In early January, climbers Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgensen captivated the world by scaling the Dawn Wall, and extremely smooth, 3,000-foot expanse of rock on Yosemite’s El Capitan. The duo’s 19-day climb made the front page of the New York Times and earned congratulations from President Barack Obama, in addition to launching a new wave of interest in the sport that was once allocated to the counterculture.
More people are working to get to the top of major peaks around the globe, often traveling great distances to take on the next challenge. Fortunately, the U.S. is home to some of the best climbing destinations. Routes range in difficulty classified by the Yosemite Decimal System (YDS). Class 4 identifies simpler climbs that may expose climbers to empty space between them and the group, and are sometimes performed using a rope. Class 5 indicates more difficult climbs in which ropes and other equipment are typically used to protect climbers form falling. Classes 5.11 to 5.15 are for experts only. Thousands of routes also allow enthusiasts to practice traditional climbing, which incorporates removable gear, or to sport climb, which uses pre-placed, permanent, rock-mounted bolts.
Read the full Montage Magazine feature, which highlights four of the country’s best climbing experiences, online or in rooms this summer.