If you are tired of scaling your gym’s rock climbing wall and looking for a little adventure, these locations are the perfect place to start honing your outdoor climbing skills. When you bite the bullet and head out to the desert, the woods, the meadows, or wherever you choose, keep in mind the gradation of rock you are facing: 5.0 to 5.7 is considered an easy climb, 5.8 to 5.10 is considered intermediate, 5.11 to 5.12 is hard, and 5.13 to 5.15 is for elite climbers.
Red River Gorge, Kentucky
The sandstone cliffs of Red River Gorge, Kentucky have made the attraction one of the most well known climbing spots in the United States. Nestled in the Daniel Boone National Forest, this location offers unlimited route variety including numerous multi-pitch climbs and 370 courses at 5.8 or below. The Bedtime for Bonzo (5.6), Roadside Attraction (5.7), and 27 Years of Climbing (5.8) are all perfect spots to begin your climbing experience!
Boulder Canyon, CO
Colorado is the perfect location for any wannabe climber. The region’s terrain holds opportunities for all levels of experience and Boulder Canyon is a great place to start. With more than 500 routes below a 5.9, along with many multi-pitch sessions, newbies can get their fair share of practice in. East Slab (5.6), Left Edge (5.7), and The Owl (5.7) are great starting points.
Shawangunks, New York
The Shawangunks, better known as “The Gunks,” sit about an hour and a half outside New York City, making them the perfect climbing adventure for any New Yorker looking for a little more green in their lives. The site is home to 400 routes between 5.0 and 5.8, with two of the most highly recommended beginner expeditions being High Exposure (5.6) and Gelsa (5.4). Keep this climb in mind as the fall approaches–the quartz conglomerate rock of each cliff makes for perfect handholds, sending you up to the unbeatable view of the New England foliage.
Smith Rock, Oregon
The volcanic gravel cliffs of Smith Rock give it a unique shape and complexion. Repeatedly noted as one of the best spots for sports climbing in the United States, it is home to over 1,500 routes, 170 of which are graded below 5.8. When you reach the top, the views of the Crooked River are quite remarkable–experienced climbers recommend starting off with Kindergarten Crack and working your way up to Double Time.
Yosemite National Park, California
Yosemite National Park offers a huge selection of routes for all levels of climbing. The Tuolumne Meadows located within the park have a number of granite domes to explore and many other rock formations with varying levels of difficulty. Within the Meadows, Beginners Route (5.4), Daffy Duck (5.5), North and West Ridge (both 5.6), and Errett Out (5.7) are all highly recommended for novice climbers. Yosemite Valley is another site within the Park that is a must go if you want to climb big walls. The Crack Center (5.6), The Regular Route (5.4), and Snake Dike (5.7) are all great climbs with various elements to look into. As a beginning climber in this environment, you are likely to run into quite a few experienced souls who descend on the Valley–make sure you pick their brains when you get the chance!
Check out these tips to improve your technique before taking on your first outdoor climb! https://www.theactivetimes.com/hike-climb/climbing/tips-get-better-rock-climbing
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