Unfortunately for my environmental credentials I need to travel to Philadelphia for a mates wedding at the end of August. I've got the luxury of time, so thinking about extending my trip for a month and get some climbing in. Interested in Sport or trad as long as it's world class and has a decent scene so as to find partners.
Hoping to avoid another high carbon (and possibly expensive) flight to the west coast and hoping to visit somewhere I can travel to overland, but may consider getting another flight if staying for October too.
Red River Gorge immediately jumps out but it seems like September could be too early in the season for good conditions and partners. Does anyone have any thoughts on this?
Any other suggestions also welcome!
I think the Red is world class and of a type not found anywhere else. Top climbers from all over the world make the trip there for a reason.
Early September might be a bit hot, but I’d risk it. The New is close by.
Red River Gorge, New River Gorge and there’s also some great spots in Tennessee (around Chattanooga and also further north is the Obed). I did a trip in September a few years back, and some days were pretty humid but I was able to climb most days.
The Adirondacks is also stunning, so that may be a cooler option if it’s too hot.
North Carolina has some awesome and terrifying trad, whilst much further north is probably the end of the season in New Hampshire but there’s some great multipitch at Cathedral Ledge.
I found it really easy to find climbing partners on mountainproject.com and people were super friendly throughout the US.
Francescaparratt has summed it up pretty well. Only other thing worth noting is that many of the climbing spots around there (e.g. Miller fork, some of pmrp) are down steep dirt roads that may or may not have been graded recently, so a hire something with a good bit of torque and preferably clearance and AWD/4x4 and you'll have more options. I've seen people get a Honda jazz out of the mothelode, but it takes confidence and a bit of skill.
We took an extended NE USA and SE Canada road trip in September / October 2019 (immediately pre-covid - seems SO LONG ago!) There's an absolute tonne of climbing and that's the perfect time of year. Specific recommendations would depend what you are looking for: trad v sport; multi-pitch v cragging; back-country v convenience etc - there's certainly something to satisfy all of the above!
As a quick flavour (and sticking fairly close to Phily) you could check out:
The Gunks (or Shawangunks) is one of the oldest climbing areas in The States, with a proud history dating back to 1935 and now with a few thousand routes - a bit like an American cross between Stanage and Tremadog. https://rockaroundtheworld.co.uk/2019/09/20/the-gunks-first-stop-on-the-rockaroundtheworld-ne-america-roadtrip/
The Dacks (or Adirondack Mountains) is a huge area of land: 6 million acres, and larger than the whole state of Vermont! There's a wealth of stupendous climbing - here's a taster of a couple of crags https://rockaroundtheworld.co.uk/2019/10/22/chapel-pond-beer-walls-and-spiders-web/
Rumney - the New England sports climbing Mecca, and every bit as good as The Red (though utterly different). https://rockaroundtheworld.co.uk/2019/10/27/crushing-at-rumney/
... Or have a browse of the posts from that trip https://rockaroundtheworld.co.uk/category/usa/north-east/ Happy to provide more beta once you have narrowed down your plans
There is of course loads of great climbing here on the East Coast. My point is that presumably the OP is not on this continent very often they may as well go West if they are after truly world class stuff.
Having said that Roger's Rock in lake George (requires a small boat/canoe) or Moby Grape on Cannon would be my highlights for some unique adventures.
The drive from Philly to the Whites will suck though.
Yeah that's the thing, I'm not super bothered about hanging around in the states to go to ok (but not amazing) venues. I'm also not into the idea of hitting venues off season when it'll be subpar conditions and hard to find partners. It's starting to sound like Maybe the thing would be to just commit to going west !
OK, but September is a tricky month out west for world class destinations as well. I live here.
Yosemite - Too hot for me.
Tuolumne - Perfect time
High Sierras - Incredible Hulk, Whitney Portal etc. - Good time - possible early storms
JTree - Too hot
Indian Creek/Moab - Too hot
Ten Sleep - Perfect time. World class? - maybe not, but tons of partners available at The Rock Ranch Campground
Rifle - Perfect time - World class maybe for 5.12+ and above. Easy to find partners.
Red Rock Canyon (Vegas) - Too hot
Can't think of any other venues I'd call world class. Smith Rock? Black Canyon? - Not climbed at either.
Hope this helps.
If you are thinking of heading west, I'd recommend Colorado for September conditions. If you are fairly early you'd potentially still catch an alpine window and maybe even be able to get on The Diamond https://rockaroundtheworld.co.uk/2019/08/23/the-diamond-longs-peak/ but otherwise Eldo and Boulder should be good.
As things cool down a bit you could head into The Black (Canyon of the Gunnison) which truly does tick the "world class" box https://rockaroundtheworld.co.uk/2019/08/29/the-scenic-cruise/
Links to a Slideshow and trip report of a Colorado road trip here: https://rockaroundtheworld.co.uk/2021/01/06/the-diamond-and-the-black-lockdown-slideshow/
Enjoy! Cheers, Dom
+1 for Colorado. Early September can still be a bit hot for stuff at lower (by Colorado standards) elevations, but then conditions will be good in the alpine. I went for two weeks in mid-September 2021 and caught good conditions at Lumpy Ridge, Eldo, the Flatirons, and for an alpine route in Rocky Mountain National Park. I've also heard that South Platte is good, as well as Rifle for sport climbing. And there's Veudauwoo not far away in southern Wyoming. Few other places pack such variety and quality. Not at all crowded if you're climbing midweek.
As others have said upthread, sept is a really nice time in the North East. I climbed in the Gunks quite a lot when I lived back there and I have to say that it's some of my favorite trad climbing (albeit very much in a british style) in the US.
Further north (about 5 hours drive), Cannon and the North Conway area have a lot of the type of trad climbing that Brits usually associate with the US ...sweeping multi-pitch granite that is. "World Class' would be a stretch, but there are a lot of really good, very accessible routes. Rumney is about an hour away. It's a small sport area but the climbing and the rock is really interesting esp in the low 12 (7a+) and up range.
> Yeah that's the thing, I'm not super bothered about hanging around in the states to go to ok (but not amazing) venues. I'm also not into the idea of hitting venues off season when it'll be subpar conditions and hard to find partners. It's starting to sound like Maybe the thing would be to just commit to going west !
So the conditions in September in the North East are usually really nice, don't be worried about that. And there are lots of really good places to go, most of the places mentioned would be worth a few hours drive, they're just not "world class".