Source: . Credit: Ross Fowler,  Shot on 2012-07-11 Photo taken in California, United States. (c) Clément Bardot, licensed under: CC BY-SA 3.0.
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Yosemite_Valley_California.jpg. Credit: Ross Fowler, Shot on 2012-07-11 Photo taken in California, United States. (c) Clément Bardot, licensed under: CC BY-SA 3.0.

Pacific Ranges run through the western coast of North America all the way from Alaska to Mexico and further to Central America. The chain continues further south through South America where it is known as Andes. The chain consists of multiple ranges that vary great deal in nature. Canadian Coast Mountains is home to wildest and least explored peaks along the Pacific coast, but U.S. cascades and Sierra Nevada are far more accessible and best known climbing targets. The highest peaks on the Pacific ranges are to be found in Mexico, where few volcanoes rise well over 5000m altitude. Aside on high mountains, some of the US Coast ranges have host of well known rock climbing venues. By far the best known climbing destination of Pacific ranges in Yosemite valley in Sierra Nevada.

  • Coast Mountains British Columbia's Coast range originate on the north side of the Fraser River Valley (near Vancouver B.C.) and runs almost a thousand miles along the coast of western Canada to end in the Yukon Territories. Coast range features several ranges with dramatic peaks, some of which are actually higher than anything on Canadian Rockies. The most famous part of the range is Waddington Range, consisting of Mount Waddington (4019m) and surrounding peaks. Another famous peak in Coast Range is Devil's Thumb located far north in Yukon.
  • U.S. Coast Ranges Group of coastal ranges rising between Coast Mountains in the north, Baja California peninsula in the south and Cascades and Sierra Nevada in the east. The ranges are generally lower and less impressive than cascades and Sierra Nevada. However, southern part of the ranges have some pretty high peaks, culminating at Transverse Ranges with San Gorgonio Mountain (3505m) and Peninsular Southern California Ranges with San Jacinto Peak (3304m). Best known climbing destinations of US Coast ranges are Joshua Tree national Park and Tahquiz Rock (San Jacinto).
  • Cascades The Cascade Range in the Pacific Northwestern United States is best known for its massive snow-capped volcanoes. Often they rise in isolation, separated by great intervening plateaus. There are also many non-volcanic mountains in the range, most notably in the North Cascades of Washington, a 150-mile stretch of mountains south of the Canadian border. These peaks are smaller, seldom over 10,000 feet, but among them are hundreds of sharp rock peaks whose base to summit height often exceeds that of the higher peaks of the Sierra Nevada or Colorado Rockies.
  • Sierra Nevada The Sierra Nevada range in Eastern California has several peaks over 4000m culminating at Mount Whitney 4417m. Furthermore, High Sierra has classic snow/ice routes on North palisade, Polemonium Peak and Mount Mendell. However, Sierra Nevada is known first and foremost for rock climbing. By far the the best known part of the Sierra Nevada is the Yosemite Valley, that is home to legendary big-wall on the sheer granite walls of El Capitan and Half Dome. Besides the big walls, the valley also has range of classic alpine rock climbs. Needles in the southern part of Sierra Nevada is another well known rock climbing destination.
  • Baja California Baja California, or Peninsula ranges, cover the ranges located in Baja California peninsula. The range is direct continuation of Pacific Ranges, most closely Sierra Nevada. The highest peaks are located in the northern part with Picacho del Diablo (3095m) beinbg the highest.
  • Mexico & Central America Mexico's volcanoes offer an exciting trip for climbers seeking the challenges of climbing at moderate altitude amidst an interesting cultural backdrop. Volcanic giants aside, Mexico's climate is also well suited for rock climbing. Best known alpine rock climbing is found in El Potrero Chico. Further south the peaks get generally lower.

Coast Mountains

British Columbia's Coast range originate on the north side of the Fraser River Valley (near Vancouver B.C.) and runs almost a thousand miles along the coast of western Canada to end in the Yukon Territories. Coast range features several ranges with dramatic peaks, some of which are actually higher than anything on Canadian Rockies. The most famous part of the range is Waddington Range, consisting of Mount Waddington (4019m) and surrounding peaks. Another famous peak in Coast Range is Devil's Thumb located far north in Yukon.

Best conditions for alpine climbing in Waddington area are found in July and August but the weather is unpredictable and glacier travel troublesome. May and September usually have better weather.

