Winter Rock Climbing Destinations

03/06/2019 11:36 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Let's admit it, sometimes winter can be a bit dreary, and we find ourselves dreaming of climbing on warm rock and enjoying some double digit temps. So where can you get "some rad and some trad" while the mountains are still in the icy grip of old man winter? To the deserts and the eastern, dry sides of the Cascades and Sierra ranges of course...

Joshua Tree - This National Park located just a few hours east of the Los Angeles sprawl is renowned for great weather in the "off-season" - in fact November through March is the best time to go there. J-Tree has thousands of routes on rock with incredible friction and some very unique desert scenery. It's busy on weekends so try to go mid-week if possible. There are so many areas to climb there, but some of the best are in Real Hidden Valley, off the Lost Horse Road, and at Hemingway for example. MAA sponsors trips to JT a couple times a year, mostly in the fall. Go check it out!

Red Rock Canyon, NV - This area just outside and in a completely different world than nearby Las Vegas is famous for multi-pitch climbing on amazing sandstone. You can also find some cragging areas and even great hiking here. Finding camping is relatively easy and there is lots of room for everyone with dozens of canyons and hundreds of routes.

Smith Rock State Park, OR - Just outside of Bend, "the birthplace of sport climbing" was created from the enthusiasm of the  climbing community and remains true to that heritage. With accessible camping (with a bathroom and showers!), an excellent trail network, generally excellent weather, this place is a mecca. Thousands of sport routes and a handful of trad routes in the widest variety are available all over these unique formations. 

Eastern Sierra Crags - A number of locations here are significantly more tolerable during winter than summer: most notably Alabama Hills in Lone Pine, the Buttermilks, and Owens River Gorge near Bishop.

Mountain Ascent sponsors climbing events at many of these locations every year. In 2019 we'll be at Smith Rock in May and Red Rocks in November, so far. J-Tree and other areas will certainly pop up as we get closer to summer. 

What are some of your favorite areas to rock climb during the winter? If you have suggestions to add to this list please contact MAA at

Check out Mountain Project for more information and other ideas!

(916) 692-0005

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