Last Chance Canyon New Mexico Rock Climbing by Stu Smith

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Last Chance Canyon is a true gem of New Mexico climbing. Located deep in the Lincoln National Forest and with the closest “town” being the very small community of Queen (population 50 and formally classified as a ghost town) the feel of the area is remote, isolated and very peaceful. The canyon’s limestones walls hold over 100 routes, in the range of 5.3-5.13+ from thin vertical face routes to jaw dropping jug hauls out monstrous caves the place has something for everyone of all abilities. The limestone within the canyon varies in quality from average to bullet hard top tier seemingly belonging in Spain, the majority of established routes are on fantastic stone. All of these goods are spread out over 16 crags amongst the beautiful winding canyon floor and relatively close together, once in the canyon (10-15min walk) it’s never very far from one crag to the next. 

Last Chance Canyon Sits at 5,706ft altitude, In the summers it can be much too hot for climbing but in the fall, winter and spring it is prime time, because of the nature of the twist and turns of the canyon there is always a wall you can go to for sun or shade no matter the time of day depending on your preference. These attributes coupled with the remoteness of the area make this a fantastic stop for the winter climbing road tripper, ample sun, good rock and no crowds what more could one ask for.

If planning on staying at the canyon for longer than a day a few things to keep in mind. There is no water or toilets so come prepared. The nearest larger town is Carlsbad 1 hours’ drive away which has all the supplies you could need. The dirt road leading to the parking/camping area is rocky but generally passable by all vehicle types with proper driving, I witnessed a very new very low BMW creep its way into the park lot one morning. Don’t miss checking out this beautiful and unique area, you will not be disappointed. 

Ouray isn’t just for Ice Climbing!

The San Juan Mountains of Colorado rising to over 14,000’ are probably the prettiest in the state. A variety of exposed colorful rock layers contrast with the pines and aspens that grace their lower ramparts. Far from any major metropolitan areas, the air is fresh, and you can take a moment to take in your surroundings. Glacier carved valleys and cascading waterfalls surround you. Rock outcroppings protrude from the trees in almost every direction exciting the climber’s mind.

The geologic variety is as wide as the colors of rock in the San Juan Mountains. 1,400’ walls of quartzite and slate dating back 1.7 billion years have been uplifted and exposed in the mountain canyons and eroded calderas. Crags such as The Trough, Techno Crag, The RV Wall, and the Wicked Crag line the precipitous sides of Highway 550. You may see them, but the windy and exposed highway devoid of guard rails will keep your eyes from staring too long. The San Juans host some 20 calderas and some of the most significant volcanic events on the history of the planet. Like icing on a cake, the San Juan formation has left giant walls of volcanic ash at the tops of most of the peaks. While most of this layer is fractured to the point of being unappealing to climb on when it’s not froze in place, there are some dramatic exceptions to this rule. Most notably, the Hall of Justice is one of the more memorable sport crags you’ll find in the country. With routes up to six pitches in length, the dramatic exposure just walking the upper ledge will have your full attention. A host of long 35-meter pitches of steep pocked rock rise above and below this ledge.

Located between the upper volcanic ash and quartzite basement layers are a series of sandstone, limestone, conglomerate, shale and mudstone layers interspersed with igneous intrusions. You may be climbing on several different rock types throughout the course of a pitch at some crags.   

For the more faint of heart, there are some of the most friendly and convenient options imaginable. Ouray’s Rotary Park crag hosts a bathroom with running water, barbeque grills, and over 50 bolted climbs between 5.2 and 5.12d rising just a few feet from your car. The Stripe Crag in Silverton lacks the amenities of Rotary Park, but also hosts a variety of grades with a short approach just outside of town.

When the high peaks unleash their fury, fair weather can often be found on the high desert Dakota Sandstone escarpments west of Montrose. A series of long east to west canyons offer mountain biking, off-roading, rock climbing and bouldering. The most notable is Dry Creek which features about 70 climbs between 5.7 and 5.13 overlooking a vast dry western landscape sloping down to the fertile farmlands of Montrose.

With Moab and Indian Creek only a 3-3.5 hour drive and the big walls of the Black Canyon sitting on the hill above Montrose there is no lack of full value year round climbing in the immediate vicinity. Locals don’t really take rest days here; we just change sports. You can river surf, ski, mountain bike, run, 4×4, run one of several via-ferratas, hike, paddle lakes and rivers, and soak in hot springs if climbing doesn’t suit your fancy.

Québec: Saint-Léon-de-Standon Rock Climbing by Nicolas Rodrigue

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Le CEMA et la FQME sommes fiers et heureux de vous présenter un premier site d’escalade dans la région de Saint-Léon-de-Standon  surnommé «petite Suisse».  Cette région offre des paysages montagneux magnifiques.  La Montagne du Soleil Couchant orienté face nord sera un oasis de fraicheur  dans nos étés québécois chauds et humides. Le topo contient  une trentaine de voie de 5.5 à 5.12 + fraichement équipé  sur scellement.  Le  rocher volcanique de Saint Léon est particulier avec plein des belles prises et de trous. L’escalade accessible majoritairement uniquement en premier de cordée est de type sportif avec quelques voies trad classiques. Ce topo contient toutes les informations pour profiter de ce nouveau site. Ce topo sera éventuellement bonifié par l’ajout de d’autre site et secteur selon l’avancement des négociations et travaux du CEMA. Merci de nous encourager.

