loaded with climbing too.
You could turn your trip into a loop drive by going through Tahoe then south, or down the coast then come back the other way.
Just back from Red Rocks. Always sweet.
Good luck on a car rental!
If you do Joshua Tree AND Redrocks make sure you do the desert drive between the two and not via the Interstate. It's awesome.
Seconded.... sometimes added spice from potential flash flood risks (and don’t forget there are no fuel stations)
Thirded. The Mojave is stunningly, austerely beautiful, and all the better for not having the trappings of a national park.
Yeah, done it twice. I seem to remember one last diner / gas station about an hour from Joshua Tree then that's it. Roy's Place??
There's also some salt flats and a massive railway crossing where they make that bell ringing noise that you get in American films
A disparaging remark that does not reflect the quality of the routes there or the Owen's River.
> A disparaging remark that does not reflect the quality of the routes there or the Owen's River.
I would absolutely love to have it as a local crag, but I think we are discussing where is worth travelling half way round the world for.
Speaking of flash floods...the Kelbaker road is closed now and likely will be for some time.
Still worth it to take the Cima Road to the Kelso Cima road which is open to the Kelso Depot (closed) then south to across route 66 to Amboy then south to J Tree (through 29 Palms). One of the larger joshua tree forests in the area too (a quarter of it burned in 2020).
Or, back east off I-15 on the Nipton Road then south to Kelso on the Morning Star Mine road.
Whacky weird area...watch out for critters (four and two legged). Careful driving at night. And...you can catch air off some of the frost heaves in the road so watch your speed in a low clearance rental car.
Don't wait to get gas in Baker (wicked spendy).
Detour if you're on I-15 into Zzyzx is interesting.
Kelso Depot visitor center is closed now but still a fun stop to stretch the legs and look around. Historical old train station and buildings. Jail cell makes for a nice photo op.
Kelso Dunes fun if you like big sand dunes.
Cutting across the Mojave is a great drive and a nice short cut. Top your gas off in Primm or 29 Palms.
Another fun route is driving to Needles CA and cutting up to Laughlin NV. Then across Christmas Tree Pass which has a few fun climbing routes (and not many folk). Then 95 through Searchlight then to Vegas (maybe a quick detour to see Hoover Dam).
Anyhow...plenty to do and see. Cheers!
> Speaking of flash floods...the Kelbaker road is closed now and likely will be for some time.
Ahh. That explains why I couldn't follow the route on Google maps when I was playing this evening.
I found Roy's though in Amboy. Is it still there?
Anyone who thinks 5.8 is anywhere near VS needs to take a look at Braille Book (5.8)🙂
I just got back this week from a month in California.
Most of the state campgrounds were closed, but a few such as lower Lee vining were open, but even the end of September the temps dropped below 0
Basing in bishop would give you endless options, pine creek canyon has been developed massively since I was last there, sport, trad, multipitch of both, there's enough there to keep anyone occupied. We saw Chris Sharma bolt and climb another new route there.
You can visit Owens.
Also new developments such as Tioga cliffs and then there's endless bouldering obviously.
From bishop you are also on the right side of the sierra Nevada to get over to Vegas, should you want Nevada warmth.
> Yes, a rather unappealing hole in the ground.
Still better than all peak lime
> Still better than all peak lime
And I wouldn't recommend anyone to fly over from the US for that either!
Another vote for red rocks, perfect at that time of year. So many excellent moderate multipitches, such as Tunnel Vision (5.7).
Can confirm the I15,Nipton Rd, Ivanpah Rd, Morningstar Mine Road, Cima, Kelso, Amboy, Wonder Valley, 29 Palms....route from Las Vegas to JTree is all open (other roads in the vicinity are still closed).
This is the fastest route between Las Vegas and JTree.
160 miles from the edge of Las Vegas to the 29 Palms entrance station. Good road, usually empty...2.5 hrs at speed limit, 2 with a lead foot.
Research carried out by surveyor Alan Dawson, owner of the Grahams hill list, suggests that Ordnance Survey maps - and the hundreds of guidebooks and websites that rely on them - list the wrong summit height for 'over half' the mountains...