  • Boundary Ranges Northernmost part of Coast Range, which lies to the east of Sait Elias Mountains and to the west of Interior Mountains (aka Yukon ranges with Skeena Mountains, Stikine Plateau and Cassiar Mountains) and extends to Nass river. The main peaks of the range include Mount Ratz (3090m, Chutine Peak (2910m) and Devils Thumb (2766m).
  • Kitimat Ranges Howson Peak (2759m).
  • Northern Pacific Ranges The highest part of Coast Mountains with famous Mount Waddington (4019m). Despite being the highest, Waddington sees little traffic as the entire area is remote, weather is far from ideal and climbing is technically difficult on any route (Bravo Glacier at TD-/~V is considered the easiest route).
  • Southern Pacific Ranges Southernmost group of Coast Range and by far the most readily accessible, as the city of Vancouver is located at the southern corner of the group. The highest peak is Mount Queen Bess (3298m).
  • Serl, Don: The Waddington Guide - Alpine Climbs in one of the World's Great Ranges. Isbn: 09682472-5-3. Elaho, 2003.

U.S. Coast Ranges

Group of coastal ranges rising between Coast Mountains in the north, Baja California peninsula in the south and Cascades and Sierra Nevada in the east. The ranges are generally lower and less impressive than cascades and Sierra Nevada. However, southern part of the ranges have some pretty high peaks, culminating at Transverse Ranges with San Gorgonio Mountain (3505m) and Peninsular Southern California Ranges with San Jacinto Peak (3304m). Best known climbing destinations of US Coast ranges are Joshua Tree national Park and Tahquiz Rock (San Jacinto).

  • Olympic Mountains Small group located to the west of Seattle.
  • Klamath Mountains Located in NW California/SW Oregon. The highest peak of the range is Mount Eddy (2751m).
  • Northern California Coast Range
  • Central California Coast Ranges Best known climbing area is Castle Rock.
  • Transverse Ranges Group of compact ranges located to the NW of Los Angeles. Of these ranges San Bernardino Mountains is highest part of U.S. Coastal ranges with lot of peaks above 3000m culminating at San Gorgonio Mountain (3505m).
  • Peninsular Southern California Ranges Number of ranges located SE of Los Angeles. San Jacinto Mountains is the highest of these groups with number of peaks around or above 3000m with San Jacinto Peak (3304m) being the highest. Among the climbers the best known part is Joshua Tree National Park. The peaks of Joshua Tree area are not very high (up to ~1700m) but the area is well known for rock climbing. Tahquiz Rock of San Jacinto is another well known rock climbing destination of the area.

Cascades

The Cascade Range in the Pacific Northwestern United States is best known for its massive snow-capped volcanoes. Often they rise in isolation, separated by great intervening plateaus. There are also many non-volcanic mountains in the range, most notably in the North Cascades of Washington, a 150-mile stretch of mountains south of the Canadian border. These peaks are smaller, seldom over 10,000 feet, but among them are hundreds of sharp rock peaks whose base to summit height often exceeds that of the higher peaks of the Sierra Nevada or Colorado Rockies.

  • North Cascades North Cascades form a 150-mile stretch of mountains south of the Canadian border. The area consist of few dormant volcanoes and many non-volcanic mountains. The area contains North Cascades National Park and several National Wilderness Areas, the Ross Lake National Recreation Area and the Chelan Lake National Recreation Area. These peaks are smaller than high peaks further south, seldom over 10,000 feet, but among them are hundreds of sharp rock peaks whose base to summit height often exceeds that of the higher peaks of the Sierra Nevada or Colorado Rockies. These mountains receive heavy snowfall and have extensive glaciers, offering the high quality ice and snow climbing.
  • Southern Washington Cascades The South Cascades' three snow-capped volcanoes, Mount Adams, Mount Rainier and Mount St. Helens, rise dramatically above their lesser neighbors as the outstanding featured attractions in this widely popular recreational area of south central Washington. The highest peak of the area, Mt Rainier (4392m) is more glaciated than any other peak in the contiguous United States. The rock on the mountains tends to be friable, so most climbs are glacier climbs. Mostly there's at least one relatively easy route to the summit.
  • Oregon Cascades The Oregon Cascades are a wide swath of forested hills and low summits dominated by several volcanic cones towering into the sky. Mounts Hood, Jefferson, the Sisters, Thielsen, Crater Lake, McLoughlin, and a few lower, more-eroded volcanoes are so prominent that the remainder of the Oregon Cascades are almost an afterthought. Non-volcanic peaks are largely logged-over foothills.
  • California Cascades Apart from Mount Shasta, California Cascades are not that interesting for climbers. Neighbouring Sierra Nevada has plenty of more worthwhile climbs.
  • Beckey, Fred: Cascade Alpine Guide - Climbing and High Routes: Vol 1- Columbia River to Stevens Pass (3rd Ed.). Isbn: 0898865778. Mountaineers Books, 2000.
  • Fairley, Bruce: Guide to Climbing and Hiking in Southwestern British Columbia. Isbn: 9780919574991. Gordon Soules Book Publishers, 1986.
  • McLane, Kevin: Alpine Select - Climbs in Southwest British Columbia & Northern Washington. Isbn: 9780968247273. Elaho Publishing, 2001.
  • Nelson, Jim & Potterfield, Peter: Selected Climbs in the Cascades. Isbn: 9780898863686. Mountaineers Books, 1993.
  • Nelson, Jim & Potterfield, Peter: Selected Climbs in the Cascades - Alpine Routes, Sport Climbs, & Crag Climbs. Isbn: 9780898865615. Mountaineers Books, 2000.
  • Smoot, Jeffrey L.: Climbing the Cascade Volcanoes, 2nd, 1st edition. Isbn: 9781560448891. Falcon, 1999.
  • Smoot, Jeffrey L.: Climbing Washington's Mountains, 1st edition. Isbn: 9780762710867. Falcon, 2002.