Hatcher Pass Alaska Rock Climbing by Kelsey Gray

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Located under two hours from Anchorage, the season for climbing in Hatcher Pass may be short but one not to be missed. One of the best crags in Alaska, it boasts over 500 routes in multiple valleys of granite in an alpine setting where rolling green tundra contrasts against the dark gray bands of rock. 

Prior to the mid 2000’s, Hatcher Pass was primarily old buttonhead bolts, cracks filled with moss, and a decent amount of runouts. The last ten years a few dedicated individuals led by the rebolting efforts of Kelsey Gray and Chris Williams and with support from their own wallets as well as the American Safe Climbing Association, have drastically changed the landscape of climbing in Hatcher. Many of the old buttonhead bolts are gone and replaced with stainless steel bolts and anchors. Old webbing that was once crusted with lichen, is now chain and rings. The return of larger numbers of climbers to Hatcher than ushered in a flurry of development across the valley with new crags and routes appearing every season. What was once an obscure area frequented by the experienced or those who already had knowledge of the area, is now a place where climbers of all levels can enjoy and learn. 

Some of the highlights of the valley are areas such as Snowbird Slab, which includes routes from one to three pitches but has the greatest concentration of lines in the valley. 28 routes with grades from 5.6-5.10d make it a perfect day crag for getting lots of moderate lines. Other crags such as the Lost Wall or Renaissance Wall will test many climbers’ strength and abilities and the strongest may visit the Gargoyle for the full test. Don’t forget to bring your rack as well as quickdraws, while there are an increasing number of sport routes most of the lines will need at least one piece of gear and there are a lot of excellent trad climbs. A 70m rope is ideal but a 60m will work for many climbs. 

The best season to visit is from Mid-June when the gate to Archangel Valley opens, and Mid-September when you can expect colder temperatures and the occasional snow. Boulderers will find the seasons to be longer as the snow landings can provide some excellent landings on taller problems. July is usually when the weather is best and the most climbers can be found.

Don’t let a trip to Alaska go by without at least a visit to this beautiful area. 

Great Falls National Park Rock Climbing

Buy or Rent Great Falls Rock Climbing

The gorge formed by the mighty Potomac River, carved a climbing area later to be a National Park just about a ba-zillion years ago. Great Falls National Park has a visitor’s center and several magnificent overlooks from which to view the spectacle of the great falls of the Potomac; even bigger during the spring runoff. Climbers and white-water kayakers alike are drawn to this beautifully secluded national park, one of many, just minutes from our Nation’s Capitol.

See the park’s website http://www.nps.gov/grfa/ for history, nature and science.

The rock climbing at the park is mostly on the Virginia side but there are a number of routes on the Maryland side as well. Most folks come for the top-roping since ropes are easily setup and the views are tremendous. Trad climbing and to a lesser degree aid climbing is not normally done since the shiest rock is brittle and easily flakes and breaks.

A modest fee is collected at the ranger’s booth but those who frequent the park purchase seasonal or yearly passes. The comprehensive but expensive Annual National Parks is valid; however, a cheaper annual C&O Canal Parks pass is also available.

Since most climbers’ top rope here you will mostly need gear for building anchors at the cliff tops. Warning: rock along the river generally does not hold trad gear, and it is recommended that climbers sling trees and rocks instead!

Although the Park Service has decided to not allow the placement of permanent hardware in this part of the country, i.e. bolted anchors, adequate protection is achieved using the natural protection found in trees, blocks, and rock. Many routes have adequate rock for placing pro as backup.

 Be gentle on the trees please! They see lots of use. This means don’t saw the bark off by pulling webbing and ropes around them. Try not to compact root soil, stand on rock if possible. Soil erosion and the health of these trees is one area that the park is intensely focused on and, rightly or wrongly, much of the stress these cliff top trees are seeing is being attributed to us climbers.

Note: The park service is reviewing the impact of climbing and climbers throughout the gorge. PLEASE minimize your impact when moving around on top of and on the climbs. Observe all fencing and restrictions. The park has been very responsive to climber concerns over closures and has in all but a very few cases provided opening in fences to access the cliff tops for us. Consider being a good custodian and packing out an extra bag of trash from the cliff bases.

Québec: Parc National des Grands-Jardins Rock Climbing by Benoit Dubois

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Le Parc des Grands-Jardins et la Zec des Martres est un terrain d’aventure dépaysant à 15 minutes de St-Urbain. Venez grimper des voies mémorables dans un environnement grandiose! La nouvelle version du topo sur rakkup contient 125 voies (+ de 300 longueurs de corde), 160 photos et des informations détaillées sur les différentes voies, dont 23 nouvelles. Cette App nous permettra de faire des mises à jour régulières sans avoir à tout renuméroter et refaire la mise en page du texte et des photos. Impossible de se perdre grâce aux cartes GPS, vous pourrez accéder sans tarder aux classiques!