It’s hot, humid, you can’t get up your warm-up climb, and you are cursing your belayer for it. Sounds like you’re in the wrong place. Maybe the July trip to Chat or Red Rock really wasn’t a good idea, like everyone told you. Location conditions are key to having a good time. In the summer, you may not send your sick proj, but you can have a blast doing something adventurous or relaxing. The following six summer destinations guarantee a great time!
Related: 7 Crags that Beat the Summer Heat
1. New River Gorge, West Virginia
The “New” boasts excellent rock that you can surprisingly get killer friction on with your sweaty hands. With over a thousand routes, any gumby could find some killer shady walls—options include tree covered crags and super steep alcoves. The best part of The New however is the proximity to the lakes in the region. Too hot or too unmotivated to climb? Go hang out with some awesome Appalachian folk in the water.
There happen to be plenty of routes in the lakes, which get flooded once it gets warm, leaving the first 20 feet underwater. Now cliff jumping is not permitted, but I don’t cliff jump—I happen to fall while climbing …
2. North Conway, New Hampshire
Tucked in the Mt. Washington Valley, the biggest and harshest mountain in the Northeast, lies the yuppie mountain town of North Conway. Overlooking the town are two large cliffs: the 1000-foot of slabs Whitehorse Ledge and Cathedral Ledge, which resembles a mini El Cap. These cliffs boast anything from moderate first leads, single-pitch cragging, and hard guy/gal routes—scary enough to make a lizard need a change of pants.
Coarse granite is the name of the game here, plenty of incredible crack climbing, stemming, and tech-y thin faces with traditional bold ethics. Climb a 4-pitch route by morning, get yourself some delicious lunch in town, swim in the river, and finish the day in a shady crag. Can’t beat that!
South of the town lies the Kancamagus Highway, which is all National Forest land with free camping, so long as you are 300 feet off the roads/trails. Throughout the forest lay hidden crags with incredible sport climbs, difficult crack climbs, and undiscovered territory. The whole are is essentially a giant boulder field so there is something for everyone.
3. Clear Creek Canyon, Arizona
Not much to say about Clear Creek, except its absolutely amazing! Pictures really do it the most justice.
Located just outside of Winslow, Arizona, Clear Creek is a reservoir that gets backed up and floods a narrow canyon. It offers plenty of easier climbs to warm-up on, that even non-climbers can enjoy, and some adventurous stuff no one has dared to touch. Watch for bad rock, and don’t be scared to take the plunge (within reasonable height of course)! Grab a boat, a few good friends, some rum, and let out your inner pirate!
4. The High Sierra, CA
There’s a reason John Muir spent so much of his life in the Sierra —this range is home to some of the world’s best granite, mild weather, and gorgeous views. Whether you want to boulder next to an alpine lake, climb 12 pitches of perfect cracks, bag a 14er, or traverse endless ridge systems, the High Sierra will impress a climber of any kind.
Many of the routes are far away from roads and civilization, so most people backpack and camp before climbing a specific route. In many areas this requires a permit, so make sure you reserve one before hand. If you aren’t into hiking, consider the (somewhat) roadside crags of Tuolumne Meadows or Mammoth.
5. Lander, WY
Lander is a cute mountain town filled with outdoorsy folks and surrounded by hundreds of high-quality crags. You can climb here year-round, but the most popular area for summertime bolt-clipping is Wild Iris. Wild Iris is beautiful—grassy green hills dotted with wildflowers, shady Aspen trees, and hundreds of pocked limestone sport routes.
There is free camping at Wild Iris, Sinks Canyon, or you can camp in town at the City Park (free for 3 days, but you can simply move your tent to extend the stay!). Be sure to grab a beer and a burger at the Lander Bar before you leave. And if you make it here in July—don’t miss the International Climbers’ Festival —the longest standing climbing festival in the world. If you have time while you’re in Lander, you could also check out the world-class climbing in Ten Sleep Canyon, a two and a half hour drive away.
6. The Bugaboos
With towering granite spires, pristine glaciers, and endless alpine peaks, it’s no wonder that “The Bugs” have a reputation of being one of the best climbing areas in the entire world. The routes here are mostly multi-pitch climbs with traditional protection, and vary in grades from 4th class ridge scrambles to unclimbed projects.
The weather in the Bugaboos is unpredictable, so be prepared for anything and be sure to check the forecast before heading up on a wall. It’s also helpful to have some basic glacier travel skills, as some of the routes require a glacier crossing.
There are a few campgrounds and a climber hut close to the climbing areas for you to set up camp during your stay.
Related: Don’t Take it for Granite
So please—don’t needlessly suffer. Plan a trip to one of these spots, escape the heat, and enjoy the splendor of these amazing summer climbing destinations!