North Cascades

North Cascades form a 150-mile stretch of mountains south of the Canadian border. The area consist of few dormant volcanoes and many non-volcanic mountains. The area contains North Cascades National Park and several National Wilderness Areas, the Ross Lake National Recreation Area and the Chelan Lake National Recreation Area. These peaks are smaller than high peaks further south, seldom over 10,000 feet, but among them are hundreds of sharp rock peaks whose base to summit height often exceeds that of the higher peaks of the Sierra Nevada or Colorado Rockies. These mountains receive heavy snowfall and have extensive glaciers, offering the high quality ice and snow climbing.

The North Cascades defining feature is Skagit Range with Mount Baker (3285m, the highest point of the North Cascades), Mount Shuksan (2782m), Liberty Bell, Mont Maude, Forbidden Peak and several others classic alpine peaks. Other highlights include Boston Basin of Central North cascades and Glacier Peak area with its namesake Glacier Peak (3213m). Due to closeness of Seattle and Vancouver North cascades is among the most explored mountain ranges of North-America.

Rock and weather conditions are both severe in the North Cascades. Precipitation levels are heavy, particularly during the winter months. "Variable conditions" also include glorious weather for lengthy periods, usually in late summer. Usually the combination of weather and snow conditions is at its best between may and august.

  • Extreme North Cascades Stoyoma Mountain (2267m)
  • Skagit Mountains Skagit Range is located partially in southwestern British Columbia, partially northwestern Washington. The range lies to the west of the Skagit River and east and north of the Chilliwack River and flanks the Upper Fraser Valley region of British Columbia's Lower Mainland.It is the highest and also alpinistically most important of North Cascade Ranges culminating at Mount Baker (3285m).
  • Hozameen Mountains Jack Mountain (2763m)
  • Okanagan Mountains Mount Lago (2665m)
  • Mountain Loop Sloan Peak (2388m)
  • Central North Cascades The highest peak of Central North Cascades is Bonanza Peak (2899m). However, the most famous climbing destinations are likely to be somewhat lower peaks around Boston Basin: Forbidden Peak (2687m), Sahale Peak, Mount Buckner (2778m), El Dorado Peak, Boston Peak and Sharkfin tower.
  • Methow Mountains North Gardner Mountain (2730m)
  • Glacier Peak area Glacier Peak(3213m), lovingly referred to as the "hidden giant" of the North Cascades, is the most remote of the volcanoes in this range, and is Washington's fifth highest peak.
  • Entiat Mountains Mount Fernow (2819m), Mount Maude (2755m)
  • Chelan Mountains Cardinal Peak (2618m)
  • Martin, James: North Cascades Crest - Notes and Images from America's Alps. Isbn: 1570611408. Sasquatch Books, 1999.
  • Beckey, Fred: Cascade Alpine Guide - Climbing and High Routes : Rainy Pass to Fraser River (Cascade Alpine Guide; Climbing and High Routes). Isbn: 0898864232. Mountaineers Books, 1995.
  • Beckey, Fred: Cascade Alpine Guide - Climbing and High Routes, Stevens Pass to Rainy Pass (Cascade Alpine Gde). Isbn: 0898868386. Mountaineers Books, 2003.

Southern Washington Cascades

The South Cascades' three snow-capped volcanoes, Mount Adams, Mount Rainier and Mount St. Helens, rise dramatically above their lesser neighbors as the outstanding featured attractions in this widely popular recreational area of south central Washington. The highest peak of the area, Mt Rainier (4392m) is more glaciated than any other peak in the contiguous United States. The rock on the mountains tends to be friable, so most climbs are glacier climbs. Mostly there's at least one relatively easy route to the summit.

