What a difference a day makes… This time yesterday I was festering at home, no visa, no flights, no firm plans, and wondering if the US trip was actually going to happen. Today, I am Visa’d up, flights booked and ready to go. Flying out 5th Feb, returning 8th July, so plenty of time to get a good look around. I’ll be there in time for the Superbowl, and staying until after Independence Day. So I figure I’ll get a good look at American culture along the way. And of course, a shit load of climbing!
I intentionally don’t have a lot of specific plans for the states, I want to get across there with a bit of freedom to change locations, or stay longer if I like a place. But here are a few places on the ‘must see’ list, that I’ll definitely be paying a visit to.
Red Rock Canyon
Our first stop is going to be Red Rock Canyon. The climbing here looks amazing, and of course it’s right next to Vegas… So plenty of scope for non-climbing activities. Red Rock seems to be a playground for bouldering, sport, and trad climbing. I intend to do a bit of everything here, but I really want to try out some of these crack climbs I’ve heard so much about. We don’t really have cracks in the UK. I climbed one in Joshua Tree that I thought was tricky, and later found it was graded 5.1 (yes, point one). So, obviously needing some practice there. Some of the bouldering looks amazing as well. I’m gushing now… Suffice to say, I’m looking forward to Red Rocks.
I spent a couple of weeks in Bishop a while back, and I’ve been itching to get back ever since. The bouldering in Buttermilk Country is probably the most scenic I’ve ever done, and I’ve got some unfinished business with the (also excellent) Happy Boulders. The last time I was there we inadvertently stumbled on a Mule festival in the town as well which was… interesting! The daily breakfast burrito from the Black Sheep cafe was almost as appealing as the climbing, I’m looking forward to that as well!
I’ve not been to Joe’s Valley before, but it is somewhere that I’ll definitely be visiting. I’m hoping that lessons learned climbing on Fontainbleau sandstone will translate well here. But, that kind of thinking has resulted in an ego-spanking before, so I’ll see how it goes out there. Some of the videos online look amazing, I think this is a place not to be missed on this trip.
Zion National Park
Zion is known for it’s off width cracks, and the UK climbing community has concentrated all of it’s collective off-width skills into two people. Neither of which is me. I’m expecting to get a lesson in climbing grade humility here. But, just look at the photos! The place is absolutely stunning to just look at, never mind going climbing there. I’m pretty sure I’ll be happy hiking about if the climbing is too tough- a visit here is not going to be a hardship!
I’ve been to Yosemite a couple of times before, but I’ve never really been there long enough to really get into the style and maybe try something hard. I’m not exactly sure what yet, that’ll depend on how fit I manage to get before I arrive in the valley. But there is endless scope for adventure at all grades, so I’m sure I’ll find something to climb on. I would absolutely love to get one of the classic hard boulder problems as well… You all know which one I mean, but I’ll need to up my game for that to happen. Time will tell… I think some friends from the UK are meeting up with us in Yosemite, so I’ve got high hopes for a brilliant time here.
Another place that I’ll be returning to having climbed there previously. Joshua Tree is a landscape like no other I’ve ever seen. It looks almost otherworldly – like climbing on a Neptunium moon or something. Last time I was there I went in May, and it was a little bit on the hot side. I’ll try and factor in an earlier visit this time I think, although “it’s too hot” is an excellent excuse when the notoriously sandbagged V2’s are spitting you off…
Other Cool Places Too
I’m definitely not limiting myself the only visiting the above places, there are loads of other things that I’d like to go do, but I have only got five months, so I might struggle to fit it all in..
I’m also looking for advice from the locals, so if there’s anything I really shouldn’t miss then let me know in the comments please.
Regardless of the specifics, I’m sure this is going to be an amazing trip. Rather excited to get going now!