Five of the USA’s toughest climbing spots

Home of the fabled Yosemite National Park, the USA is a haven for rock climbing enthusiasts.

The 780,000 acre Californian wonderland provides ample options for those looking for a face to scale.

Some of the toughest ascents in the world are located in not just Yosemite, but in other US locations.

The rating scale for difficulty varies from country to country, but one thing’s for sure, these five produce some of the most demanding climbs the States has to offer.

El Capitan – Yosemite National Park, California

It would be remiss of us if we didn’t start off with the Grand-daddy of them all. The famous sight of El Capitan looking out over the Yosemite Valley is a view to behold for climbers everywhere.

Like most formations out there, there are a multitude of routes to tackle. The creme de la creme of ascents though are located up the behemoth’s Dawn Wall and on the route known as ‘The Nose’.

climbing el capitan

Liberty Bell – Washington Pass, Washington.

It may not have the sheer height of some climbs, or the dramatic face  of ‘El Cap’, but the Liberty Bell is a tough nut to crack. ‘The Thin Red Line’ is rated as a 5.12 climb, one of the highest ratings available and is not for rookies.

Head to the Washington Pass in the summer to avoid the snow-capped peaks and excellent climbing conditions. As well as the Liberty Bell, the Early Winter Spires and Wine Spires are worth exploring.

climbing liberty bell

Desert Towers – Arches National Park, Utah

The red glow that greats visitors to the Desert Towers in Utah is a magnificent sight. The sandstone towers dotted in the Utah desert (as the name suggests) are like no other climbing location.

Getting out from the town of Moab you will need a 4×4 but once you reach your destination, Moses and his accompanying towers provide a warm welcome. It could be very warm too, with temperatures in this part of the world reaching up to 40 degrees centigrade.

climbing desert spires

Phantom Spires – Lake Tahoe, California

There be a number of climbs for beginners at Lake Tahoe, but Phantom Spires produces others only for hardened climbers. Sharks Tooth (5.10) and Lizard Rock (5.11) are among the toughest routes on offer in this part of northern California.

Like the Desert Towers, attempting an ascent in summer may be too hot, so head for the cooler months. The wind can be unforgiving here too, so be prepared for the elements to conspire against you as you begin your climbing day.

climbing phantom spires

The Shawangunks – New York

‘The Gunks’ as they are known, provides the north east with a climbing facility to rival those across the country. At just 85 miles from New York City, the area acts as a perfect weekend trip from the Big Apple.

Coexistence (5.10) and Thin Slabs (5.9) provide the toughest tests on offer, but their rating must be taken with caution. Many climbers believe that the unique rock face of much of The Gunks means that dropping down a grade or two is recommended on your first visit.

climbing schawangunks

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