The Central Cascades offer an extensive array of outdoor recreational activities less than two hours by car from Seattle, making the area a popular playground for hiking, backpacking, climbing and skiing for one of the Pacific Northwest's largest metropolitan centers.

Sierra Nevada

About Sierra Nevada

The Sierra Nevada range in Eastern California has several peaks over 4000m culminating at Mount Whitney 4417m. Furthermore, High Sierra has classic snow/ice routes on North palisade, Polemonium Peak and Mount Mendell. However, Sierra Nevada is known first and foremost for rock climbing. By far the the best known part of the Sierra Nevada is the Yosemite Valley, that is home to legendary big-wall on the sheer granite walls of El Capitan and Half Dome. Besides the big walls, the valley also has range of classic alpine rock climbs. Needles in the southern part of Sierra Nevada is another well known rock climbing destination.

The Sierra Nevada runs from north-northwest to south-southeast for around 600km in the central part of Eastern California. There are several peaks over 4000m, the highest of them being Mount Whitney at 4417m, the highest mountain of the lower 48 states. The height of the mountains in the Sierra Nevada gradually increases from north to south. Thus, the crest near Lake Tahoe is roughly 9000 ft (2700m) high, the crest near Yosemite National Park is roughly 13000 ft (4000m) high, and the entire range attains its peak at Mount Whitney. South of Mount Whitney, the range quickly diminishes in elevation. Eastern front rises sharply from the Great Basin, while its western slope descends gradually to the hills bordering the Central Valley of California.

  • Northern Sierra Nevada
  • Lake Tahoe-Sonora Pass Sierra Nevada
  • Yosemite-Ritter Sierra Nevada Without a doubt the best known part of the Sierra Nevada is the Yosemite Valley, that is home to legendary big-wall on the sheer granite walls of El Capitan and The Nose. Besides world famous hard routes, there are also easier classics, such as Snake Dike on Half Dome and East Buttress of El Capitan. Most free-climbing in Yosemite is trad, and largely on cracks. Besides El Capitan and Hald Dome, Cathedral Rock, Leaning Tower, Lost Arrow Spire and Fairview Dome have plenty of classic climbs.
  • Central Sierra Nevada Central Sierra Nevada contains several fourteeners and some important subsidiary summits. Among the mountaineers the best part of the area is Palisade and Evolution groups. The peaks in the Palisades group are particularly steep and rugged. The area is likely best known among the mountaineers because of classic snow/ice couloirs on North Palisade and Polemonium Peak. Bishop located to the east of Central Sierra Nevada in a valley between Sierra and White Mountains (of West Great Basin Ranges) is famous for its rock climbing, particularly bouldering.
  • Sequoia Sierra Nevada Mount Whitney, at 14,505 feet (4421m), is the highest point in the continental United States. The area is perhaps most famous for high quality alpine rock routes and peak ascents at all different levels of difficulty. For those in search of alpine ice, Sierra Nevada has host of enjoyable gullies, especially in the Eastern part of the range. Most favourable conditions are usually found during late summer and fall. The V-Notch, the U-Notch and the Mendel Couloir are established classics, as is Ice Nine, that offers challenging mixed climbing. June Lake and Lee Vining Canyon count among the best known areas for waterfall climbing.
  • Southern Sierra Nevada The most famous climbing destination of Southern Sierra Nevada is Needles in the upper Kern River Valley (Sequoia National Forest).

Climbing in Sierra Nevada

Although Sierra Nevada is known rock climbs of Yosemite, the range is far more varied as ierra has a tremendous variety of climbing for all levels of expertise:

  • Yosemite valley in the western part of Sierra Nevada is very famous for large scale rock climbs. However, the area has also smaller routes of varying difficulty. Needles in the southern end of the range is another well known rock climbing destination.
  • Mount Whitney (4421m, the highest point in the continental United States) and other California 14neers have plenty of rock routes. Peaks of Palisade and Evolution groups of Central Sierra Nevada are particularly attractive.
  • Host of enjoyable gullies in the Palisades group is the best bet for those in search of alpine ice.
  • Lee Vining canyon is probably the best bet for winter ice fall climbing in California.
  • Anderson, Jay: Climbing California's Mountains. Isbn: 076272210X. Falcon, 2003.
  • Secor, R. J.: The High Sierra - Peaks, Passes, and Trails, 2 Sub edition. Isbn: 9780898866254. Mountaineers Books, 1999.
  • Croft, Peter: The Good, the Great, and the Awesome - The Top 40 High Sierra Rock Climbs (Eastern Sierra Climbing Guides Ser. 4). Isbn: 9780967611648. Maximus Pr, 2002.
  • Moynier, John & Fiddler, Claude: Climbing California's High Sierra, 2nd - The Classic Climbs on Rock and Ice, 2nd edition. Isbn: 9780762710853. Falcon, 2001.
  • Porcella, Stephen & Burns, Cameron M.: Climbing California's Fourteeners - The Route Guide to the Fifteen Highest Peaks, 1st edition. Isbn: 9780898865554. Mountaineers Books, 1998.

Yosemite-Ritter Sierra Nevada

Without a doubt the best known part of the Sierra Nevada is the Yosemite Valley, that is home to legendary big-wall on the sheer granite walls of El Capitan and The Nose. Besides world famous hard routes, there are also easier classics, such as Snake Dike on Half Dome and East Buttress of El Capitan. Most free-climbing in Yosemite is trad, and largely on cracks. Besides El Capitan and Hald Dome, Cathedral Rock, Leaning Tower, Lost Arrow Spire and Fairview Dome have plenty of classic climbs.

In cold winters, Yosemite valley offers several ice climbs, for example 300m Widow's Tears (V WI5). Lee Vining valley in the eastern corner of the area is probably the best known ice climbing venue of the state.

Spring is considered the best time for climbing. Most find the weather too hot between June - September, but starting from late September the weather becomes suitable for climbing again, but days are shorter than during the spring.

  • Northern Yosemite
  • Central Yosemite Sierra The famous part of Yosmeite with Yosemite valley and Cathedral group with Tuolumne Meadows.
  • Ritter Range-East Yosemite The highest part of Yosemite area with sole 4000er Mount Ritter (4006m) and several peaks missing the mark by just few meters.
  • South Yosemite Crest
  • Reid, Don: Rock Climbing Yosemite's Select. Isbn: 1575401150. Falcon, 1998.
  • McNamara, Chris; Roper, Steve & Snyder, Todd: Yosemite Valley Free Climbs - Supertopos. Isbn: 9780967239149. Wilderness Press, 2003.
  • McNamara, Chris; Barnes, Greg & Snyder, Todd: Yosemite Ultra Classics (Supertopo Climbing Guides), 1st edition. Isbn: 9780967239125. Wilderness Press, 2002.
  • Reid, Don: Yosemite Climbs - Big Walls: Big Walls, 3rd edition. Isbn: 9780934641548. Falcon, 1998.

Central Sierra Nevada

Central Sierra Nevada contains several fourteeners and some important subsidiary summits. Among the mountaineers the best part of the area is Palisade and Evolution groups. The peaks in the Palisades group are particularly steep and rugged. The area is likely best known among the mountaineers because of classic snow/ice couloirs on North Palisade and Polemonium Peak. Bishop located to the east of Central Sierra Nevada in a valley between Sierra and White Mountains (of West Great Basin Ranges) is famous for its rock climbing, particularly bouldering.

  • Mammoth Area
  • Kaiser-Dinkey Lakes Area
  • Mono Recesses-Humphreys Area
  • Evolution Range Group of peaks to the north of Palisades. The highest peak of the group is Mount Darwin (4216m) with several others only a little lower.
  • Palisades Palisades is a group of peaks in the central Sierra Nevada, containing four official fourteeners and some important subsidiary summits (most notably Polemonium Peak. The group is located 12 miles SW of Big Pine. The peaks in the Palisades are particularly steep and rugged. The area is likely best known among the climbers because of classic snow/ice couloirs on North Palisade and Polemonium Peak.
  • Central Kings Canyon Area

Palisades

Palisades is a group of peaks in the central Sierra Nevada, containing four official fourteeners and some important subsidiary summits (most notably Polemonium Peak. The group is located 12 miles SW of Big Pine. The peaks in the Palisades are particularly steep and rugged. The area is likely best known among the climbers because of classic snow/ice couloirs on North Palisade and Polemonium Peak.

Sequoia Sierra Nevada

Mount Whitney, at 14,505 feet (4421m), is the highest point in the continental United States. The area is perhaps most famous for high quality alpine rock routes and peak ascents at all different levels of difficulty. For those in search of alpine ice, Sierra Nevada has host of enjoyable gullies, especially in the Eastern part of the range. Most favourable conditions are usually found during late summer and fall. The V-Notch, the U-Notch and the Mendel Couloir are established classics, as is Ice Nine, that offers challenging mixed climbing. June Lake and Lee Vining Canyon count among the best known areas for waterfall climbing.

Southern Sierra Nevada

The most famous climbing destination of Southern Sierra Nevada is Needles in the upper Kern River Valley (Sequoia National Forest).